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on August 2, 2016
enjoyed reading it made me think alot. It made me change some of my positions the thesis of the book is people looking for community or groups to fit into
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on August 12, 2013
Wonderful reading. I enjoy the way the author constructs his thesis on the the subject of community. He writes is such a way that we will never look at any community again the same way.
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on October 16, 2017
What a good book. Incredibly insightful and prophetic. This book is more relevant for 2017 dysfunctional society than many other books.
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on November 26, 2014
Nisbet's conservative masterwork often times reads like it could have come from the Populist or Anarchist Left (and indeed he quotes many of these folks). Prescient not just for its depth of Western Political Theory as well as its primary indictments of the State historically and today but also its trenchant rejection of 'free market' capitalism the Right embraces today. If there is to be a true conservative realignment based on voluntary pluralism, it will only come with an understanding of this prophet's work.
4 helpful votes
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on July 20, 2017
Haven't finished it yet, but what I've read thus far is intellectually stimulating and well written. Not a breeze through type of book.
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on June 19, 2016
excellent
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on July 1, 2013
I'd give this 5 stars for the concepts, but the way they are presented make this a long, hard slog. You can get the value out of this book by purposely skimming through it quickly.
2 helpful votes
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on September 2, 2014
nice
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on June 14, 2016
I read his The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in Modern America a short time ago. Good and recommended but this one is better. Although unnecessarily lengthy and redundant, there are many gems to be had along the way.

I credit Nisbet for providing me with a missing link so to speak. For sometime I had observed a paradoxical phenomenon: the greater the emphasis on individualism, the greater the growth of collectivism. Thanks to Nisbet, I understand why. Consider sphere of sovereignty or subsidiarity. You have

Self--Family--Church--State

In a relatively healthy society, individual-ity and commun-ity coexist relatively peacefully. There is little to no tension. As Nisbet points out, you have ordered, balanced liberty or liberty exercised within the greater societal framework. Liberty means free to do the right thing not necessarily to do what you want. But at some point liberty is redefined to mean freedom from even the healthy ties that bind. Family, the church, and other voluntary associations wane as individuality divorced from community become individualism. Negative rights soon morph into positive rights. The state, the one manifestation of community that monopolizes power, fills the void. Rather than simply securing life, liberty, and property, it now exerts its power to guarantee certain "rights". In granting these so-called rights, the state imposes duties and in doing so violates the very God-given rights the state is supposed to secure.

Now for some minor issues.

First, causation. Did, for example, the State fill the vacuum left by a charity-neglecting Church or did the Church relinquish the field in the face of a dependency-promoting State? Nisbet talks about the growth of kings who undermined the guild and church but in a modern representative republic do we not give at least tacit consent and thus have nobody to blame but ourselves? Early Americans (1600s to mid-1800s) would have resented Caesar's meddling. Today, we relent finding it easier to pay the bill and let Uncle Sam provide services. We trade liberty for so-called security. Why? Because true liberty is hard; it requires character.

Two, the Reformation. Nisbet wants to blame the reformers for emphasizing the individual and undermining the "church". I would say the Reformation was a necessary corrective. Over time that pendulum swung too far in the other direction.

Third, I am surprised Nisbet is so labor union friendly. Sure, sometimes unionizing was the only way to defend against hostile management or to win health and safety related concessions. On the other hand, unions do often interfere with the employer-employee relationship. If the employer and employee voluntarily consent to X hours for Y dollars, the union has no business agitating. If the employee succumbs, he will have two masters. He will love the one and despise the other.

Finally, I make a distinction between the free market and capitalism. The free market assumes consent and does not require the undermining of family, church, or any other voluntary organization. The individual and community can coexist peacefully. In a truly free market the individual chooses atomization and isolation. Capitalism, as the -ism suggests, tends to absolutize capital to the detriment of individuality. Workers become labor. Customers become consumers. Moreover, big business and big government join forces posing an enormous risk to life, liberty, and property.
6 helpful votes
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on December 11, 2014
This is a great book. Very thought provoking. It is considered a conservative masterpiece but non-political people or liberals might like it too. it explores what makes society function and the roll of intermediary structures between the individual and the state. It those break down, if social pressure and norms have lost their place in society and if people are not restrained by social pressure and if problems are not resolved by charitable and community groups and friends and family and if people do not have a sense of belonging to a community, then they are more inclined to embrace grand solutions and to turn to movements and an all powerful state to give them identity and to resolve pressing social issues. On another level this speaks to the importance of place and may be relevant to preservationist and those seeking to preserve a communities identity.
12 helpful votes
13 helpful votes
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