Bohemian Conservatism

The conservatism of Roger Scruton, the liberalism of Albert Camus and the outlook of Oswald Spengler.

“History is direction—but Nature is extension—ergo, everyone gets eaten by a bear.”
― Oswald Spengler

“I’m very unlike the ordinary English conservative in having come to conservatism by a path which is essentially bohemian.”

Roger Scruton, Confessions with Giles Fraser

What is Bohemian Conservatism?

Bohemianism is wrapped up with the idea of the unconventional with few permanent ties, while conservatism is steeped in convention and concerned about preserving binding ties of value. Bohemianism also regularly involves musical, literary and artistic pursuits; and while conservatism also regularly involves these things, the regions of these pursuits differ.

So, how do these two things resolve?

They resolve by complimenting each other in their antagonism. Conservatism becomes stale, brittle … fundamentally unable to conserve those things of value about a culture the moment it fails to apply a sense of bohème to how it goes about conservation. It becomes the caricature that radicals paint it to be. And, likewise, bohemianism becomes a stylistic husk without a valued touchstone with which to rub against. Each only work well with the other as a background fail-safe guide.

And it’s here that I will explore this relationship. You may find it interesting, particularly if, like me, you do not fit neatly into the strange worldview divides of our times, here at the beginning of 2020. The idea for this blog was inspired by the deaths of two of my intellectual heroes within 90 days of each other: Harold Bloom (October 14, 2019) and Roger Scruton (January 12, 2020).

At the risk of approaching a definition, a bohemian conservative believes humans ought to appreciate, live amidst, and even love the eccentric particularity of physical nature, of distinctive persons, of local culture, of odd traditions that reach back before memory, and more generally of the person rooted in time and place–a [unique] historical expression…

Ted McAllister,

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