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The Fight for a Tradition

Edmund Fawcett

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Princeton University Press img Link Publisher

Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Politikwissenschaft


A fresh and sharp-eyed history of political conservatism from its nineteenth-century origins to today’s hard Right

For two hundred years, conservatism has defied its reputation as a backward-looking creed by confronting and adapting to liberal modernity. By doing so, the Right has won long periods of power and effectively become the dominant tradition in politics. Yet, despite their success, conservatives have continued to fight with each other about how far to compromise with liberalism and democracy—or which values to defend and how. In Conservatism, Edmund Fawcett provides a gripping account of this conflicted history, clarifies key ideas, and illuminates quarrels within the Right today.

Focusing on the United States, Britain, France, and Germany, Fawcett’s vivid narrative covers thinkers and politicians. They include the forerunners James Madison, Edmund Burke, and Joseph de Maistre; early friends and foes of capitalism; defenders of religion; and builders of modern parties, such as William McKinley and Lord Salisbury. The book chronicles the cultural critics and radical disruptors of the 1920s and 1930s, recounts how advocates of laissez-faire economics broke the post 1945 consensus, and describes how Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and their European counterparts are pushing conservatism toward a nation-first, hard Right.

An absorbing, original history of the Right, Conservatism portrays a tradition as much at war with itself as with its opponents.

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Edmund Fawcett
Edmund Fawcett



Authoritarianism, Monarchism, Religion, Liberal democracy, Voting, Bolsheviks, Communism, Centre-left politics, Far-right politics, Joseph de Maistre, Republicanism, Populism, Writing, Nazism, Social democracy, Konrad Adenauer, Politician, Economic democracy, Margaret Thatcher, Political philosophy, Prejudice, Legitimists, Political party, General election, Thatcherism, Tax, Democracy, Charles de Gaulle, Manifesto, Tories (British political party), Intellectual, Left–right politics, Centrism, Vichy France, Social liberalism, Cold War II, Ronald Reagan, Criticism, Liberty, State (polity), Individualism, Wealth, Morality, Right-wing politics, Right-wing populism, Soviet Union, Representative democracy, Ideology, Whigs (British political party), Collectivism, Social order, Big government, Centre-right politics, Reactionary, Protestantism, Reformism, Conservative Party (UK), Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, Utilitarianism, Left-wing politics, Roger Scruton, Westphalian sovereignty, Liberal conservatism, Sovereignty, Philosophy, Jacksonian democracy, Free trade, Capitalism, Modernity, Politics, Political Liberalism, Democratic liberalism, Libertarian Party (United States), Kulturkampf, Martin Heidegger, Popular sovereignty, Institution, Secularism, Conservative liberalism, Economic liberalism, Puritans, Tariff, German National People's Party, Liberalism, Social criticism, Government, The American Conservative, Political correctness, Philosopher, Slavery, Hostility, Suggestion, Pessimism, Weimar Republic, Marxism, Prussia, Chauvinism, Satire, Enoch Powell, Radicalism (historical)