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Emerson and Us

A slightly edited version of the following essay appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Modern Age.

Emerson tells us that truth is “such a flyaway, such a slyboots, so untransportable and unbarrelable a commodity, that it is as bad to catch as light.”[1] However things may be with truth, it is so with Emerson’s thought. What he says is often wise or inspiring, but he has no coherent theory, and his commitment to what he writes is uncertain. He tells us what currently appears true to him, in penetrating, compressed and sometimes shocking language, but his indifference to consistency makes his writings imply everything and nothing. What do we make of him, and why has he been so important to the life of the mind in America?


Confucius Today

A slightly edited version of the following essay appeared in the Fall 1995 issue of Modern Age. The essay is also available in Dutch.


Traditionalism and the American Order

A Swedish translation of the following essay appeared in the Swedish mainstream conservative quarterly Contextus (no. 4, 1998). Bracketed language did not appear in the essay as published.

The American Founding was the first of the liberal revolutions; nonetheless, America is in many ways the most conservative of Western countries. It is the most anticommunist, the most resistant to the welfare state, the most visibly religious, the most vocally concerned with “traditional moral values.” It has also been unusually stable politically. How is such conservatism possible in a political order founded so explicitly on liberal principles, one in which it is not simply laughable when apologists for left-wing libertinism call themselves “People for the American Way?”


The Abolition of Britain

by Peter Hitchens

332 pp+xi, Encounter Books, San Francisco 2000 ISBN 1-893554-18-X (Second Edition)


What is the EU?

The goals and ultimate destiny of the European Union have been variously explained. The uncertainty is not altogether accidental, since the plan of the EU Founding Fathers was to bring about European unity by indirection. The strategy is a good one; it is hard to criticize what has no accepted description. Those who favor the EU can cooperate without making their long-term goals explicit, while opponents are told that their objections are mistaken because the EU is really something else.

It is therefore important to say what the EU is and so make it something that can be discussed and understood. It is clear that it is not a collection of solutions to particular practical problems, but rather an all-embracing attempt to construct ever greater unity in spite of all obstacles. It may rhetorically assert the principle of subsidiarity — making decisions locally when possible — but its entire history denies that principle. It aims at centralization and uniformity for their own sake.


Conservatism FAQ

This is the February 1, 2005 revision of a summary of questions and objections regarding conservatism. Additional questions and comments are welcome. The conservatism discussed is traditionalist American conservatism. Other varieties are touched on in section 6, and their adherents are urged to draft additional FAQs.



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