The last few years have shown us how important political thinking is to our way of life. Politics affect everything—whether that means actual policy or simply the newest political topic that spills into social media.
I have found myself in the past as a political outsider, not seeing my own face in conservative nor liberal parties in North America. And yet I assume that I am a conservative. It turns out that by receiving a whole set of traditions, assumptions, and ideas as I did, I was being a conservative.
A number of books have helped me to understand what it means to be Conservative, and they showed me why I often did not see myself or my views within the current political parties in North America. Here are five:
Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition by Roger Scruton
Roger Scruton provides a brief but helpful historical analysis of the origin and growth and conservatism. To over simplify, Scruton argues that modern conservatives originated as a response to the excessive individualism of liberalism. For example, the French Revolution was a very liberal era, one which left beyond much of the past for certain ideals. It was excessive, and so conservatives, agreeing with much in liberalism, responded by saying yes, but not quite.
Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism by George Grant
George Grant wrote Lament for a Nation to lament the loss of Canadian Nationalism after the defeat of John Diefenbaker in 1963. It’s a classic Canadian work of politics from a nationalist perspective.
How to Be a Conservative by Roger Scruton
Roger Scruton writes a more practical or comparative work on conservatism that highlights the truths of various systems (capitalism, socialism, etc.) while showing how conservatism works within or without such systems. It is a useful guide to understanding the world as a conservative.
The North American High Tory Tradition By Ron Dart
Ron Dart studies The North American High Tory tradition, a traditional conservatism. I am cheating here since I have not read this book yet, but I have (will) talked to the author about the topic of his book for a podcast. I plan to read it, but through this conversation, I hope to have a good sense of the value of the book.
The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity by Richard Hooker
Richard Hooker (1554) is one of the greatest theologians and political thinkers of the last 500 years. His works, free online or affordably priced in updated English, represent for many a high-mark in conversative thinking.