Published Humanitas, Volume XXVII, Nos. 1 and 2, 2014

The Conservative Revolution, by Cory Bernardi. Ballarat, Australia: Connor Court, 2013. $29.95 paper.

Today, the suggestion that genuine political reform can only be found among those who refuse to play by the accepted rules is almost a truism. However, the pressures of the modern political environment tend to stifle the efforts of would-be reformers; reliance on ‘pragmatic’ solutions to social controversy has seen realpolitik devolve into the politics of simple opportunism. As the electorate becomes increasingly cynical about the sincerity of its political elites, this general failure of civic trust throws the very character of the democratic process into question. A vocation shrouded in such a climate of institutionalized compromise, conformism, or cowardice is not one in which virtue can be expected to be the defining characteristic of its leading representatives. But perhaps these degenerative trends ironically make it easier to identify moral character among prospective future leaders.

Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, who published The Conservative Revolution in late 2013, is arguably one of these leaders. While Australian political life is geographically distant from its cousin democracies in the Anglosphere, a shared cultural patrimony makes it an interesting study of social and political trends also witnessed in the United States and the United Kingdom. Like the U.S., but unlike the UK, Australia does not have an explicitly conservative political party. However, the ‘Coalition’ is almost universally recognized as the mainstream center-right force in state and federal politics. Because it is a…

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