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Sharpening the Conservative Mind. The American Right's Reception and Reconstruction of Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind"

Bachelorarbeit 2014 50 Seiten

Amerikanistik - Sonstiges


Table of Contents


I. American Conservatism from the End of the Second World War to 1987

II. The American Right's Reception of The Closing of the American Mind upon Publication

III. American Conservatism from 1987 until Today

IV. The American Right's Reception of The Closing of the American Mind until Today

V. Conclusion



''In the American mind,'' wrote the English author Walter Bagehot, ''there is, as contrasted with the old English mind, a literalness, a tendency to say, 'The facts are so-and-so, whatever may be thought or fancied about them.' . . . [Americans] worship visible value; obvious, undeniable, intrusive result.''[1] When he wrote those words in 1867, he did not think it necessary to distinguish the American mind from the ''colonial mind,'' but scarcely anyone can doubt that the evolution of American thought has taken on its own unique, often contradictory course. Writing 120 years after Bagehot, it was the American philosopher Allan Bloom who in his book The Closing of the American Mind lamented Americans' obsession with obvious, undeniable, intrusive result. His devastating verdict sent shock waves through the intellectual landscape of the United States. The crime scene on which Bloom thought the American mind to have been violated was the university.

Allan David Bloom, who was born in 1930 and died in 1992, was himself a product of higher education. A lifelong academician, he began his career at the University of Chicago, where he was heavily influenced by the German-American philosopher and classicist Leo Strauss, a man to whom the intellectual foundations of American neoconservatism are often ascribed.[2] After completing his Ph.D. in 1955, Bloom went on to teach at various universities and colleges in the US and around the world, most notably the University of Chicago (1955-60), Yale (1962-63), and Cornell (1963-70). It was at Cornell that Bloom, much to his dismay, experienced the student upheavals of the 1960s—to which he dedicated an entire chapter in The Closing of the American Mind (the full title of which goes on to read How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students). When a group of students—including Black Power activists[3] —forcefully and with the aid of guns demanded changes to the curriculum, the university gave way, prompting Bloom, among others, to tender his resignation.[4] It was only with the publication of The Closing in 1987 that he gained national attention. The hardcover version of the book, which remained on the bestseller list for almost a year, had sold 475,000 copies and gone through 20 printings by April 1988, when the paperback version had yet to be released.[5] In Geneva, The Closing was awarded the renowned Rousseau prize.[6]

In the book—adapted from an article he wrote for National Review[7] —Bloom embarked on a genuine tour de force, documenting the entire history of Western philosophy – and where he thought it went wrong. Among the concepts he rejected in the book are historicism (''the view that all thought is essentially related to and cannot transcend its own time''[8] ), cultural and moral relativism, and parts of popular culture (such as the ''barbaric appeal'' of rock music[9] ). According to Bloom, the decay of American higher education contributed to fostering ''nihilism, American style''.[10] Even so, the parts of the work that turned out to be most controversial—and ''as a passionate trashing of the sixties'' have ''attracted much of the critical praise''[11] —deal with what Bloom describes as his own disappointing experiences on campus: the glaringly ignorant students, the misled professors, the decline of the quest for what is true, right, and beautiful. ''Today, according to Allan Bloom,'' wrote James Seaton and William K. Buckley in 1992, ''American students are taught that there are finally no matters really worth fighting about or even arguing about. All choices are equally 'valid,' since all can be reduced to questions of personal preference. The notorious 'openness' of the American mind is achieved only by 'closing' itself to the possibility that any principles are truly important, any cause worth dying for, any love worth a lifetime commitment.''[12] All in all, the tone of the book is anti-egalitarian; Bloom's Platonic outlook was aptly described by John K. Roth as ''aristocratic rationalism''.[13]

