THE (GUILTY) CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE by Craig Schiller

THE (GUILTY) CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Prune away the flowery rhetoric, and you'll find a barren analysis of the Right. A short essay in National Review would have sufficed to convey Schiller's two unremarkable ideas that American ""traditionalists"" would fare better politically if they articulated their philosophy clearly and phrased it in positive, appealing terms. For example, do not say ""We are anti-Communist."" Say ""Communism subordinates men to the state."" And do not say ""Welfare is bad."" Say ""The Western tradition of serf-reliance and minimal government is good."" If Schiller had done these things, his work would have some point; as it stands, the book is one long and obvious suggestion. For the historian of conservatism, the book does discuss the presidential bids of Landon, Taft, Goldwater, and Reagan; there is also a numbing dissection of the types of conservatism from the ""metaphysical"" variety, which defends the status quo because it is divinely-ordained, to the ""historical"" brand, which maintains that social structures which have been proven to work should not be cavalierly razed. Schiller's ""drift"" theory of postwar American conservatism is an interesting idea; he claims the 1978 conservative is ideologically identical to the 1958 liberal not out of conviction, but out of the necessity to drift leftward with the nation to maintain political relevance. But these are all obiter dicta. The book's main purpose, to unite the Right by articulating the conservative philosophy, is lost because Schiller achieves no such articulation.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1978
Publisher: Arlington House