Classical Liberalism and Totalitarianism – LewRockwell

The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order and Freedom, by Robert Nisbet

From the back cover:

…as the traditional ties that bind fell away, the human impulse toward community led people to turn even more to the government itself, allowing statism—even totalitarianism—to flourish.

From the time that classical liberalism reached its zenith until totalitarianism achieved the same was a matter of a few short decades – from utmost respect for the individual to utmost devastation for all individuals.  What happened?

Robert Nisbet examines this question, and I will examine Nisbet.  I will begin with the Introduction to this current edition, offered by Ross Douthat.  Recognizing, by the end of World War Two, that history could no longer be described as a long, unstoppable march from dark to light, conservative thinkers began to explore…what happened?

…the central thinkers of the emerging American Right labored to explain how “progress” and “enlightenment” had produced the gas chamber and the gulag.

The Quest for Communit…
Robert Nisbet
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Into this intellectual field stepped Nisbet; what he found was that individualism and collectivism were not enemies struggling for hegemony, but two philosophies that supported each other:

It seemed contradictory that the heroic age of nineteenth-century laissez faire, to which free men, free minds, and free markets were supposedly liberated from the chains imposed by throne and alter, had given way so easily to the tyrannies of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

But it was only so if one ignored the human desire for community.  Where man once had guilds, churches, universities, villages and family, he was…

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