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Traditionalist conservatism, also known as "traditional conservatism," "traditionalism," and "Burkean conservatism" (and in non-American English-speaking nations, Toryism) describes a political philosophy emphasizing the need for the principles of natural law and transcendent moral order, tradition, hierarchy and organic unity, agrarianism, classicism and high culture, and the intersecting spheres of loyalty.[1] Some traditionalists have embraced the labels "reactionary" and "counterrevolutionary", defying the stigma that has attached to these terms since the Enlightenment. Having a hierarchical view of society many non-American traditionalist conservatives defend the monarchical political structure as the most natural and beneficial social arrangement.

Traditionalism--not being an exact political model--has existed since the inception of civilization; its contemporary expression, however, developed in the Eighteenth Century (particularly in response to the English Civil War and the French Revolution). Not until the mid-twentieth century did traditionalist conservatism in the United States being to organize itself in earnest as an intellectual and political force. This more modern expression of traditionalist conservatism began among a group of U.S. university professors (labeled the "New Conservatives" by the popular press) who rejected the notions of individualism, liberalism, modernity, and social progress, promoted cultural and educational renewal[2], and revived interest in what T. S. Eliot referred to as "the permanent things" (those perennial truths which endure from age to age and those basic institutions that ground society, such as the church, the family, the state, local community, etc.).


Key principles


Natural law and transcendent moral order

Belief in natural law and transcendent moral order lay the foundation for traditionalist conservative thought. Reason and Divine Revelation inform natural law and the universal truths of faith. It is through these universal truths of faith that man orders himself and the world around him. Mankind organized society on the basis of these universal truths of faith. The traditionalist holds axiomatic the belief that religion precedes civilization (vide, T. S. Eliot's essays Christianity and Culture). Most traditionalist conservatives embrace High Church Christianity--e.g. T. S. Eliot, an Anglo-Catholic--and Russell Kirk--a Roman Catholic--and Rod Dreher--an Eastern Orthodox Christian. Not all traditionalists, however, are High Church Christians. Other traditionalists whose faith traditions are notable include Caleb Stegall, who is an evangelical Protestant. Many conservative mainline Protestants are also traditionalist conservatives, including some of writers for Touchstone Magazine. And many traditionalists are Jewish, such as the late Will Herberg, Irving Louis Horowitz, Mordecai Roshwald, and Paul Gottfried.

Tradition and custom

As the name suggests, traditionalists believe that tradition and custom guide man and his worldview. Each generation inherits the experience and culture of its ancestors and through convention and precedence man is able to inherit the culture of his ancestors and pass it down to his descendants. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, often regarded as the father of modern conservatism: "the individual is foolish, but the species is wise."

Hierarchy and organic unity

Traditionalist conservatives believe that human society is essentially hierarchical (i.e., it always involves various interdependent inequalities, degrees, and classes and that political structures that recognize this fact prove the most just, thriving, and generally beneficial). Hierarchy allows for the preservation of the whole community simultaneously, instead of protecting one part at the expense of the others.


While most traditionalist conservatives are cosmopolitan and many live in urban centers, the countryside and the values of rural life are prized highly (sometimes even being romanticized, as in pastoral poetry). The principles of agrarianism (i.e., preserving the small family farm, open land, the conservation of natural resource, and stewardship of the land) are central to a traditionalist's understanding of rural life.

Classicism and high culture

Traditionalists are firm defenders of the Great Tradition of Western Civilization and value a classical education informed by the texts of the Hebraic, Greek, Roman, and Medieval eras. Similarly, traditionalists revere high culture and all of its manifestations (e.g., literature, music, architecture, art, theater). Likewise, traditionalists shun distortions of high culture such as modernism.

Patriotism, localism, and regionalism

Unlike nationalists, who esteem the role of the State or nation over the local or regional community, traditionalists hold up patriotism as a key principle. Traditionalist conservatives think that loyalty to a a locality or region is more central than any commitment to a larger political entity. Traditionalists also welcome the value of subsidiarity and the intimacy of one's community. Nationalism, alternately, leads to jingoism and views the state as abstract from the local community and family structure rather than as an outgrowth of these local realities.

