17 Pages


There is considerable difficulty in defining American conservatism because in American intellectual life there are two intellectual streams, traditionalist and libertarian, which have been described (and describe themselves) as conservative, but which perceive themselves as different elements of the same movement. It is this sense of self-conscious conservatism which Nash uses as his criterion in his definitive historical survey. Conservatism can best be recognized in terms of its opposition to the centralizing, allencompassing, bureaucratic, and Utopian state, with its destructive effect on the autonomy of the individual and the natural order of communities. The perennial quest for conservatives is the establishment of both freedom and order compatible with the limited state.