Conservatives like unchosen loyalties, and one of the strengths of loyalty to place and heritage is that it's unchosen.

Kind of. You can't choose the place you come from. The relationship you has with a place of origin contains a lot more than that fact. Hugo Schwyzer points out one dimension:

Let me make it simple: all things being equal (and Berkeley and UCLA are pretty equal in most programs, as are Cal State LA and Sacramento State), go to college as far away as possible from your friends, family, and everything you have known. I don’t know if anyone has copyrighted it yet, so call it the Gandalf theory of higher education. When in doubt, and if you can possibly afford it financially, move away.

Anyone familiar with the end of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man knows of another example, when Stephen decides his Irishness will be his to define and understand. Helen again:

The thing that Michael Oakeshott liked about unchosen loyalties was the fact that they are non-instrumental. Chosen loyalties are, for him, always directed towards some material goal and therefore liable to be small and petty; they're also the kind of loyalty that allows a person to opt out if the association is no longer serving their purposes, which is also pretty lame.

I'm not convinced chosen-ness makes loyalties any worse, and I think one can make the case that they're better. For relatively young people in contemporary America, all your loyalties are chosen--perhaps it's better to say that part of becoming an adult is learning how to solidify one's loyalties, to recognize the ones worth keeping and pursuing. Maintaining chosen loyalties is at least a difficult as maintaining unchosen ones--perhaps harder, for the reasons Helen identifies, as so (on one reading) a better field in which to exercise virtue. I don't consider myself to have fewer, or merely instrumental, obligations to the church I attend because I chose it. But I know that, having chosen it, I bear responsibility for my relationship to it. Should I fail to fulfill those obligations, the failure will be mine, too.

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