This is from Enlightened Idiocy.
Liberty is not the base virtue. It is the crowning flower that appears when virtue is possessed. The drive to the possession of virtue over generations within Western Civilisation resulted in increasing liberty.
The freedom to do as one chooses — liberty — is only eucivic when one has internalised the principles that impose atrocity as and where necessary.
Then someone got enlightened and crowned liberty as a virtue itself. Idiot. Through this idiocy the drive to virtue resulting in liberty was replaced with a drive for exercise of liberty, regardless of virtue — egalitarianism.
As the drive for virtue faded, we persisted virtuously, but upon the momentum built up in our culture and our people. That virtue wasn’t being generated was largely invisible, although men like Carlyle noticed. In his day it evidenced itself as a prevailing lack of realness, of sham echoes of things real.
Imposing liberty upon those who had not the virtue for it led to increasingly dyscivic action. The institutions that supported the growth of liberty were hollowed out from within, as those institutions required atrocity to function, and men without the self-control necessary for it were given liberty. Liberty and atrocity require greatness for proximity. And thus the required atrocity faded.
As it faded, the pervading culture of true virtue was lost.
And so today we are left with this rancid mess we call modernity. Virtue is despised, and must be hidden to grow. Liberty is forced every lower, to people less and less capable of wielding it to the benefit of others, at ever increasing cost to society.
And in this environment, virtue is being reborn. Remarkable.