The Post-World War II American intellectual conservative movement was a philosophically jerrybuilt political alliance. Its ideas were greatly influenced by William F. Buckley’s National Review, which started in 1955. The magazine’s chief ideologue was senior editor Frank S. Meyer. He propagated a rather paradoxical notion of conservatism, which he summarized as the individualism of John Stuart Mill without its moral utilitarianism. To become conservative laissez-faire liberalism only needed to be leavened with what Meyer called “an objective moral order.” This ideological stance, called “fusionism,” was typical of National Review in that it fudged, or simply ignored, issues of far-reaching philosophical importance.
Claes G. Ryn is Professor of Politics at The Catholic University of America, where he was also Chairman of his Department. His many books include Democracy and the Ethical Life, Will, Imagination and Reason, A Common Human Ground and The New Jacobinism, now in an expanded edition. Ryn is Chairman of the National Humanities Institute and President of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters. A frequent visitor to China, he was recently named Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University. In 2000 he gave the Distinguished Foreign Scholar Lectures at Beijing University.