* Yoram Hazony’s Conservatism: A Rediscovery is a more personal book than its title suggests. As recounted in the fourth section, it tells the story of a sensitive young man who found in traditional religion, scholarly work, and nationalist politics a purpose for his life. Along the way, he married a loving wife, moved to a different land, and sired a goodly brood of children and grandchildren who bring him the comfort of a life well-lived already in middle-age. It is a beautiful story and a worthy example for the younger audience Hazony hopes to reach.
These circumstances are by no means discrediting. Every book is, to some extent, an autobiography of its writer, and Hazony deserves credit for telling his readers explicitly who he is and where he comes from. In addition to their honesty, these statements are consistent with Hazony’s epistemology, which emphasizes the limitation of any human perspective.
* Despite his admiration for the Anglo-American past, the core of Hazony’s conservatism is a form of Zionism built around an interpretation of the Hebrew Bible as the primary guide to modern politics. He even quotes with apparent approval a private remark by Irving Kristol that only Christians should be able to vote in a Christian nation on the same principle that only Jews should be allowed to vote in Israel.
* I would not mention the personal circumstances that produced this book if Hazony did not introduce them himself. But it is hard to resist the feeling that there is something odd about Americans, whether Christians or Jews, taking lessons from a writer who decided that America is not only the wrong place for him and his posterity but has also been on the wrong track for the majority of its past. The result here is difficult to reconcile with Hazony’s own defense of nationalism, which insists that different countries have different histories, resources, and needs, which cannot be reduced to broad ideological categories. Conservatism: A Rediscovery is a contribution to the rediscovery of certain forgotten American resources and prospects, but the search cannot stop there.
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