Past and Present

"The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery."
—Ralph Hodgson

A steady flow of scholarly works on the intellectual roots of modern conservatism has appeared since the 1950's. Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind was and remains the best and the best-known of such books, but similar studies by Peter Viereck, Clinton Rossiter, and others are also wellknown and useful. Robert Nisbet's Conservatism: Dream and Reality and Paul Gottfried's The Search for Historical Meaning will undoubtedly take their proper place as classics within the genre.

Those who have read Nisbet's earlier work, especially his The Quest for Community and The Sociological Tradition, will find familiar themes in his short essay. It is Nisbet's lifelong argument that the principal concepts of sociology are also the main ideas of classical conservatism and that both originated as reactions to the Industrial and Democratic Revolutions. Although Nisbet has frequently pointed to the parallels before, he has now explored its specifically conservative dimensions for the first time.

Rejecting the contractarian, natural rights, and individualistic doctrines of the Enlightenment, conservative prophets such as Burke, de Maistre, Bonald, and Hegel viewed man as a creature of society and the traditions, authorities, and institutions...

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