Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-iv

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-vi

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Foreword

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xvi

The essays and commentaries that follow are of differing length and deal with miscellaneous subjects. Autobiographical sketches can be found at the beginning and end of this anthology, where I present material that was not included in my Encounters.1 Since that earlier work centered on famous political and intellectual figures, I could not weave into it the personal reminiscences that grace this volume. Besides including previously unpublished autobiographical material, this anthology addresses a variety of historical and...

read more

1 - Reminiscences

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-10

A few years ago my cousin, who from time to time visits Bridgeport, Connecticut, a city that lies twenty-five miles east of her present home in Greenwich, sent me a picture book showing her birthplace as it looked in the late 1940s. Both of us immediately recognized the faded pictures of Bridgeport in an earlier era and such onetime landmarks as the amusement park at Pleasure Beach—which partially burned down and ceased to operate in the 1950s—and the stately Wheeler mansion at the conflux of Golden Hill,...

read more

2 - Robert Nisbet: Conservative Sociologist

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 11-26

A German encyclopedia of conservatism begins its entry for Robert Alexander Nisbet by noting that he was a “conservative sociologist.”1 For American academics, such a characterization may seem strange and even oxymoronic, since in the United States and almost everywhere else in the Western world today, the Left dominates sociology as a discipline. This ideological association applies not only to the vast majority of academic sociologists, but also to famous sociologists who were Nisbet’s contemporaries. Talcott...

read more

3 - Defining Right and Left

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 27-40

This chapter tries to explain with appropriate distinctions what Right and Left are. For those who have no interest in hearing an activist’s harangue, one should point out that “conservative” is not being equated with a member of the Republican Party or with the viewing habits of FOX News junkies. Being a Republican and dutifully reciting party talking points will not be treated as being on the Right, nor will the disinclination to do either be taken as definitive proof of leftist loyalties....

read more

4 - The Problem of Historical Connections

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 41-58

In a heavily researched biography of Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898), the German statesman and architect of the German Second Empire, historian Jonathan Steinberg observes that his subject was an “irresistible political figure and a disastrous one.”1 According to Steinberg, “Bismarck’s legacy passed through [World War I German general and later president] Hindenburg to the last genius statesman that Germany produced, Adolf Hitler, and the legacy was thus linear and direct between Bismarck and Hitler.”2...

read more

5 - Liberal Democracy as a God Term

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 59-72

When I was a young faculty member at Rockford College forty years ago, my divisional chairman, who was a devout disciple of Leo Strauss, once complained that a colleague he had just spoken to did not believe in liberal democracy. I’ve no idea how my superior came by this knowledge, but he was deeply upset that his colleague didn’t praise “liberal democracy as being better than other forms of government.” Our divisional chairman then shared with me a text he was working on that proved that Marx...

read more

6 - Origins of the State

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 73-80

From a recent reading of Woodrow Wilson’s The State,1 it became clear to me that this work rejects certain entrenched American views about the source of political rights. Wilson provided a view of the “state” that differs from the conventional American understanding of rights as inhering in the individual from the moment of birth. His argument about the state is previewed in the opening sentence of his work, in which he addresses the “probable origin of government.”2 The state’s origin “is a question of fact, to be settled not by conjecture, but by history.”3 The inquiry then moves to “such traces as remain to us...

read more

7 - Reexamining the Conservative Legacy

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 81-88

Two recently published books, Yuval Levin’s The Great Debate: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine and the Birth of Right and Left1 and Domenico Fisichella’s La Democrazia Contro la Realtà: Il Pensiero Politico di Charles Maurras, deal with conservative thought in an equally thoughtful manner.2 The authors of these studies are familiar with the whirlwind of political life, Levin as a transplanted Israeli who contributes regularly to both the National Review and the Weekly Standard and founded The New Atlantis, and Fisichella as minister of culture in the first cabinet of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi...

