Second Edition of The Reactionary Mind now available for order

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been hard at work on the manuscript for the second edition of The Reactionary Mind, which I’ve now completed!

While the immediate impetus for the second edition was the election of Trump—so there now will be a 13,000-word monster of a concluding chapter on Trump—the new edition has allowed me to confront some nagging concerns I had about the first edition. As I explain in the preface to the new edition:

Beyond Trump’s election, I had two reasons for writing this new edition of The Reactionary Mind. First, I’ve long felt that the first edition suffered from an inattention to the economic ideas of the right. While some of the essays dealt with those ideas in passing, only one—on Ayn Rand—directly addressed them. Part of this neglect had to do with the genesis of my interest in conservatism and the moment in which many of the essays in this book were first conceived: the George W. Bush years, when neoconservatism was the right’s dominant ideology and war making its dominant activity. That focus on war and violence naturally eclipsed some longstanding conservative themes about the market. In this edition, I have tried to remedy that. I’ve cut four of the chapters dealing with war and peace and have added three new chapters about the right’s economic ideas: one on Burke and his theory of value, one on Nietzsche, Hayek, and the Austrian School of Economics, and one on Trump. The result is a far more comprehensive account of the right’s ideas about war and capitalism.

Second, of all the criticisms this book has generated, the one that hit closest to home was the one I heard from readers rather than reviewers. This criticism was less substantive than structural: the book, readers complained, opened with a strongly argued thesis but then slipped into a seemingly shapeless collection of essays. Over the years, I have taken this criticism to heart. While I had a clear structure in mind for the first edition, that structure was plainly not conveyed to my readers.

For the second edition, I have overhauled the book. It now opens with three theoretical essays that set out the building blocks of the right. I call this “a primer” on reaction. It sets out what the right is reacting against (emancipatory movements of the left) and what it is seeking to protect (what I call “the private life of power”); how it makes its counterrevolutions through a reconfiguration of the old and a borrowing from the new; and the centrality of violence to its means and its ends.

The remainder of the book is organized chronologically and geographically. Part 2 takes us to ground zero of reactionary politics: Europe’s old regimes from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. Situated in three distinct moments of counterrevolutionary time—the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and the proto-socialist interregnum between the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik Revolution—it looks at how Hobbes, Burke, Nietzsche, and Hayek attempted to formulate a politics of privilege in and for a democratic age. The chapters on Burke, Nietzsche, and Hayek also focus on how these thinkers forged an aristocratic politics of war or the market in response to the rise of capitalism. Part 3 brings us to the reactionary apotheosis of US conservatism from the 1950s through today. Here I offer a close reading of five moments of the American reaction: Ayn Rand’s midcentury capitalist utopia; the fusion of racial and gender anxiety in the Republican Party of Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon; the drums of war in the neoconservative imagination; and the Darwinist visions of Antonin Scalia and Donald Trump.

Here is the new table of contents, which will give you a better sense of the structure of the book:

Preface to the Second Edition

Part 1  Reaction: A Primer

  1. The Private Life of Power
  2. On Counterrevolution
  3. The Soul of Violence

Part 2 Europe’s Old Regimes

  1. The First Counterrevolutionary
  2. Burke’s Market Value
  3. In Nietzsche’s Margins

Part 3 American Vistas

  1. Metaphysics and Chewing Gum
  2. The Prince As Pariah
  3. Remembrance of Empires Past
  4. Affirmative Action Baby
  5. A Show About Nothing


You can pre-order the second edition now. I’m still unclear about the official publication date, but you can still order the book. And did I say you could still order the book now?

It’s got an amazing new cover, which I love:




  1. jbdelong June 3, 2017 at 11:57 am | #


  2. Kallan Greybe June 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm | #

    Double Hooray!

    Also, ETA on a kindle/ebook version?

  3. jonnybutter June 3, 2017 at 1:10 pm | #

    Looking forward to reading the remix! I have a feeling that it will be a very different book in literal-content terms, and at the same time very much the same book (except quite a bit more so).


  4. uh...clem June 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm | #

    I think you’ve got early-onset “hardening of the categories”, a well-know disorder. Why, at least in your intro, is there no mention of the Clinton or Obama years? They have nothing to do with “conservatism”? Are they “liberals” in your conceptual space? One problem with the word “conservatism” is that its meaning hinges upon what any particular thinker or politician is trying to “conserve” and since that is constantly subject to historical change, the word is impossible to define. A sign of that is to be found in Raymond Williams’ magisterial “Keywords”, a book anyone can consult and learn from. While he gives historical delineations of many of our key social and political concepts, he fails to have an entry on “Conservatism”. Why, I wonder?

