The Tory Tradition

I’ve long hated the word “conservative.”

I have never identified with mainstream conservatism in the United States.

More recently, I have started using the term “conservative liberal” to describe these people in order to better contrast them with my own worldview. I’m a natural conservative but not in the same sense as those people. I strongly identify with my faith, folk and family. I identify with my community, state, ethnic group, nation and race. I desire to preserve these organic attachments, not liberal abstractions. I’m a vocal advocate for these things which I love and defend on a daily basis here.

I don’t like extremes of wealth. I value social stability, order and cohesion. I associate morality with traits like honesty, loyalty, honor and duty. I believe that differences in race, sex and gender are natural. I’m tired of living in a perpetual state of social revolution which makes me feel like an alien in the modern world. I named my son George after his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather.

What do you call people like me?

The Imaginative Conservative:

There is a Tory tradition in America that runs against the grain of establishment Liberalism, embracing home, hearth, community, family, church, nature, and the moral realities of everyday life, and opposed to individualism, unlimited free markets, libertarianism, secularism, and the rootless loneliness of global modernity. This tradition comes from within America, not without.

One day in the late nineteenth century, as the great English literary critic and professor George Saintsbury walked over an English bridge, two passersby looked at back him, one saying to the other, “There goes the biggest Tory in England.” Saintsbury, a proud and outspoken Tory, took it as flattery, even though his observers certainly did not intend it that way. Today, “Tory” has lost its specificity. “Tory” is now a byword most often synonymous with the British Conservative Party, covering all its factions. It lost much of its meaning in Canada decades ago, and in the United States it is used to label Loyalists hostile to the American Revolution. Yet today, the whole idea of western “Conservatism,” a movement built in the unique pressures of the Cold War, is metamorphosing into new forms. The Cold War is long over. New considerations based on new circumstances are emerging on the Right—in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States—that closely resemble those of Saintsbury’s Toryism, long overshadowed but now reemerging. Tory principles have a genealogy from which to draw. They emerged in Britain and were planted in the imperial lands of the British Empire over centuries, including Canada and America. There is a Tory Tradition in the Anglosphere, from which Liberalism’s critics can draw both insight and precedent.[1]

The term “Tory” began as a seventeenth-century pejorative appended to Stuart loyalists, that in the original Gaelic meant “Irish robbers.” As often happens, the derogatory name was adopted by its adherents, and “Tory” stuck, soon labeling one of two political parties (the other being “Whig”) in the United Kingdom. The historical inspiration for Toryism also dates from the 1600s, in their identification with Royalism and the cause of King Charles I in the English Civil War. “The traceable origin of Toryism is the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings as heads of a National Church,” wrote Maurice Henry Woods, private secretary to the Tory press baron Lord Beaverbrook, in 1924. “From the blood shed at Whitehall on that cold wintry morning went up a thin vapor which spread like a miasma over the later period of the Commonwealth.” After 1688, this royalism morphed into a loose political party united around loyalty to the Crown (oftentimes as protection against the deprivations of the aristocracy) and Church, and largely populated by rural landowners, citizenry of the smaller cities and towns, and the Anglican clergy. As Lord Birkenhead described it …

The historian Cecil Driver, writing of the Tory philanthropist and reformer Robert Oastler, described the constraints individualism sought to break:

[Toryism’s] source is to be found in the attitudes and sentiments of men living as parts of an established order: in an awareness, that is to say, of the organic nature of society begotten of the immemorial routines—plowing and sowing, hayzel and harvest—as well as in a feeling for the continuity of institutions maintained by the very loyalties they evoke. The whole emphasis of the Tory was upon the going concern as the legacy he had inherited from history. And this in turn involved a stress upon the concreteness of duties and obligations, which that inheritance implied. The Tory thus viewed the State as the ultimate totality of a myriad of social cells. But his immediate attention was focused upon the nearer communities of village, shire, and guild, wherein were developed those attitudes of acceptance that are the deposit of the years: a particular notion of neighborliness and a tacit assertion of the ‘proper’ gradation of men and classes.”

