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Looking At The Right


What better moment to take a good hard look at what it means to be a political progressive or conservative in America than now? Distinguished political theorist, Peter Berkowitz, has just turned out two star-studded volumes featuring thinkers on each side of our political battle. Varieties of Conservatism in America is about the pull and tug between classical conservatism, libertarianism, and neoconservatism. Mark Henrie, Senior Editor of Modern Age, traces the shaping of today’s classical conservatism by the work of Russell Kirk. Of course, National Review is a direct descendent of Kirk. Joseph Bottum, Books & Arts Editor at The Weekly Standard, takes on the core dilemma of modern conservatism–how to preserve liberty, while resisting its tendency to devolve into license. Bottum focuses on the struggle between believers and secularists, with a careful look at what the abortion issue means for different kinds of conservatives and liberals. Randy Barnett, an occasional NRO writer, shows why libertarians needn’t choose between a moral defense of property rights and defense rooted in social consequences. The brilliant Richard Epstein tries something fascinating and new–a defense of libertarianism on classically conservative grounds. Libertarian laws, says Epstein, create virtuous citizens who strengthen the social fabric. Jacob Heilbrunn says that neoconservatism does exist! (Heilbrunn is writing a book that will prove it.) Heilbrunn even tells you what neocons believe and how they’re changing modern conservatism. Policy Review editor, Tod Lindberg, finishes the job by emphasizing the neoconservative preference for judging policies by their actual outcome, rather than the elegance of the theory that undergirds them. Somehow George Bush managed to hold these diverse and contradictory views together in a winning coalition. Now that he’s won, will the coalition hold? To find out, you may just want to read this book.


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