Dissecting Conservative

Dissecting Conservative

THE FUTILITARIAN SOCIETY, by Wiliam J. Newman. George Braziller. 1961.

William J. Newman’s theme can be expressed in a loose syllogism: America’s problems call for change and innovation. But conservatives are “stasis seekers.” Therefore conservative ideas are a “menace” to the nation.

The theme is elaborated through a delightfully breezy and ironic dissection of the writings of Old Conservatives (Felix Morley, William H. Chamberlain), New Conservatives (Kirk, Rossiter, Viereck) and academics who write in a Conservative Mood (Louis Hartz, Daniel Bell). His conclusions are “sound,” and his comments on the implicit conservatism of the Luce-ian national purpose literature are perceptive and amusing. Yet one has some reservations.

It is generally considered bad form to criticize an author for what he has not tried to do, yet Newman’s explicit disavowal of any attempt to examine conservative actions and the socio...

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