Intellectual inheritance

British influences

Edmund Burke

Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke

Traditionalist conservatism began with the thought of Anglo-Irish Whig statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, whose political principles were rooted in moral natural law and the Western tradition. Burke believed in prescriptive rights and that those rights were "God-given". He also defended what he referred to as "ordered liberty" (best reflected in the unwritten law of the British constitutional monarchy). Burke also advocated for those transcendent values that found support in such institutions as the church, the family, and the state.[3] He was a fierce critic of the principles behind the French Revolution and in 1790 his observations on the excesses and radicalism of the French Revolution were collected in Reflections on the Revolution in France. In Reflections he took to task the radical innovations of the revolutionaries, such as the "Rights of Man". American social critic and historian Russell Kirk wrote that, "The Reflections burns with all the wrath and anguish of a prophet who saw the traditions of Christendom and the fabric of civil society dissolving before his eyes."[4]

Burke's influence extended to later thinkers and writers both in his native Britain and in Continental Europe. Among those influenced by his thought were the English Romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Robert Southey, Scottish Romantic author Sir Walter Scott,[5] and the French counter-revolutionaries François-René de Chateaubriand, Louis de Bonald, and Joseph de Maistre.[6] In the United States the Federalist Party and its leaders, such as President John Adams and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, best represented Burke's legacy.[7]

The distributists

In the early 20th century traditionalist conservatism found its defenders through the efforts of Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton and other proponents of the socioeconomic system they advocated: distributism. Originating in the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum, distributism employed the concept of subsidiarity as a "third way" solution to the twin "evils" of socialism and capitalism. It favors local economies, small business, the agrarian way of life, and craftsmen and artists. In such books as Belloc's The Servile State (1912), Economics for Helen (1924), and An Essay on the Restoration of Property (1936) and Chesterton's The Outline of Sanity (1927), traditional communities that echoed those found in the Middle Ages were advocated and big business and big government condemned. In the United States distributist ideas were embraced by the journalist Herbert Agar, Catholic activist Dorothy Day, economist E. F. Schumacher and were comparable to the work of Wilhelm Roepke.[8]

T. S. Eliot

A champion of the Western tradition and orthodox Christian culture, T. S. Eliot was also arguably the "last great poet of the English language." Known for his poem The Waste Land, Eliot was a political reactionary who used modernist literary means for traditionalist ends. His After Strange Gods (1934) and Notes towards the Definition of Culture (1948) align with the grand tradition of Christian humanism extending back to Edmund Burke, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, G. K. Chesterton, and Hilaire Belloc. Educated by Irving Babbitt and George Santayana at Harvard University, Eliot was friends with Allen Tate and Russell Kirk.[9]

Christopher Dawson

Praised by T. S. Eliot as the most powerful intellectual influence in Britain, historian Christopher Dawson is a key figure in twentieth-century traditionalism. Central to his work was the idea that religion was at the heart of every culture, especially Western culture, and his writings, including The Age of Gods (1928), Religion and Culture (1948), and Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (1950), reflected this view. A contributor to Eliot's Criterion, Dawson believed that after World War Two, religion and culture were central to rebuilding the West in the wake of fascism and the rise of communism.[10]

American influences

The Bookman and The American Review

In the twentieth century traditionalist conservatism on both sides of the Atlantic centered around two publications: the Bookman and the American Review. Owned and edited by the eccentric Seward Collins, these journals published the writings of the British Distributists, the New Humanists, the Southern Agrarians, T. S. Eliot, Christopher Dawson, et. al. Eventually Collins descended into the madness of fascism and lost the support of his traditionalist backers. Despite the decline of the journal due to Collins' growing radical political views the American Review left a profound mark on the history of traditionalist conservatism.[11]

The New Humanists

Another intellectual branch of early twentieth century traditionalist conservatism was known as the New Humanism. Led by Harvard University professor Irving Babbitt and Princeton University professor Paul Elmer More, the New Humanism was a literary and social criticism movement that opposed both romanticism and naturalism. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the New Humanism defended artistic standards and "first principles" (Babbitt's phrase). Reaching an apogee in 1930, Babbitt and More published a variety of books including Babbitt's Literature and the American College (1908), Rousseau and Romanticism (1919), and Democracy and Leadership (1924) and More's Shelburne Essays (1904-1921).[12]

The Southern Agrarians

One other group of traditionalist conservatives were the Southern Agrarians. Originally a group of Vanderbilt University poets and writers known as "the Fugitives" they included John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, and Robert Penn Warren. Adhering to strict literary standards (Warren and traditionalist scholar Cleanth Brooks later formulated a form of literary criticism known as the New Criticism), in 1930 some of the Fugitives joined other traditionalist Southern writers to publish I'll Take My Stand, which applied standards sympathetic to local particularism and the agrarian way of life to politics and economics. Condemning northern industrialism and commercialism, the "twelve southerners" who contributed to the book echoed earlier arguments made by the distributists. A few years after the publication of "I'll Take My Stand", some of the Southern Agrarians were joined by Hilaire Belloc and Herbert Agar in the publication of a new collection of essays entitled Who Owns America: A New Declaration of Independence.

