My Other Websites
Robert Brent Toplin: Radical Conservatism
Robert Brent Toplin's Radical Conservatism: The Right's Political Religion (2006, University Press of Kansas) is a general survey of recent conservative political ideology in America. His perspective is what I'd call moderate: he spends a lot of time distinguishing between liberals and leftists, appreciating the former's willingness to entertain all sides of issues, and he would like to defend some strain of conservatism distinct from the fanatics and extremists who have taken over the movement. His is not an especially insightful book, but I expect to survey much of the same ground in my book, so I found this a fairly useful general survey.
For all his insistence that radcons (radical conservatives) have turned their politics into a form of religion -- at least that they pursue it with the conviction of true believers -- there isn't very much here on the religious phalanx of the Republican Party. Rather, he discerns three major strains, which he calls: stealth libertarians, culture warriors, and hawkish nationalists. The first group is the most problematical: he concentrates on a laissez-faire economics as it has developed to rationalize stripping government, especially of its ability to tax and regulate business. My own view is that right's relationship to business is far less ideological: they back business both to reduce government impositions (taxes, regulation, antitrust, torts) and to increase government support (procurement, subsidies). Basically, whatever business wants is OK with them, because they recognize that business puts the money in their pockets that lets them pursue their other ideological goals -- which do not include anything that real libertarians believe in other than laissez-faire when it's economically convenient.
The culture warriors are basically displaced bigots who believe in using government to coerce good behavior from unruly citizens. The hawkish nationalists are into coercion on even grander scales, and are rooted in a state-planned economy with no market values whatsoever. That these three factions form a coalition is itself somewhat improbable, but the military is a residual from WWII and the the culture warriors idealize the same period, both reinforced by the holy war against godless communism -- itself an issue that the rich actually did have a stake in.
I didn't mark many quotes. In a section called "Undisturbed by Doubts" Toplin cites David Brock on the true believers (pp. 61-62):
On the usefulness of religion, particularly by neoconservatives (pp. 134-135):
Marx came to the same conclusion when he called religion the opiate of the masses. The virtue that the Straussians most treasure is the quiescent acceptance of the class hierarchy.
A particularly annoying quote is where Toplin chastises anyone who would criticize US history in the wake of 9/11 (pp. 212-213):
Toplin is writing about William J. Bennett's Why We Fight, which took pains to single out anyone who said anything critical of US policy. The fact is that people like Bennett were using 9/11 to push us into war, and their exploitation of "human psychology" was part of that push. There was never a time when it was more important to stop and take a deep breath and examine how we got to be in that situation, before we let a few hot heads fly us off the cliff into the abyss of war -- events that in coming years we have increasingly come to regret. Critical self-examination failed in this case because very few people have any clue as to what the US has done in its foreign policy over the last 50-60 years, even in frequently troubled areas of the Middle East.
Then there are times when the right puts the shoe on the wrong foot (p. 229):
Finally, the radcons have had trouble translating their ideas into viable practice (pp. 272-273):
Toplin then concludes with Ron Suskind's famous "reality-based community" quote.
As this is basically a survey book, I thought it might be worthwhile to pull together a list of who's covered in the book. I should probably expand upon this to provide a "vast right-wing conspiracy" index. Not interested in politicians here; just ideologues.
Richard Armey: The Freedom Revolution: The New House Majority Leader Tells Why Big Government Failed, Why Freedom Works, and How We Will Rebuild America (1995, Regnery).
Fred Barnes: Rebel-in-Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W Bush (2006, Crown).
William J Bennett: The Devaluing of America: The Fight for Our Culture and Our Children (1992, Summit Books); Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism (2002, Doubleday).
Allan Bloom: The Closing of the American Mind (1987, Simon and Schuster).
David Boaz: Libertarianism: A Primer (1997, Free Press).
Robert Bork: Slouching Toward Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline (1996, Regan Books).
William F Buckley: Up From Liberalism (1959, McDowell).
Ann Coulter: Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (2002, Crown); Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism (2003, Crown).
Dinesh D'Souza: Letters to a Young Conservative (2002, Basic Books).
Milton Friedman: Capitalism and Freedom (1962, University of Chicago Press); w/Rose Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (1980, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich); Bright Promises, Dismal Performance: An Economist's Protest (1983, Harcourt Brace Jonvanovich); w/Rose Friedman, Two Lucky People (1998, University of Chicago Press).
David Frum: Dead Right (1994, Basic Books).
George F Gilder: Sexual Suicide (1973, Quadrangle).
Bernard Goldberg: Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distorts the News (2002, Regnery); Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite (2003, Warner Books).
Sean Hannity: Let Freedom Ring: Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism (2002, Regan Books); Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism (2004, Regan Books).
Friedrich A von Hayek: Road to Serfdom (1944, University of Chicago Press).
Jesse Helms: When Free Men Shall Stand (1976, Zondervan).
David Horowitz: The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America's Future (1998, Free Press); Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left (2004, Regnery).
Russell Kirk: The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (rev. ed., 1953, Henry Regnery).
