Layin’ Down the Law

What’s the point of my book?  According to Kunal M. Parker in the pages of the Tulsa Law Review, it highlights “Modernist Forms of Thinking and their Critics in Mid-Twentieth Century America.”

Professor Parker includes The Other School Reformers in a thoughtful, lengthy review essay, along with Kevin Kruse’s One Nation Under God and Reuel Schiller’s Forging Rivals.

I’m delighted to be included in such prestigious company and I found Professor Parker’s analysis compelling.  Parker is most interested in what he calls “the emergence of anti-foundational thinking and of responses to it in American intellectual life.”

He notes that my book challenges Kruse’s (and others) assumptions that modern American conservatism began with opposition to the New Deal.  By and large, though, Parker puts my work and Kruse’s together as examples of historical attempts to understand American conservatism “positively.”  Not in terms of making a brief for conservative ideas, but rather by focusing on the works and ideas of conservative activists themselves.

Parker’s real interest, however, is in the broader issues raised by these three books about American opposition to “modernist, anti-foundational thinking.”  As Parker puts it,

If we are wont to think that American conservatives mobilized in opposition to Communism or Socialism, secularism, or the political demands of women and minorities, both Kruse and Laats, but especially the latter, show us how much conservative opposition in America has been directed against a modernist philosophical tradition that is uniquely the country’s own.  If American conservatives have long demonized unsavory ideas as foreign imports, they have also demonized the country’s own anti-foundational traditions.

Many  thanks to Professor Parker for the thoughts and review.

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