Part of what made me want to publish a review of an older book like Allan Carlson’s Third Ways is that it seems as if a number of conservatives are making known their desires to break with the unhelpful Left/Right political bifurcation. A few years back James Matthew Wilson wrote his “Letter from a Traditional Conservative” at Front Porch Republic. More recently Ross Douthat aired his frustrations with the “conservative” and “liberal” options currently in the media spotlight. Bruce Bartlett went so far as to call for “a conservative case for the welfare state.” While these don’t all agree and are not as equally helpful or incisive at every point, the conversation is refreshing.
Conservatives also need to relearn their history. The Southern Presbyterian R.L. Dabney, for all of his very damaging flaws, is still helpful in exposing what was once a shared Christian tradition. In fact, the Southern Agrarians sound very similar to Chesterton and Belloc (for better and for worse). Gene Veith even points us to Luther’s economics and how they relate very directly to policies in the contemporary European Union. There’s no need to create a “Christian economic worldview” from scratch with such an inheritance within recent memory.
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