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Three Conceptions of Conservatism


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Chronicles Magazine

Three Conceptions of Conservatism


Some of the best studies I have read on conservatism as a historical phenomenon have come from authors who were not in any conventional sense “conservative.” In this venerable company I would place the illustrious Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, whose essay “Conservatism as an Ideology” (American Political Science Review, 1957) is one of the most insightful, erudite studies on conservative thought from the 1950s. That was a decade in which Russell Kirk published The Conservative Mind, an Edmund Burke-revival was flourishing, National Review and Modern Age were founded, and the Southern Agrarians were still a significant cultural and artistic force. In the 1950s conservative publishers Regnery Gateway and Arlington House also came on the scene, as a conservative readership exploded.

It was also a decade in which English translations of Hungarian-German sociologist Karl Mannheim’s work became available. Although not a self-identified man of the right, Mannheim in his long essay “Conservative Thought” brilliantly explored the European counterrevolutionary worldview. Much of what Mannheim published about Burke, Louis de Bonald, and other seminal conservative thinkers was reflected in the social theoretical writings of Robert Nisbet, who became an academic star in the same fateful decade. If Huntington explored the conservative phenomenon extensively in his essay, he was writing about what in the 1950s was a hugely popular topic.  :snip: 

( Maybe True Maybe Not you tell me whether it hogwash or bull crop)

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