the perennial struggle between radicals and conservatives

"The richness and variety, and indeed the advance, of our culture depend upon the continuation of this conflict [between conservatives and radicals], which is deeply rooted in human nature."

Allan Bloom:
Conservative scholar in our age of radical scholarship.

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
G. K. Chesterton
Everlasting Man

"This books is intended for the use of those who can still be charmed by books and who have an irreducible interest in the depiction of love. Books about love inform and elevate the fantasy of their readers and actually become part of their eros while teaching them about it... They are living expressions of profound experiences... In itself and immediately this transports us out of our dreary times. I hope that by this book I may touch at least a few potential friends who can love literature in spite of the false doctors [radicals] who try to cure them of it... This book bears witness to a confrontation between the two greatest philosophical teachings about eros, another chapter in the quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns."
Allan Bloom
introduction of "Love & Friendship"

Who is right and who is wrong in the culture wars?
The perennial struggle between radicals and conservatives.


"As a historian I have become increasingly fascinated by the perennial culture conflict, at its sharpest in advanced societies, between radicals and conservatives: between, that is, those who believe the world can be reshaped by their own unguided intelligence and those who distrust reason in isolation and think it should be anchored in prescriptive wisdom, natural law and other restraints. This conflict is conducted mainly in books but powerful echoes are to be found on the stage, in music, in art and architecture and not least in public life itself. What is absorbing is to follow the generational swings in national (and also international) culture, in which first radicals, than conservatives, get the upper hand, and especially the way in which the balance is tipped by the shift of a great writer from one camp or the other - Coleridge and Victor Hugo are excellent examples, in different directions. The richness and variety, and indeed the advance, of our culture depend upon the continuation of this conflict, which is deeply rooted in human nature. If you believe in the Hegelian dialectic, this is an example of its powerful spirit in action."
Paul Johnson
The Spectator

"By 'radical' I understand one who goes too far; by 'conservative' one who does not go far enough; by 'reactionary' one who won't go at all."
Woodrow Wilson
speech in New York City
January 29, 1911

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."
G. K. Chesterton

"There is danger in reckless change; but greater danger in blind conservatism."

Henry George

"Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back... Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around."
G. K. Chesterton

Is Jesus a radical or conservative?
Both claim him; both have a point.

"In the best sense of the word, Jesus was a radical... His religion has so long been identified with conservatism... that it is almost startling sometimes to remember that all the conservatives of his own times were against him; that it was the young, free, restless, sanguine, progressive part of the people who flocked to him."

Phillips Brooks