Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism

The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville

Bruce Frohnen

Often loud and acrimonious, the public tug-of-war between a reinvigorated conservatism and a liberalism in apparent disarray has obscured an equally important competition-that among conservatives themselves.

In Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism, Bruce Frohnen joins the fray in an effort to rescue the essence of conservative virtue from rationalists and materialists of whatever political stripe. He argues that we have "lost and must attempt to regain the conservative good life and the outlook which made it possible." The tools needed to do that, according to Frohnen, are humility and—yes—political action aimed at combatting the centralizing and materialistic structures and beliefs interfering with the formation and retention of family, church, and neighborhood.

“Anyone interested in the intellectual foundations of contemporary conservatism can profit from reading this book.

—Perspectives on Political Science

“This is a book finely thought out, relentlessly logical and stately in pacing and construction.

—Modern Age

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Drawing deeply from the writings of Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville, both critics of untempered reason and "the drive toward a spiritually impoverished egalitarian materialism," Frohnen explores how their work has influenced individuals as diverse as traditionalist Russell Kirk, "apocalyptic" libertarian Michael Oakeshott, and neoconservative Irving Kristol.

While differing greatly in their views and prescriptions, these contemporary conservatives, Frohnen shows, are nevertheless united in their desire to preserve the local community's natural and fundamental institutions. This preservation, he argues, requires a renewed faith in and humble acceptance of the essential good contained within these institutions.