Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville

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9780700605583: Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville

In "Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism", Bruce Frohnen attempts to rescue the essence of conservative virtue from rationalists and materialists of whatever political colour. He argues that we have "lost and must attempt to regain the conservative good life and the outlook which made it possible". The tools needed to do that, according to Frohnen, are humility and political action aimed at combating the centralising and materialistic structures and beliefs interfering with the formation and retention of family, church and neighbourhood. Drawing from the writings of Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville, both critics of untempered reason and "the drive toward a spiritually impoverished egalitarian materialism", Frohnen explores how their work has influenced individuals as diverse as traditionalist Russell Kirk, "apocalyptic" libertarian Michael Oakeshott, and neo-conservative Irving Kristol. While differing greatly in their views and prescriptions, these contemporary conservatives, Frohnen shows, are nevertheless united in their desire to preserve the local community's natural and fundamental institutions. This preservation, he argues, requires a renewed faith in and humble acceptance of the essential good contained within these institutions.

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From the Back Cover:

"The most probing analysis of the fundamental characteristics of conservative thought since Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind. This is a significant contribution to modern political thought whose thesis and positive proposals for the realization of the good life merit the close attention of all who are concerned with reversing the intellectual and moral decline of the West."--George W. Carey, author of The Church in the Market Place

"Bruce Frohnen has written an insightful study of modern conservatism, one that uniquely delineates its philosophical and spiritual sources in Western thought and gives a ringing Burkean call for reawakening and conservative reform. Well worth reading and pondering."--Ellis Sandoz, author of A Government of Laws: Political Theory, Religion, and the American Founding

"An incisive and sympathetic critique of conservatism, this book is a powerful attempt to buttress conservatism's philosophical foundations. Frohnen illuminates the thought of Burke and Tocqueville with elegance and a sure touch."--Werner J. Dannhauser, Michigan State University

"This topic is very timely. The theoretical battle over the proper definition of conservatism is at the root of many policy disputes within the Reagan and Bush administrations. . . .Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism is a very good book, and a rather original one. The author covers a tremendous amount of ground very intelligently. I know of no comparable defense of conservative traditionalism."--Peter Augustine Lawler, Under God with Liberty: The Religious Dimension of American Liberty and editor of American Political Rhetoric

"The real value of this book is its statement of a new version of conservatism. As much as "liberalism" has been attacked (from the left and the right) in recent years, there has been no adequate theoretical and philosophic conservative alternative presented. Frohnen has gone a long way toward remedying this failure. . . . His scholarship is superb and beyond reproach. His quotations are judicious and always precisely to the point. He knows his subjects very well and has zeroed-in on much of the secondary literature as well."--Gordon J. Schochet, author of The Authoritarian Family and Political Attitudes in Seventeenth-Century England: Patriarchalism in Political Thought

About the Author:

Bruce Frohnen, a speech writer for United States Senator Spencer Abraham, has taught at Reed College, Oglethorpe University, and Emory University. He was also Senior Research Fellow at Liberty Fund and Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation. He is the author of The New Communitarians and the Crisis of Modern Liberalism.

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