The Corner

Modern Age and Me

It’s now my privilege to be the editor of the distinguished conservative quarterly Modern Age. It’s not my job to make Modern Age journal great again. From its founding by Russell Kirk through its superb guidance by my predecessor, R. V. Young, Modern Age has been our country’s leading source of tradition and innovation in culturally conservative thought.

I’ve already gotten dozens of e-mails and call this morning from fine people wanting to discuss with me the meaning of conservatism. Well, “What is conservatism?” is not a conservative question. We conservatives are suspicious of all “isms.”

Being a conservative means privileging a sustainable way of life worthy of particular free and relational persons capable of “living in the truth” over any theory or ideology. So it’s easy to point to many examples of culturally conservative thought, moral and political practice, and artistic accomplishment without defining conservatism as a doctrine.

Any definition of being a conservative thinker might begin with being a critic of ideology and scientism, and with being a defender of civilization.

And my understanding of being a conservative is certainly broad enough to incorporate all conservative schools of thought and modes of expression around today.

Seinfeld is the classic show about nothing, and we conservatives appreciate its conservative impulse to be ironic about the misguided and pathetic effort to spend a whole personal life in ironic detachment from the joys and responsibilities of “real life.”

At Modern Age, nothing is alien to us. I welcome all your ideas, submissions, and friendly criticisms.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...