In his column, "The Conservative Mind," Brooks recalls the conservative days of yore in which those who wore that political label were not only concerned with numbers. In addition to economic calculation, conservatives were also concerned with economy in the ancient sense of that word. Oikos meant "home" and nemein meant "management." The modern neoconservative would bristle at this, and warn of the dangers of government intrusion into private life.
The trouble is, this is all they worry about—which is why we worry about them. Here is Brooks, who refers to the old National Review, which, before its present incarnation as a most libertarian periodical, once bestrode economic and cultural conservatism:
On the one side, there were the economic conservatives. These were people that anybody following contemporary Republican politics would be familiar with. They spent a lot of time worrying about the way government intrudes upon economic liberty. They upheld freedom as their highest political value. They admired risk-takers. They worried that excessive government would create a sclerotic nation with a dependent populace.
But there was another sort of conservative, who would be less familiar now. This was the traditional conservative, intellectual heir to Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter and Catholic social teaching. This sort of conservative didn’t see society as a battleground between government and the private sector. Instead, the traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government. They may know politics, but the idea of the polis is foreign to them.
The is was the conservatism of Ronald Reagan, who himself was a product of the William F. Buckley, Jr.'s magazine. Brooks argues that this kind of conservatism is in eclipse. In eclipse, yet, but not deceased.
... The economic conservatives were in charge of the daring ventures that produced economic growth. The traditionalists were in charge of establishing the secure base — a society in which families are intact, self-discipline is the rule, children are secure and government provides a subtle hand.
I would argue the even stronger position that any conservatism that concentrates exclusively on economic liberalism is not conservatism at all. When conservatism evacuates itself of the principles of cultural conservation, it has become something else altogether.
Which is just another way of saying that any conservatism that does not conserve should call itself something else.