Traditionalist Conservatism

Traditionalist Conservatism

Traditionalist conservatism, also known as "Burkean conservatism," "traditionalism," "cultural conservatism," "New Conservatism" (not to be confused with neoconservatism) or "classical conservatism" is that branch of conservative thought that is characterized by an adherence to the principles of prescription (law), custom (law), social order, hierarchy, faith, the natural family, ordered liberty, and tradition. It may be said to have affinities with reactionary thought, and some adherents of this movement perhaps embrace that label, defying the stigma that has attached to it in Western culture since the Enlightenment.

History of the "New Conservatives"

Traditionalist conservatism emerged after World War Two in the writings of a group of university professors (labeled the "New Conservatives" by the popular press of the time) who revived academic interest in the life and works of Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke and also called for a rejection of progressivism (modern liberalism) and communism in philosophy and practical political policy.

Traditionalists rebuked the progressive worldview inherent in an America comfortable with New Deal economics, a burgeoning military-industrial complex, and a consumerist and commercialized citizenry. University of Chicago professor Richard M. Weaver was among the first of the New Conservatives and his Ideas Have Consequences (1948) chronicled the steady erosion of Western cultural values since the Middle Ages. ["The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945", George H. Nash, pp. 30-36, ISI Books, 2006] Weaver was joined in 1949 by Peter Viereck, whose Conservatism Revisited examined the conservative thought of Klemens Metternich.

The 1950s brought a flowering of New Conservative thought with 1953's "The New Science of Politics" by Eric Voegelin, 1953's "The Quest for Community" by Robert A. Nisbet, and 1955's "Conservatism in America" by Clinton Rossiter. However, the book that defined the traditionalist school was 1953's "The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot", written by Russell Kirk, which gave a detailed analysis of the intellectual pedigree of Anglo-American traditionalist conservatism. ["The Conservative Tradition in America", Charles W. Dunn, p. 10, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003]

Other New Conservatives included John Blum, Daniel Boorstin, McGeorge Bundy, Thomas Cook, Raymond English, John Hallowell, Anthony Harrigan, August Heckscher, Milton Hindus, Kelems von Klemperer, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Richard Leopold, S. A. Lukacs, Malcolm Moos, Eliseo Vivas, Geoffrey Wagner, Chard Walsh, and Francis Wilson ["Conservative Thinkers from John Adams to Winston Churchill", Peter Viereck, p. 107, Transaction Publishers, 1956, 2006] ) as well as Arthur Bestor, Mel Bradford, C. P. Ives, Stanley Jaki, John Lukacs, Forrest McDonald, Thomas Molnar, Gerhard Neimeyer, James V. Schall, S.J., Peter J. Stanlis, Stephen J. Tonsor, and Frederick Wilhelmsen. ["The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945", George H. Nash, pp. 50-55, 68-73, ISI Books, 2006] An earlier group of individuals who had an influence on the New Conservatives were Herbert Agar, Bernard Iddings Bell, Gordon Keith Chalmers, Grenville Clark, Peter Drucker, Will Herberg, Ross J. S. Hoffman, Walter Lippmann, Dorothy Thompson, and Reinhold Niebuhr. ["Conservative Thinkers from John Adams to Winston Churchill", Peter Viereck, p. 107, Transaction Publishers, 1956, 2006]

Russell Kirk and the Six Canons of Conservatism

"The Conservative Mind" was written by Kirk as a doctoral dissertation while he was a student at the St. Andrews University in Scotland. Previously the author of a biography of American conservative John Randolph of Roanoke, Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" had laid out six "canons of conservative thought" in the book, including:

*1.) Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience...Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.
*2.) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarian and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.

*3.) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes...

*4.) Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic leveling is not economic progress...

*5.) Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters and calculators." Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite...Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man's anarchic impulse.

*6.) Recognition that change and reform are not identical... ["The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot", Russell Kirk, pp. 7-8, Regnery, 1953]

Kirk goes on to examine the thought of a wide array of conservative thinkers, including Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke, American Federalists John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, British literati Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, Southern conservatives John Randolph of Roanoke, John Calhoun, American Catholic political thinker Orestes Brownson, New England writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, British Catholic John Henry Newman, American historian Henry Adams, the New Humanism of Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More, and Anglo-American poet and literary critic T. S. Eliot.

