Baubles, Bangles, and Tweets: Reactions to The Reactionary Mind


On Thursday, September 29, The Reactionary Mind was officially launched.  Because of Rosh Hashanah—Shanah Tovah to all of you!—I haven’t been able to keep up with the whirlwind of commentary and activity around the book.  With time, I hope to have lengthier, more substantive responses to the thought-provoking reactions I’ve read.  But in the meantime, I just wanted to give you all a quick roundup and a reminder.

First, the reminder: I’m doing a public conversation with Chris Hayes over at the CUNY Graduate Center on Thursday, October 6, at 7 pm.  Details here. Come early; seating may be tight.

Onto the reactions.


Salon interviewed me about the book and contemporary conservatism more generally. Salt Lake City’s NPR station did an interview with me. Doug Henwood interviewed me for his show, which airs on KPFA in Berkeley.  This week,  I’m going to be interviewed for the C-SPAN Book TV show After Words; once I get a link, I’ll post it.


Thanks to that guest post I did over at Mike Konczal’s Rortybomb, which you might have read here on the blog, the book has gotten the attention of some heavy-hitters in the blogosphere, with combined readerships of, well, a lot of people.

Andrew Sullivan, whose writings have served as an immensely useful provocation to me throughout the decade, offered a thoughtful response.

Digby’s forensic analyses of the Democrats and the Republicans have been keeping me sane for the last half-decade or so.  She also responded, twice, with some very nice shout-outs for the book.

Everyone’s saying that Robin’s new book on this very subject, The Reactionary Mind is awesome.

We’ve been mulling this over for some time and I still don’t have adequate answer to the problem. But I think I might be edging toward some insight in reading Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind. I’ll keep you posted.

You should also check out the comments on both of Digby’s posts and on the guest post I did for Mike as well.

James Kwak also offered some reflections on the book. His post then got picked up by Truthout, guaranteeing an even wider audience of readers.

Elias Isquith did yet another post on the book, the fourth of a series of fascinating posts in which Isquith takes up a particular theme of the book and applies it to some contemporary issue, whether it be the death penalty or the GOP’s obsession with cunnilingus (I’m not kidding). I’ve really enjoyed watching him work his way through the book, and seeing what he does with it.  I think you will too.

Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Scott Lemieux used The Reactionary Mind to launch a lengthy discussion of David Brooks and college sports.  Some of you know how I feel about sports, of any kind, but I’ll take the props however I can get ’em.


But by far, my favorite piece of news:  Don’t know if you’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street protests, but they’ve slowly begun to capture the imagination of America and the world. Apparently, they have a library down there.  Charles Petersen, who copy edited the book, tweeted over the holiday that “@CoreyRobin ‘The Reactionary Mind’ at the #occupywallstreet library.” Caleb Crain, who writes lovely essays for the New Yorker, tweeted “Also spotted in the @occupywallst library: John Dewey, Noam Chomsky, @CoreyRobin.”  Couldn’t ask to be in better company. And here’s the photodocumentary evidence:

The Reactionary Mind at Occupy Wall Street

Speaking of tweets, I did catch this one, from the formidable Brad DeLong, just before the holiday: “Finished reading The Reactionary Mind : Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin by Corey Robin.” Would love to hear what he thinks…


  1. PF October 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | #

    Hi Corey,
    The book looks fascinating. I’ve purchased it on my Kindle. Not to in any way demand some assignment from you, but I’d be curious at some point to hear how you’d briefly compare your perspective with what seem like similar projects: Stephen Holmes’ “The Anatomy of Antiliberalism” and Albert Hirschman’s “The Rhetoric of Reaction.”

    • Corey Robin October 4, 2011 at 11:46 pm | #

      Excellent questions. To some degree, we share similar orientations, but with a few key differences. Hirschman describes three enduring modes of argument against change as such. My argument is that conservatives are not against change as such. They often embrace change, radical change, and they often crib from the very forces of revolution that they argue against. So all the same arguments that H describes as conservative arguments against change could just as easily be used against the conservatives I’m talking about. Holmes looks at antiliberalism of the left and the right; it’s a different creature. I focus much more on the opposition to freedom/equality than he does. And again my emphasis is on the protean ways in which the right adapts to the left. So the picture you get of the right in my book is ultimately quite different from theirs: mine is dynamic, volatile, anti-democratic, populist, violent, revanchist, and endlessly modern and inventive and adaptive.

  2. msobel October 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm | #

    Just finished reading Reactionary Mind. Great. It really spells out what (to use a technical term) sick fucks they really are.

    To my mind, it expands the understanding I got from which you don’t reference in your book.

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