Monday, October 13, 2014

Is Conservatism at the Mercy of Hollow Men? by George Panichas

meaning of conservatism
T. H. Pickett’s essay on “War, Power, and Supremacy” further develops the urgent need stressed in the preceding three issues of Modern Age, “Restoring the Meaning of Conservatism.” This need becomes even greater as the debate continues between traditional conservatives and ambitious usurpers. Actually this debate would itself be academic if the intrinsic historical and metaphysical bearings of conservatism had secured a foundational authority of definition and acceptance.
That the canons of conservatism must beg to be defended against present-day pretenders who mask their ambitions and antinomies under the rubric of conservatism points to a rampant confusion in the ranks of conservatives. Indeed, some conservatives seem to be searching frantically for another word, another designation, that better defines and authenticates their conservative identity and allegiance. The damage done to the meaning of conservatism in the great tradition from Edmund Burke to T. S. Eliot, from Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk to Claes Ryn and George Carey in more recent times is inestimable. 
We live in an age that almost automatically dismisses seminal texts and ideas in favor of an indiscriminating neoterism. We wantonly abandon standards of authority and tradition in search of new Babylons made to the specifications of ideologues in their campaign to supplant the conservative spirit as we have known the truth of its excellences. Shifting attitudes and opinions proclaimed in elite centers and in mainstream discourse further diminish time-tested conservative values. 
Ours is now fast transposing into an age of idolatry that goes beyond the relativistic and nihilistic vices, one in which the conservative idea is ripped from its roots in the Permanent Things and, in effect, alienated from the moral sense and the moral imagination. Deconstruction and anti-historicism are idols that today help dictate a false conception of conservatism. In direct consequence of this phenomenon—it is very much a deformation—conservatism, no less than sacred traditions and affirmations, is increasingly subjected to attacks that often smack of neo-Jacobin sympathies and sentiments. 
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