It is because of this Platonism that The Closing would seem to make a great book for the American conservative reader. After all, the tendency to criticize the popular culture as well as the universities—which contemporary conservatives often deride as ''elitist'' entities from which a great many non-conservatives emerge—is very much in line with mainstream conservative thought. Many conservative intellectuals reviewed the book favorably and held it in their hearts ever since it was published.[14] Bloom himself, however, rejected the label 'conservative,' insisting instead in a guest lecture at Harvard that ''[i]n the first place, I am not a conservative—neo- or paleo- . . . I just do not happen to be that animal. Any superficial reading of [ The Closing ] will show that I differ from both theoretical and practical conservative positions.''.[15] A former colleague of Bloom's, Clifford Orwin, recalled of his deceased friend that ''conservative students rarely found him attractive; there was too much Voltaire in him. He was every bit as hard on 'conservatism' as on 'liberalism.'''[16] Indeed, as Orwin went on to explain, ''[Bloom's] sentimental identification with the Democrats persisted, even as he found it ever harder to vote for Democratic candidates.''[17] Moreover, Bloom was a homosexual and died of AIDS, which was revealed publicly in his friend Saul Bellow's roman à clef on Bloom, Ravelstein, published in 2000.[18] This is worth noting, since, as Christopher Hitchens pointed out at the time, ''Bloom never mentioned the gay movement in his series of assaults on promiscuous Modernism.''[19] Bellow, who taught alongside Bloom on the University of Chicago's prestigious Committee on Social Thought, also wrote the foreword to The Closing.[20]

It is of course possible that Bloom's interest in getting his message across made him more prone to distance himself from any particular political movement and instead present himself as a non-partisan, independent thinker. In any event, his bestseller on the American mind was largely perceived to be a conservative tract.[21] In the Right's camp, the perception was different – there was a tendency to cherish Bloom's ideas as non-partisan contributions to problems more philosophical than political in nature. Conservative columnist George F. Will, for example, hailed The Closing as ''a how-to book for the independent '' (emphasis mine).[22] It is this discrepancy in the reception of Bloom's book that reflects the inherently political nature of its content. The conflict laid bare here was—and is—a battle between political forces for cultural sovereignty in the universities, the commanding heights of American intellectual life. This conflict was well captured in Camille Paglia's famous description of The Closing as the ''first shot in the culture wars''.[23]

The purpose of this paper is to inquire into the American Right's reception and reconstruction of The Closing and to determine the initial impact and lasting influence the book had on American conservative thought. In order to provide a comprehensive analysis, eminent conservative publications as well as the writings of notable conservative intellectuals will be examined. These primary sources will necessarily represent selections based on their significance.[24] Different responses from different factions of the conservative coalition shall be differentiated and taken into account, as will the changing perception of Bloom's ideas over time. Therefore this paper is divided into different sections, one of which will cover the time immediately after the publication of The Closing and another the time between the initial response and the present. These two parts are complemented by another two sections which will examine the history of American conservatism from 1945 up to the respective points in time and thereby provide the necessary context.

One of the fundamental problems historians face with respect to American conservatism is the problem of definition. In today's popular discourse the Right is oftentimes equated with the Republican party, but it should be noted that the two, while certainly overlapping significantly, are not one and the same thing and never have been. It should, moreover, be noted that the projection of present political labels, including ''conservatism'' and ''the Right,'' into the distant past presents a significant problem of scholarship.[25] For a useful approximation, Kim Phillips-Fein provides the following:

Generally, scholars of the Right have understood conservatism as a social and political movement that gained momentum during the post–World War II period. It began among a small number of committed activists and intellectuals, and ultimately managed to win a mass following and a great deal of influence over the Republican party. While its ideology (like all political world views) was not systematic or logically coherent on every count, its central concerns included anticommunism, a laissez-faire approach to economics, opposition to the civil rights movement, and commitment to traditional sexual norms.[26]

In recent years scholars have conducted an increasing number of inquiries into American conservatism and its intellectual roots. A 1994 essay by Alan Brinkley, entitled ''The Problem of American Conservatism,'' can be regarded as a starting point for a renewed interest among historians in this part of American history.[27] In the essay, Brinkley stated that ''it would be hard to argue that the American Right has received anything like the amount of attention from historians that its role in twentieth-century politics and culture suggests it should.''[28] In this respect, the problem of historical scholarship, according to Brinkley, is ''the problem of finding a suitable place for the Right—for its intellectual traditions and its social and political movements—within our historiographical concerns.''[29]

