Conservatism: Roots and Essence


While over many decades there have been innumerable volumes published on Conservatism, tracing its earliest origins, multifaceted ideological character and ever-shifting beliefs over time, two sets of books have proven indispensable in helping me to understand and define its essence and make-up. Most of this important material is unknown to contemporary individuals who self-label themselves as “Conservative,” and identify with such persons as O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, Levin, Limbaugh, Savage, or other media talking heads. They are “reactionaries” in the truest sense, for their shallow, ahistorical conception of what it means to be a “Conservative” is more a gut-level reaction or emotive response to the imbecilities of the Left rather than a carefully thought out set of principles.

Many would no doubt assert that Russell Kirk is the uncle of that Star Trek guy.

But the two sets of in-depth, scholarly books presented here address these gaping deficiencies: Peter Witonski, editor, The Wisdom of Conservatism (four volumes); and W. H. Greenleaf’s magisterial three volume set on The British Political Tradition: Volume One: The Rise of Collectivism; Volume Two: The Ideological Heritage; and Volume Three: A Much Governed Nation. Greenleaf’s series is especially useful and intellectually intriguing because he explicitly characterizes the long-range ideological struggle as one between libertarianism versus collectivism.

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7:09 pm on June 4, 2017

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