Robert Nisbet

Robert Nisbet (1913-1996) was a professor of sociology at Columbia University and authored numerous books, including Quest for Community, Conservatism: Dream and Reality, The Present Age, and Twilight of Authority.

Measuring the Influence of Russell Kirk and Other Conservative Authors

By |2019-05-17T10:22:05-05:00May 12th, 2019|Categories: Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Culture, Eric Voegelin, Irving Babbitt, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

By using Google’s Ngram Viewer, we find that Russell Kirk’s reputation hit its highpoint in 1964, and then began a painful decline that remained unabated until his death in 1994. What does Ngram tell us about other conservative authors, like Robert Nisbet, Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and Christopher Dawson? While I would never consider [...]

Leviathan, Inc.: Robert Nisbet & the Modern Nation-State

By |2019-08-27T16:41:04-05:00May 5th, 2019|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization|

Robert Nisbet feared that modern totalitarians had succeeded in undermining the very foundations of goodness, truth, and morality. They had not only redefined liberty as power, but they had transformed the modern political state into a secular church, exchanging real religion for civic religion, creating a “New Leviathan.” Like most Americans during the Great [...]

On Being Conservative

By |2019-09-19T14:33:33-05:00March 28th, 2018|Categories: Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Family, Jane Austen, Marriage, Philosophy, Robert Nisbet, T.S. Eliot|

To be a conservative is first and foremost to defend or to conserve something good: to protect family, neighborhood, local community, and region… Of the many attempts to define conservatism in recent decades, one of the most compelling is Robert Nisbet’s: “The essence of this body of ideas is the protection of the social order—family, [...]

The Quest for Modern Conservatism

By |2019-04-04T12:04:08-05:00January 28th, 2018|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Bradley J. Birzer, Community, Conservatism, Edmund Burke, History, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

The job of every conservative is twofold: First, he must fight tirelessly against the centralized, unitary state; second, he must do everything possible to promote that which makes the free society not just an ordered one, but a good one… Prior to the publication of Russell Kirk’s masterful The Conservative Mind in 1953, no [...]

How Power Destroys Community

By |2018-12-26T14:32:42-05:00January 22nd, 2018|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Civil Society, Community, Conservatism, Edmund Burke, History, Robert Nisbet|

Power, in and of itself, has become an “ideology,” according to Robert Nisbet. It is, by its very nature, incapable of understanding nuance… As I had the opportunity to write in my previous essay for The Imaginative Conservative, Oxford University Press gave the grand sociologist and historian of ideas, Robert A. Nisbet, a chance [...]

Aliens in America!

By |2018-12-26T14:48:14-05:00January 15th, 2018|Categories: American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Community, Conservatism, Culture, Featured, History, Robert Nisbet|

In no society in the world, Robert Nisbet believed, has any people become so remote from nature as have Americans. As technology allowed him to dominate or ignore nature, the American became detached from place, having neither loyalty nor respect for the land that once nourished him… After the rather massive and—at least to [...]

The Conservatism of Robert Nisbet

By |2019-09-03T18:31:58-05:00January 7th, 2018|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Culture, Edmund Burke, History, Imagination, Irving Babbitt, Religion, Robert Nisbet, Romano Guardini, Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, Tradition|

Robert Nisbet, in direct contrast to Russell Kirk, argued that conservatism was purely a modern ideology. For Nisbet, the entire history of conservatism began as a reaction to the French Revolution… When it came to the history of conservatism, the grand sociologist and man of letters, Robert Nisbet, disagreed with the mighty founder of [...]

Who Reads Robert Nisbet Anymore?

By |2017-12-16T16:43:32-05:00August 15th, 2017|Categories: Books, Community, Conservatism, Featured, Government, Robert Nisbet|

Is Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community a historical artifact or a living source of wisdom? Has his insight into the natural human desire for community become a moot point in light of the rise of the State, which has replaced the church, family, and neighborhood?… Of the many books that Robert Nisbet wrote [...]

The Role of the University in the Twilight of the West

By |2018-10-30T14:31:11-05:00May 16th, 2017|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Education, Featured, Robert Nisbet, Tradition|

The primary purpose of the university is to preserve the great ideas of the past and to introduce the present generation to timeless conversations, thus preserving such wisdom for countless and unknown future generations… Conservatives rarely remember the profound influence Robert A. Nisbet (1913-1996) had on the press, academia, and the public at large [...]

Ten Books That Shaped America’s Conservative Renaissance

By |2019-06-24T16:15:25-05:00March 12th, 2017|Categories: Conservatism, Economics, Edmund Burke, Eric Voegelin, Featured, Friedrich Hayek, George Nash, Ludwig von Mises, M. E. Bradford, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, T.S. Eliot, The Conservative Mind, The Imaginative Conservative, Timeless Essays, Wilhelm Roepke, William F. Buckley Jr.|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Jeffrey O. Nelson as he explores the books and thinkers who shaped America’s Conservative Renaissance. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher If a conservative order is indeed to return, we ought to know the tradition which is attached to it, so that we [...]

Robert Nisbet vs. The State

By |2019-09-03T18:31:45-05:00February 14th, 2017|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Christopher Dawson, Conservatism, Edmund Burke, Featured, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, Woodrow Wilson|

Because we Americans have become so infatuated with the power and person of the presidency, we have forgotten our republican duty to promote our sovereignty in legislative bodies… If you were interested in finding the single harshest and yet reasoned critic of the twentieth-century nation-state, you would not, strangely enough, turn to a libertarian. [...]

The Urban Crisis Revisited

By |2017-03-07T15:41:34-05:00February 8th, 2017|Categories: Books, Civil Society, Featured, Robert Nisbet, Social Institutions, The Imaginative Conservative|

Given the nature of our politically-driven, morality-obsessed middle class society, and its passion for direct action, it follows that the more persons there are who are dedicated to solving problems, the more problems there have to be… The Unheavenly City by Edward C. Banfield (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970) Once in a great while [...]

The Conservative Reformation

By |2016-10-10T14:45:27-05:00September 16th, 2016|Categories: Agrarianism, Conservatism, Featured, George Nash, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|

Two decades ago, George Nash, in his The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945,[1] told the story of how American conservatism was forged rather uneasily as a political movement from three intellectual groupings: traditionalists, lib­ertarians, and anti-communists. Today on the conventional “Right,” however, we find many libertarians who argue as vigorously against the opponents [...]

The Death of Community?

By |2019-02-07T12:39:53-05:00August 19th, 2016|Categories: Community, Culture, Robert Nisbet|

In the 1950s, Robert Nisbet summarized the effects of nineteenth-century individualism on modern humans in the book The Quest for Community: “[Nineteenth-century] individualism has resulted in masses of normless, unattached, insecure individuals who lose even the capacity for independent, creative living.” His brutally honest assessment is only more true today; our public universities are [...]