Where Macaulay saw “progress” as the grand theme of British history and “viewed the future as some continually increasing cotton boom which would never stop,” Tories looked upon a fractured and uncaring society in the throes of a grasping individualism with no belief in human dignity.[10]” …

Tory environmentalism and dislike of industrial society led to a thoroughgoing anti-materialism. Property rights, while a historically based traditional English right (rather than an airy philosophical “natural right” touted by Whiggery and Liberalism), were never absolute and always subject to concerns for the common good. Property should never be an end in itself, but subject to the restraints of just proportion and the balance of concomitant moral duties as delineated in natural law.” …

Necessarily limited by duty and the responsibility to pursue moral truth, liberty was not a universal good. “[Toryism] is the claim of duty, the recognition that even liberty is not an abstract and unconditional right,” Woods counseled, “but something only to be gained and retained at the cost of self-sacrifice and at the price of service, a gift exercised under a rigid and continuous self-control.” …

The experience of reality did not reveal equality, but a substantial inequality. Once past equality of souls in God’s eyes, the world splintered into a constellation of differences. Saintsbury wrote in his first Scrap Book that Toryism was “a political creed which can stand the tests of rational examination of the physical and historical facts of life. It rests, in the first place, on the recognition of the facts that all men and women are born unequal; that no men and women are born free.” Hierarchy of ability and responsibility was healthy. …

There is a Tory tradition in America that runs against the grain of establishment Liberalism, embracing home, hearth, community, family, church, nature, and the moral realities of everyday life, opposed to individualism, unlimited free markets, libertarianism, secularism, and the rootless loneliness of global modernity. This tradition comes from within America, not without.”

Good article.

This sounds very familiar.

This is pretty much my entire cast of mind.

About Hunter Wallace 12380 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Ah, the original meaning of “Tory,” which is even MORE conservative than Thatcherism!

    Authentic, originalist Tories, in search of their royal monarchy with “Divine right” to rule, and their feudal order of “noble” men (and women) – because NOT all men are equal, and NOT all can be free! What they need is the recognition of Southern nobility and the restoration of serfdom, and Tory Paradise will exist again on earth (paradise for the nobles, that is), and beautiful new castles and cathedrals will rise on the backs of the masses of property-less, hungry and poor.

  2. Hunter makes a good point about the Southern political tradition. Eons ago in grad school at the University of Alabama, my faculty advisor had me sub for him to do the lectures on Calhoun. By this essay the great Southerner would have to be called a Tory — I agree with this description — because Calhoun’s political thought had at its core hearth and home..In this he was very much typical of our region and our people.

  3. Let’s be perfectly clear, if today’s “conservatives” would condemn, ridicule and vituperate the positions things they would have felt sympathy for ten years ago, the word “conservative” cannot rationally be applied. We have people today who are full of contempt and disgust for anyone holding to the values that were practically universally understood to constitute conservatism in living memory. These people DC fags taking money from Jews with the “conservative” brand with the franchise granted by the GOP. There is no intellectual honesty, integrity or sincerity in their work. Most voters ignore them. Why give them oxygen and pretend they matter?

  4. The tory tradition has the same problem as the conservative tradition in practice. Just a long history of losing while claiming to hold the moral high ground. In fact, tories might be the only group who are bigger losers than liberal conservatives.

    Fascism has been the only anti-liberal movement in history to have any success against the left. But tories don’t like it because the thought of actually combatting the left gives them the vapors. If anyone takes opposition to the left at all beyond stern condemnations and fruitless argumentation, tories move for their fainting couches.

    • @Mark…

      Good to see you, Sir.

      I have been wondering how you and your family have been doing…

  5. @Mr. Griffin…

    Thank you so much for this artlcle. Like you I am a Conservative, for I wish to conserve those ways which are now largely lost in this country.

    And like you I definitely find it very hard to listen to those you dub as’ Liberal Conservatives’ – sometimes it is even harder to listen to them than to Liberals.

    As to the word ‘Tory’, I had no idea of it’s true background, and never thought of myself as a ‘Tory’.

    Yet, after reading what you have written there can be little doubt that I am that – and, yes, if I had been in Olde Ængland during those days, I would have fought with Charles I.

  6. Just another example that just because something’s written doesn’t make it so. Tories are members of the Conservative Party in the UK and Canada. They don’t exist in America, numbnut.
    The Old Right, also known as paleoconservatives, aren’t Tories either because they’re closer to other conservatives economically.

    The South was always poorer than the rest of the country so it was never fiscally conservative until the Reagan years when the conservatives completed their takeover of the Republican Party.

    You appear to be a Neoconfederate and you’re most likely a Dixiecrat.

  7. @Wiccan..

    “You appear to be a Neo-Confederate and you’re most likely a Dixiecrat.”

    Considering that this is a Southern Nationalist website, it sure is perceptive of you to assume that the host is a ‘Neo-Confederate’ and a Dixiecrat’.

    Who would have thunk it?

Comments are closed.