Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985

Overview

At the end of World War II, conservatism was a negligible element in U.S. politics, but by 1980 it had risen to a dominant position. Patrick Allitt helps explain the remarkable growth of the contemporary conservative movement in the light of Catholic history in the United States. Allitt focuses on the role of individual Catholics against a backdrop of volatile cultural change, showing how such figures as William F. Buckley, Jr., Garry Wills, John T. Noonan, Jr., Michael Novak, John Lukacs, Thomas Molnar, Russell ...
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Overview

At the end of World War II, conservatism was a negligible element in U.S. politics, but by 1980 it had risen to a dominant position. Patrick Allitt helps explain the remarkable growth of the contemporary conservative movement in the light of Catholic history in the United States. Allitt focuses on the role of individual Catholics against a backdrop of volatile cultural change, showing how such figures as William F. Buckley, Jr., Garry Wills, John T. Noonan, Jr., Michael Novak, John Lukacs, Thomas Molnar, Russell Kirk, Clare Boothe Luce, Ellen Wilson, Charles Rice, and James McFadden forged a potent anti-liberal intellectual tradition. Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985 is much more than a history of conservative Catholics, for it illuminates critical themes in postwar American society. As Allitt narrates the interplay of liberal and conservative politics among Catholics, he unfolds a history both intricate and sweeping. After describing how New Conservatism was shaped in the 1950s by William F. Buckley, Jr., and an older generation of Catholic thinkers including Ross Hoffman and Francis Graham Wilson, Allitt traces the range of Catholic responses to the cataclysmic events of the 1960s: the election of John F. Kennedy, the civil rights movement, the decolonization of Africa, Supreme Court decisions on school prayer, the war in Vietnam, and nuclear arms proliferation. He shows how the transformation of the Church prompted by the Second Vatican Council not only intensified existing divisions among Catholics but also shattered the unity of the Catholic conservative movement. Turning to the 1970s, Allitt chronicles bitter controversies concerning family roles, contraception, abortion, and gay rights. Next, comparing the work of John Lukacs, Thomas Molnar, Garry Wills, and Michael Novak from the 1950s through the 1980s, Allitt demonstrates how individual Catholic conservatives drew different lessons from similar contingencies. He c
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Allitt discusses the new political conservatism that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s and continued into the 1980s, a new movement that Catholic laity played a major role in founding and developing. The government's liberal reforms were interpreted not as supports to a maturing capitalist system but as threatening evidence of nascent socialism at home. The Soviet Union was viewed as an evil empire bent on world conquest. Catholic intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr., L. Brent Bozell, and Michael Novak teamed up with other conservatives in advocating a more militant posture during the Cold War and an end to domestic liberalism. They viewed themselves as the bulwark of Christianity and therefore the champions of Western civilization. They drew from their religious faith and tradition the principles they believed could draw civilization back from the brink of catastrophe and social malaise. This well-written and well-argued history is recommended for academic libraries. Index not seen.-- Philip Y. Blue, Dowling Coll. Lib., Oakdale, N.Y.
Booknews
Chronicles the growth of conservative political thought among American Catholics after World War, led by William F. Buckley and others; the reaction to the tumultuous events of the 1960s; the shattering of Catholic unity by the liberalizing effects of Vatican II; and the controversies of the 1970s and 1980s such as homosexuality and abortion. Also assesses the current conservative faction through their reaction to the Catholic Bishops' 1983 Pastoral Letter on Nuclear Weapons. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801483004
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Series: 9/25/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations Used in the Notes
Introduction 1
1 American Catholicism in the 1950s 16
2 Catholic Conservatives and the 1950s 49
3 Transformations of the Early 1960s 83
4 Crises of the Late 1960s 121
5 Sex, Law, and Nature 163
6 A Tale of Two Exiles: John Lukacs and Thomas Molnar 204
7 Redrawing the Boundaries of Conservatism: Garry Wills and Michael Novak 243
Epilogue: Nuclear Weapons, Dissent, and a New Generation in the 1980s 289
Index 307
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