“Democracy itself is characterized by freedom which includes the right to say and to do whatever one wishes: everyone can follow the way of life which pleases him most. Hence democracy is the regime which fosters the greatest variety: every way of life, every regime can be found in it. Hence, we must understand, democracy is the only regime other than the best in which the philosopher can lead his peculiar way of life without being disturbed: it is for this reason that with some exaggeration one can compare democracy to Hesiod’s age of the divine race of heroes which comes closer to the golden age than any other. Plato himself called the Athenian democracy, looking back on it from the rule of the Thirty Tyrants, “golden” (Seventh Letter 324d7-8). Since democracy, in contradistinction to the three other bad regimes, is both bad and permissive, it is that regime in which the frank quest for the best regime is at home: the action of the Republic takes place under a democracy. Certainly in a democracy the citizen who is a philosopher is under no compulsion to participate in political life or to hold office. One is thus led to wonder why Socrates did not assign to democracy the highest place among the inferior regimes or rather the highest place simply, seeing that the best regime is not possible. One could say that he showed his preference for democracy by deed: by spending his whole life in democratic Athens, by fighting for her in her wars and by dying in obedience to her laws. However this may be, he surely did not prefer democracy to all other regimes in speech. The reason is that, being a just man in more than one sense, he thought of the well-being not merely of the philosophers but of the non-philosophers as well, and he held that democracy is not designed for inducing the non-philosophers to attempt to become as good as they possibly can, for the end of democracy is not virtue but freedom, i.e., the freedom to live either nobly or basely according to one’s liking.”
Leo Strauss, The City and Man (1964).
En poques paraules, qui sap si Strauss va definir les raons dels liberals conservadors –o dels crítics conservadors del liberalisme. Potser es podria dir que un liberal conservador és aquell que, essent conscient de la impossibilitat del millor règim, defensa la democràcia liberal com la millor alternativa possible. Tanmateix, ho fa sense oblidar mai els perills permanents que la simple defensa de la llibertat té sobre la recerca del fi més elevat.