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This review made my week, and made me glad that just the day before I renewed my Nation Associates membership. The Nation's reviews are always great, but this one was beyond the usual pale. It was a good review of conservative and neo-con thought, put it in an original context that I'd never thought about, and was so well written that it made me laugh out loud (I was reading it on an inter-urban bus!). I don't have the kind of independently broad background it would take to really critique the review (I somehow failed to learn much in college or law school), so I have to depend on The Nation and its revieers to enlighten me. The Nation never lets me down, and this one did more: it lifted me up, and that's a hard thing to do these days.

George A. Johnson

Boulder, Co

Jun 11 2008 - 11:26pm

Web Letter

This is an excellent discourse on the "counterfeit conservative" miasma. Mr. Robin does well to explicate their dysfunctional personal and political philosophy which spawns such disastrous statecraft. One can and should parse the case further.

For example, the present day American right wing, whose ranks have been swelled by the middle class, owe their existence to liberals for two conjoined reasons. One, they would be still-born by the design of their very own ancestors in the preservation and maintenance of past orders. Two, their forebears were strategically defeated in this effort by liberals and liberal reforms during the past three centuries. To be sure, the particle/wave-like left-right oscillations that mark short-term historical developments coexist with the concrete reality of long-term liberal superstructures, such as the vast middle class and the social safety nets that protect it.

Consider the following left-right historical swings, the English Revolution to the English Reformation; the French Revolution to Napoleon's military despotism to the French Restoration; the American Revolution to the Civil War; nineteenth-century English reform acts and the Tory opposition; organized labor and the robber barons; the American Progressive movement and conservatives; the New Deal, the Great Society and the civil rights movements, in contrast to the current right-wing ascendancy. Electoral, educational, postal, prison, child labor and public sanitation reforms as well as basic women's rights are the laurels of liberalism. A chronicle of freedom's enduring march against the reactionary and the ever-changing status quo.

Russell Kirk, in his The Conservative Mind, cited the following conservative notion: "Recognition that change may not be salutary reform; hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than the torch of progress."

This is prudent, ballast-like advice from conservatives to liberals, but the right has proven itself historically unreliable as a motive force for the progress that America enjoys today or will enjoy in the future.

Sioan Stephen Bethel

Brooklyn, NY

Jun 6 2008 - 1:45pm

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