Writing in Commentary, Wilfred McClay (Author of "Whig History at Eighty" in This Issue) Reflects on the Mournful, Regretful Obituaries for Conservatism Now Being Written by Liberals

First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, March 2011 | Go to article overview
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Writing in Commentary, Wilfred McClay (Author of "Whig History at Eighty" in This Issue) Reflects on the Mournful, Regretful Obituaries for Conservatism Now Being Written by Liberals


Writing in Commentary, Wilfred McClay (author of "Whig History at Eighty" in this issue) reflects on the mournful, regretful obituaries for conservatism now being written by liberals. According to books like Sam Tannenhaus' The Death of Conservatism, he writes, "the British model of an elite grouping of witty and arch curmudgeons and aristocrats of an occasionally deviant tendency that inertly preserves the old order along with a few progressive changes to that order would be far preferable, and more genuinely conservative. But the problem is that American conservatives are today, as they were in 1956, too populist, too majoritarian, too religious, too moralistic, too acquisitive, too middle-class, too reformist, too bumptious."

But the liberals need us, they say. Well, not us, exactly. Tannenhaus, friend to conservatism that he is, kindly declares, "There remains in our politics a place for an authentic conservatism, a conservatism that seeks not to destroy but to conserve." You, dear reader, are probably not authentic.

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Writing in Commentary, Wilfred McClay (Author of "Whig History at Eighty" in This Issue) Reflects on the Mournful, Regretful Obituaries for Conservatism Now Being Written by Liberals
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