The contemporary GOP has been able until recently to unite both traditional, family-values, 2nd Amendment conservatives with laissez-faire capitalists because the former don't seem to realize that the latter are the main cause of undermining everything they hold dear. The latter of course don't agree with the former on issues like abortion and gay rights, but pretending that they do costs them little if the benefit is to enlist a large, impassioned constituency in support of their economic interests. The Tom Frank thesis explains this phenomenon well, although I'd argue the emergence of the Tea Party suggests that the alliance of Wall Street with the Main-Street poobahs is fraying. As Michael Lind points out, the interests driving the Tea Party and those driving Wall Street are very different.
But before the Tea Party there were two sources of thoughtful conservative thought that understand that these two factions within the GOP are at complete odds with one another, the paleoconservatives at The American Conservative, and the crunchy-paleocons at Front Porch Republic. The 'following essay' appeared in FPR, and lays out the argument pretty clearly:
The “individualist,” . . . is the heir of the Enlightenment, since the whole point of that movement was to “liberate” the newly-discovered “individual” from the natural bonds of the “hegemonic” institutions (as Ludwig von Mises and Michael Novak termed them) of family, community, and nation. Freed from the family, this “liberated” individual would have only contractual obligations, freely chosen and freely broken. Moreover, these contractual “communities” are deemed to be higher than the natural, “hegemonic” communities, precisely because they are “freely chosen,” an expression of the individual’s God-given liberty, the highest value—and perhaps the only one—that liberalism will admit. But this turns out to be a “negative” liberty, one that is not ordered to the goal of meeting obligations or developing one’s own personality. Rather, it merely means that one acts under no compulsion, particularly not governmental or social compulsion. One may choose to fulfill “hegemonic” obligations, but that is incidental and not essential to the notion of liberal “freedom”; it is still freedom regardless of how it is used. In reality, this is not freedom at all, but license, and such licentiousness is established within liberalism as the ground for all social relations.
Further, this individual is the possessor of a bundle of rights which are not rooted in obligations, but are rooted in, well, it’s hard to say what roots them. They just are, that’s all. Nevertheless, these individualistic and free-floating rights are supposed to form the individual’s bulwark against collectivism, but as Patrick Deneen points out, the opposite is the case:
It is only when the variety of institutions and organizations of humankind’s social life have been eviscerated – when the individual experiences himself as an individual – that collectivism as a theory becomes plausible as a politics in fact. Liberalism’s successful liberation of individuals from what had historically been “their own” and the increasing realization of the “individual” made it possible for the theory of cosmopolitanism, “globalism” and One State to arise as an actionable political program in the modern era.
At this point, the capitalists—or at least some of them—are likely to raise the objection that they do indeed support something called “family values.” However, they can never explicate these alleged family values in terms of their own economic premises. They will insist that support of the “free market” is also support of the family, but what they almost always mean is support of the capitalistic markets. Aside from the dubious conflation of “free markets” with capitalism, the historical record suggests that capitalism dissolves the family rather than supports it. Nowadays, the erstwhile neoconservative is likely to blame this on an excess of welfare. Very well, but then, to what period in the history of capitalism are we to look for this support of “family values”? In the period when children worked from dark to dark in the mills to earn bare subsistence? When mothers were forced to leave the family to support the family (a period which has returned, at least for a large number of women)? This mythical support of capitalism for “family values” seems to have no historical expression whatsoever; it is a promise that must accepted sola fide and without reference to any actually existing system, now or in the past. The historical (and present) reality is that commodified labor has led only to fragmented families and unstable communities, communities and families that exist only by the will and whim of global masters. Some freedom.
It is precisely the historical question that separates the anti-capitalists and capitalists into the categories of “realist” and “romantic.” For the distributist can always point to real, operational systems, now and in the past; he can always say, “Come to (say) Mondragon, and see if you like it.” And you may love it or you may hate it, but in either case your judgment rests on actual observation of a real system. The laissez-faire or even “small-state” capitalist cannot do this. “Look at how well capitalism works!” they will exclaim, but when you point out that this “working” system is in fact crony capitalism and not the limited-state variety, they will merely bristle and promise that the limited-state variety would work even better. If you then ask the rather obvious question, “when was that true?” they are likely to go into a white-hot rage. But the plain and indisputable fact of the matter is that there is no period in human history when “capitalism” did not mean “crony capitalism.” This was certainly true in Adam Smith’s day, since the bulk of The Wealth of Nations is dedicated to documenting the extent of the cronyism in the capitalism of his day, mercantilism.
I think paleocon analysis of Liberalism is fundamentally correct. I think, though, that I am more willing to embrace a respectful pluralism in the political sphere than most paleocons, to lament less what has been lost, and to look forward in hope for the emergence of something better. I'm less interested in pointing out what's wrong with Liberalism than searching out the alternatives that point to a flourishing post-Liberal future. Mondragon is one such hope-inducing alternative.