Peter Lawler

Peter Lawler on conservatism

So David Brooks’s article is interesting more for its listing of various young conservatives than its actual content.

I just don’t have time to comment much right now, but I thought I’d get it out there for your consideration. My talking points for now are pretty random:

  1. Pete Spiliakos should, of course, be listed. Make should you spread his word around as far as possible through your liking and linking.
  2. The American Conservative and the PORCHERS are connected with Walker Percy. But their poetry man is really Wendell Berry. Percy, for one thing, didn’t identify human liberty and dignity with the prevailing mode of the division of labor, consciously rejected agrarianism and localism (and its Stoicism and nativism), and actually voted for the candidate of one major party or the other in presidential elections. He was also quite the liberal when it comes to civil rights and hardly an isolationist when it came to threat of communism (and so voted for Reagan and against the Sandinistas). His core scientific project was to put back together what’s true about European existentialism and Anglo-American empiricism. And he was ambiguously glad to have such a challenge by living in untraditional times, times in which life in the ruins (and not everything is ruined) will allow us to learn a lot about love. He also had a higher opinion of ordinary Southerners–not the Country Clubbers but the evangelical Wal-Mart shoppers–as they actually are these days.
  3. And back to the serious point of who’s conspicious by his or her omission in Brooks’ meandering list: Any “Declaration of Independence” conservatives, from the young students of Mr. Ceaser and the Claremonsters to “new natural lawyers” who studied with Robby George.
  4. Even Yuval Levin, whom we rank just as highly here at POMOCON as David does, is described as a Burkean, which he actually is.
  5. But even from a Burkean or self-consciously traditionalist view, Brooks wasn’t savvy enough to pick up on the fact that the excellent and ecumenical The Imaginative Conservative is rapidly becoming a force among the traditionalists.

Books on conservatism can be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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