Conservative Thinkers

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Across America today, conservatism is being hotly debated both across the political spectrum and within the conservative movement itself. Much of the public debate is without definition or historical context. This history of conservatism by renowned historian, social critic, and poet Peter Viereck aims to meet the need for a concise, balanced picture of conservative thought in all its different shadings and cultural contexts.

The analytical portion of the book provides a succinct but thorough critical overview of conservatism's most representative figures. Viereck begins with chapters defining conservatism itself, its special technical terms, and its changing historical circumstances. The rest deals with its actual thinkers and statesmen. After each main conservative thesis, the anti-conservative rebuttal is summarized, and the reader is allowed to reach his own conclusions. Though the first stress is on conservative political philosophy (from John Adams to Churchill), key sections also stress non-political conservatism: in religion (Cardinal Newman) and in the primarily cultural protest against material progress (Coleridge, Dostoyevsky, Melville, Henry Adams).

Every major point is concretely illustrated by an appended cross-reference to a primary source in the second half, a well-chosen anthology of key conservative documents. Criteria for inclusion are three, representativeness, depth of perception, importance of influence. The result is not uniformity but a gamut: from extreme intolerant reaction to an evolutionary moderate spirit. The former passes imperceptibly into authoritarianism; the latter, into liberalism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412805261
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/15/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 875,185
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Viereck (1916-2006) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, critic, and historian. He held the Kenan Chair in History at Mount Holyoke College and was known as one of America’s early leaders of conservatism. He was the recipient of Guggenheim fellowships both in history and poetry. In addition to his contributions to Poetry Magazine and the Atlantic Monthly, his many books include Inner Liberty: The Stubborn Grit in the Machine; Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler;and Conservative Thinkers: From John Adams to Winston Churchill.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Conservatism
1 Historical and philosophical origins of conservatism 10
2 "Aristocrat" and other special terms 18
3 The great reversal : from internationalism to nationalism 22
4 Burke 25
5 Coleridge, Carlyle, Newman 33
6 Tory democracy : Disraeli and Churchill 41
7 Maistre : Catholic monarchist 49
8 Tocqueville and Taine : moderate anti-Jacobins 56
9 Barres and Maurras : authoritarian nationalists 60
10 Spain : Donoso Cortes 63
11 Metternich : internationalist and "conservative socialist" 69
12 Germany 69
13 Russia 84
14 Our federalist founders : the conservation of 1776 87
15 Calhoun 96
16 America since the Civil War 99
Pt. II Documents
1 Edmund Burke, 1770, 1790 110
2 John Adams, 1776-1821 115
3 Alexander Hamilton, 1787 118
4 James Madison, 1787 120
5 John Quincy Adams, 1791, 1822 122
6 Samuel T. Coleridge, 1798-1832 125
7 Friedrich Gentz, 1801 128
8 Joseph de Maistre, 1810, 1821 129
9 Adam Muller, 1819 133
10 Clemens von Metternich, 1820, 1817-1848 134
11 Benjamin Disraeli, 1835, 1847, 1848, 1862, 1867, 1872 139
12 Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835, 1840, 1848-52 145
13 John C. Calhoun, 1838, 1850 149
14 Thomas Carlyle, 1843 151
15 Don Juan Donoso Cortes, 1851 153
16 Jakob Burckhardt, 1864-1893 158
17 Feodor Dostoyevsky, 1864 160
18 John Henry Newman, 1864, 1865 161
19 Pius IX, 1864 164
20 Louis Veuillot, 1866 166
21 Henry Sumner Maine, 1885 167
22 Friedrich Nietzsche, 1886, 1889 168
23 Konstantin Petrovich Pobiedonostsev, 1898 170
24 Winston S. Churchill, 1903-1946 173
25 W. G. Sumner, 1904 176
26 Maurice Barres, 1916 178
27 Irving Babbitt, 1924 179
28 Ortega y Gasset, 1930 181
29 George Santayana, 1951 183
30 Frank Tannenbaum, 1952 184
31 Wall Street Journal, 1955 185
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