    At some point in time the meaning of liberal and conservative deeply overlap. If you or anybody is stuck in Either/Or thinking there is no way to fully “give an account” of those terms. The dialectic of the terms would tell us that one is embedded in other. Hence no mention from you of the Clinton or Obama years, which tells us how stuck you are in either/or thinking—a premature hardening of the categories

    • Stephen Zielinski June 3, 2017 at 3:22 pm | #

      Clintonian reaction gestated in the Democratic Party’s effort to neutralize the leftwing of the Party. From McGovern to Jackson to Sanders — the DP led the fight against popular democracy. Clinton and the DLC finished off the Rainbow insurgency, and thereby made neoliberalism a bipartisan ideology. Both parties are committed to American imperialism abroad and aggressive policing at home. They are dedicated enemies of democracy.

    • Chris Morlock June 3, 2017 at 10:30 pm | #

      I very much agree, and have often criticized Robin’s account of Reactionary history as one of the status quo painting the narrative that there are two sides to the ideological conflict. Chompsky’s analysis that there is really only one corporate ideology and that the US is moving ever closer to the Right is a much more poignant portrayal of contemporary circumstances. Blaming Sarah Palin as some kind of hallmark of conservative ideology was weak in 2010 and makes absolutely no sense in 2017.

      It’s also a diatribe against conservatism as a “social disease” and has little or nothing to say about neo-liberalism, Clintonian philosophy, and the destruction of the Left by the Left. “Listen Liberal” seems light years ahead of Robin’s ideas.

      That being said I am very excited to read the new revision, and hoping that some more introverted reflection is present. The Left destroyed it’s core working class beliefs and it’s advocacy of the working class, and that’s what’s worth reading about these days.

    • Roquentin June 4, 2017 at 5:48 pm | #

      I kind of pains me to say so, but there’s something to this criticism. We just can’t keep letting the Democratic Leadership Council/New Democrats off the hook. I understand that characters like Bush and Trump are better specimens of conservatism, but the reluctance to even mention the center-right governing coalitions of both (Bill) Clinton and Obama does tend to give off the impression only the GOP is the problem. I know that’s not your intention, but it does feel like a significant omission just the same.

      To be blunt about it, fusing a certain degraded form of identity politics with neoliberal capitalism fits the bill of that reactionary tendency to mix the old with the new pretty well. It has the logic of “we can preserve the old aristocratic hierarchy in the US if we just put a few women and minorities in high places.” It might be easy to dismiss this, but the GOP plays that game too with characters like Carly Fiorina, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Allan West, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and so on… We’re quickly approaching the day of a thoroughly reactionary rainbow coalition.

      • Chris Morlock June 6, 2017 at 3:22 am | #

        Very well said. The idea that there is a right and left and those on the right are consumed by a need to rule others while the philosophical etymology of the left’s ideas are towards liberty is extremely difficult to superimpose on the current political landscape.

        It made some sense in 2010 and it has a lot of historical accuracy as well, but these last few years have proved Chomsky’s theory correct: there is only one party with one political ideology, and they are motivated by the same intentions and forces.

    • Bob Salsa June 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm | #

      Ah yes, the Far Left’s unquenchable critique of not good enough rounding on to the banal false equivalency once again. Yawn. One would think the complete takeover by the Right and the ongoing resulting daily headlines would help them buy a clue. But with just a tweek here and there, Trump could just as easily be their own Messiah.

      • uh...clem June 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm | #

        Is this the stale old complaint that there is an “authoritarian” of the left as well as that of the right? I’m of the generation of the New Left and nearly all of us (especially in SDS) took issue with the authoritarians of the Left (for example, the CP followers of Stalin) in the name of “power to the people”, participatory democracy, etc.—some of us even finding our way back to Lincoln: “of the people, by the people, and for the people”. Yes, we on the Left are no more than “true believers”, according to that profound thinker, Eric Hoffer, in his The True Believer. Do you have “hardening of the categories”, too?

    • Benjamin David Steele June 14, 2017 at 9:59 am | #

      I do consider the Clinton New Democrats to be conservative-minded reactionaries. The neoliberalism and neoconservatism in the two parties is more similar than different.

      This isn’t to make a false equivalence. But it is to note that studies have found that politicians in both parties don’t represent the American public. It’s not just that the majority of Americans on many issues are to the left of both parties. The political elite are so disconnected to, as one study shows, to think that the American public is more conservative than it is (this belief, of course, is self-serving).

