Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Interviewed: George Nash on The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

This seems to be the week for conservative reflections, of sorts, at least within the academy. While Kenneth Anderson notes the decline of neoconservatism here, Maxwell Gross interviews George Nash about the 30th Anniversary reissue of his work, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, here. Thanks to HNN for the tip. Here's a snippet:
MG: Your book traces the development of three camps, three strands of thought, that coalesced into the post-war conservative movement: libertarians, traditionalists, and anti-communists. At first glance, these groups seem to have little in common. Can you say a bit about what brought them together?

GN: You are quite right: in the beginning (the 1940s) there was not one right- wing renaissance in America but three, each reacting in diverse ways to a perceived challenge from the Left. No rigid barriers separated these groups, but they tended to act independently of one another. What gradually brought the three emerging components of the conservative revival together was a shared antipathy to twentieth century liberalism as well as a deepening sense of being under siege from the forces of leftism and liberal modernity.

As these three independent wings of the conservative revolt against the Left became more self-conscious in the 1950s, many among them felt the need for greater intellectual coherence and for what we might call better networking. Here an event of enormous importance was the founding of National Review in 1955 by William F. Buckley, Jr. Apart from his extraordinary talents as a writer and polemicist, Buckley personified each impulse in the nascent coalition. He was at once a defender of the free market, a traditional Roman Catholic, and a staunch anticommunist (a source of his ecumenical appeal to conservatives). His magazine provided an indispensable forum for the multiplying voices of protest from the Right against liberal orthodoxy. Here was a place where conservatives of many stripes could seek and often common ground. ...

For the rest, click here.