Know Your Enemy: The Long Farewell to Majority Rule, with Joshua Tait

Know Your Enemy: The Long Farewell to Majority Rule, with Joshua Tait

What are the intellectual origins of conservative hostility to majoritarian democracy?

An 1849 daguerreotype of John C. Calhoun (Wikimedia Commons)

Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.

In this follow-up episode to “Democracy and Its Discontents” (listen here), historian Joshua Tait joins Matt and Sam for a conversation about the intellectual origins of the American Right’s hostility to democracy—from John C. Calhoun’s invention of the filibuster in the nineteenth century to the writings of conservatives like Russell Kirk, James Burnham, Willmoore Kendall, and others, in the 1950s and ’60s.

Sources and further reading:

Adam Jentleson, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy (Liveright Books, January 2021)

James Burnham, Congress and the American Tradition (Regnery, 1959)

Willmoore Kendall, The Conservative Affirmation (Regnery, 1963)

Willmoore Kendall & George W. Carey, Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (Louisiana State University Press, 1970; reprint, The Catholic University of American Press, 1995)

Saul Bellow, “Mosby’s Memoirs,” The New Yorker, Jul 12, 1968

John A. Murley & John E. Alvis, eds., Willmoore Kendall: Maverick of American Conservatives (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002)

Harry V. Jaffa, “Equality as a Conservative Principle,” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, June 1, 1975

Joshua Tait, “Why Willmoore Kendall and James Burnham are the Prophets of Modern Conservatism,” National Interest, April 30, 2021

Joshua Tait, “The Long History of Fighting Over the Term ‘Conservative,'” The Bulwark, April 2, 2021

Matthew Sitman, “Farewell to a Constitutional Conservative,” The American Conservative, June 27, 2013

…and don’t forget you can subscribe to Know Your Enemy on Patreon to listen to all of our bonus episodes!

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