"Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism. And with its traditionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities, it will never, except in short periods of disillusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desirable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its very nature, is bound to be a defender of establishment privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege."
The quotation above was written by F. A. Hayek for his introduction to the 1955 re-issue of his famous book The Road To Serfdom.
I have set out to investigate the history of modern conservatism in the United States. This effort is strictly personal and for my own understanding of the forces at work today in our polity.
I began by trying to find a workable or satisfactory definition of a conservative and have concluded that there isn't one. Political conservatism in America contains divisions of great importance to their adherents. There maybe three or four definitions of conservatism.
I don't believe that Hayek's is a true definition. I see it as reflecting a problem within the domain of conservatism that has not been understood or reconciled with the philosophy.
There are other contradictions that exist within the conservative movement. The result is unwillingness to call myself a conservative when a well-known public conservative preaches ideas with which I disagree mightily.
I am using two books for a general history of the conservative movement: "The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945" by George N. Nash and "From Dawn To Decadence" by Jacques Barzun.
I chose these two books because their authors are conservative and they are excellent sources for additional reading.
My first choices for additional reading are: "The Wise Men Know What Wicked Things Are Written On The Sky" by Russell Kirk, and "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat.
Challenging works. I'll see what comes of it.
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