Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Long and Short of Modern Political Thought

I was perusing Amazon this morning for some conservative reading and I happened upon the "Customer Reviews" section for the book The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, by George H. Nash. The book is obviously an influential, articulate summary of the elements that served to define conservativism in the past, etc, and so I found the section pasted below rather telling...here we have a book about conservatives that is intellectually hard-hitting and still relevant 30 years after it was published. Note the varying levels of discourse as you start at the first review and read on down the list...


Customer Reviews
average customer review:
Write an online review and share your thoughts with other customers.


1 of 6 people found the following review helpful: conservatism is NOT intelligent, it is shear stupidity, July 21, 2006
Reviewer:
Thomas "cruzcat" (cruzcat) - See all my reviews

The groundwork for conservatism requires you to suspend all intelligence and common sense and instead think like the Taliban would, with religion.

***

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful: Understanding today's political environment, October 12, 2005
Reviewer:
Jen Hlavacek, Ph.D. "Sociologist" (Edwards, CO USA) - See all my reviews

This is an excellent book that traces the historical development of the intellectual conservative movement in the United States. To understand current events, it is essential to understand the historical context from which today's political environment has sprung. It was interesting to me how the author distanced the "intellectual" movement from the right wing social conservatives of today. All political parties are made up of uncomfortable aliases and the present day Republican party is no exception to this rule. The author makes the necessary distinctions between that which is important to libertarians, traditional conservatives, and neoconservatives. I would especially recommend this book to anyone who is baffled by today's brand of conservative political thought.

***

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful: Required reading, July 25, 2004
Reviewer:
chuckdsk "chuckd190" (Bratislava, Slovakia) - See all my reviews

Indispensable as an introduction to the development of conservative thought in roughly the third quarter of the 20th century, Nash's history has no peers. Illustrating clearly the fractiousness (maybe even inherent incompatibility) of the factions gathered by necessity under the umbrella of conservative thought, he charts well the intellectual underpinnings of conservativism in the United States of America. Most importantly, he highlights that a generally uncelebrated cause for both the fusion and the success of the movement is the lack of correspondence between liberal legislation and quantitative results during this period. That being said, there are a few areas one would like to see fleshed out in more detail. Specifically, neo-conservatives as they emerge in the early seventies, the conservative "scene" during the first and second Nixon administrations, the Vietnam War in contemporary conservative intellectual thought, and the impact of conservative intellectuals on politics-particularly with regard to Goldwater and Reagan-are relatively undeveloped. Indeed, those themes are sufficient for book-length treatment themselves, so Nash cannot be faulted; moreover, his is an intellectual history, and to expect him to detail the political aspects of conservative thought and to chart accurately the time period so close to his writing of this book would be unreasonable. In sum, one cannot claim to have any insight into conservative thought without having perused this volume.

***
So the liberal is satisfied to dismiss all conservative thought as not even thought at all, but simply using religion for thought, "like the Taliban would". This simple-minded assessment, especially juxtaposed against such obviously intelligent reviews by conservatives that follow it, highlights feelings that have been developing in me for some time: that is, that the modern liberal scoffs at the intellectual force behind contemporary conservativism while completely unaware of his or her utter inadequacy before it. Liberals today are heirs to generations of active and successful politicians and thinkers, but, like many who have inherited their fortunes, they take that for granted and do nothing to advance it. They seem satisfied simply to sit back and feel entitled to positions of authority. The conservative ascendance is due to hard work and intellectual prowess, which, for some reason, does not register at all on the liberal radar screen. Today's republican party is the party of political theory, intellectual discourse and action. As long as liberals refuse to recognize this, they will continue to spiral into irrelevancy.

10 Comments:

Blogger Will said...

An interesting thought, but perhaps you should take into account that you are reading reviews of a book sold on amazon, and that it can generally be assumed that the positive reviews will come from people who are very enthusiastic about the product in question and would like to share their thoughts in an intelligent manner, whereas the negative reviews are likely to come from people who are predisposed to appreciate the item and probably didn't read the book at all and just decided to take a passing jab at it as they were browsing.

Also, as referred to by both of the intelligent proponents of this book, the Republican party, as it exists today has practically bears almost no relation to conservative theory which negates completely your somewhat desperate sounding attempt to write off all liberals as simple-minded. It's interesting that you try to portray Republicans as the political underdog when, recently, they have so thoroughly dominated the federal government.

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