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The Dilemmas of American Conservatism

Kenneth Deutsch

Publication Year: 2010

In the second half of the twentieth century, American conservatism emerged from the shadow of New Deal liberalism and developed into a movement exerting considerable influence on the formulation and execution of public policy in the United States. During that period, the political philosophers who provided the intellectual foundations for the American conservative movement were John H. Hallowell, Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet, John Courtney Murray, Friedrich Hayek, and Willmoore Kendall. By offering a comprehensive analysis of their thoughts and beliefs, The Dilemmas of American Conservatism both illuminates the American conservative imagination and reveals its most serious contradictions. The contributing authors question whether a core set of conservative principles can be determined based on the frequently diverging perspectives of these key philosophers.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. v

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pp. vii

Since the Second World War, there has appeared an extraordinary renaissance in American conservative political philosophy and public discourse. Such putative conservative thinkers of the first rank include John H. Hallowell, Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, Richard Weaver, Robert Nisbet, John Courtney Murray, Russell Kirk, F. A. Hayek, and...

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pp. 1-8

This volume explores the thought of those intellectuals commonly credited with having the greatest philosophical influence on the resurgence of American conservatism during the second half of the twentieth century, when the movement emerged from the shadow of the New Deal and began reasserting its power over the formulation and execution of public ...

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The Classical Realism of John H. Hallowell

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pp. 9-28

When I entered Duke University as a graduate student forty years ago, my political affiliations were confused. I considered myself a conservative with moderate political views but felt uncomfortable identifying with the advocates of a bellicose foreign policy, supporters of a laissez-faire economic program, and defenders of the Jim Crow status quo in ...

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Eric Voegelin and American Conservatism

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pp. 29-46

In reacting to numerous efforts by others to classify his thinking according to the terms of a particular school of thought or intellectual tradition, Eric Voegelin (1901–1985) wrote: “Because of this attitude I have been called every conceivable name by partisans of this or that ideology. I have in my files documents labeling me a Communist, a Fascist, ...

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Leo Strauss’s Friendly Criticism of American Liberal Democracy: Neoconservative or Aristocratic Liberal?

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pp. 47-61

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) remains one of the most revered and reviled political thinkers since World War II.1 Both academically serious and politically bizarre controversies surrounding Strauss’s legacy have intensified since his death. His alleged influence over contemporary neoconservatives and their Iraqi foreign policy objectives is only one of the ...

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The Relation of Intellect and Will in the Thought of Richard Weaver

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pp. 63-76

In May 1960 Richard Weaver (1910–1963) published an article in The Individualist in which he defined the intellectual conservative. To be clear, Weaver was speaking of the intellectual conservative, not the social, fiscal, or political conservative. Here is Weaver’s definition: ...

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Robert Nisbet and the Conservative Intellectual Tradition

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pp. 77-96

Robert Nisbet (1913–1996) was a prose stylist of the first rank, arguably the original American communitarian, and a major figure in the renaissance in conservative thought that occurred after 1950. He published his first and most influential book, The Quest for Community, in 1953 at the end of a three-year period that produced what he later called a ...

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John Courtney Murray as Catholic, American Conservative

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pp. 97-124

John Courtney Murray (1904–1967) was a member of the Society of Jesus. He taught at the Jesuit theologiate at Woodstock, Maryland, and was editor of the Jesuit journal Theological Studies from 1941 until his death. He became a leading American public figure—the subject of a 1960 Time cover story. He was known mainly for his work on the...

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Russell Kirk: Traditionalist Conservatism in a Postmodern Age

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pp. 125-149

Russell Kirk (1918–1994) is widely credited as one of the architects of postwar American conservatism. The author of more than thirty works of intellectual history, literary criticism, and biography, Kirk was a long-time newspaper columnist, an early contributor to National Review, and the founder of two quarterly journals, Modern Age and The University ...

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F. A. Hayek: A Man of Measure

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pp. 151-173

The Austrian-born Nobel Laureate, economist, and social theorist F. A. Hayek (1899–1992) was neither an American nor a self-avowed conservative, yet any exploration of American conservative philosophy must place Hayek front and center. He is widely regarded as one of the fathers of the postwar conservative revival in the United States and, despite ...

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Willmoore Kendall, Man of the People

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pp. 175-202

Few leading intellectuals of the early postwar conservative movement considered themselves majority-rule democrats. But Willmoore Kendall (1909–1967) was one who did. While James Burnham looked to a Machiavellian elite as the “defenders of freedom” and others of the Right defined themselves in opposition to what José Ortega y Gasset had ...


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pp. 203-204


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pp. 205-212

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813173900
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813125961

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Conservatism -- United States.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
  • Conservatism -- United States -- Philosophy.
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