Raging Right Wing Republican

For those of us who are politically informed, and therefore Republican.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Robert A. Nisbet on the 19th century

It can scarcely be argued that conservatism exerted any widespread influence on thought in the nineteenth century. For this was the century of great hope, of faith in what seemed to be the ineluctable processes of history, of faith in the natural individual and in mass government. All the major tendencies of European history—the factory system included—were widely regarded as essentially liberating forces. By them, men would be emancipated from the ancient system of status and from communities within which initiative and freedom were stifled. For most minds in the nineteenth century, conservatism, with its essentially tragic conception of history, its fear of the free individual and the masses, and its emphasis upon community, hierarchy, and sacred patterns of belief, seemed but one final manifestation of that past from which Europe was everywhere being liberated.

(Robert A. Nisbet, "Conservatism and Sociology," The American Journal of Sociology 58 [September 1952]: 167-75, at 172)

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