Bruce:

Sorry I missed this essay.

Great observations / conclusions.

Just a comment or two:

“Moreover, where a conservative vision makes possible justification for limited government buttressed by intermediary associations, one sees in classical liberalism a suspicion of those associations (rooted as they are in custom rather than reason) that in time helped bring about the very mass politics it feared.”

This suspicion of the classical liberal would at first glance appear to go against the grain of their philosophical / political thought. yet, it does not. In fact it is consistent with two factors that make up, as you say, the character of aristocratic liberalism. First, a genuine fear / lack of understanding of the masses and the belief that the *politically* unprepared masses would make a bollocks of the whole political system. Secondly, I suspect that much of the suspicion / fear had an economic basis. The classical liberal philosophy gained sway during (actually after) a period of rapid economic growth resulting from a nascent capitalist economy. Much resentment was harbored by the “landed gentry” towards these *upstarts* whose wealth and power came to be seen (and effectively was) a counterbalance to the power of the landed gentry.
It is no wonder that the aristocracy sought to limit / control private associations and sought to label them as a *conspiracy* of merchants / tradesmen, etc. Left unfettered these associations would soon surpass the associations of the aristocracy (and / or the hereditary privilege arising from bloodlines).

Witness also some of the maneuvers of the landed aristocracy to keep the upstart industrial / merchant class in its place. Did not the aristocracy prevail upon the Crown to limit credit AND coinage to the industrial / merchant class. The record indicates that such a policy, when it was implemented by the Bank of England, had a severe and depressive effect upon the rising industrial / merchant classes.

Clearly, the aristocratic liberal had an economic incentive to distrust / hamper the formation of such private associations.

You are, of course, correct when you assert that aristocratic liberalism, with its distrust of such associations AND its belief in its own ameliorative powers / prescription resulted in the decline of private associations which were ultimately assumed by the Progressive State.

Heck, anytime I look upon a photo of Woodie Wilson, I am convinced of this. Was he not the *aristocratic* liberal whose entire academic / political career was centered on distrust of the masses and an elevated belief in the power of his class to properly steer the polity.