This issue of The University Bookman engages several
subjects close to the heart of Russell Kirk’s work and
vision in founding this journal.

The study of history helps us to determine the underlying reality,
what Kirk called the Logos, of the human condition. In this issue,
Lee Congdon reviews an anthology of work by one of America’s
premier historians, John Lukacs. As a young man, Lukacs endeavored
to write a new kind of history, reflective of the nature of memory
and the irreducible dependence of history on its interpreters.
This is not the fiction of much postmodern history, unmoored
to anything except the subjective will of the historian. Rather
it reveals Lukacs’s conclusion that history is a moral
enterprise, and that the choices the historian makes, even of
language and the words chosen, have consequences. Lukacs influenced
Kirk’s own historical thinking, as demonstrated in Kirk’s
classic essay, “History and the Moral Imagination,” which
we include here.

An historical sense has long played an important role in Anglo-American
common law. Knowing what the law means must include knowing what
the words meant historically, when the law was enacted, and how
the law fits into our tradition of individual liberty and limited
government. The strongest current proponent of such a way of
interpreting the law is Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin
Scalia. We are pleased to have one of his former clerks review
two books on Scalia, whose jurisprudence makes clear a path away
from what Kirk called the “archonocracy,” rule by
judges, toward an authentically democratic jurisprudence. As
I write this, the Senate is considering the nomination of Judge
Samuel Alito, whose fidelity to the written Constitution and
his devotion to judicial moderation are akin to the constitutional
tradition Scalia and others represent.

Continuing our efforts to explore and explain American conservative
thought, we include here two reviews of unjustly neglected early
figures of the American Right: journalist Garet Garrett and political
thinker Francis Wilson. Both remind us of the vigor of conservative
thought before the 1950s. Garrett, from his perch at the Saturday
Evening Post
, inveighed against centralization of the state
and the passing of an America that is no more. Wilson, writing
around the same time, applied his formidable intellect to reviving
the American political tradition of limited government. The questions
they raise about the nature of freedom and how self-government
thrives concern us still.

In their respective reviews, James Person and D. J. Mullan tackle
issues presently of great moment: Social Security reform and
the debate over “intelligent design.” Person reviews
a book by the late John Attarian, a long-time friend of the Bookman and
a serious thinker on the public policy implications of the long-running
web of distortions that surround the Social Security debate.
Like the best conservative solutions to public-policy problems,
as Person explains, the way out of the Social Security debacle
proposed by Attarian combines hard truths with a grounding in
first principles.

Evolution, as Mullan illustrates in his review, has too often
become evolutionism, a belief system no less vigorous
than religious faith in defending its prerogatives. That many
proponents of Darwin make no secret of a vigorous atheism has
not prevented their beliefs from being presented as the vanguard
of science meant to vanquish all others. Intelligent design,
although flawed in some respects, nevertheless represents a healthy
reaction to the intrusion of science into realms theological
and has itself the support of serious scientists. While the secular
media often speaks as if intelligent design has improperly inserted “religion
in science class,” too often that is because science has
arrogated to itself judgment over religious belief. Science,
even evolution, can tell us at most how things are; they cannot
tell us why.

Finally, in what we hope will be a regular feature, we present “Books
in Little,” a section summarizing in shorter reviews books
that we believe will be of considerable interest to our readers.