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American ConservatismNOMOS LVI$
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Sanford Levinson, Melissa Williams, and Joel Parker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479812370

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479812370.001.0001

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Conservatism in America? A Response to Sidorsky

Conservatism in America? A Response to Sidorsky

(p.140) 3 Conservatism in America? A Response to Sidorsky
American Conservatism

Patrick J. Deneen

NYU Press

This chapter comments on the previous chapter, arguing that Sidorsky’s analysis of conservatism leaves a sense that American conservatism is not conservatism at all, but rather a part of Louis Hartz’s American liberalism. Liberalism as a political philosophy is definitionally anti-conservative. Liberalism views society as voluntarist, and hence regards with suspicion any claims to political legitimacy based upon tradition, religion, hierarchy, or custom. Indeed, it could be argued that liberalism seeks to eliminate “givenness,” or what it regards as arbitrariness, as a constitutive feature of human life, both politically and personally. By contrast, conservatism understands that certain fundamental aspects of life are given, and counsels a degree of acceptance, gratitude, duty, and obligation.

Keywords:   conservatism, American conservatism, Louis Hartz, American liberalism, liberalism

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