Resources: Books: Foundations of Conservatism
What makes me the expert on conservatism, you ask? I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert. But I do read the experts and strive to faithfully translate their writings into blog posts and podcasts for contemporary eyes and ears. If you'd prefer to go straight to the source material there are plenty of books I highly recommend from the actual "experts".
In this post, you will find links to books introducing conservatism that attempt to describe the true essence and foundation of the conservative worldview.
Just what is conservatism? Many people are groping for answers, especially as conservatives seem to retreat into factions—Tea Partiers, traditionalists, libertarians, social conservatives, neoconservatives, and on and on. But this illuminating book shows what unites conservatives even as it explores conservatism’s rich internal debate.
Edited by Frank S. Meyer, who popularized the idea of “fusionism” that became the basis for modern conservatism, What Is Conservatism? features brilliant essays by such leading lights as Hayek, Buckley, Kirk, Evans, and many more.
Renowned philosopher sir Roger Scruton draws on his own experience as a counter-culture presence in public life to explain conservatism in a skeptical age. With soft left-liberalism as the dominant force in Western politics, what can conservatives now contribute to public debate that will not be dismissed as pure nostalgia? In this highly personal and witty book, Scruton explains how to live as a conservative in spite of the pressures to exist otherwise. Scruton argues that while humanity might survive in the absence of the conservative outlook, it certainly won't flourish. How to be a Conservative is not only a blueprint for modern conservatism. It is a heartfelt appeal on behalf of old fashioned decencies and values, which are the bedrock of our weakened, but still enduring civilization.
In The Great Debate, Yuval Levin explores the roots of the left/right political divide in America by examining the views of the men who best represented each side at its origin: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. Striving to forge a new political path in the tumultuous age of the American and French revolutions, these two ideological titans sparred over moral and philosophical questions about the nature of political life and the best approach to social change: radical and swift, or gradual and incremental. The division they articulated continues to shape our political life today.
Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the basis of our political order and Washington's acrimonious rifts today, The Great Debate offers a profound examination of what conservatism, progressivism, and the debate between them truly amount to.