The Southern Agrarians had a great influence on New Conservative scholar Richard M. Weaver and writer-farmer Wendell Berry.[13]

Other influences

Other traditionalist conservative influences on the those who emerged in the 1940s and 1950s as "the New Conservatives" included Bernard Iddings Bell, Gordon Keith Chalmers, Grenville Clark, Peter Drucker, Will Herberg, and Ross J. S. Hoffman.[14]

Traditionalism in the United States

The New Conservatives

After the Second World War the first stirrings of a "traditionalist movement" took place. Among those who launched this movement (and in effect the larger Conservative Movement in America) was University of Chicago professor Richard M. Weaver. Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences (1948) chronicled the steady erosion of Western cultural values since the Middle Ages.[15] In 1949, another professor, Peter Viereck echoed the writings of Weaver with his Conservatism Revisited, which examined the conservative thought of Prince Klemens Metternich.

After Weaver and Viereck a flowering of conservative scholarship occurred starting with the publication of 1953's The New Science of Politics by Eric Voegelin, 1953's The Quest for Community by Robert A. Nisbet, and 1955's Conservatism in America by Clinton Rossiter. However, the book that defined the traditionalist school was 1953's The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot, written by Russell Kirk, which gave a detailed analysis of the intellectual pedigree of Anglo-American traditionalist conservatism.[16]

When these thinkers appeared on the academic scene they became known for rebuking the progressive worldview inherent in an America comfortable with New Deal economics, a burgeoning military-industrial complex, and a consumerist and commercialized citizenry. These conservative scholars and writers garnered the attention of the popular press of the time and before long they were collectively referred to as "the New Conservatives". Among this group were not only Weaver, Viereck, Voegelin, Nisbet, Rossiter, and Kirk but other lesser known thinkers such as John Blum, Daniel Boorstin, McGeorge Bundy, Thomas Cook, Raymond English, John Hallowell, Anthony Harrigan, August Heckscher, Milton Hindus, Klemens von Klemperer, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Richard Leopold, S. A. Lukacs, Malcolm Moos, Eliseo Vivas, Geoffrey Wagner, Chad Walsh, and Francis Wilson[17]) as well as Arthur Bestor, Mel Bradford, C. P. Ives, Stanley Jaki, John Lukacs, Forrest McDonald, Thomas Molnar, Gerhard Neimeyer, James V. Schall, S.J., Peter J. Stanlis, Stephen J. Tonsor, and Frederick Wilhelmsen.[18]

Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk

The acknowledged leader of the New Conservatives was independent scholar, writer, critic, and man of letters Russell Kirk. Kirk was a key figure of the conservative movement: he was a friend to William F. Buckley, Jr., a columnist for National Review, an editor and a syndicated columnist, and a historian and horror fiction writer. His most famous work was 1953's The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Santayana (later republished as The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot). Kirk's writings and legacy are interwoven with the history of traditionalist conservatism, with his influence felt at the Heritage Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and other conservative think tanks (most especially the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal).

The six canons of conservatism

The Conservative Mind was written by Kirk as a doctoral dissertation while he was a student at the St. Andrews University in Scotland. Previously the author of a biography of American conservative John Randolph of Roanoke, Kirk's The Conservative Mind had laid out six "canons of conservative thought" in the book, including:

  1. Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience... Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.
  2. Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarian and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.
  3. Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes...
  4. Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic leveling is not economic progress...
  5. Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters and calculators." Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite.... Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man's anarchic impulse.
  6. Recognition that change and reform are not identical...[19]

Kirk goes on to examine the thought of a wide array of conservative thinkers, including Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke, American Federalists John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, British literati Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, Southern conservatives John Randolph of Roanoke and John Calhoun, American Catholic political thinker Orestes Brownson, New England writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, British Catholic John Henry Newman, American historian Henry Adams, scholars Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, and George Santayana, and Anglo-American poet and literary critic T. S. Eliot.

