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From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism Hardcover – June 17, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0300121834 ISBN-10: 0300121830 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


"This book brilliantly describes the ideology of American conservatism. A richly detailed analysis that helps illuminate the development, rise, and the discursive peculiarities of this political movement."—Anne Norton, author of Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire

(Anne Norton)

"Evocative and analytical, this historical portrait shows how racial change in the South opened the door to conservative mobilization. Its powerful account of how a cross-regional alliance of white supremacists and business-oriented anti-New Dealers fundamentally reoriented American politics advances our understanding not just of pathways to the present, but of prospects for the future."—Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White

(Ira Katznelson)

"In reconstructing the intellectual, ideological, cultural, and institutional histories of the New Right's genesis and development, From the New Deal to the New Right challenges many conventional views about the movement's origins and content. This is an important contribution to our understanding of the southern, and racialist, roots of modern conservatism and with its rich, interdisciplinary focus, provides a very useful model of what the systematic study of politics can be."—Adolph Reed Jr., University of Pennsylvania

(Adolph Reed Jr.)

About the Author

Joseph E. Lowndes is assistant professor of political science, University of Oregon. He lives in Eugene.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300121830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300121834
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By S. Marion on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this book. It's not only a great read (full of astonishingly revealing quotes and dramatic scenes) but an important contribution to understanding the role of race in American politics. I've read numerous books on race and politics (including fantastic books by Taylor Branch and Robert Caro) so I felt I had a pretty good grasp on things. In crucial areas of focus, Lowndes's book took my understanding much further, sketching in pieces of the landscape that are missing in other books. Amazingly, he manages to fill in some large gaps in only 162 pages.

Whereas most accounts of the political realignment of the south begin with the lead up to Goldwater's 1964 campaign, Lowndes begins decades earlier, with the New Deal and the writings of Charles Wallace Collins, who was a well-known (if now forgotten) intellectual advocate and architect of the political doctrine of white supremacy. Lowndes does an amazing job of examining the arguments advanced by Collins, which will be astonishingly familiar to anyone whose knowledge of American politics goes back merely to 1980. The racially coded rhetoric of the Reagan revolution (down with big government and welfare moms) has its origins in Collins's writings of decades earlier. I've not encountered any mention of Collins elsewhere, and for that reason alone, this book makes a huge contribution to American intellectual history.

Nor was I familiar with the extent of the National Review's role in integrating the segregationist agenda with economic conservatism. I knew that William F.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chris on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Lowndes's aim in this book is to show the role of race as the leading facilitator in the emergence of the modern Right in American politics. I think he succeeds in his aim.

He starts off by presenting the figure of Charles Wallace Collins, the guru of the 1948 Dixiecrat movement which ran Strom Thurmond as a third party presidential candidate. Collins was part of a group of southern elites who were increasingly paranoid about the encroachment of the federal government on states' rights that began during the New Deal. Something close to a last straw came when the Democratic Party adopted a platform calling for federal government intervention against racism at its 1948 convention. The Democratic Party, of course, had been virtually the unanimous party of choice for the south and white supremacists since the Civil War but elements in the northern wing of the Party were interested in moving the Party away from white supremacy. However southern elites were not comfortable making a clean break with the Democrats. Most southern voters, while supportive of white supremacy, also supported many New Deal programs.

Meanwhile, the Republicans began their effort to capitalize on southern fears that the federal government would impose civil rights for blacks over the heads of southern state governments. Karl Mundt, the powerful reactionary South Dakota Republican Senator, toured the south in the early 50's stressing to business groups and other elite bodies his party's devotion to "states' rights" principles. It was under Eisenhower, Lowndes shows, that the Republicans began their effort to compete with Democrats for the votes of segregation supporters in the South. This effort did not begin with the Goldwater campaign of 64' as is commonly believed.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David G. Gamble on October 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lowndes, Joseph E., From the New Deal to the New Right New Haven: Yale University Press 208 pp., $28.00 Cloth ISBN 0-978-0-300-12183-4 cloth Original Publication Date: 2008 General index, bibliography, and source notes. Copyright©2008 by David Gamble

This esoteric argument by a talented professor posits theorists should move beyond the backlash theory in explaining the rise of conservatives in recent American history to one based on racial conservatism. Lowndes writes:

"Politics is not merely the realm where preexisting interests, grievances, and passions are given expression. Rather, it is in and through politics that interests, grievances, and passions are forged and new collective identities created. Backlash, the ideological cornerstone and justification for modern conservatism, masks what was a long-term process whereby various groups in different places and times attempted to link racism, antigovernment populism, and economic conservatism into a discourse and institutional strategy through linguistic appeals, party-building, social movement organizing, and the exercise of state power. In the process, the very interests and self-understanding of these groups were continually under construction as they moved from coalition to collective political identity. As opposed to being entrenched and traditionalist (or reactionary, depending on one's politics), the Right that developed is better viewed as contingent, mobile, and highly adaptive, constantly responding to changing conditions on the ground."

Lowndes provides evidence for his thesis, in part, by an analysis of the Southern focus of the conservative National Review in the 1950s and 1960s, and, in part, by reviewing books authored by Bedford Carter and the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales.
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