Every week or so an author or pundit posits a new theory to explain the ‘crack up’ on the Right. Some attribute it to opportunism run amok; others to stupidity. Some argue that through a brilliant sleight of hand the Right has convinced many Americans to vote against their own interests by emphasizing social issues (abortion, gay marriage), while mostly promoting economic ones.
There is truth to all of these arguments in my opinion, but the people who make them are bit like the blind man and the elephant: feeling the parts but not understanding the whole. Corey Robin‘s book “The Reactionary Mind” does an excellent job of explaining the whole and allowing conservatism to speak for itself through some of its most influential thinkers. So, rather than rely on the Hannity’s, Limbaugh’s and O’Reilley’s of the world, Corey Robin explores the arguments and ideas of conservatism’s patron saints: people like Edmund Burke, Russel Kirk, William F. Buckley, Jr and Ayn Rand. Rather than a set of policies, conservatism reveals itself as a set of arguments and actions against a very specific kind of threat: one of emancipation, access and equality, which of course explains the clashes between conservatives and African-Americans.
We have come a long way in our understanding of the changes of the 1960s: the revolution as some call it, but our understanding of the counter-revolution is not nearly as complete. The goal of this series is to further this understanding.
PS: Be sure to visit Corey’s blog, coreyrobin.com.