Warren is saying … that (to quote a thinker with whom Will has more than a passing acquaintance), "Society is indeed a contract … a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born." Warren’s homely phrase, "pay forward," captures the moral bond that connects this generation with the next. If we don’t adequately provide for their future, we are breaking that bond. A decent political community has the right—indeed the obligation—to honor that bond—if necessary, by compelling individuals who refuse to look beyond their own immediate concerns to contribute their share to the common future.
Scott Galupo dusts off Will's own words from 1983 to reinforce the point. Will was once a Tory:
Biologically, we are directed toward culture; we are pointed beyond our individual existences, toward our species, in the form of our community and progeny. Politically, we should be led up from individualism.
Siding with Galston, Dreher adds:
As the Catholic writer Mark Shea points out, you don’t have to embrace the Occupy Wall Street crowd to grasp that they are onto something, that there’s something truly disordered about our society’s economic arrangements. Seriously, could Burke even get a hearing among American conservatives today? Or is he to be seen as some sort of proto-commie?
Can we not just be adults and recognize that society exists and that it empowers the individual and that the individual therefore owes something to the society at large – and our arguments are about the size and shape of that relationship through time in different circumstances. Or would that mean we couldn't yell at each other quite so much?