The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

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Overview

What is conservatism today? And what is its lineage? In The Reactionary Mind, political scientist Corey Robin (author of the acclaimed and prize-winning Fear: The History of a Political Idea) makes a strikingly bold claim about the right's political and intellectual foundations.

Robin contends that from the eighteenth century through today, the right has been united by a defense of inequality and privilege and by a deep hostility to all forms of progressive politics. The book ...

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The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

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Overview

What is conservatism today? And what is its lineage? In The Reactionary Mind, political scientist Corey Robin (author of the acclaimed and prize-winning Fear: The History of a Political Idea) makes a strikingly bold claim about the right's political and intellectual foundations.

Robin contends that from the eighteenth century through today, the right has been united by a defense of inequality and privilege and by a deep hostility to all forms of progressive politics. The book ranges widely, covering figures as various as Edmund Burke and Antonin Scalia, John C. Calhoun and Ayn Rand, Joseph de Maistre and Phyllis Schlafly. While mindful of differences within the right, and of change across time, Robin insists upon the unifying themes of the "counterrevolutionary experience"—the defense of rule in the face of movements demanding freedom and equality. The variation on the right that one sees, Robin claims, is as much a product of tactical adjustment as anything else. The right has always learned from the left. Abhorring stasis, it has opted for a dynamic conception of society, involving struggle, violence, and war. This capacity for reinvention and partiality to violence has been crucial to its continued vitality.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume is a collection of Robin's (political science, Brooklyn Coll.; Fear: The History of a Political Idea) essays, reviews, and other short works published between 2001 and 2011 in outlets such as the Nation and the London Review of Books. While his previous book was an original, extended argument about the place of fear in political theory and contemporary American culture, here Robin attempts to deliver his argument in his introduction and conclusion, which bookend pieces ranging in subject from Ayn Rand to Antonin Scalia to the Cold War in Guatemala to Abu Ghraib. The overall argument seems to be that conservatives are all basically alike; that they share an aggrieved sense of loss; that they above all else favor hierarchy in both public and private domains; that they share an affinity for violence; and that the Right often comes to resemble the Left. VERDICT The book's brief, miscellaneous sections mean that readers may well find the arguments difficult to follow and may prefer to wait to read it in full, perhaps in Robin's next monograph. They may well also conclude that the subtitle's mention of Sarah Palin, about whom Robin says little, is a contribution from the publisher's marketing department.—Bob Nardini, Nashville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199793747
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Corey Robin teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, and the London Review of Books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Part 1: Profiles in Reaction
Conservatism and Counterrevolution The First Counterrevolutionary Garbage and Gravitas Inside Out The Ex-Cons Affirmative Action Baby

Part 2: The Virtues of Violence
A Color-Coded Genocide Remembrance of Empires Past Protocols of Machismo Potomac Fever Easy to Be Hard

Conclusion

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