Robert Nisbet, the eminent sociologist, taught at Columbia University and made his mark on intellectual life through observing the intermediating structures in society that serve as a bulwark between the individual and the state. He was known as a conservative, and his work is on every list of conservative contributions to the social sciences.
But it wasn't until this remarkable book that his full vision became clear. Far from being a typical conservative, he blasted conservatism as a species of militarist and invasive interventionism, one that abused people's public and private pieties in the service of a ghastly civic ethic of statism.
He argues here that conservatism has become as corrupt as liberalism in its celebration of militarism and war and its unrelenting call for the state to monitor and regulate private life. Far from sustaining the culture, this approach to policy has debased the culture and fed an economic corruption of special-interest clammoring for privilege.
This book is unusually heated. His attack on the Reagan adminstration goes further than most anything you read on the left side of the political perspective. He shows that conservative devotion to his presidency is nothing but a species of the dictatorship complex working itself out in democratic form. He applies the same critique to the left's love of FDR.
This book deserves far more attention from libertarians than it has ever received. The Mises Institute offers it in its online shop in the hope that it will be read far and wide. It would be especially beneficial for a student who wants to have a look at what it means to be a consistently antistate and principled conservative in the model that was once common in American intellectual life.
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Austrian Economics, Freedom and Peace