From the 1980s onward, historians focusing on US conservatism tried to seek explanations for what from their points of view was its surprising comeback. Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Barry Goldwater's clear defeat in the election of 1964, the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, secularism, and the welfare state had all eclipsed the political Right to the point where it seemed to be in irreversible decline.[30] Yet the conservative resurgence onto the national stage, which culminated in Ronald Reagan's victory in the 1980 election, begged the question whether historians had missed a greater story. Consequently, some tried to account for the Right's comeback by pointing to ''reactionary populism,'' or ''backlash politics'' – in other words: conservative (re-)mobilization as a reactionary response to the aforementioned achievements of liberalism and the radicalism of the New Left.[31]

From the 1990s to the early 2000s, historiographical attention moved away from assumptions of purely, or even predominantly, reactionary sentiment and focused more on the organizational activities of conservative groups and mobilization networks going back as far as the 1950s; from this fresh perspective, the recent success of the Right could not have been a mere ''sudden backlash'' but a well-planned effort that had been in the works for several decades.[32] As Phillips-Fein explains: ''Instead of interpreting conservatism as the politics of despair and working-class reaction, these scholars saw it as a forward-looking, sophisticated, and politically creative force in American life.''[33] She makes a similar point about the Christian Right—defined by Clyde Wilcox as ''a social movement that seeks to mobilize and represent evangelical Christians in politics''[34] —which, likewise, is now seen less as a reaction to challenges to traditional Christian morality, such as Roe v. Wade, and more as the result of a Christian political awareness that grew throughout the twentieth century.[35]

It is important in this context to remember that many conservative movements were and are genuine grassroots movements rather than top-down (''astro-turf'') concoctions by sinister special interests. This point is emphasized by Lisa McGirr: ''The idea of studying the Right from the bottom up emerged as a corrective to the notion . . . prevalent [earlier] among many liberal commentators and observers that elite funders, Republican strategists, think tanks, and well-funded mass mailings were all that really mattered to explain the political prowess of the Right.''[36]

Conservative or not, Allan Bloom was never part of any ''movement'' (although it should be noted that he was co-director of the John M. Olin Center).[37] The focus of this paper therefore lies more on The Closing 's impact on the conservative intelligentsia and its development than on its reception among the mostly short-lived conservative movements that Michael Lienesch once described as ''the meteors of our political atmosphere'' that ''streak across our skies in a blaze of right-wing frenzy, only to fall to earth cold and exhausted, consumed by their own passionate heat.''[38] Bloom's book was of a very different quality, and as we shall see in the following pages, the frenzy it caused among conservatives neither flared out nor cooled down.

I. American Conservatism from the End of the Second World War to 1987

During Franklin D. Roosevelt's time in office his liberalism dominated the political atmosphere in the United States. Even after the war, conservatives still ''had not climbed out of the hole they had dug during the New Deal and in their isolationism prior to World War II.''[39] The Grand Old Party did ultimately manage to win the White House and both houses of Congress in the election of 1952 but did so largely as a result of ''the sentiment that twenty years of Democratic rule was enough.''[40] Moreover, the Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower, an immensely popular war hero, was largely apolitical (and therefore chose right-winger and avowed anti-communist Richard Nixon as his running mate to signal goodwill to the hard-liners in the GOP).[41] Eisenhower provided steady, pragmatic and non-ideological stewardship; after the Congress was regained by the Democrats in 1954, he went on to implement essentially liberal policies.[42] His presidency could hardly be called that of a convinced conservative.