Other Traditionalist Conservatives

Over time the New Conservatives gave way to a younger generation which took up the traditionalist mantle. Among this younger generation are included Jeremy Beer, editor of ISI Books, Thomas Bertonneau, visiting professor of English as SUNY-Oswego, Bradley J. Birzer, associate professor of history at Hillsdale College, Cicero Bruce, assistant professor of English at Southern Catholic College, George W. Carey, professor of government at Georgetown University, Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society, James Como, founder of the C. S. Lewis Society, Allan R. Crippen, II, founder of the John Jay Institute for Faith, Law, and Society, Ian Crowe and George H. Nash at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, Hugh Mercer Curtler, professor of philosophy at Southwest Minnesota State University, Lee Edwards, professor of politics at Catholic University of America, T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Michael P. Federici, professor of political science at Mercyhurst College, Bruce Frohnen,associate professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law, Paul Gottfried, professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College, James Kurth and William Anthony Hay of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Mark C. Henrie, editor of the "Intercollegiate Review", E. Christian Kopff, professor of classics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Peter Augustine Lawler, professor of government and international studies at Berry College, Daniel J. Mahoney, professor of politics at Assumption College, Mark G. Malvasi, professor of history at Randolph-Macon College, Wilfred M. McClay, professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, W. Wesley McDonald, professor of political science at Elizabethtown College, Jeffrey O. Nelson, president of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (and Russell Kirk's son-in-law), James E. Person, Jr., Gerald J. Russello, editor of the "University Bookman", Claes G. Ryn, professor of politics at Catholic University of America, George A. Panichas, editor of "Modern Age", Caleb Stegall, Ewa M. Thompson, professor of German and Slavic studies at Rice University, John M. Vella, managing editor of "Modern Age", the"Intercollegiate Review", and the "Political Science Reviewer", Gleaves Whitney, Gregory Wolfe, the editor of "Image", R. V. Young, professor of English at North Carolina State University, and John Zmirak. ["American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia", Bruce Frohnen, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson, pp. 939-948, ISI Books, 2006] The names listed above are affiliated with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and its publications or other traditionalist organizations and publications.

Traditionalism is also associated with the thought of British philosopher Roger Scruton and in practical British politics through the activities of the Cornerstone Group.

External links

Prominent Traditionalists

Russell Kirk

Patrick J. Buchanan

Eric Voegelin

Peter Viereck

Richard M. Weaver

Robert A. Nisbet

Clinton Rossiter

Daniel Boorstin

Forrest McDonald

John Lukacs

Stanley Jaki

Mel Bradford

Claes G. Ryn

James Kurth

R. V. Young

T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.

Allan Carlson

Bruce Frohnen

Peter Augustine Lawler

E. Christian Kopff

* [ "Understanding Traditionalist Conservatism" by Mark C. Henrie]

Traditionalist Educational Organizations

Center for the American Idea
* [ The Center for Religious Humanism]
* [ The Edmund Burke Society]
* [ The Eric Voegelin Institute]
* [ The Foreign Policy Research Institute]
* [ The G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture]
* [ The Intercollegiate Studies Institute]
* [ The National Humanities Institute]
* [ The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal]

Traditionalist Political Organizations
* [ The Cornerstone Group]
* [ The John Jay Institute for Faith, Society, and Law]

Traditionalist Publications
* [ "Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture"]
* [ "The American Conservative"]
* [ "The Chesterton Review"]
* [ "Continuity"]
* [ "Humanitas"]
* [ "
* [ "The Intercollegiate Review: A Journal of Scholarship and Opinion"]
* [ "Modern Age: A Quarterly Review"]
* [ "Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs"]
* [ "The Salisbury Review"]
* [ "Second Spring: A Journal of Faith and Culture"]
* [ "Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity"]
* [ "The University Bookman"]

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