Does conservatism aim to uphold or to transform society? Across the West, the political right is split. Some conservatives back a status quo of globalised economies and live-and-let-live societies. Others want to upend that open, international order by putting the nation first, socially and economically. There is, however, a third kind of conservatism, represented by two new short books. Its guiding idea is that political problems at root are spiritual. In different ways, Rod Dreher and Roger Scruton suggest that conservatism’s main task is to cure or abandon a sickened culture.
One offers a preacher’s simplicity, the other a thinker’s subtlety. Mr Dreher is a devout Christian, an editor at the American Conservative and the author of popular books advertising the personal rewards of faith. Sir Roger is an eminent British counter-example to the commonplace that conservatives distrust ideas. A philosopher, journalist and novelist, he has written around 50 books on political ideas, morals and aesthetics. In 1982 he founded, and for 18 years edited, the Salisbury Review, a conservative quarterly taking its distance from the libertarian right in the name of traditional values.
Read the full review online at The Economist.