It was outside of the political arena that conservatives slowly found an intellectual basis on which to erect their ideological edifice. From 1943 to 1953 conservatives had rallied around intellectuals like Austrian economist and philosopher F. A. Hayek, who in his famous 1944 book The Road to Serfdom had argued forcefully against any form of economic and political ''collectivism,'' which he saw as the breeding ground for both Communism and German National Socialism.[43] In 1953, a number of books were published that would influence generations of conservatives to come: Leo Strauss's Natural Right and History, Robert Nisbet's The Quest for Community, Whittaker Chamber's Witness, and, above all, The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk.[44] The latter also became an early contributor to another milestone in the intellectual history of the American Right, namely the opinion journal National Review, which was founded by William F. Buckley, Jr. in 1955.[45] According to Buckley, the new magazine was directed at intellectuals; its aim was to ''revitalize the conservative position'' and to ''influence the opinion-makers'' in the US.[46] National Review 's emphasis on intellectually respectable conservative opinion proved a winning concept – its circulation had been about 30,000 in 1960 and then jumped to 60,000 in 1963, to over 90,000 in 1964, to around 95,000 in 1965, and finally to more than 100,000 in the late 1960s.[47] The magazine nevertheless relied—and relies—on donations to stay afloat: Buckley remarked in 2005 that National Review had lost about $25 million over 50 years.[48] While there have been other conservative publications of considerable reach and importance, National Review 's distinction, according to Martin Durham, was ''that it combined preexisting trends into a self-conscious conservatism''.[49]

Much of post-war conservatism was, perhaps counter-intuitively, based on a great deal of intellectual innovation. How utterly liberalism dominated American politics is manifest in the literary and cultural critic Lionel Trilling's devastating verdict on conservatism in his 1950 book The Liberal Imagination: ''In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.''[50] The ''birth of postwar conservatism''[51] therefore constituted a formidable task for intellectuals such as Russell Kirk or William F. Buckley and consisted of invention as much as of renaissance. As Lisa McGirr notes:

While the ideas that came under the umbrella of the post–World War II Right can certainly be traced back to earlier incarnations (deep distrust of the state, libertarian individualism, an emphasis on property as the fundamental basis of freedom, antiradicalism, and staunch religiosity were all prevalent currents in American history), such echoes do not amount to a cohesive conservative tradition that the postwar Right was merely carrying forward. The intensity of the soul searching and philosophical debates among conservatives after World War II evince the extent to which conservatism was being constructed afresh from a new constellation of ideas.[52]

One of the characteristics of this new conservative movement—and also an impediment to it—was its constant quarrel with more radical elements like Robert H. W. Welch, Jr.'s John Birch Society (JBS), which rose to prominence in the early 1960s. Mired in anti-communist conspiracy theories, the JBS attracted almost 100,000 members and drew to itself significant attention from all corners of the public sphere.[53] Many respectable conservatives quickly came to believe that fanaticism in their own ranks could hurt the conservative cause. W. F. Buckley, Jr. in 1961 warned against a liberal press bent on exploiting the JBS in order to ''anathematize the entire American right wing,'' and Russell Kirk attacked Welch and other extremists who harmed ''responsible conservatism'' more than communism.[54] Other conservative grassroots efforts at the time—frequently with a Christian bent—included the Rev. Carl Mclntire's Twentieth Century Reformation, Dr. Fred Schwarz's Christian Anti-Communism Crusade, the Rev. Billy James Hargis's Christian Crusade, Edgar Bundy's League of America, Dean Clarence Manion's American Forum, and Texas oilman H.L. Hunt's "Life Line" radio broadcasts.[55] The tension between the extremist Right and the respectable Right continues to be a matter of concern for conservatives until the present day. Nevertheless, efforts by the likes of Buckley to marginalize and exclude the extremist elements would not go unrewarded – the Dallas Morning News in 2004 noted that ''Mr. Buckley's first great achievement was to purge the American right of its kooks. He marginalized the anti-Semites, the John Birchers, the nativists and their sort.''[56]

The epitomization of right-wing anti-communism at the height of the ''Second Red Scare'' was the Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Running for reelection in 1952, McCarthy accused public servants in the State Department, ''the bright young men who were born with silver spoons in their mouths,'' of being ''either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy.''[57] After he went on to express more unsubstantiated allegations, the Senate eventually voted to censure him for contemptuous behavior, which dealt the final blow to his political career.[58] Though his anti-communism inspired many on the right, George H. Nash notes that it ''would, of course be a gross error to equate conservatism with McCarthyism. The intellectual roots of the conservative revival were extremely diverse . . . . Nevertheless, in the great polarization of the early 1950s, a large segment of conservative intellectuals found themselves on McCarthy's side of the ideological barricades, and a considerable number proclaimed themselves his allies. Joseph McCarthy left a visible mark on the American Right.''[59]

