By Gerald J. Russello.
In honor of The University Bookman’s former editor Gerald Russello, who passed away two years ago this month, we are reprinting this essay, which was originally published in 2007, with the gracious permission of Chronicles magazine.
Stan Evans has described bodies of thought as having “lifecycles”; they emerge, thrive for a while, and, unless continually nourished, eventually hollow out and pass away. Having reached the end of its lifecycle, liberalism, as a coherent body of thought, is dead. There are still liberals, of course. But the tradition derived variously from John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Montesquieu, which was transmuted in the 1950’s by the Cold War and transmogrified beyond recognition by the social revolutions of the 60’s and 70’s and the influence of Michel Foucault and company, has not been able to sustain itself. The ethos of revolution, which was tied, in varying degrees, to Enlightenment rationalism, utilitarianism, individualism, anti-Christianity, and socialism, has proved itself to be an insufficient basis for a full and humane social order. Liberalism’s culture of individual rights has become increasingly unworkable and has made politics impossible. Moreover, liberalism has metastasized into a corrosive popular culture that even many liberals oppose. Finally, as a direct rebuke to liberal visions of a gradually secularizing world, nonliberal and traditional religious movements are now stronger than they have been in perhaps a century.
Gerald J. Russello (1971-2021) was the editor of The University Bookman from 2005-2021 and author of The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk (University of Missouri Press).
On November 15, 2023, The University Bookman and friends will hold a memorial lecture in honor of Gerald Russello at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus in New York City. Dr. Dermot Quinn, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Seton Hall University, will speak on Gerald Russello and the Art of Memory.
The Russell Kirk Center will celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Conservative Mind (published in 1953) in Washington, D.C. on December 5, 2023. The event is open to the public and tickets are available here.
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