Conservatism, From Burke to Bannon

Conservatism, which has always come in several discrete forms (libertarian, traditionalist/”paleoconservative,” religious, “neoconservative,” etc.) is under fresh strain with the rise of Trumpian populism. This lecture and seminar series will begin at the beginning, with a survey of basic conservative principles and some of its leading thinkers, building up to a more comprehensive engagement with contemporary issues of justice, equality, identity, and social policy.


Taught by Dr. Steven F. Hayward, this not-for-credit seminar will include five sessions of two hours over the course of the fall semester.


There will be a moderate amount of reading for the seminar. Students will receive the readings in advance and be expected to complete them prior to each session. The seminar is open to Yale undergraduates and graduate students. Upon successful completion, students will receive a $150 stipend.


The seminar will meet over lunch at 12:30pm on September 7th, September 28th, October 26th, and November 9th, as well as over dinner on November 28th.


These seminars will supplement the lectures offered by Dr. Hayward. Admission to the seminar is by application.


Apply here. 

*Applications are now closed.*

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The seminar will examine the following topics: 


  • Conservatism and Its Enemies: The Landscape Today (Friday, September 7, 2018 at 12:30pm)

Seminar readings: Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions, chapter 2 “Constrained and Unconstrained Visions”; Michael Oakeshott, “On Being Conservative;” Isaiah Berlin, “The Two Concepts of Liberty”; Roger Scruton, How To Be a Conservative (excerpts); William F. Buckley Jr., “Publisher’s Statement,” National Review magazine 1955.


  • Edmund Burke, the First Modern Conservative (Friday, September 28, 2018 at 12:30pm)

Seminar readings: Excerpts from Reflections on the Revolution in France and other texts.


  • Varieties of Conservative Experience (Friday, October 26, 2018 at 12:30pm)

Seminar readings: William F. Buckley Jr., “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?”; F.A. Hayek, “Why I Am Not a Conservative”; Russell Kirk, Introduction, The Conservative Mind; Irving Kristol, “Capitalism, Socialism, and Nihilism”; “The Neoconservative Persuasion”; Norman Podhoretz, “Neoconservatism: A Eulogy.”


  • Conservatism and Philosophy: Frenemies? (Friday, November 9, 2018 at 12:30pm)

Seminar readings: Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (excerpts); Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, chapter 4, “Gnosticism—The Nature of Modernity”; Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics”; Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (excerpts)


  • Conservatism, Equality, and Democracy (Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 5:30pm)

Seminar readings: The Federalist, No. 10; Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Part 1, chapter 8, “How Equality Suggests to the Americans the Idea of the Indefinite Perfectibility of Man;” Part 2, chapter 1, “Why Democratic Peoples Show a More Ardent and More Lasting Love for Equality Than for Freedom;” Russell Kirk, Willmoore Kendall, “Equality: Commitment or Ideal?”; Harry V. Jaffa, “Equality as a Conservative Principle.”


About the lecturer: Steven F. Hayward is currently senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and a visiting lecturer at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall Law School. He was previously the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and was the inaugural visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013-14. From 2002 to 2012 he was the F.K Weyerhaeuser Fellow in Law and Economics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, and has been senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco since 1991.


He writes frequently for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Claremont Review of Books, and other publications. The author of six books including a two-volume chronicle of Reagan and his times entitled The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980, and The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980-1989, and the Almanac of Environmental Trends. His most recent book is Patriotism is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments That Redefined American Conservatism. He writes daily on, one of the nation's most read political websites.

© 2018 by William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale 

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