Libertarianism, traditionalism, and anti-communism had surfaced in the post-war era to form the three main branches of modern American conservatism.[60] While libertarianism and traditionalism emphasized both the adherence to a universal morality and the power of the state as an antagonist to individual liberty, anti-communism became a new belief system that served as a bridge between pre-war and post-war conservative ideas.[61] Though not easily visible at the time, early efforts were made in the organization and mobilization of the Christian Right, which, according to Susan Harding, ''did not emerge as a self-conscious, organized, national movement until the late 1970s, but especially in decades after World War II, a great deal of groundwork was laid and experience accumulated that eventually coalesced into the national movement.''[62] Indeed, the 1950s were a time of religious flowering in the US, with most of the growth in church attendance being ascribed to ''evangelical and culturally conservative churchgoers''.[63] Still, what modern conservatives lacked at this early point was a unifying network that could bring together the different branches of conservatism and serve as a vehicle for electoral victories.[64]


[1] Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution, 1867 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 175-6; emphasis in the original.

[2] Christopher Hitchens, for example, called Leo Strauss the "Chicago godfather of the neo-cons and mentor of Bloom," see Christopher Hitchens, Unacknowledged Legislation. Writers in the Public Sphere (London: Verso, 2002), 270. See also Benjamin R. Barber, An Aristocracy of Everyone. The Politics of Education and the Future of America (New York: Ballantine, 1992), 167.

[3] Kenneth Alan Hovey, ''Reassessing The Closing of the American Mind,'' Beyond Cheering and Bashing. New Perspectives on the Closing of the American Mind, ed. James Seaton and William K. Buckley (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1992), 90.

[4] Barber, An Aristocracy, 159-60. Among those who later also left Cornell is the prominent black conservative Thomas Sowell, see Till Kinzel, Platonische Kulturkritik in Amerika. Studien zu Allan Blooms The Closing of the American Mind, Schriften zur Literaturwissenschaft, vol. 18 (Berlin: Duncker und Humboldt, 2002; also: diss., Technische Universität Berlin, 2001), 32, footnote 7. For biographical data on Bloom, see Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Allan Bloom,"

[5] Dennis H. Wrong, "The Paperbacking of the American Mind,"New York Times, Apr. 17, 1988.

[6] Kinzel, Platonische Kulturkritik, 12.

[7] Andrew Ferguson, ''The Book That Drove Them Crazy,'' The Weekly Standard, Apr. 9, 2012.

[8] Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 40.

[9] Ibid., 73.

[10] Ibid., 139.

[11] Barber, An Aristocracy, 156. See also Kinzel, Platonische Kulturkritik, 143.

[12] Seaton and Buckley, introduction to Beyond Cheering and Bashing, ed. Seaton and Buckley, 3.

[13] John K. Roth, ''On Philosophy and History: 'The Truth—the Good, the Bad and the Ugly','' ibid., 19, here 25, footnote 1.

[14] See for example the special issues of eminent conservative publications on various anniversaries of The Closing of the American Mind 's publication, such as The New Criterion, Nov. 2007, or The Weekly Standard, Apr. 9, 2012.

[15] Allan Bloom, Giants and Dwarfs. Essays 1960-1990 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), 17. After The Closing became a surprise bestseller, Bloom was quoted as believing that ''the book is conservative insofar as there is obviously no freedom of mind in the Soviet Union. Aside from that, I am a corrosive force that appeals to liberals. I am conservative in that I defend the existence of the university. I support the people who are most likely to support the university. That the book has gone up the center is not an accident.'' This quote can be found in William Goldstein, ''The Story Behind the Bestseller: Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind,'' Essays on the Closing of the American Mind, ed. Robert L. Stone (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1989), 33, 36; Goldstein's essay originally appeared in Publishers' Weekly, Jul. 3, 1987.

