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.

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 |2020-09-08T15:43:49-05:00August 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 |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. [...]

The Urban Crisis Revisited

By |2017-03-07T15:41:34-06:00February 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 |2019-10-23T12:44:29-05:00August 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 [...]

Still Questing for Community

By |2019-06-06T18:33:25-05:00April 11th, 2016|Categories: Books, Community, Essential, Featured, Robert Nisbet, The Conservative Mind, Timeless Essays|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Robert Nisbet as he reflects on his landmark book, The Quest for Community. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher In the retrospect of forty years I can see my book, The Quest for Community (first published by Oxford University Press in 1953), as one of [...]

The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama

By |2015-04-15T06:41:46-05:00April 11th, 2015|Categories: Community, Conservatism, Featured, Modernity, Robert Nisbet|Tags: |

Today’s political debates often set up a simple tension: the individual versus government. Certainly individual liberty and limited government are fundamental principles of a free society, but such a polarized perspective overlooks the ways we actually live our lives—in families, as part of neighborhoods, in church communities, in civic groups, and so on. In [...]

The Case for “Serfdom,” Rightly Understood

By |2014-04-26T16:50:26-05:00April 26th, 2014|Categories: Conservatism, Robert Nisbet|Tags: , |

Last Saturday I had the honor of addressing the 50th anniversary meeting of the Philadelphia Society. The title of the meeting was “The Road Ahead—Serfdom or Liberty?” My remarks sought to suggest that conservatives should be more circumspect about their rote incantation of the word “liberty,” and that there may even be something to [...]

Robert Nisbet & The Quest for Community

By |2015-04-28T08:40:30-05:00March 9th, 2013|Categories: Books, Community, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, TIC Featured Book|Tags: |

Featured Book: The Quest For Community, by Robert Nisbet, ranks high among the foundational works of post-war American conservatism. In it, Nisbet argued that the emergence of the “centralized territorial State” in the wake of the Middle Ages decisively impacted Western social organization. Nisbet was particularly sensitive to the rise of the “national community,” the total [...]

A Tale of Two Cités: Mediating Associations

By |2013-11-21T14:40:35-06:00January 23rd, 2013|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Barack Obama, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Politics, Robert Nisbet|Tags: , |

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But what is “best” for some is “worst” for others, and vice-versa. Monday, President Obama was sworn in for his second term. This event was a “best” for his stalwart supporters, such as Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and is a sign of [...]

Still Questing for Community

By |2019-09-10T17:04:54-05:00September 26th, 2012|Categories: Books, Community, Conservatism, Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk|Tags: |

In the retrospect of forty years I can see my book, The Quest for Community (first published by Oxford University Press in 1953), as one of the harbingers of what would become by the end of the 1950s a full-fledged renascence of conservatism. There had been authentic and forthright individual conservatives before the 50s; [...]

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