Traditionalism in the 1950s and 1960s

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has had a close relationship with traditionalists such as Richard M. Weaver and Russell Kirk since its founding in 1953. Through Kirk's influence (as well as other well known conservatives) it has been a center for traditionalist students, hosting lectures, symposiums, conferences, and debates and publishing journals such as Modern Age (periodical), The Intercollegiate Review, The Chesterton Review and The University Bookman as well as a variety of books by traditionalist scholars through its imprint, ISI Books. The president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute is T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr..[20]

Modern Age: A Quarterly Review

In 1957 Russell Kirk co-founded (with publisher Henry Regnery) Modern Age, a conservative academic quarterly which for over fifty years has remained traditionalist in scope and has published various thinkers, such as Max Picard, Andrew Lytle, Richard M. Weaver, Robert A. Nisbet, C. P. Ives, Ross Hoffman, and others.[21] Historian George H. Nash has referred to Modern Age as "the principal quarterly of the intellectual right." Current Associate Editors include George W. Carey, Jude P. Dougherty, Jeffrey Hart, Thomas Molnar, Marion Montgomery, Mordecai Roshwald, Peter J. Stanlis, and Stephen J. Tonsor. Russell Kirk was its editor for its first two years and from 1984 to 2007 its editor was literary critic George A. Panichas. The journal is now edited by R. V. Young, who also serves as a contributor to another traditionalist publication, Touchstone Magazine.

The University Bookman

In 1960 Kirk founded the oldest continuously published conservative review of books: The University Bookman. It is published by Annette Y. Kirk and Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson and is edited by New York attorney Gerald J. Russello, who is a Kirk biographer and a Fellow at the G. K. Chesterton Institute. Its Board of Advisors include H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Vice President for College Advancement and Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Brewton-Parker College; Dr. William Edmund Fahey, the President of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts; Bruce Frohnen, Associate Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University College of Law and Senior Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center; and Gary L. Gregg, Mitch McConnell Chair in Leadership at the University of Louisville and director of the McConnell Center.

The Goldwater campaigns

Former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater

In 1964 conservatives around the nation, especially the New Right gathered around National Review were united behind the U.S. presidential campaign of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Goldwater had first come to the attention of the public by way of The Conscience of a Conservative, a ghostwritten conservative classic written for him by William F. Buckley, Jr.'s Catholic traditionalist brother-in-law L. Brent Bozell. The book, which advocated a conservative vision in keeping with Buckley's National Review propelled Goldwater to unsuccessfully challenge Vice President Richard Nixon for the 1960 Republican presidential nomination.[22]

In 1964 Goldwater returned to challenge the Eastern Establishment which since the 1930s had controlled the Republican Party. In a brutal campaign where he was maligned by his liberal Republican primary rivals (Rockefeller, Romney, Scranton, etc.), the press, the Democrats, and President Lyndon B. Johnson, Goldwater once again found allies among conservatives, including the traditionalists. Russell Kirk championed Goldwater's cause as the maturation of the New Right in American politics. In his syndicated columns Kirk advocated for Goldwater and would also campaign for him in the primaries.[23] Goldwater's subsequent defeat would result in the New Right regrouping and finding a new figurehead in the late 1970s: Ronald Reagan.

Traditionalism and the 1970s and 1980s

The Political Science Reviewer

In 1973 political scientist George W. Carey and James McClellan created "an annual review of books in the field of political science" entitled The Political Science Reviewer. Its current editor is Bruce Frohnen and it is published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.[24]

The Chesterton Review and the G. K. Chesterton Institute

In 1974 Canadian Catholic priest Rev. Ian Boyd, C.S.B. created a quarterly journal for the International Chesterton Society. Called The Chesterton Review, the publication "is dedicated to the exploration of the life and works of G.K. Chesterton and other writers who share a commitment to Chestertonian principles".[25] The Review originally was based out of a Canadian college and then transferred to Seton Hall University, where it came under the aegis of the G. K. Chesterton Institute for the Study for Faith and Culture. Among those who were the co-founders of the Institute were historian Dermot Quinn, editor and author Stratford Caldecott, and then ISI vice president Jeffrey O. Nelson.[26]

Traditionalists and Ronald Reagan

Most traditionalists were enthusiastic supporters of former California Governor Ronald Reagan when he became president, even when he appointed William J. Bennett over Mel Bradford for a National Endowment for the Humanities post.

T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., the current president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, was Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs in the Reagan Administration, serving as President Reagan’s top advisor on domestic matters. Earlier in the administration he held the position of Counselor to the Attorney General.

Russell Kirk and the Presidential Citizens Medal

Traditionalist scholar Russell Kirk was given the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989.

Intercollegiate Review Symposium

1986 brought traditionalist reaction to Reagan Era conservatism in the form of a symposium in The Intercollegiate Review. Referred to as "the state of conservatism", the symposium featured traditionalist scholars such as Mel Bradford, Paul Gottfried, Clyde Wilson, George A. Panichas, Gregory Wolfe, Russell Kirk, Gerhart Niemeyer, and George W. Carey. The symposium looked at the rise of neoconservatives in the conservative movement and the centralization of Republican power in Washington in the Reagan Era.[27]

Touchstone Magazine

Beginning as a newsletter in the Chicago area in 1986, Touchstone Magazine was founded by James Kushiner as a publication to unite Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic traditionalists. The journal received specific support from traditionalist icon Russell Kirk in the early 1990s.[28] Contributors include Rod Dreher, R. V. Young, Allan C. Carlson, and Anthony Esolen.

Image Journal

In 1989 former Intercollegiate Review editor Gregory Wolfe founded Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion.[29] Image is published by Wolfe's Center for Religious Humanism.

The National Humanities Institute and Humanitas

In the 1980s traditionalist scholar Claes G. Ryn and Joseph Baldacchino founded the National Humanities Institute[30], a center for the study of the humanities from the conservative perspective which also publishes a bi-annual journal Humanitas. Noted traditionalist scholars who serve on NHI's Academic Board include George W. Carey, Jude P. Dougherty, and Peter J. Stanlis. The National Humanities Institute also operates the Center for Constitutional Studies and the Irving Babbitt Project.

Traditionalism in the 1990s and 2000s

The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal

In the mid-1990s, after the death of Russell Kirk, the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal was founded by Kirk's widow, Annette Y. Kirk, and son-in-law, Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson, to carry on his legacy.[31] The Center offers seminars and residential fellowships and have a publishing arm. The Center also has an affiliate, the Edmund Burke Society of America, whose director is Dr. Ian Crowe.

The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society

A few years later the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, a pro-family advocacy organization, was created by John Howard and Allan C. Carlson. Howard was the founder of the paleoconservative Rockford Institute and Carlson was its former president.[32]

Traditionalism on the Internet

Traditionalist conservatism found its own niche on the Internet by the late 2000s. In the United States web magazines such as the now defunct New Pantagruel[33] and the recently launched Front Porch Republic express traditionalist themes of organic society, civic communitarianism, localism, distributist and agrarian economics, transcendent faith, and the natural family. Front Porch Republic in particular has been a central pivot point for traditionalism as it is edited by the Howard Center's Allan C. Carlson, Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher (Dreher is also the creator of a phrase to describe countercultural traditionalists: "Crunchy Cons"), Eunomia blogger Daniel Larison, former editor-in-chief of ISI Books Jeremy Beer, Chronicles magazine contributor Katherine Dalton, New York regionalist and journalist Bill Kauffman, Kansas thinker and statesman Caleb Stegall (who also was the editor of The New Pantagruel), distributist economist John Medaille and others.[34]

Other traditionalist organizations

Other traditionalist organizations include the Trinity Forum, Ellis Sandoz's Eric Voegelin Institute and the Eric Voegelin Society, the New Centurion Program of the Conservative Institute, the Wilberforce Center for Colorado Statesmanship, the T. S. Eliot Society, the Malcolm Muggeridge Society, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership at the University of Louisville, and the Free Enterprise Institute's Center for the American Idea. A major funder of traditionalist programs, especially the Russell Kirk Center, is the Wilbur Foundation.

Traditionalism in higher education

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts

In the past few years the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire has become a center not only for a traditional Roman Catholic education, but has attracted a number of traditionalist scholars and professors, including its previous president, Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson, its current president, Dr. William Edmund Fahey, and professors Dr. Christopher Olaf Blum, Dr. John Zmirak, and Stratford and Leonie Caldecott of the Center for Faith and Culture.

Traditionalist conferences


Russell Kirk Conference

On April 14, 2007 the Intercollegiate Studies Institute hosted a National Leadership Conference entitled "Russell Kirk and the Prospects for American Conservatism". The event was held at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis, Indiana and featured such speakers as Ted V. McAllister, Michael P. Federici, George H. Nash, Dermot Quinn, and Rod Dreher.


U.K. Distributist Conference

On July 11, 2009 a conference on the "distributist view of the global economic crisis" sponsored by the G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture was held in the United Kingdom at Oxford University featuring an international panel, including Red Tory theorist Phillip Blond and American author and scholar Allan C. Carlson. It marked a milestone for traditionalism since it was the first public forum for Blond to connect his progressive conservative/Red Tory philosophy with other traditionalists who favored the communitarianism that the distributists advocated.[35]

Edmund Burke Revival Conference

In the wake of the defeat of the Republican Party in the 2008 U.S. election by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party the conservative movement has undergone some self-examination as to its future direction. Part of that self-examination has included a revival of the principles of conservative founding father Edmund Burke. In late October 2009 the Intercollegiate Studies Institute hosted a Edmund Burke Revival Conference at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal which included such speakers as Dr. George H. Nash, Dr. Peter J. Stanlis, and Dr. Ian Crowe. The Burke Society of the University of Virginia, among others, was in attendance.


Phillip Blond's Visit to America

British Red Tory philosopher and Res Publica think tank director Phillip Blond is set to come to the United States in March 2010 at the invitation of the American traditionalist blog, Front Porch Republic. Blond is set to first lecture and attend a round table discussion at Georgetown University's Tocqueville Forum, where he will be introduced by the Forum's Dr. Patrick Deneen, a Front Porch Republic contributor. The round table discussion will include comments from traditionalist journalists Ross Douthat of the New York Times and Daniel McCarthy of The American Conservative, as well as the Templeton Foundation's Rod Dreher, and others. Deneen will moderate the round table.[36]

From the Georgetown event Blond is set to attend another event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This will be the first formal event in the United States between Blond, a British traditionalist who is an advisor to British MP David Cameron, and the leading public figures of the growing American "neo-traditionalist" movement.

Traditionalist conservative statesmen

U.S. Secretary of Energy

Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham was influenced by Russell Kirk.

U.S. Senators

Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson

Former Tennessee Republican Senator Fred Thompson, former Michigan Republican Senator Spencer Abraham, and former Illinois Democratic Senator Paul Simon have all been influenced by traditionalist conservative Russell Kirk.[37] Thompson gave an interview about Kirk's influence on the Russell Kirk Center's blog.[38]

U.S. Congressmen

Among the U.S. Congressmen influenced by traditionalist Russell Kirk are former Illinois Republican Congressman Henry Hyde[39] and Michigan Republican Congressmen Thaddeus McCotter and Dave Camp, the latter two of whom visited the Russell Kirk Center in 2009.


Former Michigan Republican Governor John Engler is a close personal friend of the Russell Kirk family[40] and also serves as a trustee of the Wilbur Foundation[41], which funds programs at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in Mecosta, Michigan. Engler gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Kirk which is available from the Russell Kirk Center's blog.[42]

Literary Traditionalists

Figures from "The Conservative Mind" and "The Conservative Reader"

There are numerous literary figures featured in Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind (1953), including James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Russell Lowell, W. H. Mallock, Robert Frost, and T. S. Eliot.

In Kirk's The Conservative Reader (1982) the writings of Rudyard Kipling and Phyllis McGinley are featured as examples of literary traditionalism.

The Fiction of Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk was also known himself as a writer of supernatural and suspense fiction with a distinct Gothic flair. Novels such as Old House of Fear, A Creature of the Twilight, and Lord of the Hollow Dark and short stories such as "Lex Talionis", "Lost Lake", "Beyond the Stumps", "Ex Tenebris", and "Fate's Purse" gained praise from fiction writers such as Ray Bradbury and Madeleine L'Engle.

Russell Kirk's Literary Friends

Kirk was also good friends with many literary figures of the 20th century: T. S. Eliot, Roy Campbell, Wyndham Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Madeleine L'Engle, and Flannery O'Connor, most of whom could be labeled traditionalist in their poetry or fiction.

Evelyn Waugh

The British novelist and traditionalist Catholic Evelyn Waugh is often considered a traditionalist conservative.

British and European connections

British philosophers

Alasdair MacIntyre

Many traditionalist conservatives embrace the virtue-centered philosophy of British Roman Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, who is noted for his many books, including After Virtue (1981).

Roger Scruton

Another British philosopher, Roger Scruton, is a self-described traditionalist conservative. Known for writing on such topics as foreign policy, animal rights, arts and culture, and philosophy, one of his most noted books is The Meaning of Conservatism (1980). Scruton is affiliated with the Center for European Renewal, the Trinity Forum, the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, and the American Enterprise Institute. He writes for such publications as Modern Age (periodical), National Review, The American Spectator, The New Criterion, and City Journal.

