Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Russell Kirk and "crunchy conservatism"

William F. Buckley once said that "all the philosophical action is on the right." I don't know, however, if that could be said today. Most of the noise you hear on the right sounds suspiciously like bleating. One of the few interesting voices on the conservative end of the political spectrum is Rod Dreher, and the excellent blog "Right Reason" has done everyone a great favor by printing Rod Dreher's recent speech on Russell Kirk and "Crunchy Conservatism".

Now although I am one of Dreher's biggest fans, I wince every time I here the label "crunchy conservatism". There's just something about it that makes the concept sound a bit lightweight, when, in fact, it has a heavyweight history. Of course, I think the title was affixed before even Dreher could do anything about it. I know he's heard this criticism before, God bless him, and I know he takes its in stride.

I prefer the term "traditionalist conservatism," or even "cultural conservatism" as the title for the old or "paleo" conservative tradition, the modern form of which derives from Edmund Burke. There are many people who have no idea that there is any other form of conservatism than that propounded by Rush Limbaugh and Bill Kristol—two proponents of the type of conservatism known as "neoconservatism."

Dreher's essay is good primer on the older tradition. And when you get done with that, read Kirk's own history of it, "The Conservative Mind".

1 comment:

jefferson poole said...

Dreher is awesome. Have you not read his book "Crunchy Cons?" I think it's pretty obvious why he uses the term "crunchy." It may not be exactly philosophically accurate, but he uses it to enlighten some of today's people (often the younger crowd).

A lot of people seem to think that eating healthy, natural food, connecting with neighbors, living within means, being reasonable about our environment, and rejecting all out consumerism are characteristics of the lifestyles that "liberals" or "Democrats" or whatever lead.

It's not true. These are conservative values and, for many, crucial aspects of their Christian faiths. Dreher is trying to make a point to a specific audience. God bless him.

I heard Dreher speak in person earlier this year at the University of Louisville at a function sponsored by the McConnell Center.

"Small is Beautiful" is supposedly very good as well.