Conservatives Do Believe in Social Justice. Here’s What Our Vision Looks Like.

Last month, America lost a great defender of freedom, Michael Novak.

Novak was committed to rightly ordered liberty and cared deeply about the principles and practices that produce it. His enormous body of work emphasized the cultural prerequisites for political and economic freedom, as he stressed that economic conservativism and social conservatism are indivisible.

In the words of Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner, “Michael forced those of us trained in the dismal science of economics to explain that we should be more than ‘free to choose’—rather we should be free to make good free choices.”

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The Crisis of Liberty in the West

The West faces a deep crisis of liberty. Full human flourishing is hindered by the dawning collapse of civil society and by crony capitalism and cultural cronyism. Natural law arguments, with their appreciation of rights and duties, provide a better framework than natural rights or utilitarian arguments for understanding economic liberty; a natural law conception of social justice recognizes the state’s role in economic justice but also requires respect for the proper authority of society.

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Michael Novak, Friend of Economic Freedom

The news of Michael Novak’s death Feb. 17 saddened close friends and colleagues in the community of think tank scholars who drew so much from his writings and lectures.

Novak’s perspectives expanded our conceptual grasp of economic liberty beyond dry formulas to include a more complete picture of the creative, human, and virtuous nature of entrepreneurship.

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Heritage Mourns Michael Novak

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint released the following statement on the death of Michael Novak:

I fondly remember Michael Novak’s last public appearance at The Heritage Foundation in July of 2016. He had written the introduction to our Index of Culture and Opportunity, and I was honored to introduce and listen to him the day of its launch last summer. We were reminded once again that day why Michael has had such a powerful shaping influence as he taught the love of freedom and care for the principles that produced it.

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