Alexey Zhavoronkov 1
  • 1 Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Goncharnaya str., 12/1, Moscow, 109240, Russian Federation

Nihilism and the Crisis of Tradition: Arendt and Contemporary Radical Conservatism

2018, vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 144–157 [issue contents]
The present paper is a preliminary approach to the question of the applicability of Hannah Arendt’s ideas on tradition and nihilism to the analysis of contemporary radical conservatism. For this purpose, I examine Arendt’s essays of the 1940s and 1950s which shed light on the origins of the European conservatism crisis, and the difference between traditionalist and anti-traditionalist thinking. These arguments on the nihilistic aspects of radical conservatism, which legitimizes itself by appealing to a crisis of tradition, illustrate the shortcomings of Karl Mannheim’s analysis of conservatism and traditionalism. In order to complement Arendt’s rather fragmentary concept of conservatism, I use the definitions of adjectival and nominal conservatism to define the key differences between genuine conservatism and radical conservatism (pseudo-conservatism). Based on the analysis of the past, I address the question of why Arendt is important to the understanding of contemporary pseudo-conservatism, including its historical origins, self-description, and key instruments. Lastly, I explain why, together with Arendt, we should choose a broader perspective by focusing on analyzing the crisis of judgement in the public sphere and the resulting distortion of the ideas of tradition and dialogue, rather than simply describing contemporary radical conservatism as the spiritual successor to National Socialism.
Citation: Zhavoronkov A. (2018) Nigilizm i krizis traditsii: Arendt i sovremennyy radikal'nyy konservatizm [Nihilism and the Crisis of Tradition: Arendt and Contemporary Radical Conservatism]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 17, no 4, pp. 144-157
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