The New Whiggery

The New Whiggery exists to promote the best of the American constitutional tradition and to evaluate political decisions in light of history, first principles, prudence, and a moral framework grounded in natural law.

The New Whiggery principles

 

The New Whiggery (TNW) promotes the best of the Anglo-American tradition of ordered liberty, limited government, rule of law, free speech, respect for minority opinions, religious liberty, social harmony, reform, historical patience, multigenerational institution building, and optimism about the future, rooted ultimately in biblical anthropology and natural law.  Whiggery emerged from Dutch-Anglo-American Protestantism but its principles are for all people who want order, liberty and justice.  Special landmarks for TNW include the Glorious Revolution of 1688 resulting in Britain’s Bill of Rights and Toleration Act, the Declaration of Independence of 1776, the U.S. Constitution of 1789, and the Gettysburg Address of 1863.

This legacy of liberty originated in a particular historical context, especially in Dutch, British and American cultures of the 1600s and 1700s, but it points to universal principles rooted in the divine order.  Some contemporary critics deride this legacy of liberty as secular, materialistic, individualistic, even hedonistic.  But the Anglo-American political tradition originated with a profoundly biblical understanding of society’s duty to respect each person’s right to live, think and speak without coercion, above all the ability to worship God freely.  Each person equally bears God’s image and merits respect.  Other critics deride our legacy of liberty as oppressive, racist, patriarchal and imperialistic.  They ignore that humanity is fallen, but that our Whiggish tradition has redemptively pointed to the dignity and equality of all persons, with transformative progress across centuries.  Whiggery is providential.   Humanity is sinful but God is kind and merciful.   Whiggery rejects despair and utopianism.  TNW esteems:

  • Constitutional self-government, rule of law, and legal equality for all.
  • Respect for minority rights and the protection of dissenting views.
  • An open public square, civil democratic discourse, and open market of ideas.
  • An appreciation for political balance and moderation.
  • A commitment to justice, social improvement, and reform that stresses the role of institutions, voluntary associations, and personal duty.
  • The compatibility of a market economy, dignified work, and a widespread regard for the common welfare.
  • Decentralized power with an executive enabled to act decisively during national peril.
  • A foreign policy of international order and openness, respect for legitimate national sovereignty, human rights, economic development, and anti-aggression.
  • A role for faith and conscience in public life.

These ideas emerged in a particular historical context but are not the exclusive inheritance of any nation  or culture. Whiggery’s realistic appraisal of human nature and distrust of arbitrary power is relevant for and conducive to human prosperity in all cultures.  Anyone advocating for ordered liberty and against arbitrary power is Whiggish, whether in Hong Kong, or Ukraine, or Venezuela.  Tyrants and materialists claim history favors them.  Whigs know that Providence can seem slow but moves inexorably towards justice and freedom.  Whiggery is historically patient but also is fiercely jealous for the rights and dignity of all people.

Whiggery believes in tradition and progress. To appreciate our history is not to obscure injustices or romanticize the past.  Reformers fail if viewing the past as only shackles from which to be freed. TNW aims to commune with those who came before, admitting the bad, celebrating the good, reinvigorating our society today by perpetuating first principles for posterity.

TNW is a community of sensibility and an aesthetic.  We cheerfully invite all to join us in aligning with a kind Providence in working  for a better world of human dignity, freedom and justice.


If you are interested in learning more about the principles of The New Whiggery, read the following documents:

  • The New Whiggery – article by Mark Tooley
  • Thomas Aquinas, the First Whig – article by Michael Novak
  • Why I am Not a Conservative – excerpt from F. A. Hayek’s book of the same name

The New Whiggery hosts monthly lectures (with dinner) at The Institute on Religion and Democracy office. If you are interested in potentially attending these invite-only lectures, please contact Collin Bastian at cbastian@theird.org for more information.

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