Yoram HazonyDec 5, 2022
Regnery Publishing 2022
Conservatism needs to be rediscovered. That is, it needs to be differentiated from the post WWII concept of liberal democracy and return to its traditional three pillars of religion, nationalism, and economic growth. And it needs to be thought of as Anglo-American conservatism, rooted in the tradition of the English Constitution going back to such thinkers as John Fortescue (c. 1394 –1479) and John Selden (1584 –1654). We need to be a God-fearing nation, with nation and religion at the center of our national belief system. We must live conservative lives.
These are some of the arguments made by the political theorist and public intellectual Yoram Hazony in his 2022 book Conservatism: A Rediscovery (Regnery Publishing, 2022).
It is a provocative book that even many conservatives may take issue with.
For example, Hazony puts a great deal of emphasis on the importance of hierarchy both within the family and in society at large. Given that a good deal of the rationale of right-wing thinking in recent years has been predicated on the necessity for non-violent rebellion against the establishment in the Republican party and the left-wing dominance of academia, Hazony’s arguments may not be embraced by large swaths of the right. But to get conservatives and those on the right who do not identify as such thinking about what they stand for, what they want and how to get it is one of the goals of the book. It succeeds.
To those who might blanch at the embrace of religion in the public sphere, Hazony argues that for all intents and purposes the increasingly powerful political philosophy woke neo-Marxism is itself a religion. Hazony criticizes the right for acquiescing in the relegation of traditional religion to the private sphere. He argues robustly for religion, particularly Christianity, to serve as a countervailing force to wokeism. In the face of a progressive order that leaves people in the position of being unable to distinguish between a man and a woman, Hazony advocates for such measures as ending the ban on the Bible and God in the public school classroom.
This is a full-throated defense of conservatism and is, therefore, must reading for those on all sides of the political spectrum. Hazony addresses the need for the idea of a nation, its cohesion, and its inherited traditions. For that, he says, you need conservatism. And by conservatism, he means a public conservatism, a public traditionalism in those places where there is a majority that will support it. Hazony maintains that our culture must support parents and congregations in the work of the transmission of values that ensure respect for tradition, nation and hierarchy.
This book is a substantive intellectual history of conservative thought and profiles significant figures in the conservative movement (e.g., William F. Buckley, Frank Meyer, Russell Kirk). It is also a clarion call for those who claim to be conservatives to live genuinely conservative lives. Hazony urges conservatives to stand up for principles like the public acknowledgment of God and such core values as the honor due parents by their adult children, loyalty within marriage, and observance of the sabbath. In the Hazony version of conservatism, all ten of the Ten Commandments ought to be the basis for our country’s social and political life.
He includes in his book a memoir of his days at Princeton University in the 1980s, where a campus culture of loose living and rampant drinking led him to seek out a life of faith and family. College students of today and their parents would do well to read this moving chronicle of a young person surrounded by decadence who escapes its ravages via a solid marriage and a return to traditional religion.
Let’s hear from Mr. Hazony about his book and the path forward for conservatives and America itself.
Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.