THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
His contributions in these fields are in fact
derivative from his main concerns. Some years before Burnham had
acquired a reputation as an analyst of foreign policy, he achieved
wide recognition as a student of current economic, social, and
political developments in the United States. He had also formulateda systematic political theory as a framework for his analysis, and it is
in terms of this theory that Burnham's entire career as a writer and
thinker must be understood.
s influence on conservative anti-Communist
thought, it is doubtful that the systematic character of his contribu-
tions to political theory has been appreciated or indeed widely per-ceived. Although a number of his contemporaries in the American
conservative intellectual movement have been the subject of recent
discussion by their disciples and critics, there is very little in recent
conservative literature about Burnham as a political thinker. It is
true, and ironic, that the American and European left concentrated
considerable fire on Burnham's works as they appeared, but the
right seems largely to have ignored these earlier writings and to have
missed their significance for conservative political thought.
Several reasons may account for this neglect of Burnham by thepolitical right. First, the philosophical underpinnings of Burnham
conservatism are unusual and cannot be categorized as either liber-
tarian or conventionally traditionalist in the strict sense of these
terms. Indeed, one conservative publicist has questioned whether
Burnham is a conservative at all.
political thought appears to have developed from the empiricist and
historicist tradition and to owe little to the principal source of
modern traditionalist conservatism, the "Great Tradition" of
natural law and philosophical realism. Nor does Burnham's thought
owe much to the classical liberal tradition of which Ludwig von
Mises and F. A. Hayek are representative. The eccentric foundations
s political thought therefore may have served to deflect
scholarly conservative attention from it.
For conservative commentary on Burnham, see Brian Crozier, "My Pilgrimageto Kent (Connecticut),"
New Lugano Review,
no. 11-12 (1976), pp. 18-24; and Henry
Regnery, "Emerging Conservatism: Kilpatrick, Morley, and Burnham,
XXII (Summer, 1978), pp. 237-45.
Witonski, "The Conservative Consensus,
1, 1970, p. 1306, calls Burnham a "right-wing counter-revolutionary
and "not strictlyspeaking a conservative
but does not define the former term.