March 29, 2012
Keith Preston discusses how the development of modern European intellectual life shaped the political concepts of Left and Right. Topics include:
- The Enlightenment as the third major phase in European intellectual history following the classical Greco-Roman period and the medieval Christian era.
- The Enlightenment as a neo-pagan revolution against the post-Hellenic Christian dominance of Western civilization.
- The English, American, and French Revolutions as political expressions of the Enlightenment.
- The origins of the political concept of Left and Right in the French Revolution.
- The major traditions within rightist thought: reactionary, conservative, and bourgeois.
- The impact of the thought of Nietzsche on the development of the revolutionary right and the Conservative Revolutionaries.
- The question of whether Fascism and Nationalism Socialism can be properly considered rightist ideologies.
- Conflicting strands within leftist thought regarding differing views of human nature and the nature of society.
- Thomas Sowell’s analysis of modern political theory as representing a contrast between constrained and unconstrained visions of human social nature.
- The American and French revolutions as representing conflicting strands within Enlightenment political philosophy.
- The rivalry between Marx and Bakunin as symbolic of a conflict within leftist thinking.
- The thought of Carl Schmitt as a form of modern secular conservatism in the tradition of Hobbes.
- The irony of the dominance of existentialism and postmodernism in modern liberal thought given the roots of these in the philosophy of Nietzsche.