Gossip Folks



The New York Times did a lengthy piece about about The Reactionary Mind and the controversy it has aroused. Favorite line: “To Mr. Robin there is no actually existing Burkeanism anywhere.”

The book continues to be a subject of much discussion on the blogs: positive, negative, and much else.  This is just a sampling of what’s been said about it: hates it; likes it; doesn’t like it but thinks about it; writes about it a lot (as in five times a lot, but with a lot of interesting historical counterpoint and information); uses it for contemporary analysis; and situates it within the contemporary literature of the left.

I’ve also done a few more interviews that you might want to check out.

I did an Occupied Media interview via Skype with Taryn Hart.  That was a first for me.  The Skype part, I mean.

I also had a conversation with Sam Seder over at his Majority Report.

Last, there was this interview with Global Dispatches, in which we talked more than I usually do about the contemporary politics of the GOP.

And tomorrow (Sunday, January 22) night at 8 pm, I’ll be dropping by for a second time at Balloon Juice, where they’ll be continuing their book club discussion of The Reactionary Mind.


  1. s. wallerstein January 22, 2012 at 8:53 am | #

    Malicious gossip is funny.

    I had never heard of you until I read a negative criticism of your book in the New York Review of Books.

    The reviewer says with a sneer that your book is written for those who read Hobsbawm in school. The comment is supposed to be a put-down.

    I’m too old to have read Hobsbawm in school, but I have read him on my own over the years and I admire his work.

    So that negative remark led me to check out your work.

    • Stephen Zielinski January 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm | #

      But not just Hobsbawm!

      “This is history as WPA mural, and will be familiar to anyone who lived through the Thirties, remembers the Sixties, or was made to read historians like Howard Zinn, Arno Mayer, E.P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, and Christopher Hill at school. In their tableau, history’s damnés de la terre are brought together into a single heroic image of suffering and resistance. Their hats are white, immaculately so. Off in the distance are what appear to be black-hatted villains, though their features are difficult to make out. Sometimes they have little identification tags like those the personified vices wear in medieval frescoes — ”capital,” “men,” “whites,” “the state,” “the old regime” — but we get no idea what they are after or what their stories are. Not that it matters. To understand the oppressed and side with them all you need to know is that there are oppressors.”

      He could have included Charles Tilly and those influenced by his work.

      There have been, as we know, rightwing populists, conservative trade unionists, reactionary and opportunistic lumpenproletarians, mean-spirited and fearful shop-keepers, land-grabbing peasants, etc. They too were damned by history. But they threw their support in with their oppressors. Leftwing intellectuals are very much aware of their existence.

      And George Lukács is hardly a man for our time. His time died nearly a century back with the crushing of the post-war revolutions in Central Europe.

  2. Ron January 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm | #

    I haven’t read the review, but am enjoying your book. Go Cory!

  3. drugstoreblonde January 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm | #

    Any plans on a future paperback printing, Mr Robin?

  4. Philip Wohlstetter January 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm | #

    Congrats on starting a debate. Love the line: “if you can only find two examples across two centuries, it’s not a political theory anymore.” Someone writing for Al-Jazeera, looking through his ideological microscope (i.e your book), discovered a third Burkean Conservative–Barack Obama. Which brings up the interesting question of whether all liberals who are not democrats (people like, say, Mark Lilla, or Barack the benevolent technocrat) occupy that moderate slot on the Right that American (or other) conservatives are supposed to have vacated, but never occupied. I mean, those liberals reverent towards ancient prejudices like the separation of powers, binding constitutions, electoral colleges, superdelegates, the transfer of fundamental political questions into the domain of the courts or some combo of the above: i.e, the hedges against ‘the tyranny of the majority” that subject us to the current tyranny of a minority. In this reading, we would have three major forces in American politics: Reactionaries (who call themselves Conservatives), Burkean Conservatives (who call themselves Liberals) and the rest of us, the ‘let’s have more democracy’ crowd (which speaks from under a bewildering variety of labels, since the use of ‘democrat’ and ‘liberal’ as synonyms in American political discourse seems to have crippled our ability to address any of our institutional problems, as it may have done to our current President). Seriously, I’d like to see you throw liberalism into your potent theoretical mix. Your thoughts?

    • Todd January 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm | #

      Philip wrote:

      “I’d like to see you throw liberalism into your potent theoretical mix.”

      He did it in the Global Dispatches interview:

      “Conservatism does have an ideology: it is a commitment to a society where higher beings preside over lower beings.”

      How does that not apply to contemporary liberal-capitalism?

  5. Bob Berzok January 24, 2012 at 11:55 am | #

    After reading the reviews in “The New York Times” & “The New York Review of Books” (and taking note of the authors’ credentials), I sniffed an odorous sense of snobbish-elitism (perhaps resulting from their Barnard-Columbia affiliations) driving & biasing their unflattering comments. Keep on battling, Corey.

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