Lawrence Chickering now joins Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, William F. Buckley, Jim Turner and a few other heroic figures in that wine-soaked bistro in Paradise where Ascended Masters carouse.
Never heard of him? Here’s why.
He lived as the ineffable virtue — the Te — behind human flourishing, ducking fame. That said, he may have saved your life … or, at least, liberty … and his greatest work, one in progress, may transform billions of lives for the better.
Who was this International Man of Mystery? Chickering, one of relatively few left-coast right-wing intellectuals, was quietly the annual skiing buddy of William F. Buckley, Jr. and Milton Friedman.
“It was magical. We talked and laughed and skied our hearts out. … Each of the next 17 years, we stayed in the Alta Lodge and skied on the second weekend of January in the center of powder-snow country. … But it was special, just the three of us, and we resisted the temptation to expand the group.”
How could this matter to you? Because, fellow Conservative,“united we stand, divided we fall.” He united us.
One of the key factors behind the rise of conservativism was building a working alliance between paleoconservatives, like Buckley, and libertarian conservatives, like Friedman. Chickering:
“…Milton represented the libertarian side of conservatism (what I call the freedom Right), and Bill combined the freedom and order Right, this was an 18-year conversation on global events, but also on the tensions between the two great themes in modern conservative thought. Our conversations helped clarify answers to what Irving Kristol once said was the greatest unsolved intellectual challenge: to integrate libertarian and traditionalist thought.”
Beyond his contribution to this existential achievement, Chickering reputedly was instrumental in persuading Reagan to embrace the Strategic Defense Initiative, “Star Wars,” which some, myself included, believe played a major role in America’s Cold War victory, bluffing the Sovs into submission.
“Contact with Lawrence Chickering of the policy think tank Institute for Contemporary Studies (ICS) led to [maverick physicist Jack] Sarfatti acting as a consultant for the Reagan Administration’s fledgling Strategic Defence Initiative (or Star Wars project). …” Per Sarfatti, “[Marshall] Naify, Lawrence Chickering and I had lunch at Enrico’s maybe in 1981, where Naify spent at least half an hour describing in detail what would later be Star Wars SDI. Chickering worked directly with Ed Meese.”
Lawry helped consolidate the center right. He helped sell Star Wars to Reagan. Cold War won, Chickering turned his eye toward winning the peace.
As described in his thumbnail biography at The Transpartisan Review (on whose advisory board I was honored to serve, despite my being an out-of-the-closet revanchist Cispartisan):
“In 1985, he co-founded … the International Center for Economic Growth, which worked with economic policy organizations in more than 100 countries to promote economic and social reform. In 1999, he founded Educate Girls Globally, which works in India and will soon expand to Africa and the Middle East.”
Perhaps Educate Girls Globally, which he founded and served as president, then president emeritus, will prove the greatest of his legacies. “Lawry has dedicated more than 30 years designing and implementing reforms in government institutions to help promote change and empower citizens, especially the disadvantaged. He believes that citizen engagement is the key to reducing conflict in political life as well as to solve real problems. In 1999, Lawry founded Educate Girls Globally to promote education for girls by working with the government and key stakeholders to reform government schools.”
To his great satisfaction, he watched this initiative flourish, reaching widespread adoption in Asia… and beginning its spread to Eastern Europe. Per his obituary:
“More than 25 years ago, inspired by the response of the head of the IMF when asked "What is the most effective way to eliminate poverty in developing countries?" Lawry took the answer of "educating girls" and ran with it. He created a vision of female empowerment, which ultimately culminated in establishing his non-profit, Educate Girls Globally (EGG). This organization championed female education in areas previously unreached in India with plans for global expansion.”
And during our all-too-rare get togethers, he would happily recount how, in its 25-year-long-overnight-success-story, EGG’s program was being enthusiastically embraced by many provincial governments in India, going to scale in what portended a tsunami of humanitarian flourishing.
Potentially bigger, I privately thought, than Milton Friedman’s passion for school choice.
So farewell, Lawry. You played the Cheshire Cat to my Alice, hovering over the vast right-wing’s Mad Tea Party.
Instrumental in helping the Right Wing Conspiracy become Vast. Helped rattle the Evil Empire into dissolving itself. And advancing female dignity in the world’s largest nation.
President Biden? There are few worthier candidates for the Presidential Medal of Freedom than A. Lawrence Chickering III.
Adieu, Lawry. Enjoy that continuing conversation in Paradiso’s bistro!
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply-Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $94T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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