Freedom of progress requires submission to tradition

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Photo by Jr Korpa

Americans do not trust their institutions anymore.

But does this loss of trust reflect a failure of our institutions? Or of ourselves?

Could it be possible that the contemporary ideals of our culture, in fact, have made healthy institutions untenable?

This is the argument of Yuval Levin in his recent article, “The Case for Wooden Pews.”

Therein, Levin contends that current ideals about human freedom and goodness have led to a desire for our formative institutions to lesson their rigor in favor of maximizing acceptance at any cost. This neglect of rigor has, in turn, resulted in widespread institutional failures with regard to human development. …

Conservative thought will fail without a re-centering

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Image by Grandfailure

It is no secret that conservatism as a movement has come up short in the imaginations of would-be politicians and philosophers alike as of late.

But, has the promise of conservatism failed us, or we it? What is the purpose of conservatism? How ought we realize that purpose and improve upon it?

It is generally recognized that conservatism is neither a doctrine nor even a codified set of instructions for behavior. Instead, Michael Oakeshott called it a “disposition.” Roger Scruton wrote that it was an “instinct.” Russell Kirk preferred to think of it as “a body of sentiments.”

Plainly, conservatism is a manner of being. …

America: A people, or an institution?

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Photo by Joshua Sukoff

For centuries, Christians have understood all too well the immense chasm that can open between the institutional church and the church that exists wherever two or more Christians gather. Such a chasm was a leading cause of the Protestant Reformation and the horrific and bloody Wars of Religion that followed.

A similar gap has opened between what we might now consider as institutional America and the American people.

Like its 16th-century church predecessor, institutional America is a labyrinth of pomp ritual, overt influence peddling, and internecine chicanery.

Like their 16th-century church predecessors, the American people are fed up and tired of being maligned and used as disposable things by their institutional counterparts, all while being refused meaningful participation in those institutions. …

The enduring importance of Russell Kirk’s tenth principle

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Images by Florian Olivo and Dave Herring

As the United States enters another presidential era, the country is wracked with violence, discontentment, and a general miasma of enmity.

Though popular media would have the American people believe that this terrible cultural struggle is being fought by the opposing ideologies of the radical Left and Right, the truth of the matter is a more nuanced and concerning thing. Indeed, much of the outpouring of violence, hatred, and nihilism that defines the current political landscape of America is due to a loss of understanding of the nature of progress and permanence.

Ask a left-wing activist on the street what progressive principles are, and you are likely to get a jumble of policy ideas about equalizing housing, wages, access to education, and the availability of healthcare, to say nothing of dubious claims about the role of race in America. …

The purge of the Right will not heal the nation

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Photo by Jon Tyson

President Donald Trump may be the most hated man in America this week.

As usual, this is not without some cause. The manner in which Trump and his followers are being castigated from our society as a result, however, belies the simple truth that a far greater evil is at work in the hearts of many Americans than exists in the heart of Trump. Indeed, there is a grave sin against the virtue of the Republic cropping up everywhere one looks as of late.

To bear this out, it is necessary to understand the great tragedy of Trump, and what that tragedy means for the future of our republic. It is necessary because, as a republic, we are one nation of many individuals whose political existence is based on one principle: We and we alone are accountable for ourselves. …

What Roger Scruton offers America

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Photo by Norali Nayla

One year ago today, the philosopher Roger Scruton passed away, and the man became a myth.

Or better yet, a legend.

Or better yet, a memory.

Scruton’s diverse writings tackled the myriad subjects of beauty, conservatism, wine, and yes, even fox hunting. His works crossed nonfiction, literary fiction, and opera. His more than fifty published monographs mindfully explored a myriad of topics in an output reminiscent of a Christopher Hitchens or a C.S. Lewis.

But what does some British conservative philosopher have to do with this newsletter, the theme of which is “conserving the American idea”?

In a word: Everything.

You see, at the heart of Scruton’s philosophy of both beauty and politics was the act of the invitation. …

It’s time for a new conservative party

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Image by Andrew Thornebrooke

he Republican Party is cracked, bent, warped, skewed, and about to break.

Its factions, once unified by some dubious oath of mutual protection, can no longer recognize each other. The three primary movements within the Republican Party (the always-Trumpers, the free marketeers, and the traditionalists) have precious little to bind them together anymore. Senior leadership in the party, including Colin Powell, are abandoning the ship.

Just as the radicals and moderates are devouring one another on the Left, so too has the overdue reckoning come for the Right.

Can it recover?

If so, ought it?

To discover an answer to this problem it is necessary to explore the three primary factions of the party of the Right, to examine what the central problems between them are, and what can be done about them. …

America lost the fight against authoritarianism

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Photo by Alejandro Barba

It is not possible to overstate how deeply Facebook, Twitter, and America’s two political parties damaged the United States this week.

To defeat President Trump’s verbal attacks on the electoral process, and the physical attacks of some of his supporters, the Democratic Party and Big Tech allied to silence a sitting president of the United States. Trump and numerous Republican voices were deplatformed from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram this week, and both Apple and Google deleted the non-partisan (but largely politically right-user based) social network Parler. …


Andrew Thornebrooke

Husband + Editor of The Rearguard

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