Knowing where you came from: The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

Nathanael Yellis By Nathanael Yellis • Last Updated April 2, 2019
I went to Patrick Henry College, where in the government program we read widely--from Plato to Plantinga to Postman. Reading primary authors was a highlight of my studies. Something was missing, and I found it in this book by George Nash.
 
Reading the magnum opuses of conservative and liberal philosophers and political theorists profoundly shaped my thinking. But without a book like The History of the Intellectual Conservative Movement, I missed the larger narrative--why these authors made their arguments and why those ideas mattered.
 
For example, several of my professors managed to inject Leo Strauss into almost every class, from Empirical Research Methods to Presidency to Comparative Politics. I chalked this up to several professors at a small college sharing the same intellectual hero. The deeper reason, which I would have known if I'd read Nash's book at the time, is that Strauss ignited and led the classicists of the conservative intellectual movement in the early post-war years.
 
My professors sat under some of Strauss's best students, and thus we were all participating in his classicism. Knowing where his political theory arose from and what contemporaries he battled against would have made his role in our education much more clear. And would have allowed me to make a better judgment on whether I believed Strauss and why.
 
Without knowing the cultural implications of an idea, it can't be rightly considered.
 
Thus I'd recommend this work to anyone participating in our conservative movement. Knowing where you came from, or, more specifically, knowing where the ideas shaping our time came from, is necessary for knowing what to do next.
 


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