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Conclusion

  • Paul Edward Gottfried
Chapter
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Abstract

The preceding text raises so many questions that my conclusion will address some of the more obvious ones. A sweeping critique of this work came from my older son, a distinguished physician and corporate attorney, who maintained that I would be wasting my time with this kind of study. While changes have undoubtedly occurred in the American conservative movement since the middle of the last century, there is no sufficient reason, he argued, to abandon the label “conservative” that both the establishment Left and the establishment Right have attached to the same positions and personalities. The public knows exactly what this label means, and so there is no need to argue from what that term used to mean that it couldn’t take on a more up-to-date connotation. Virtually everyone now understands that a person who advocates restrictions on abortion, objects to homosexual marriage, and favors military intervention to achieve our government’s international goals must be “conservative.” Why then should one quibble about the meaning of “conservative” by resurrecting the obsolete self-image of those who once called themselves “conservatives”?

Keywords

Welfare State Foreign Policy Republican Party Judicial Activism National Review 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Russell Kirk, Decadence and Renewal in Higher Learning: An Episodic history of American University and College since 1953 (South Bend, IN: Gateway Edition, 1978), 253.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kirk, The Politics of Prudence, intro. by Mark C. Henrie (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2004), 191–203.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    See Robert Nisbet’s “A Farewell to History,” National Review, May 22, 1987, pp. 137–38;Google Scholar
  4. Robert Nisbet, The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in America (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2003). The fact that Nisbet’s blurb for Kristol’s book On the Democratic Idea in America speaks of a “modern classic” did not prevent him from eventually turning away from neoconservatism, a change of stance that is evident in his review of my book.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    James Patterson, Mr Republican: A Biography of Robert A. Taft (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), 174–75, 280–82.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    See Paul Gottfried, After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), esp. 30–49, for a survey of nineteenth-century bourgeois liberal fears about the coming of mass democracy.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    See Jonathan M. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 147–61. Schoenwald understates the sharp transformation of the movement after 1964 when he explains: “Conservatives did not drop their ideological tenets; they merely subverted them to more pragmatic politics, which would draw people into their vision for America” (161).Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    George Will, Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 86–87.Google Scholar
  9. 19.
    Gertrude Himmelfarb, One Nation: Two Cultures: The De-moralization of Society (New York: Knopf, 1999), 78.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Rick Perlstein, “I Don’t like Nixon Until Watergate: The Conservative Movement Until Now,” The Huffington, December 19, 2005, 4.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    See John Lukacs, “The Stirrings of History,” Harper’s Magazine 281, no. 1683 (August 1990): 41. Lukacs’s comment that “we’re all social democrats now” was meant to expose both the futility and dishonesty of the pretended revival of free market capitalism as the result of certain governmental economic policies.Google Scholar

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© Paul Edward Gottfried 2007

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  • Paul Edward Gottfried

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