Is Traditionalism Experiencing a Revival at College and Universities?


Jeff Cimmino has a really interesting piece at The National Review on the rise of traditionalism (as opposed to free-market, classical liberalism) among conservatives on college campuses.

Here is a taste:

Young Americans are usually thought of as decidedly liberal. This is an oversimplified picture. A sizeable minority of Millennials identify as conservative. Despite some evidence that Millennial conservatives lean left on social issues, it would be wrong to write all of them off as libertarians. Some young conservatives, in fact, hold anti-libertarian attitudes, and their numbers may be increasing. Plainly speaking, these young conservatives hold socially and culturally conservative views. On the other hand, they are wary of individualism and free markets. They are not necessarily anti-capitalist, but fear that laissez-faire economic systems can be excessively cutthroat, prizing individual material gain above the wellbeing of the community.

This strain of conservative thought is closely related to the traditionalism of Russell Kirk, the 20th-century conservative political theorist who authored The Conservative Mind. Kirk identified ten foundational conservative principles. The first principle states that conservatives believe in an “enduring moral order.” Moral truths do not change with the times, and neither does human nature. “Conservatives are champions,” he continues, “of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know.” Conservatives value private property because it is “closely linked” to freedom, but argue that “getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence.” Decisions directly affecting members of a community should be made “locally and voluntarily.” Regarding governance, conservatives recognize that human passions must be restrained: Order and liberty must be balanced. Moreover, a conservative “favors reasoned and temperate progress,” but does not worship Progress as some type of magical force. Young, anti-libertarian conservatives represent a new generation of traditionalists. And they are increasingly prominent on some college campuses.

Read the entire piece here.

If there is an upswing in traditionalism among conservative students on the campus where I teach, I am unaware of it.  That is not to say that such a resurgence is not happening, but I really doubt that most students are aware of these conservative thinkers and their contribution to Western culture.  I think I can confidently say that these works are very rarely ever assigned in classes.  I think that is a shame.

3 thoughts on “Is Traditionalism Experiencing a Revival at College and Universities?

  1. I’m one of those millennials who identify as conservative. However, being born in 1985 does mean I barely make it into the millennial category. Something I’m noticing is the next generation that are currently in H.S. are very conservative and traditional.



Comments are closed.