To a conservative, anyone who advocates building an ideal society by the use of reason-based theories is a ‘Utopian liberal’ because following Burke and Russel Kirk they do not believe in the unlimited power of reason.
Some of Clark’s terms are just begging for trouble. “The unlimited power of reason” — look out.
Well, look, Billy;  Without getting directly into all the aspects of Kevin’s comments, let me take a stab at the general concept by saying part of the problem here is that man is not a reliably reasonable being, each having his own passions… some of which he doesn’t know about until the opportunities actually present themselves. For one thing, that’s why the Constitution was created; to protect us against those passions once people got themselves into positions of governmental power.
Temptation can and too often does overcome principle and reason. I’m not encouraging this by it’s recognition, that’s just the way it is. If that were not the case, we’d not be fighting a constant battle against people who have found the power of government to be a groovy thing to have for their own sordid ends. The left, mostly, though the right has it’s problem children in that game, too. And as you point out, what they consider reasonable is driven by their premises. It’s a conceptual thing… and I would suggest further that in turn is driven by cultural concept.
(I’m too damned tired to get into the concept of reinforcing cultures, just now, but the cultural aspect certainly plays into the perception of reason, I think and speaks loudly to what I’ve said for years… the idea of reinforcing western culture by way of education, so as to also thereby reinforce the proper read of what is and is not reason, thereby upholding the culture of liberty you speak of.. Education, in short. )
It’s why I’ve been for years saying that rights are a cultural concept. It’s true; one may properly argue they exist with or without the culture, but without the recognition of those rights by the culture they’re not worth much, are they?
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting that we toss reason on it’s ear. Not by any means.. But it strikes me that given our understanding of human nature,and of varied perceptions, it’s not altogether reasonable to assume that man will be reliably what we consider to be reasonable, and thereby one may assume that there’s other players that also need to be at the party; other forces that also need to be in play.