The story of postwar American conservatism is best understood as a continual replay of a single long-standing debate. On one side are those who have upheld the Burkean ideal of replenishing civil society by adjusting to changing conditions. On the other are those committed to a revanchist counterrevolution, the restoration of America's pre-welfare state ancien regime. And, time and again, the counterrevolutionaries have won. The result is that modern American conservatism has dedicated itself not to fortifying and replenishing civil society but rather to weakening it through a politics of civil warfare.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Time For Replenishment
Sam Tanenhaus, biographer of Whittaker Chambers and, soon, William F. Buckley, Jr., on the rise and fall of conservatism: