Tuesday, April 12, 2022

No won battles...

From Barton Swaim's review of Matthew Continetti"s The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism:
.... The conservative movement was always a motley assemblage of free-marketeers, neoconservative reformists, apocalyptic paleoconservatives, populist reactionaries, Catholic intellectuals, Evangelical campaigners, and a variety of weirdos and visionaries (Ayn Rand, Robert Welch Jr., L. Brent Bozell Jr.) who eventually found themselves alienated or expelled from the movement. Mr. Continetti puts it this way: “There is not one American Right; there are several.”

His chronicle follows both the intellectuals and party elites, on the one hand, and ordinary conservative voters and activists, on the other. ....

The essential thing to understand about American conservatism is that it is a minority persuasion, and always has been. Hence the term “the conservative movement”; nobody talks of a “liberal movement” in American politics, for the excellent reason that liberals dominated the universities, the media and the entertainment industry long before Bill Buckley thought to start a magazine. Mr. Continetti captures beautifully the ad hoc, rearguard nature of American conservatism. Not until the end of the book does he make explicit what becomes clearer as the narrative moves forward: “Over the course of the past century, conservatism has risen up to defend the essential moderation of the American political system against liberal excess. Conservatism has been there to save liberalism from weakness, woolly-headedness, and radicalism.”

American conservatism exists, if I could put it in my own words, to clean up the messes created by the country’s dominant class of liberal elites.  ....
Barton Swaim, "Grumbles Left and Right: Two Books on the Past and Future of Conservatism ," The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2022

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