Image Credit: Richard M. Weaver (photo courtesy of Intercollegiate Studies Institute)
Remembering the Right

Remembering Richard Weaver

Southern Conservative

Native Southerner and traditionalist conservative, Richard Weaver (1910-1963) was a unique figure in the rise of the modern American right. Weaver, a longtime professor at the University of Chicago, was an historian, literary critic, and rhetorician who despised the modern trend towards intellectual specialization. As an undergraduate, he embraced socialism after being convinced that the future was firmly on the side of “science, liberalism and equalitarianism.”

Weaver’s self-described conversion “up from liberalism” commenced with his association, as a Vanderbilt graduate student, with the Nashville Agrarians. In 1930, the Nashville Circle had published I’ll Take My Stand, a collection of 12 essays which juxtaposed the Southern agrarian tradition against the Northern industrial way of life. Upon completion of his master’s degree in 1934, he had admittedly grown fond of his Agrarian mentors, but he was reluctant to embrace their particular conservative vision. Years later, while driving on a Texas highway, he began to ponder whether to return to an academic job at Texas A&M. He wrote later that he was overcome by the realization that:

I did not have to go back to this job, which had become distasteful, and that I did not have to go on professing the clichés of liberalism, which were becoming meaningless to me. I saw that my opinions had been formed...

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