read more

8 - Whig History Revisited

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 89-94

Having recently revisited Herbert Butterfield’s The Whig Interpretation of History,1 I experienced second thoughts about what for me was once a mind-changing book. The occasion for rereading the text after fifty years’ absence from it was an invitation to participate in a conference on Butterfield, a Cambridge University Regius Professor who had questioned some of the commonplaces of modern historiography. Butterfield published his short but significant book in 1931 to challenge a historical view that had been...

read more

9 - The European Union Elections, 2014

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 94-101

While researching a book on fascists and antifascists, I noticed the antifascist anxieties mounting after the elections for the European Parliament in May 2014. In those elections, the “Far Right” Front National and its dynamic, attractive leader Marine Le Pen captured one-quarter of the vote in France and helped limit the share of the popular vote won by François Hollande and his leftist coalition to 14 percent. In Britain the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) gained more votes than Labour, the Conservatives, or Liberal Democrats and, like the National Front, obtained about one-quarter of...

read more

10 - The English Constitution Reconsidered

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-106

Reading walter bagehot’s magnum opus—which first appeared as a series of essays in The Fortnightly Review and was published as a book in 1867—one finds oneself in the presence of a political dinosaur or of someone describing what would soon become one.1 Commentator Richard Howard Stafford Crossman observed about this work that Bagehot’s emphasis on cabinet government as the essential feature of the English polity was falling out of date by the time he was writing.2 Bagehot was examining “how Cabinet...

read more

11 - Redefining Classes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 107-110

As a European historian specializing in the nineteenth century, I’ve never been able to figure out what American journalists and politicians— not to mention academic sociologists—mean when they refer to “classes.” This term has two time-tested meanings: either we’re talking about social groupings with legally recognized statuses that, until the nineteenth century, enjoyed political rights that other groups did not, or else we mean what Marx understood as “classes,” to wit, the socioeconomically dominant forces in a particular time and place, such as...

read more

12 - Did Mussolini Have a Pope?

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 111-118

In Mussolini and the Pope David I. Kertzer pursues a deeply engaged approach to historical questions that is now in academic and journalistic favor.1 If we accept the axiom that no antifascist enthusiasm goes unrewarded, then it is understandable why Kertzer, a history professor at Brown University, received a Pulitzer Prize for his latest book and the additional honor of seeing his work lavishly praised in the New York Review of Books.2 According to a report available online, Kertzer’s study of the dealings between the Italian...

read more

13 - Heidegger and Strauss: A Comparative Study

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 119-128

Richard l. velkley, Celia Scott Weatherhead Professor of Philosophy at Tulane University and the author of two previous books, one on Rousseau and the other on the moral foundations of Kantian philosophy, has brought out another challenging study, Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of Philosophy.1 Velkley’s subtitle, “On Original Forgetting,” is intended to call to mind Plato’s view that the entrapment of the soul in the body causes forgetfulness. (Plato speaks of the “plain of forgetfulness [perdion lēthēs]” and the “river of...

read more

14 - Explaining Trump

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 129-142

This chapter was originally prepared in February and March 2016, when Donald Trump was garnering the primary votes needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The remarks that begin with the next paragraph are being retained in the present anthology because they continue to have relevance for our historical situation. Attention is given here to both the strengths and weaknesses of candidate Trump and above all, to the populist following that he attracted in the course of his long, grueling campaign....

read more

Afterword

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 143-148

It was the summer of 1950, and my parents had packed me off to an overnight camp in the Catskill Mountains that was adjacent to a body of water surrounded by hemlocks, called Sackett Lake. On the other side of the lake stood a resort, The Laurels, where the affluent parents of some of our campers went to do whatever grown-ups did at such places. Presumably they were there to dine, dance, and enjoy the well-groomed golf course and evenly lined tennis courts. But being in such surroundings was not my destiny that summer. I was not at camp to revel in sumptuous pleasures. My parents sent me there because I...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 149-166

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 167-174