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Despite surprising electoral wins, conservatism as we know it is dying. In fact, it may be dead already.
The election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, and the rise of nationalist parties in Europe, have left the political establishment in tatters. After fifty years of unquestioned dominance, the right’s “Cold War consensus” – social conservatism uncomfortably matched with libertarian economics – has been decimated across the West. Even in Australia, when Scott Morrison was asked, “When did the Liberal Party stop believing in free markets?” he replied simply: “I don’t see things in such terms.”
Politicians and pundits are bitterly divided. Some embrace the new nationalist regimes as the best defence against left-wing globalism. Others urge a return to the Cold-War conservatism of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and John Howard.
But another path is available to us.
This collection aims to restore conservatism as it existed before the Cold War – that is, before traditionalists entered into a disastrous alliance with classical liberals and libertarians; before those with a humble appreciation for society got mixed up with ideology.
Timely perspectives on the present crisis draw from the timeless wisdom of the Western canon. The authors decry radical individualism in favour of strong communities. They call for a new settlement for the Australian Liberal Party, rejecting the failed fusion of Edmund Burke & J.S. Mill. They query the rhetoric of free-market capitalism for the sake of the common good. And they reject our prevailing moral anarchy in the name of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Rarely have the ingredients for a conservative comeback been laid out so clearly.