The occasion for this essay concerns the prospects of modern conservative political philosophy; more directly, it calls for the provision of “a systematic and comprehensive account of conservatism.” Given our present moment, at which the political parties and institutions of the political right seem increasingly unmoored from any philosophical anchor, such an occasion appears altogether appropriate. Yet there is good reason to think that accounts of conservatism will not be systematic in the way desired and will in fact tend to rule out entirely systematic approaches—at least according to the commonplace understanding of “systematic”—to government or political philosophy. The belief—often unexpressed—that more systematic, more universal, more complete theories of politics are the mark of serious political thinking is a thoroughly (though not uniquely) modern phenomenon; it is the characteristic of a politics suited for the age of nation–states and of mass political culture, the age of ideology. It is, in other words, a style of political thinking—as dominant as it is confused—for which a certain species of conservatism offers a curative.
Lawrence Alexander & Steven D. Smith
"Conservatism, Ideology, Skepticism,"
The Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues: Vol. 24:
1, Article 10.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/jcli/vol24/iss1/10