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The Future of Conservatism: An Argument for a Constitutional Conservatism

Recorded on October 7, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

What is conservatism?  To this question conservatives have formulated varying responses, while liberals have provided their own answer.  Some conservatives have claimed that conservatism is the alternative to liberalism, while others have argued that it is the philosophy which cures modern liberalism from its own defects.  Conservatism has therefore faced a dilemma between reversing and slowing our present course, between principle and prudence.  In America, an attempt to resolve this dilemma must begin by recurring to our origins, to our Constitution and to the principles and ideas which gave birth to it, which are found in The Federalist and de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, two authoritative conservative texts.

Harvey C. Mansfield is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University.  He has written on a variety of subjects in Government and Political Philosophy, including Edmund Burke, Machiavelli, and the discovery and development of the theory of executive power.  He has also translated three books of Machiavelli's and (with the aid of his late wife, Delba Winthrop) Tocqueville's Democracy in America.  His book on manliness was published in 2006.  Professor Mansfield has been on the faculty at Harvard since 1962, and is considered one of today's most eminent political philosophers.