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Robert Nisbet
1913 -

Albert Schweitzer Professor emeritus at Columbia University and, since 1978, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. His distinguished career as a historical sociologist included teaching at the University of California at Berkeley (from which he received the Berkeley citation in 1970) and at Riverside, as well as other famous universities in this country and abroad. He has written more than fifteen books, such as The Quest for Community (1953), The Degradation of the Academic Dogma (1971), and Twilight of Authority (1975), including several on the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917), and he has served in an advisory capacity to such periodicals as The American Journal of Sociology, The Public Interest, and The American Scholar. Nisbet has been the recipient of many awards and citations.

Books by Robert Nisbet
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The Degradation of the Academic Dogma
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The Quest for Community: A Study in the Ethics of Order & Freedom
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The Sociological Tradition
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Click here for an essay by Robert Nisbet
The ideologies which gained entry into the academy in the sixties claimed that the fundamental intellectual principles of Western culture were illegitimate and must be overthrown. With that destroyed, terms like truth, good, evil, and soul could be discarded.

quoted by Cal Thomas in "The Sixties Are Dead: Long Live the Nineties" a presentation at Hillsdale College
We cannot know where we are, much less where we are going, until we know where we have been.

1986 - from Conservatism
There is no principle in the conservative philosophy than that of the inherent and absolute incompatibility between liberty and equality.

from Twilight of Authority
If all human beings in a population either are declared equal in their native strengths and rights, or else are persuaded to believe this, then the eventual realization of the hard truth of the matter that no amount of redistribution of wealth and status can ever obliterate inequality in one form or another must often take the form of covetousness mixed with resentment: that is, envy. ....The only remedy for the poisons created by egalitarianism in a society is emphatically not ever-greater dosages of political redistribution of wealth and status, for such dosages worsen the disease, producing fevers of avarice and envy. No, the sole remedy for this pathology is the introduction and diffusion of individual liberty as a sovereign value. Respect for individual liberty makes it possible for human beings to live in and be aware of differentiation a condition that, in biology, is recognized for what it is, the basis of progressive evolution, but which, in its social manifestation, receives no such recognition because of both the inequality intrinsic to all social differentiation and the ideology of equality that has spread so widely and so devastatingly in the twentieth century.

1982 - from Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA
The quest for community will not be denied, for it springs from some of the powerful needs of human nature -- needs for clear sense of cultural purpose, membership, status, and continuity.

from The Quest for Community
Disraeli, Newman, Tocqueville, Bourget, Godkin, Babbitt, all of them, down to such conservatives of our own day as Oakeshott, Voegelin, Jouvenel and Kirk, have stressed nothing if not the bounden necessity of the political state holding as far back as possible from meddling in economic, social and moral affairs; and, conversely, in doing all that is possible in strengthening and broadening the functions of family, neighborhood, and voluntary, cooperative association ... the hallmark of conservative politics has been its greater affection for the private sector, for family and local community, for economy and private property, and for a substantial measure of decentralization in government, one that would respect the corporate rights of the smaller unities of state and society.

1986 - from Conservatism
Respect for individual liberty makes it possible for human beings to live in and be aware of differentiation, a condition that, in biology, is recognized for what it is, the basis of progressive evolution, but which, in its social manifestation, receives no such recognition because of both the inequality intrinsic to all social differentiation and the ideology of equality that has spread so widely and so devastatingly in the twentieth century.

Egalitarianism, far from strengthening the sense of fraternity, greatly diminishes it, leaving what was once a culture a mere mass of disconnected atoms. When family, community, parish, social class, school, and job cease to be evocative to supply incentive and to kindle confidence nothing else but the irrational, the antisocial, and the occult are left to turn to. Fatalism feeds on the carrion of the social organism.

1982 - from Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA