March 29, 2008

PRESENT AT THE CREATION:

A New Kind of Right (JAMES BOWMAN, March 25, 2008, NY Sun)

Jazz is the only indigenous American art form, or so we are often told. I would add the animated cartoon, though calling it "art" may create certain problems. But the country has produced another thing at least as remarkable and as unmistakably American and, with "Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism", Alfred Regnery has written a history of its genesis that ought to be on the reading list of every student of American history.

What we have learned to call "conservatism" didn't exist until about 60 years ago. America's history was all liberal in Old World terms. (In fact, what we call conservatism is called "neo-liberalism" in much of the world today.) Conservatism in Europe was royalist or narrowly nationalist and ethnic, of the blood and fatherland tendency that obviously had no place to go in our multi-ethnic nation. Often, it was associated with official or quasi-official religions.

But in the 1950s, some remarkable Americans came together to create a new kind of conservatism, native and individualistic, that was based on the triple pillars of economic liberalism, anti-communism, and respect for traditional values. This politics ever since, and the dominant one over the past 40 years. No one is better placed to write its history than Mr. Regnery. He grew up in the home of one of those founders of American conservatism. His father, Henry Regnery, a textile magnate from Chicago, started a publishing house after World War II that was to release many of the seminal documents of the new conservatism, and he was present at many of its key moments.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2008 8:39 PM
Comments

That's not quite right. The Brits possessed a conservatism distinct from the throne and altar or blood/nation conservatism of the continent.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 29, 2008 9:17 PM
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