Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Dr. Pat Deneen on Robert Nisbet

HERE’S part of Pat’s great talk in Seattle on this neglected (and relatively social scientific) conservative. I’m somewhat relieved that the general excellence of the ISI conference presentations in Seattle kept me away from that pagan city’s celebration of the Solstice, which included a parade of 300 naked bikers (apparently those who pass for Spartans these days). Classic Nisbet questions for discussion: To what extent does the decency of American liberalism depend on pre-modern inheritances? Is the perpetuation of those inheritances a doomed project? Or is there plenty of reason for optimism, because the truth about human nature--who we are--will triumph over constructivist, individualistic abstractions?

Discussions - 5 Comments

It's interesting to note the extent to which the intellectual founders of the American conservative movement are no longer welcome in the Republican party.

Nisbet, Kirk, Nock, and a host of others would never be allowed to darken the door at todays National Review. Even Buckley was seen as a crazy old uncle by the end.

Don't head south in the coming weeks or you might run into the grove crowd. At that pagan festival the naked men ride more than motorcycles.

But, c'mon, where in the world would you rather celebrate the solstice naked than Seattle in June?

I always liked and valued Nisbet, but the fact is that its very difficult for him to be used to energize footsoldiers to go fight against the liberals. Kirk in his day was a little better, but as he aged he mellowed and often distanced himself from others newer voices on the right. The problem with the older right was that it did not think they could win, they were, using Sam Francis's term, Beautiful Loosers. None of the old right (except for Burnham or Kendall) ever envisioned the possibility of 1994.. and thus were unprepaired for it or help shape it. Thus compared to the newer voices on the right, the old left, like Nisbet sounds more acceptable to the Left and thus the lefts attempt to nastaologicsticly wish the younger conservates be more like these older one.. a quiet and minority voice of disent with little impact on day to day politics.

I always liked and valued Nisbet, but the fact is that its very difficult for him to be used to energize footsoldiers to go fight against the liberals.

I don't see why that should be the case.


Thus compared to the newer voices on the right, the old left, like Nisbet sounds more acceptable to the Left


I don't know which newer voices you have in mind, but Nisbet is a lot further distant from the left than is todays Randian and neoconservative right.

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