Conservative revolution, radical revolution: there’s a difference

There is a difference between a conservative revolution and a radical revolution.

A conservative revolution seeks to preserve and reinvigorate good old things.

A radical revolution can seek to tear down institutions and established ways; but, sometimes a radical revolution merely wants to pursue a new vision of Utopia. The former version of radical revolution is anarchic; the latter is misguided.


“Our evidence shows that Reformers considered the patristic tradition as second only to biblical authority, and used it as a critical source in vindication of their views. The Tradition of the church was not the same as the traditions which they opposed; in fact the former helped to expose the nature of the latter,” Daniel H. Williams wrote in Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants. (That is why it has been difficult to hear some speak of recent “revivals” as similar events to the Reformation.)


In the old days, I was once told, school children had copybooks, and across the tops of these pages were written wise, time-tested sayings. As G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis often noted in their times, old points of view frequently were mocked and belittled as things of the past, yet the mocking and the belittling had more to do with fashionable thinking than serious thinking.

If you’ll forgive Rudyard Kipling much of who he was, and if you’ll endure his old style of poetry, you will find a brilliant expression of radical revolution (in conflict with wise old ways) in his poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

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