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Paul Gottfried argues (Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right, 2009) that despite claims to a British patrimony going through Edmund Burke, the American Right has no meaningful connection to European Conservatism. Moreover, the attempt to connect American Conservatism with Edmund Burke hides the leftward turn in the American Conservative Movement over the last several decades. But Gottfried’s argument rests on assumptions about the aristocratic foundation of conservatism and neglects the very real Burkean institutional framework in much of American history. While Gottfried is correct to argue that the contemporary American Right is more leftist than conservative, he is wrong in his claim that Burke has nothing to do with American culture and social order.

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Feb 22 2012