Phillip Blond

Recently British philosopher Phillip Blond has risen to prominence as an exponent of traditionalist philosophy, more specifically progressive conservatism, or Red Toryism. In Blond's view, Red Toryism would combine civic communitarianism with localism and traditional values as a way to revitalize British conservatism and British society. He has formed a think tank, Res Publica.

British publications

The Salisbury Review

The oldest traditionalist conservative publication in the United Kingdom is the Salisbury Review, which was founded by British philosopher Roger Scruton. The Salisbury Review's current managing editor is Merrie Cave.

British political organizations

The Cornerstone Group

Within the British Conservative Party there is a faction of traditionalist MPs which formed in 2005 who are collectively known as the Cornerstone Group. The Cornerstone Group stands for traditional values and represents "faith, flag, and family". Prominent members include Edward Leigh and John Henry Hayes.

European educational organizations

The Edmund Burke Foundation

The Edmund Burke Foundation is an educational foundation based out of the Netherlands which is traditionalist and is modeled after the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Originally a think tank, it was founded by such traditionalists as scholar Andreas Kinneging and journalist Bart Jan Spruyt. It is affiliated with The Center for European Renewal.

The Center for European Renewal

In 2007 a number of leading traditionalist scholars from Europe as well as representatives of the Edmund Burke Foundation and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute created the Center for European Renewal. The Center is designed to be the European version of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Related political philosophies

Traditionalism and paleoconservatism

There is some confusion over whether American traditionalist conservatism and paleoconservatism are one and the same political philosophy. While there is some overlap concerning principles and even policy prescriptions, traditionalist conservatism differs from paleoconservatism in that traditionalists emphasize culture while paleoconservatives emphasize reactionary political action. Paleoconservatism is also, somewhat, more influenced by Old Right and anti-immigrant politics. Paleoconservatism also is generally understood to be more ideological in nature and more militant in its approach to other conservative political philosophies, including neoconservatism.

It may be ventured that paleoconservatism is possibly the political expression of traditionalist conservatism, especially as many paleoconservatives such as former presidential candidate and journalist Patrick J. Buchanan express traditionalist conservative ideas and support traditionalist conservative causes such as cultural renewal and defending Western Civilization. Traditionalist conservatism, however, is older than paleoconservatism (which emerged in the late 1980s among traditionalist conservative academics and journalists in response to the growing influence of neoconservatism), and while many paleoconservatives (Claes G. Ryn, Paul Gottfried, Thomas Fleming (political writer)) are also traditionalists, not all traditionalist conservatives are paleoconservatives.

Related institutions and publications



Internet webzines

Noted figures


American statesmen

British statesmen

Philosophers and scholars

Literary figures


See also


  1. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ed. (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 870-875.
  2. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson, ed. (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 870.
  3. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 107-109.
  4. ^ Kirk, Russell (1967, 1997) Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 154.
  5. ^ Kirk, Russell (1976, 1997) Edmund Burke: A Genius Reconsidered. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 155
  6. ^ Blum, Christopher Olaf, ed. (2004)Critics of the Enlightenment, Wilington, DE: ISI Books, pp. xv-xxxv.
  7. ^ Viereck, Peter (1956, 2006)Conservative Thinkers from John Adams to Winston Churchill. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, pp. 87-95.
  8. ^ Frohnen,Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 235-236.
  9. ^ Frohnen,Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 263-266.
  10. ^ Frohnen,Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 219-220.
  11. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 76-77.
  12. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 621-622.
  13. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 798-799.
  14. ^ Viereck,Peter (1956, 2006) Conservative Thinkers from John Adams to Winston Churchill. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, p. 107.
  15. ^ Nash, George H. (1976, 2006)The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 30-36.
  16. ^ Dunn, Charles W. (2003)The Conservative Tradition in America, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, p. 10.
  17. ^ Viereck, Peter (1956, 2006) Conservative Thinkers from John Adams to Winston Churchill. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing, p. 107.
  18. ^ Nash, George H. (1976, 2006) The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 50-55, 68-73.
  19. ^ Kirk, Russell (1953)The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot. Washington, D.C.:Regnery, pp. 7-8.
  20. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 436-438.
  21. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, pp. 883-884.
  22. ^ Allitt, Patrick. (2009) The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 188.
  23. ^ Kirk, Russell. (1995) The Sword of Imagination: Memoirs of a Half-Century of Literary Conflict. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdman's, pp. 285-288.
  24. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 665.
  25. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 142.
  26. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 143.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 867.
  29. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 422.
  30. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 758.
  31. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 472.
  32. ^ Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p. 409.
  33. ^
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  37. ^ Person, James E., Jr. Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind. Lanham, MD: Madison Books, p. 217.
  38. ^
  39. ^ Person, James E., Jr. Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind. Lanham, MD: Madison Books, p. 217.
  40. ^ Person, James E., Jr. Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind. Lanham, MD: Madison Books, p. 217.
  41. ^
  42. ^

