The Quest for Community
by Robert Nisbet
Sociologist Robert Nisbet was a prominent scholar and a conservative of the highest order, but he is mostly forgotten by the American right today. Likewise, The Quest for Community, Nisbet’s magnum opus, is a conservative classic that has been abandoned by that movement. Nisbet’s aim in this book is to show how the state competes with the traditional social institutions, like the church and the family, that conservatives value, and how the state’s power has grown at the expense of those institutions. Of particular note is Nisbet’s treatment of nationalism and war, two bedrocks of modern conservatism that Nisbet believed were destroying both liberty and community. Nisbet’s thesis is that for freedom and order to exist, a society’s voluntary associations must thrive. On the other hand, when the state absorbs the functions and authority of these intermediating social institutions, society and its individuals suffer.
Praise for The Quest for Community
“Here is a graduate course in political philosophy. Except in this one, the state is not the glorious summit of civilization and the indispensable source of human flourishing.” – Tom Woods, author of Rollback
“The Quest for Community was written…not as a policy manifesto for a movement or a party, but as a thoughtful, elegant, and persuasive statement about human nature, and the kind of politics that’s best suited to the cultivation of our common life.” – Ross Douthat, columnist, New York Times
What to Read Next
Click here to see my full review of this book.