Henry Kissinger: Years of Upheaval (1982, Little Brown).
Irving Kristol: Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea (1995, Free Press).
Rush Limbaugh: The Way Things Ought to Be (1992, Pocket Books); See, I Told You So (1993, Atria).
John R Lott Jr: More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control (2nd ed., 2000, University of Chicago Press).
Michael Medved: Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons From a Controversial Life (2004, Crown).
Charles Murray: Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 (1984, Basic Books); In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (1989, Touchstone); What It Means to Be a Libertarian: A Personal Interpretation (1997, Broadway Books).
Norman Podhoretz: The Present Danger: Do We Have the Will to Reverse the Decline of American Power? (1980, Simon and Schuster); Why We Were in Vietnam (1982, Simon and Schuster).
Ronald Reagan: w/Richard G Hubler, Where's the Rest of Me? (1965, Duell Sloan and Pearce).
Ralph Reed: Active Faith: How Christians Are Changing the Soul of American Politics (1996, Free Press).
Pat Robertson: The Turning Tide: The Fall of Liberalism and the Rise of Common Sense (1993, Word Publishing).
Murray Rothbard: For a New Liberty: A Libertarian Manifesto (rev. ed., 1978, Collier Books).
Michael Savage: The Enemy Within: Saving America From the Assault on Our Schools, Faith, and Military (2003, WND Books).
Phyllis Schlafly: w/Chester Ward, Kissinger on the Couch (1975, Arlington House); Feminist Fantasies (2003, Spence).
William E Simon: A Time for Truth (1978, McGraw-Hill); A Time for Action (1980, McGraw-Hill).
Richard Viguerie: The Establishment vs. the People (1983, Regnery).
James G Watt: w/Doug Wead, The Courage of a Conservative (1985, Simon and Schuster).
Richard Weaver: Ideas Have Consequences (1948/1976, Chicago University Press).
George Will: The Pursuit of Virtue and Other Tory Notions (1982, Simon and Schuster).
James Q Wilson: The Moral Sense (1993, Free Press).
Some of these no doubt belong on the list above.
John A Andrew III, The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics (1997, Rutgers University Press).
Eric Alterman, What Liberal Media? The Turth About Bias and the News (2003, Basic Books).
Amy E Ansell, ed., Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics (1998, Westview Press).
Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God (2000, Alfred A Knopf).
Daniel J Balz/Ronald Brownstein, Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival (1995, Little Brown).
Sidney Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power (1986, Times Books).
Mary C Brennan, Turning Right in the Sixties: The Conservative Capture of the GOP (1995, University of North Carolina Press).
David Brock, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative (2002, Crown); The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy (2004, Crown).
Ethan Bronner, Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America (1989, WW Norton).
Lou Cannon, Reagan (1982, GP Putnam's Sons); President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime (1991, Simon and Schuster).
Joel A Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (1996, Oxford University Press).
Dan T Carter, From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution, 1963-1994 (1996, Louisiana State University Press).
Jimmy Carter, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (2005, Simon and Schuster).
Richard A Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terrorism (2004, Free Press).
Alan Crawford, Thunder on the Right: The "New Right" and the Politics of Resentment (1980, Pantheon Books).
Robert Dallek, Ronald Reagan: The Politics of Symbolism (1984, Harvard University Press).
Mark Danner, The Secret Way to War: The Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War's Buried History (2006, New York Review of Books).
Charles DeBenedetti, An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era (1990, Syracuse University Press).
Sara Diamond, Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States (1995, Guilford Press).
John P Diggins, The Rise and Fall of the American Left (1973/1992, WW Norton).
Maureen Dowd, Bush World: Enter at Your Own Risk (2004, GP Putnam's Sons).
Nina Easton, Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade (2000, Simon and Schuster).
Lee Edwards, The Conservative Revolution: The Movement That Remade America (1999, Free Press); The Essential Ronald Reagan: A Profile in Courage, Justice, and Wisdom (2005, Rowman and Littlefield).
David Farber/Jeff Roche, eds., The Conservative Sixties (2003, Peter Lang).
Morris P Fiorina, w/Samuel J Abrams/Jeremy Pope, Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America (2004, Pearson Longman).
Frances Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars, and the End of the Cold War (2000, Random House).
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism (2000, University of Chicago Press).
Thomas Frank, What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004, Henry Holt).
Murray Friedman, The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy (2005, Cambridge University Press).
Francis Fukuyama, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy (2006, Yale University Press).
John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New H istory (2005, Penguin Press).
Raymond L Garthoff, The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (1994, Brookings Institution).
Mark Gerson, The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars (1996, Madison Books).
John Gibson, Hating America: The New World Sport (2004, Regan Books).
Philip Gold, Take Back the Right: How the Neocons and the Religious Right Have Betrayed the Conservative Movement (2004, Carroll and Graf).
Michael R Gordon/Gen. Bernard E Trainor, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq (2006, Pantheon).
Jacob S Hacker/Paul Pierson, Off-Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (2005, Yale University Press).
Stefan Halper/Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (2004, Cambridge University Press).
Steve F Hayward, Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders (2005, Crown).
Kenneth J Heineman, Campus Wars: The Peace Movement at American State Universities in the Vietnam Era (1993, New York University Press).
George C Herring, LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (1994, University of Texas Press).
Seymour Hersh, Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib (2004, Harper Collins).
J David Hoeveler Jr, Watch on the Right: Conservative Intellectuals in the Reagan Era (1991, University of Wisconsin Press).
Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (1964, Vintage Books).
Godfrey Hodgson, The World Turned Right-Side Up: A History of the Conservative Ascendancy in America (1996, Houghton Mifflin).
James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America (1991, Basic Books).
Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography (1992, Simon and Schuster).
Maurice Isserman/Michael Kazin, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (2000, Oxford University Press).
Christopher Jencks, Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America (1972, Basic Books).
Roger Kimball, Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education (1990, Harper and Row).
Donald R Kinder, Divided by Color: Racial Politics and Democratic Ideals (1996, University of Chicago Press).
Hilton Kramer/Roger Kimball, eds., The Betrayal of Liberalism: How the Disciples of Freedom and Equality Helped Foster the Illiberal Policies of Coercion and Control (1999, Ivan R Dees).
Kevin Michael Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2005, Princeton University Press).
Geore Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (2002, University of Chicago Press); Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives (2004, Chelsea Green).
Brian Lamb, ed., Booknotes: Stories From American History (2001, Penguin Books).
Paul Lettow, Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (2005, Random House).
Michael Lind, Up From Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America (1996, Free Press).
George M Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelism, 1870-1925 (1980, Oxford University Press); Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (1991, William B Eerdmans).
Martin E Marty/R Scott Appleby, The Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist Challenge tot he Modern World (1992, Beacon Press).
Jack F Matlock Jr, Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (2004, Random House).
Allen J Matusow, The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s (1984, Harper and Row).
Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (2001, Princeton University Press).
John Micklethwait/Adrian Wooldridge, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004, Penguin).
C Wright Mills, The Power Elite (1956, Oxford University Press).
Brad Miner, The Concise Conservative Encyclopedia: 200 of the Most Important Ideas, Incitements, and Institutions That Have Shaped the Movement -- A Personal View (1996, Free Press).
Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science (2005, Basic Books).
Edmund Morris, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan (1999, Random House).
George Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Sine 1945 (1976, Basic Books).
Richard John Neuhaus, Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth (2006, Basic Books).
James L Noland Jr, The Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future PRospects (1996, University Press of Virginia).
Anne Norton, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire (2004, Yale University Press).
Don Oberdorfer, From the Cold War to the New Era: The United States and the Soviet Union, 1983-1992 (1998, Johns Hopkins University Press).
George Packer, Assassins Gate: America in Iraq (2005, Farrar Straus and Giroux).
Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2001, Hill and Wang).
Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the Twenty-first Century (2006, Viking).
Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism (1975, Simon and Schuster).
Robert Reich, Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America (2004, Alfred A Knopf).
Steve Rendall, The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error -- Over 100 Outrageously False and Foolish Statements From America's Most Powerful Radio and TV Commentator (1995, New Press).
Llewellyn H Rockwell Jr, The Irrepressible Rothbard (2000, Center for Libertarian Studies).
Arthur Schlesinger Jr, War and the American Presidency (2004, WW Norton).
Gregory L Schneider, ed., :Conservatism in America Sine 1930: A Reader (2003, New York University Press).
Jonathan M Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (2001, Oxford University Press).
Peter Schweizer, Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism (2003, Random House).
Emmanuel Sivan, Strong Religion: The Rise of Fundamentalisms Around the World (2003, University of Chicago Press).
Kevin J Smant, Principles and Heresies: Frank S Meyer and the Shaping of the American Conservative Movement (2002, ISI Books).
Peter Steinfels, The Neoconservatives: The Men Who Are Changing American Politics (1979, Simon and Schuster).
Robert L Stone, Essays on the Closing of the American Mind (1989, Chicago Review Press).
Cass R Sunstein, Radicals in Robes: Why Right-Wing Courts Are Wrong for America (2005, Perseus).
Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill (2004, Simon and Schuster).
Steven Tanner, The Wars of the Bushes: The Father and Son as Military Leaders (2004, Casemate).
Robert Brent Toplin, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11: How One Film Divided the Nation (2006, University Press of Kansas).
Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (1951, Viking Press).
R Emmett Tyrrell Jr, The Liberal Crack-Up (1984, Simon and Schuster); The Conservative Crack-Up (1992, Simon and Schuster).
Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It (2005, Harper).
Tom Wells, The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam (1994, University of California Press).
Joseph Wilson, The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies That Led to War and Betrayal of My Wife's CIA Identity (2004, Carroll and Graf).
Jay Winik, On the Brink: The Dramatic Behind the Scenes Saga of the Reagan Era and the Men and Women Who Won the Cold War (1996, Simon and Schuster).
Alan Wolfe, One Nation, After All (1998, Viking).
Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom (2003, WW Norton).