Making Conservatism: Conservative Intellectuals and the American Political TraditionPublic Deposited
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MLATait, Joshua Albury. Making Conservatism: Conservative Intellectuals and the American Political Tradition. 2020. https://doi.org/10.17615/s25z-m815
APATait, J. (2020). Making Conservatism: Conservative Intellectuals and the American Political Tradition. https://doi.org/10.17615/s25z-m815
ChicagoTait, Joshua Albury. 2020. Making Conservatism: Conservative Intellectuals and the American Political Tradition. https://doi.org/10.17615/s25z-m815
Tait, Joshua Albury
- Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
- Conservative thought has a complex relationship between principles and expediency; conservative intellectuals read history in line with their needs. This dissertation traces the construction of “conservatism” as a political identity in a nation of normative liberalism. Conservative discourse coalesced around several constructs: the language of conservatism itself; a theoretical formulation that prioritized economic liberty and anti-statism in politics and sublimated “tradition” to the cultural sphere; an equation right-wing policies with America’s political tradition; and an anti-leftism that included anti-communism, but was especially motivated by domestic anti-liberalism. When conservative intellectuals appealed to history, they drew on a reservoir of symbolic authority that naturalized their contemporary political programs. These appeals developed in three stages: first, the justification of a conservative tradition in American history; second, an interpretation of history that found resources for contemporary conservative politics in the past; finally, the establishment of conservative readings as the sole interpretation of history, supplanting liberal interpretations of the past. The conservative appeal to the authority of history had political intent. Conservative intellectuals sought to bring the federal state in line with pre-New Deal limits. They saw this as restoring the republic after a liberal rupture in history. This narrative delegitimized their political opponents and fostered existential politics. The prologue discusses the dominance of “liberalism” after World War II. Chapter 1 looks at the emergence of “conservatism” as a political language in the 1950s. Chapter 2 analyzes critics of liberalism in the early 1950s. Chapter 3 traces the founding of the conservative magazine National Review and the development of “conservatism” around several tropes. Chapter 4 addresses key conservative thinkers and their interpretations of American history. Chapter 5 focuses on conservative intellectuals and civil rights. Chapter 6 discusses the exhaustion of movement conservative intellectuals in the 1960s and 1970s and contrasts conservative intellectuals defined by their interpretation of history. Chapter 7 covers the neoconservative-led celebration of the Bicentennial of American independence, demonstrating conservative history reaching the White House. Chapter 8 offers snapshots of conservative intellectual success and failure in equating their policies with the American political tradition in the 1980s and beyond.
- Date of publication
- Resource type
- Waterhouse, Benjamin C.
- Burgin, Angus
- Worthen, Molly
- Lienesch, Michael
- Turk, Katherine
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Degree granting institution
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
- Graduation year
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