[16] Clifford Orwin, ''Remembering Allan Bloom,'' The American Scholar, Summer 1993, 423, here 425.

[17] Ibid., 426. See also Kinzel, Platonische Kulturkritik, 44.

[18] John Uhr, ''The Rage over Ravelstein,'' Philosophy and Literature, Oct. 2000, 451, see esp. 454. See also Hitchens, Unacknowledged Legislation, 259-71. On pg. 269, Hitchens asserts that ''[t]hose who follow these things have long known that Allan Bloom . . . was a homosexual, and that when he died in 1992 the report about 'liver failure' was a cover story. He died of AIDS.''

[19] Hitchens, Unacknowledged Legislation, 265-6.

[20] Bloom, The Closing, 11-18. On the Committee on Social Thought, see Uhr, ''The Rage over Ravelstein,'' 451.

[21] To take just one example, in Seaton and Buckley's Beyond Cheering and Bashing, a compilation of academic responses to The Closing, the editors describe Bloom as wanting the university to be a ''conservative counterweight'' to the larger society (2). In his own contribution Buckley states: ''That [Bloom] is a 'conservative' may be strongly argued'' (37). Susan Bourgeois references ''Bloom's conservatism'' (66). Margaret C. Jones remarks that ''[Bloom's] cultural agenda is politically conservative in its implications'' (68) and Peter Siedlecki laments the ''reactionary posture'' of The Closing (129), while William Thickstun even refers to ''Bloom's radical conservatism'' (141). Gerald Graff attacks ''Bloom and other Right-wing ideologues'' (161).

[22] George F. Will, ''A How-To Book for the Independent,'' The Washington Post, Jul. 30, 1987.

[23] Quoted in Bruce Bawer, The Victims' Revolution. The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), xv. Catharine R. Stimpson in 2002 defined the term ''culture wars'' in the following way: ''The culture wars that began in the 1960s in the United States have been fought over four great, linked issues: the nature of the United States and its role in the world; race and racial discrimination; gender and gender discrimination; and sexual norms. Although the intensity each issue provokes has fluctuated over four decades, none has been resolved.'' See Catharine R. Stimpson, ''The Culture Wars Continue,'' Daedalus, Summer 2002, 36.

[24] An exhaustive analysis of the reception of The Closing would necessarily go beyond the scope of this paper; according to one estimate, more than two hundred reviews of the work were eventually published. See Ferguson, ''The Book That Drove Them Crazy.''

[25] Cf. Donald T. Critchlow, ''Rethinking American Conservatism: Toward a New Narrative,'' The Journal of American History, Dec. 2011, 752. The ambiguous history of the term ''liberalism'' may be considered to be a prime example of how the meaning of political labels can change over time; what once stood for skepticism of the government now stands for the belief in the possibilities of government.

[26] Kim Phillips-Fein, ''Conservatism: A State of the Field,'' in ibid., 723, quote on pg. 727.

[27] Cf. ibid., 723.

[28] Alan Brinkley, ''The Problem of American Conservatism,'' The American Historical Review, Apr. 1994, 409. For a brief assessment of Strauss, Bloom, and what Brinkley calls ''normative conservatism,'' see 420-2.

[29] Ibid., 410. The lack of attention that historians have paid to American conservatism may well have resulted from their disapproving of the Right's political goals. But, as Brinkley writes, ''it is a result, too, of the powerful, if not always fully recognized, progressive assumptions embedded in most of the leading paradigms with which historians approach their work.'' See pg. 429

[30] Phillips-Fein, ''Conservatism,'' 725-6.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid., 726.

[33] Ibid., 727.

[34] Clyde Wilcox, ''Laying Up Treasures in Washington and in Heaven: The Christian Right and Evangelical Politics in the Twentieth Century and Beyond,'' OAH Magazine of History, Jan. 2003, 23.

[35] Phillips-Fein, ''Conservatism,'' 733.

