Which kind of conservatism?

Matthew Continetti has written an essay that is sure to get attention, as the Republican party tries to put itself back together.  Entitled “Crisis of the Conservative Intellectual,” the piece traces the longtime conflict between “conservatism” (that is, the classic version that seeks to preserve institutions and that opposes modernity’s love of change) and “populism” (which opposes existing institutions and wants to change society).

This has come to a head in Donald Trump’s candidacy, which opposes the “establishment,” including the Republican establishment.

Continetti’s essay takes a historical look at this conflict, as well as the times when the two philosophies worked together, for example, to elect Ronald Reagan.  In the course of doing so, he also talks about other competing versions of what conservatism is, such as the New Right, neoconservatives, social conservatives, the the religious right (which, he says, combined populism with the institution-conserving conservatism of the William F. Buckleys).

Excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]

Charles Taylor wins philosophy prize

There is the Nobel Prize for various great achievements, and now there is the Berggruen Prize for philosophy.  The first award, which comes with $1 million, was given to Charles Taylor.

Taylor, a Canadian thinker, is one of the most interesting, helpful, and Christian-friendly of all contemporary philosophers.  (See this Cranach post.) A Catholic, though not of the Reformation-despising kind, Taylor has written provocative and insightful explorations of the self, identity, language, and morality.  One of his biggest subjects, though, is the phenomenon of secularism, which he shows is not as simple as many of its adherents assume and which, far from doing away with religion, may drive people to try to find it again.
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Lennonism

Michael Barone says that many in our cultural and political elite follow the tenets of “Lennonism.”  Not “Leninism,” but the philosophy of John Lennon in his song Imagine:

“Imagine there’s no countries. . . .Nothing to kill or die for. … Imagine all the people living life in peace. … And the world will be as one.”

“And no religion too.”  But Barone defines Lennonism as the desire to eliminate distinct nations.  Thus the impulse for global government, a global economy, unlimited immigration, and multiculturalism. [Read more…]

All Americans are Whigs

Lutheran political scientist James R. Rogers explains things like gay marriage and transgender bathrooms–and the speed with which they became popular in the American mind–by pointing out that all Americans are basically Whigs.  That is, they believe that history is about unfolding progress and the progressive emancipation of human beings.  Both American liberals and conservatives, in different ways, are Whigs.  So are Christians as well as non-Christians.  (So let’s bring back the Whig party!)
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Libertarian candidate opposes 2nd Amendment liberties

As we blogged about (here and here), Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is dismissive of religious liberty, which he dismisses as a “black hole.” His running mate, Bill Weld, is weak on the 2nd Amendment liberty to own a firearm.

Weld said that an AR-15 is a “weapon of mass destruction.”   Furthermore, he said, pistols are “even worse.”  (Than weapons of mass destruction?)  He called for restrictions on both kinds of firearms.   [Read more…]

Are Christians the powerful or the marginalized?

In the course of a post on why so many evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump, S. D. Kelly tosses off an observation that explains much about the current controversies between Christians and secularists.

Secularists tend to see Christians as “the powerful”; that is, in postmodern parlance, those who are in a position of power and privilege who oppress “the marginalized,” those who lack power and privilege.

But Christians tend to see themselves as “the marginalized,” oppressed by the cultural elite who exclude them and exercise their power against them.

Thus, when a Christian baker refuses to participate in a gay wedding, the secularists see the Christian heteronormative establishment discriminating against marginalized and oppressed gay people.

While Christians see secularists–who control the culture, the entertainment industry, the educational establishment, the government, and the law–imposing their sexual ideology on those with traditional Christian values and punishing them for their minority religious beliefs.

This explains much of the rhetoric, argumentation, and high feelings on both sides.  Are these just two irreconcilable perceptions?  Or can we make an objective case for one side or the other?  Does realizing these different perceptions suggest other ways of addressing these controversies? [Read more…]