(Nash 1976) The conservative intellectual movement in America since 1945


Nash, George H. The conservative intellectual movement in America since 1945. New York: Basic Books; 1976.

In this classic history of the American Right, conservative historian George H. Nash traces three principal strands: (1) libertarianism, which linked human freedom closely to the capitalist market; (2) traditionalism, which located the source of human values in hierarchical and elitist ideas and social structures; and (3) anti-Communism, which attempted to preserve Western notions of democracy and liberty against 20th-century Marxism-Leninism and its offshoots. These schools of thought, particularly libertarianism and traditionalism, were not obviously compatible, and it was only with some difficulty that a “fusionist” synthesis was achieved by conservative theorist Frank S. Meyer, limiting the scope of the government while pursuing the propagation of traditionalist values in the private sphere. Even after Meyer’s work, reconciliation in theory between the libertarian and traditionalist factions was incomplete at best, and anti-Communism tended to act as a kind of glue, holding the other strands together in a pragmatic, rather than theoretical, alliance against the common Marxist enemy.

 

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