[36] Lisa McGirr, ''Now that Historians Know So Much about the Right, How Should We Best Approach the Study of Conservatism?'' The Journal of American History, Dec. 2011, 765, here 766. While top-down interventions and manipulations certainly exist, one should not blow them out of proportion. Nor is it evident that they occur more often or in more significant incarnations in the case of conservatives than in that of their political opponents.

[37] William K. Buckley, ''The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Amerika's Akadēmia,'' Beyond Cheering and Bashing, ed. Seaton and Buckley, 38. On the John M. Olin Foundation and its conservative stance, see John J. Miller, ''Foundation's End,'' National Review Online, Apr. 6, 2005,

[38] Michael Lienesch, ''Right-Wing Religion: Christian Conservatism as a Political Movement,'' Political Science Quarterly, Autumn 1982, 403.

[39] Jonathan M. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing. The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 16.

[40] Paul S. Boyer et al., The Enduring Vision. A History of the American People, 7th ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, 2011), 815-6.

[41] Ibid., 816.

[42] Ibid., 817.

[43] Dan T. Carter, ''The Rise of Conservatism since World War II,'' OAH Magazine of History, Jan. 2003, 11, here 12. It should be noted that Hayek, much like Milton Friedman, did not consider himself to be a 'conservative' but preferred the term '(classical) liberal'. Cf. F. A. Hayek, ''Why I Am Not A Conservative,'' What Is Conservatism?, ed. Frank S. Meyer (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), 88.

[44] Cf. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing, 21.

[45] George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945, 30th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2006), 223-4.

[46] Quoted in ibid., 223.

[47] Ibid., 463.

[48] Gary Shapiro, ''An 'Encounter' With Conservative Publishing,'' The New York Sun, Dec. 9, 2005.

[49] Martin Durham, ''On American Conservatism and Kim Phillips-Fein's Survey of the Field,'' The Journal of American History, Dec. 2011, 756, quote on pg. 757-8. Other notable conservative publications in the post-war period included Modern Age, Human Events, and The Freeman; see Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, 560.

[50] Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination (New York: Viking, 1950), ix.

[51] Cf. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing, 14.

[52] McGirr, ''Now that Historians Know So Much about the Right,'' 770.

[53] Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing, 9.

[54] Quoted in Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, 461-2.

[55] Carter, ''The Rise of Conservatism since World War II,'' 12.

[56] Quoted in Rich Lowry, ''A Personal Retrospective. NR and its founder,'' National Review, Aug. 9, 2004. Published online Nov. 17, 2005.

[57] Quoted in Boyer et al., The Enduring Vision, 814-5.

[58] Ibid., 816.

[59] Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, 165.

[60] Cf. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing, 19. Lisa McGirr emphasizes the significant challenge that the New Deal had been to American libertarianism: ''The 'libertarian' antistatism of the post–World War II Right was an echo of the 'classical liberalism' at the very heart of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century notions of state and economy. As a political persuasion, this form of conservatism could not survive the triple challenges of depression, world war, and Cold War. As a result, postwar conservatives would be far more willing to embrace a strong-armed state for defense and to bolster free markets than 'classical liberals' had been,'' see ''Now that Historians Know So Much about the Right,'' 769.

[61] Cf. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing, 19; see also 31.

[62] Susan F. Harding, "American Protestant Moralism and the Secular Imagination: From Temperance to the Moral Majority,"Social Research: An International Quarterly, Winter 2009, 1277, here 1280.

[63] Carter, ''The Rise of Conservatism after World War II,'' 13.

[64] Cf. Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing, 21.


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Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main – Institut für England- und Amerikastudien
Amerika Allan Bloom Leo Strauss The Closing of the American Mind Saul Bellow Konservatismus Conservatism William F. Buckley Neoconservatism Neokonservatismus Geschichte USA Literatur Sachbuch Sachbücher Relativismus Historizismus relativism criticism Kritik National Review Weekly Standard Commentary Right Rechte Rezeption Reception Allan David Bloom University of Chicago Kulturkritik Platonism Kulturkampf Kulturkrieg culture wars Chicago




Titel: Sharpening the Conservative Mind. The American Right's Reception and Reconstruction of Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind"