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.

Is Conservatism an Ideology?

By |2020-04-25T03:15:59-05:00April 24th, 2020|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Ideology, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

In his excellent, short book, Conservatism: Dream and Reality, Robert Nisbet had no problem in identifying conservatism as an ideology. Whereas his friend, Russell Kirk, had repeatedly resisted defining the faith as anything other than a “way of being” quite contrary to all ideologies (in essence, an anti-ideology). Nisbet proclaimed it one of three ideologies [...]

Moving Toward Dread Conformity

By |2020-04-10T11:06:40-05:00April 8th, 2020|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Civil Society, Civilization, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, Senior Contributors|

In 1953, Robert Nisbet published “The Quest for Community,” a book that reveals to us that our own quest has become something both natural and unnatural. That is, it is natural to desire to belong, but it is horrifically unnatural in the ways we choose to commune. 1953 was a banner year for the [...]

Did Edmund Burke Support the American Revolution?

By |2020-03-17T17:36:43-05:00March 17th, 2020|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Declaration of Independence, Edmund Burke, History, Independence Day, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, Senior Contributors|

Many conservatives have assumed that Edmund Burke was opposed to the American Revolution. It is, to my mind, an erroneous assumption. “Burke broke his agentship and went publicly silent on the American cause once war broke out,” Robert Nisbet claimed in his most definitive analysis of Edmund Burke, written and published in 1985. His [...]

Measuring the Influence of Russell Kirk and Other Conservative Authors

By |2019-10-08T17:40:40-05:00May 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 |2019-09-24T12:17:38-05:00May 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 |2019-10-10T13:42:05-05:00January 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 |2019-10-10T13:08:21-05:00January 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 |2017-12-16T16:43:32-06:00August 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 |2020-03-23T15:07:10-05:00March 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.|

If we are to know and rebuild a conservative civil social order in this country, then we need to “rake from the ashes” of recent American history the books that influenced a generation of conservative scholars and public figures, books whose message resonated with much of the American populace and resulted in astonishing political [...]

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. [...]