If you want to better understand the intramural battles among conservatives today, there's no better way than to review the historical development of the modern conservative movement. Al Regnery's new book, "Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism," does just that.
It covers the development of modern conservatism from its inception to the present. Though I am too young to have firsthand knowledge of the earlier phases, I've read plenty about them. No book summarizes this entire history better than this one, bringing to life all the significant players and their causes.
But it's not just for political junkies, though they'll find it fascinating as well. It is for everyone who seeks a better understanding of today's political issues because it provides essential historical context and perspective.
It is a book about great, enduring ideas and the great men and women who believed strongly enough in those ideas to dedicate their lives to advancing them against very difficult odds.
Many conservatives today tend to think we are experiencing something unique in our struggles against liberal Democrats and against moderate Republicans who want to take control of the party and dilute the conservative philosophy. They're quite wrong.
Though we pay lip service to the axiom that history repeats itself, it is still humbling to realize that most of the debates between liberals and conservatives, as well as the internecine conflicts now taking place within conservatism, mirror those that occurred decades earlier.
It's hardly surprising that in these grand struggles we see history repeating itself since the differences between liberals and conservatives arise from their opposing worldviews. Liberals tend to believe that man is basically good and that society is to blame for his infractions. It follows that they believe that an active, expansive government can eradicate most of those problems. Most conservatives don't automatically view man as a victim but as afflicted with original sin.
Though Regnery wrote this book before much of the GOP primary season unfolded, it's uncanny how timely it is given the widespread dissatisfaction among conservatives with the GOP primary results this year.
It's as if he planned to console disgruntled conservatives by showing that we've been through this before and survived. And the stakes were every bit as high then, with the specter of global communism and numerous domestic threats to liberty, including FDR's New Deal and court-packing schemes and LBJ's Great Society.
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