George Will reviews “American Conservatism: Reclaiming an Intellectual Tradition,” Edited by Andrew J. Bacevich. Being susceptible to typography-based graphics I was drawn in by the illustration. Will’s opening statement added enticement.
When assembling an anthology of writings representative of a political persuasion, the challenge is to acknowledge the persuasion’s varieties without producing a concoction akin to sauerkraut ice cream, a jumble of incompatible ingredients.
Two passages of Will’s critique sum it up. In the first, note the “however”; it betokens serious preceding quibbles.
The volume is, however, a nourishing cafeteria of writers, many of them justly forgotten but still interesting because they once were interesting.
The second passage credits Bacevich’s most inspired selection to be Joan Didion’s “1972 stiletto of an essay ‘The Women’s Movement,’ which begins, ‘To make an omelette you need not only those broken eggs but someone “oppressed” to break them.’”
Didion, who long ago contributed to National Review and in 1964 voted for Barry Goldwater, here exemplified an analytical acuity, stylistic verve and unenthralled mentality that conservatism, like other persuasions, rarely attains.
(George F. Will, “The Mind of Conservatism,” NYTimes, 4-1-20)
I confess to having to be reminded that there are, or have been at least, capable minds behind conservatism. The current scene belies it.
(c) 2020 JMN