Oh Look, Conservative Philosophy

Freddie has a great piece up at Wunderkammer trying to articulate what the American conservative philosophical tradition is all about, and what modern conservatism seems so philosophically incoherent. This, I think, is the takeaway:

More, it may be that whatever the given political movement’s political winds– whether conservatives are animated by the Gingrich revolution, the Clinton presidency, the Obama victory, the Scott Brown moment– there is perhaps an understanding that appreciable victories for American conservatism will necessarily be modest. This is what Whittaker Chambers knew, what Dwight Eisenhower knew, what Alexis de Tocqueville knew: that this is a country born out of violent revolution by men at the absolute vanguard of left-wing philosophy for their times, and that Western civilization is a vector, and it does not point towards the past. The direction may very well not be towards American liberalism’s policies, but it will in keeping with the liberal character. You cannot move away from liberalism by appealing to the center, because liberalism is the center.

The whole thing, particularly the earlier portions, is worth reading. Freddie sets out an understanding of what it means to be a conservative that obviously won’t pass Michael Steele’s litmus test, but it’s one that I could respect, and respectfully disagree with.


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