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Edmund Burke in AmericaThe Contested Career of the Father of Modern Conservatism$
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Drew Maciag

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448959

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448959.001.0001

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Contemporary Conservatives

Contemporary Conservatives

Victories and Illusions

(p.216) Chapter 12 Contemporary Conservatives
Edmund Burke in America

Drew Maciag

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at Burke's political influence from the 1970s onward, as a revision of the postwar casting of Burke as a conservative oracle commenced. It argues that, outside of the conservative stereotype, Burke is best understood as a transitional thinker. In the twentieth century, Burke had become the father of conservatism because his disciples refused to fully adopt the post-Enlightenment frame of mind: a posture that became less comfortable with each passing decade. Those who were more likely to invoke Burke did so in an attempt to stave off what they had perceived as the decline of American civilization—a complaint that has existed since the end of the Revolution onward—in order to bolster the arguments of Cold War conservatism, and more recently, to oppose the liberals' response to terrorism.

Keywords:   1970s, Cold War conservatism, Enlightenment, political influence, transitional thinker

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