Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition

November 30, 2020
Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition

A fresh and sharp-eyed history of political conservatismfrom its nineteenth-century origins to today's hardRightFor two hundred years, conservatism has defied its reputation asa backward-looking creed by confronting and adapting to liberalmodernity. By doing so, the Right has won long periods of power andeffectively become the dominant tradition in politics. Yet, despitetheir success, conservatives have continued to fight with eachother about how far to compromise with liberalism and democracy—orwhich values to defend and how. In Conservatism, Edmund Fawcettprovides a gripping account of this conflicted history, clarifieskey ideas, and illuminates quarrels within the Right today.Focusing on the United States, Britain, France, and Germany,Fawcett's vivid narrative covers thinkers and politicians. Theyinclude the forerunners James Madison, Edmund Burke, and Joseph deMaistre; early friends and foes of capitalism; defenders ofreligion; and builders of modern parties, such as William McKinleyand Lord Salisbury. The book chronicles the cultural critics andradical disruptors of the 1920s and 1930s, recounts how advocatesof laissez-faire economics broke the post 1945 consensus, anddescribes how Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and their Europeancounterparts are pushing conservatism toward a nation-first, hardRight.An absorbing, original history of the Right, Conservatismportrays a tradition as much at war with itself as with itsopponents.