      The reactionary mind, among the upper classes and among the political elite, may be a broader category than is indicated by Robin’s analysis. I’m sure he understands this to some extent, as he sees the problems with the Democratic Party. But it would be useful for him to more thoroughly analyze the fundamentally reactionary quality of those like Hillary Clinton.

      Without reactionaries controlling the Democratic Party, there would have been a real and attractive opposing choice to Trump. It’s not so much that Trump won as Clinton lost. This election was decided more by who didn’t vote and the reasons they didn’t vote. If all the Democrats can offer is Republican Lite with slightly more moderate sounding reactionary politics, is it surprising that this doesn’t come across as all that compelling of a lesser evil?

      We need to understand that this isn’t a conflict between a reactionary party and a non-reactionary party. Reactionary politics rules our entire political system. This requires a more systemic analysis.

      • Benjamin David Steele June 14, 2017 at 10:20 am | #

        There are two possibilities. It could be argued that liberals also can be reactionary. Otherwise, we are forced to argue that reactionary Democrats aren’t liberals. Maybe both interpretations should be explored.

  5. donmacdonaldcom June 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm | #

    Congratulations, Corey! TRM is a personal favorite, and I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, making it one of only a few books I own in more than one edition. Looking forward to it!

    Cheers, Don

  6. John Maher June 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm | #

    CR is certainly onto something about the reactionary mind with the new edition. I will buy it with hope. CR is correct the previous one neglected certain interdisciplinary elements such as the importance of structuring the economy in the service of freedom of capital. Might disagree with CR’s reading of Nietzsche though, or at least why Nietzsche’s undemocratic views might be a bad thing, but will keep an open mind. Bruno Latour is simultaneously releasing an collection of essays to the same purpose, The Great Regression and I suspect both might be read together if graduate schools exist 100 years from now. I am reading Chantal Mouffe’s Democratic Paradox which deals with the tension in the neo-liberal state between democracy and liberalism as law. I will try to follow this with CR’s book not least because the Reactionary Mind is a bit more cynical than Mouffe who insists this tension will allow democracy to reinvent itself and prevail.

  7. David L. James June 3, 2017 at 7:25 pm | #

    Thank you! I’ve been eagerly looking forward to this!

    I, also, would like to ask you to please make an ebook available on iTunes ASAP; then I’d be able to consume & digest your thoughts more easily & more deeply than in their paper-printed format.

  8. Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda June 3, 2017 at 9:44 pm | #

    Look forward to reading it!

  9. William A. Franklin June 3, 2017 at 11:49 pm | #

    After 25 years of searching, I have found the true and single basis for conservatism: greed! “Fuck you, I got mine” The rest is blather and self justification, a massive concatenation of stupid school children attempting to explain that for which there is no explanation, save greed at a personal and societal level. And I have found no redemption for the disease which passed the grin test. Some people are sorry assholes and most of them claim to be conservative. They undermine and destroy the civilization and society around them, always claiming to have found some new thought, paradigm, theme, or religious affectation which they can use to make themselves “distinctive or odorous” in some way. Remember, the first rule is “I got mine, fuck you”.

  10. mark June 8, 2017 at 10:13 am | #

    My English Amazon is saying October 1st for the UK release date, which is a month behind the US release.

  11. mark June 9, 2017 at 6:42 am | #

    I feel I should put a couple of quotes about the UK election, following on from Corey’s retweets.

    “There has scarcely been a time in the BBC’s 95-year history when it hasn’t faced accusations of political bias. But it has been decades since the criticisms emanated so strongly from the left. This is a consequence of the collapse of a centre ground which had long been the BBC’s political fulcrum.”

    (‘Post-Democratic Broadcasting’ Tom Mills 18 May 2017 LRB blog)

    “I have to admit I was wrong in claiming that the recovery that has occurred under the Coalition is the slowest and worst in one hundred years. I should have said worst in 314 years. I severely understated how bad things have actually been. The editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson, pointed out to me that I hadn’t studied historical precedent adequately and was severely understating how bad the recession really has been.

    It is without historical precedent. Fraser pointed me to a series published by the Bank of England which provides data on real GDP back to 1700, and guess what? He was right. It is now clear that George Osborne is responsible for the worst recovery in three hundred years of recorded history.”

    (David Blanchflower Sunday 3 August 2014 Independent)

  12. Ryan June 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm | #

    Ahhh man, just got halfway through the first edition … looks like I need both!

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