The Next Conservatism: What Is Conservatism?

In this series of columns, we are exploring The Next Conservatism, the last book Paul Weyrich and I wrote together. It offers something this election year needs, namely a conservatism that addresses the issues of today and tomorrow, not yesterday. Ronald Reagan’s agenda was great for the 1980s, but that was some time ago (Paul Ryan, take note).

The Next Conservatism begins by asking the question, “What is conservatism?” It is an important question because the word “conservatism” has been stolen. It is now applies to many things that historically have been conservatism’s opposites, including spreading democracy world-wide (that was known first as Jacobinism, then Wilsonianism, and conservatives have always opposed both), demanding an American world empire (which means the end of liberty at home, as the Founding Fathers warned us), and a reduction of life to nothing but getting and spending. Conservatives used to know the difference between value and price.

The Next Conservatism‘s definition is that of Russell Kirk. Kirk may have been the only real conservative in the old National Review crowd. Stressing that conservatism is not an ideology, Kirk saw the conservative mind as embracing ten broad principles:

  1. Human nature is unchanging and moral truths are permanent;
  2. Conservatives believe life should be guided by custom, habit, and Tradition, which reflect the accumulated wisdom of many generations;
  3. As Dr. Samuel Johnson said, the only true test of the merits of anything is time, and things ancient deserve our respect because they are old;
  4. The first conservative political rule is prudence, which includes judging political proposals by their likely long-term effects;
  5. Conservatives value variety and therefore reject equality, which seeks to lower everyone to the same level;
  6. Quests for utopia lead to disaster, and society will always be imperfect because man is imperfect;
  7. Freedom and property depend on each other, and where property is not safe there will soon be no freedom;
  8. Conservatives oppose collectivism but want community, knowing man is not made for a solitary existence;
  9. Power and the quest for power must be contained or the state will come to rule over all in everything; and
  10. Conservatism recognizes the need for change and reform but insists they proceed slowly and carefully, not discarding the lessons previous generations have learned. Order must always be maintained.

To Kirk’s list Paul and I added the statement that we are cultural conservatives, which we defined (with Kirk’s approval) in these words, in a book Free Congress Foundation published in the 1980s:

Cultural conservatism is the belief that there is a necessary, unbreakable, and causal relationship between traditional Western, Judeo-Christian values, definitions of right and wrong, ways of thinking and ways of living–the parameters of Western culture–and the secular success of Western societies: their prosperity, their liberties, and the opportunities they offer their citizens to lead fulfilling, rewarding lives. If the former are abandoned, the latter will be lost.

As has happened on a broad scale since that definition was offered thirty years ago, and to an even greater degree if we look back to our country’s last normal decade, the 1950s. Then, it was esay for a blue-collar man to get a good job, one that paid enough that he could give his family a middle-class standard of living on one income.

In this year’s election, the popular outrage over the decline of the middle class, the wasting of our children’s lives in unnecessary overseas wars and the ravages cultural Marxism, a.k.a. political correctness, has inflicted on our culture has broken into the open. I do not think it will be put back into the bottle anytime soon. If it is to bear fruit in terms of restoring America’s greatness, it must turn, not just to conservatism, but to cultural conservatism. Culture is the basis for everything else, and util we again get it right all else will continue its downward spiral. As we shall see, The Next Conservatism talks about how we might find our old culture again. favicon

9 thoughts on “The Next Conservatism: What Is Conservatism?”

  1. Enjoyed as always. I ask myself where the elephants in the room, HBD and diversity, fit into this. I suppose somewhere between points 1 and 2. Point 5 certainly applies. “Culture comes from the cult” but I think it’s a two way relationship (culture reinforces the cult) and too much diversity throws a wrench into it.

  2. It’s amazing how non-conservative so many of today’s “mainstream conservatives” really are.

  3. Point 5, agreed. Diversity is an application of Equality. HBD offers proof that not all races are equal.

  4. What are the means for waging an effective cultural counter-offensive against political correctness within the confines of the 1st amendment? It seems that the source of the cultural filth comes from Hollywood/Viacom/MTV targeted to children. But how do you fight that without overstepping government authority?

  5. That’s a tough one. I think part of the answer is to make sure that your dollars don’t support it and to encourage neighbors and friends to bleed the beast dry. However, there will always be a temptation to buy those products unless an alternative platform is put in place to produce decent but still entertaining media.

    There have been attempts to do this but they tend to suffer from their ideological orientation getting in the way of making a entertaining movie or telling a good story. There must be gate keepers in such organizations to keep the filth out without compromising on quality.

    Another way to deal with the problem is to cut away the privileges such entities have currently under U.S. law, i.e. repeal the Hollywood tax cuts. Level the playing field and force them to work by the same kinds of rules.

    Another gambit might be to make Hollywood live up to its own “leftist/Cult-Marx” principles and to tie the studios up in the red tape of the professional grievance industry. But that requires individuals with the time and means to launch the kinds of campaigns and lawsuits required to break down Hollywood.

    Just a few basic ideas.

  6. Why does no one talk about crossing Nationalism with Distributism? The Eastern churches in San Antonio (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox) retain their Nationalism/ethnic identity. So does our Anglican-use Catholic parish which has high masses in English, Latin Mass, classical church music and chant every Sunday. No Liberal foolishness there. These parishes have many Hispanics attending, but do not seem to be assaulted by Cultural Marxism as most of our Catholic parishes do always bowing to the Hispanics and Leftists. is a good idea, but it does not go far enough. The Eastern churches would be perfect for creating guilds to produce ethnic food products. Mr. Lind would like to see the papacy devolved so all the churches can reunite and yet keep their Nationalism/ethnic identities. Europe has many Nations with a great variety of food products. This could be used to devolve the food industry. You could attack Archer Daniels Midland this way using heirloom produce and heirloom livestock breeds from Europe. This way you could counter the big companies and the Frankenfood they sell. The phony Homogenization in the Catholic church has given us parishes under assault from Cultural Marxism. The loss of German, Irish, Italian, etc. parishes has created this phony Liberal church. The Maronite and Greek Orthodox here have excellent 3 day food festivals, while our generic Catholic parishes have 1 day, boring, bland festivals. In the 1980’s the Irish parish had great multi-day festivals. No more. We still have a Octoberfest, but no German parishes. This is a great loss. All those groups were assimilated historically with their respective Nationlist/ethnic parishes. While their Americanism may have been questioned at one time, no one questions the Americanism of Germans, Irish, Italians, or today’s Eastern Christians. Perhaps that is the trouble with the Hispanics. No specific Hispanic parish with Latin, Spanish Baroque music and a guild for the old Spanish Charros in San Antonio to produce grass-fed beef. Every ethnic group should where traditional clothing for work. I have no problem with putting National flags on food products. The Confederate flag on Southern food products would also be appropriate. Is this not traditional culture? Is this not Retroculture? Every ethnic group needs its own parish. Every Distributist worker-co-operative should be connected to a ethnic parish. Attack ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND!

  7. Lipids 2004; 39 459 67 propecia vs generic First of all, a seemingly can you donate blood if you take blood pressure medicine prescription free blood pressure pills decorative golden ivy pattern on the neckline of the chest is actually a magic circle made of pure pure gold, The reason is that a few scumbags have made outstanding contributions can you donate blood if you take blood pressure medicine to spreading the glory of God

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *