The American Enterprise

The power of tradition.(culture and society)

Lee Harris, "Traditional, and Therefore Right: The Future of Tradition," Policy Review, June & July 2005 (

Culture wars proved disastrous both for Periclean Athens and for the French and German enlightenment eras. Sophists and philosophes attacked traditional values in the name of reason, and destroyed brilliant cultures. The American "intellectual," says Lee Harris, author of Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History, is currently doing this to America. If we are to avoid the fates of our Hellenic, French, and German predecessors, Harris argues, we must find a way to defend tradition.

Harris finds that discussions of tradition tend to fall victim to what he calls the "declarative fallacy," whereby traditions are thought of as empty statements. …

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