Benjamin Disraeli and John Henry Cardinal Newman are credited with bringing intriguing imponderables into the syndrome of conservative philosophies. Theirs was, in Russell Kirk’s phrase, “conservatism of imagination,” a rather vague category of cognition and judgment. In fact, Disraeli’s historical image is deceptively coherent, definable, even simple: he’s perceived as an astute statesman, dedicated to achieving goals of a political and practical nature. Yet, it has slowly begun to dawn on many that he was not just a master politician, parliamentarian, foreign-policy strategist, and tactician of sociopolitical movements. It is now clear that he was, first and foremost, a seminal thinker, an ideological conceptualist whose world view and philosophy—which are often not attributed to him—are today the sources of many modern conservative theories and principles. A direct lifeline of ideas seems to connect Disraeli, Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher—that is, leaders whose main concern was (is) to make truths that appeared paramount and undeniable to them palatable to the masses of voters. In other words, their common trait seems to be an ability to connect the lasting historical validity of postBurkean conservatism with the democratic legitimacy of the political process. Whether Ms. Bradford’s book adequately addresses Disraeli’s ideological and intellectual legacy is debatable. But her work proves that interest in Lord Beaconsfield’s persona and influence is flourishing.
December 1983April 21, 2022By The Archive
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