There Is No Such Thing As the Conservative Arts

Peter McClard
6 min readSep 17, 2022

Sorry, Conservatives you just don’t have the pedigree and the history of The Enlightenment behind you. That’s not so say there is no place for conservative thinking. Of course there is and it’s perfectly natural and necessary to society. However, it’s not the engine that propels humanity forward. That would be the Liberal Arts.

Latin: artēs līberālēs — works befitting a free man

Conservatism can be likened to the brakes on a car. Necessary, yet not the thing that propels you to your destination. The accelerator liberates the energy to move you forward and the brakes keep you from crashing and allow you to stop when needed. The Liberal Arts, consisting of philosophy, science, mathematics, history, language, music and art and various branches thereof were a very long time in the making and still being made every day. These studies are at the heart of the American experiment and pretty much all of the Founders such as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were well-versed and well-educated in the Liberal Arts.

As someone who completed a four-year program at St. John’s College based on the Great Books, I can assure you that America would not have been possible without a very long series of progressive thinkers who took all of the knowledge of their respective times and synthesized something new, building higher and reaching deeper into the human mind and the nature of reality itself. This progression from ancient Greek, Roman, Arabic and Biblical scholarship (Eastern and Indigenous Traditions have a very rich history too) culminated in the Enlightenment Period in the works of Newton, Leibniz, Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke, Kant and others leading directly to the thinking of Franklin, Jefferson and Paine. While most certainly many of these folks could be considered Conservatives in their personal views, the scope of their thinking was very Liberal and Free. Liberal and Liberty are closely tied to the contents of the Library.

Facio Liberos Ex Liberis Libris Libraque means, “I make free adults from children by means of books and a balance.”

That’s why I get upset at the modern day attacks on Liberal Arts as elitist or outdated as though wisdom and knowledge could outlive their usefulness. Almost everything we like about modern…

Peter McClard

As a creative type, entrepreneur and philosopher, I write on many topics and try to offer solutions to, or useful insights into common problems.