Skip to comments.The Crisis of American Conservatism: Inherent Contradictions and the End of the Road
Posted on 01/03/2013 6:28:15 AM PST by Abiotic
It has long been understood that there is something peculiar, even paradoxical, about conservatism in America. American conservatism is different from conservatism in other countries, even those countries which were the original source of many other American ideas and ideals, i.e., the countries of Europe. Indeed, the very term American conservatism is something of an oxymoron. For most Europeans who came to America, the whole purpose of their difficult and disruptive journey to the New World was not to conserve European institutions but to leave them behind and to create something new, often an entirely new life and even a new identity, for themselves.
In this essay, we will examine how the paradoxes of American conservatism have unfolded and revealed themselves during the period of the last three or four decades. We begin our discussion by noting the three distinct dimensions that have always defined American conservatism. The original and traditional American conservatism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries collapsed in a great debacle during the Great Depression of the 1930s, but this was followed by a creative reinvention of American conservatism during the Great Stagflation of the 1970s. This reinvented conservatism experienced its own debacle during the current Great Recession, which began in 2007 and which continues into the 2010s. We conclude with a review of the current condition of what was once a reinvented, but now seems to be YET another collapsed conservatism, in the light of the elections of 2012. The decisive defeats of the Republican party, particularly in the Presidential and Senatorial elections, have demonstrated that American conservatism will once again have to be reinvented and the Republican party will have to appeal to new constituencies or they, like the Federalists, Whigs, and traditional conservatives before them, will disappear or be eclipsed.
(Excerpt) Read more at fpri.org ...
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM ET
On Tuesday, January 8, we will hold the inaugural session of Firing Line 2.0, featuring FPRI Senior Fellow James Kurth. The subject of discussion will be Prof. Kurth's recent FPRI E-Note on The Crisis of Conservatism, an examination of the November 2012 election results deeply rooted in an analysis of American conservatism, the likes of which you have never seen before.
The E-Note is available here: http://www.fpri.org/articles/2012/12/crisis-american-conservatism-inherent-contradictions-and-end-road
In the spirit of William Buckley's Firing Line (one of TV's longest running public affairs program -- 1966-1999), Ron Granieri, the new director of our Center for the Study of America and the West, will "interrogate" Prof. Kurth -- with help from the audience. We look forward to a uniquely interactive program, offering real substance and emphasizing active audience participation.
This program is normally available to FPRI members only. We invite you to take part via the web.
To register for the webcast of this event use this link: http://www.fpri.org/events/2013/01/firing-line-20-january-2013
There is no crisis in conservatism. “Conservatism” is simply the term used to describe traditional values and practices that resulted in the American nation reaching its pinnacle. In short it celebrates individual achievement and responsibility, a code of moral behavior that builds a society based on family and respect for individual rights,and the economic freedom of productive capitalism unburdened by an overly intrusive government. What has changed is the social consensus of the nation. Instead of an emphasis on the individual, the collective takes precedent. Rules , regulations, decrees all directed by a controlling powerful government bureaucracy almost immune to to the wishes of elected officials now dominates individuals and molds their behavior and expectations. This combined with the decadence now celebrated in popular culture and practice is the “crisis” facing dwindling conservatives.
Thanks for posting; sounds interesting.
This essay, which ignores the role of William F. Buckley and the intellectuals around National Review magazine in the late 1950s, isn’t historically accurate.
It seems to be revisionist conservative history aimed at low-information types who imagine themselves intellectuals. In other words, it seems to be liberal gibberish.
I think I may take time to join the webcast. Thanks for posting the notice.
This guy loses all credibility in the first paragraph when he is talking about how American conservatism is “different” from that in Europe.
In Europe, socialism is assumed to be the human condition. It is the default government to them. The terms “right” and “left” only denote whether they are international “worker” socialist (left) or nationalist socialist (right). This is why the left in the US can make the connection between Nazis and Republicans—because in their respective continents, both are on the “right” despite the fact that they are as different as night and day.
The US, free market used to be our default condition. So “right” means less government and more freedom and “left” means the opposite.
Europe has worked very hard for 200+ years to re-exert control over the unruly mobs on our side of the pond. They suck us into their wars, they take our scholars and make them Rhodes Scholars, and they show our intelligentsia that the way of the nanny state is the only reasonable way to live.
Our “crisis of conservatism” only exists because half of our people believe that freedom is slavery, war is peace, up is down, and collecting a check from the government is empowering.
What we are, are liberals. Classical liberals. The word was taken from us just as "gay" was taken from us. Liberal used to mean advocating for the freedom of individuals, self-determinism. Now it means the tyrannical oppression of the individual. Modern liberals defile the language as surely as they defile anything else.
The “Crisis of Conservatism” is simply the inability to see or defend against a 100 year communist assault on liberty and freedom. The communists and their ilk learned they could not bomb the West into submission, so they changed their strategy to the Long March through the institutions. Now, after two or three generations, they have succeeded. There was feeble or no conservative defense against this because we thought the merits of freedom, liberty and free enterprise were self-evident.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction — Ronald Reagan
you are correct
Eventually, the fusion will fail. It already is. The GOP seems ready to get rid of social conservatives and security minded ones in order to chase after big money. Which is the smallest number of votes, and the are they are least likely to hold on to (many millionaires are Left leaning, keeps others from achieving the same success they have).
With the path the GOP is on, they are heading for a lot of lost elections. They may be done for as a national power for at least a few election cycles.
This guy blames Glass-Steagle’s repeal for the economic crisis?
That’s a canard, Europe never passed similar laws and they still had the same crisis. INVESTMENT banks caused it, not commercial ones.
As always, the news of our demise is greatly exaggerated.