Further reading


General reference

  • Allitt, Patrick (2009) The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Critchlow, Donald T. (2007) The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Dunn, Charles W., and J. David Woodard (2003) The Conservative Tradition in America. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
  • Edwards, Lee (2004) A Brief History of the Modern American Conservative Movement. Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation.
  • Frohnen, Bruce, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (2006) American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Gottfried, Paul, and Thomas Fleming (1988) The Conservative Movement. Boston: Twayne Publishers.
  • Nash, George H. (1976, 2006) The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Nisbet, Robert (1986) Conservatism: Dream and Reality. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Regnery, Alfred S. (2008) Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism. New York: Threshold Editions.
  • Viereck, Peter (1956, 2006) Conservative Thinkers from John Adams to Winston Churchill. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

By the "New Conservatives"

  • Bestor, Arthur (1953, 1988) Educational Wastelands: The Retreat from Learning in Our Public Schools. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  • Boorstin, Daniel (1953) The Genius of American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Chalmers, Gordon Keith (1952) The Republic and the Person: A Discussion of Necessities in Modern American Education. Chicago: Regnery.
  • Hallowell, John (1954, 2007) The Moral Foundation of Democracy. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc.
  • Heckscher, August (1947) A Pattern of Politics. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock.
  • Kirk, Russell (1953, 2001) The Conservative Mind from Burke to Eliot. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing.
  • Kirk, Russell (1982) The Portable Conservative Reader. New York: Penguin.
  • Nisbet, Robert (1953, 1990) The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order and Freedom. San Francisco: ICS Press.
  • Smith, Mortimer (1949) And Madly Teach. Chicago:Henry Regnery Co.
  • Viereck, Peter (1949, 2006) Conservatism Revisited: The Revolt Against Ideology. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • Vivas, Eliseo (1950, 1983) The Moral Life and the Ethical Life. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
  • Voegelin, Eric (1952, 1987) The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Weaver, Richard (1948, 1984) Ideas Have Consequences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Wilson, Francis G. (1951, 1990) The Case for Conservatism. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

By other traditionalist conservatives

  • Dreher, Rod (2006) Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-loving Organic Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or At Least the Republican Party). New York: Crown Forum.
  • Frohnen, Bruce (1993) Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.
  • Henrie, Mark C. (2008) Arguing Conservatism: Four Decades of the Intercollegiate Review. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Kushiner, James M., Ed. (2003) Creed and Culture: A Touchstone Reader. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • MacIntyre, Alaisdar (1981, 2007) After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Panichas, George A., Ed. (1988) Modern Age: The First Twenty-Five Years: A Selection. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc.
  • Panichas, George A. (2008) Restoring the Meaning of Conservatism: Writings from Modern Age. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Scruton, Roger (1980, 2002) The Meaning of Conservatism. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press.

About traditionalist conservatives

  • Duffy, Bernard K. and Martin Jacobi (1993) The Politics of Rhetoric: Richard M. Weaver and the Conservative Tradition. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press.
  • Federici, Michael P. (2002) Eric Voegelin: The Restoration of Order. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Gottfried, Paul (2009) Encounters: My Life with Nixon, Marcuse, and Other Friends and Teachers. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Kirk, Russell (1995) The Sword of Imagination: Memoirs of a Half-Century of Literary Conflict. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Co.
  • McDonald, W. Wesley (2004) Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.
  • Person, James E., Jr. (1999) Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind. Lanham, MD: Madison Books.
  • Russello, Gerald J. (2007) The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.
  • Scotchie, Joseph (1997) Barbarians in the Saddle: An Intellectual Biography of Richard M. Weaver. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • Scotchie, Joseph (1995) The Vision of Richard Weaver. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • Scruton, Roger (2005) Gentle Regrets: Thoughts From A Life London: Continuum.
  • Stone, Brad Lowell (2002) Robert Nisbet: Communitarian Traditionalist. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books.
  • Wilson, Clyde (1999) A Defender of Conservatism: M. E. Bradford and His Achievements. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.


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