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Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation
Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation
Author: Peter Berkowitz
Pub Date: 
February 04, 2013
Product Format: 
In stock.
Price: $19.95
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Social conservatives and libertarians: Is a meeting of the minds possible?

Feuding among US conservatives for the title of True Conservative is nothing new. Underlying the feud has been a failure to grasp that conservatism in America forms a family of principles that require accommodation: to each other, to the exigencies of the moment, and to the changing habits and opinions of the American people. In Constitutional Conservatism, Peter Berkowitz identifies the political principles social conservatives and libertarians share, or should share, and sketches the common ground on which they can and should join forces.

Drawing on the writings of Edmund Burke, The Federalist, and the high points of post-World War II American conservatism, Berkowitz argues that the top political priority for social conservatives and libertarians should be to rally around the principles of liberty crystallized in the US Constitution and pursue reform in light of them. He shows that this task depends on the cultivation of the virtue of political moderation, which at its peak consists in the balancing of rival but worthy principles. He concludes that constitutional conservatism, well understood, provides a sturdy framework for developing a distinctive political agenda to which both social conservatives and libertarian conservatives can in good conscience subscribe.

Peter Berkowitz

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where he cochairs the Jill and Boyd Smith Task Force on Virtues of a Free Society and chairs the Koret-Taube Task Force on National Security and Law.

He studies and writes about, among other things, constitutional government, conservatism and progressivism, liberal education, national security and law, and Middle East politics.

He is the author of Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War (Hoover Institution Press, 2012), Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism (Princeton University Press, 1999), and Nietzsche: The Ethics of an Immoralist (Harvard University Press, 1995).

He is the editor of The Future of American Intelligence (Hoover Institution Press, 2005); Terrorism, the Laws of War, and the Constitution: Debating the Enemy Combatant Cases (Hoover Institution Press, 2005); the companion volumes Varieties of Conservatism in America (Hoover Institution Press, 2004) and Varieties of Progressivism in America (Hoover Institution Press, 2004); and Never a Matter of Indifference: Sustaining Virtue in a Free Republic (Hoover Institution Press, 2003).

In 2004, with co-editor Tod Lindberg, he launched Hoover Studies in Politics, Economics, and Society, a series of concise books on leading issues and controversies.

He has written hundreds of essays, articles, and reviews on many subjects for a variety of publications, including the American Political Science Review, the Atlantic, the Boston Globe, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Commentary, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, the London Review of Books, National Review, The New Republic, the New York Post, the New York Sun, Policy Review, The Public Interest, Real Clear Politics, the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, the Wilson Quarterly, and the Yale Law Journal.

He holds a JD and a PhD in political science from Yale University; an MA in philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and a BA in English literature from Swarthmore College.


Commentary—May 2013
"Drawing on his experience as a professor and as a Hoover Institution fellow, Berkowitz has combined both erudition and shrewdness in this useful civic primer for American conservatives of all stripes. Indeed, it would be profitably read by any serious citizen seeking a concise survey of the principles of our constitutional order, the rise of modern conservatism in the 1950s and its successes into the Reagan era, and the need for all public figures to rediscover the limits of partisanship."
Click here to read the full review by Paul O. Carrese.

Real Clear Politics—Feburary 18, 2013
"So when (dare I say 'if'?) Marco Rubio runs for president in 2016, will his party—torn by squabbles over messaging, marketing, policy priorities, and various factions of social conservatives, libertarians and tea party movement loyalists—finally get their act together? In his new book, Constitutional Conservatism, Hoover Institution fellow Peter Berkowitz attempts to chart a way forward."
Click here to read the full review, "Conservatives, Libertarians, and Herding Cats," by Heather Wilhelm.

The Washington Post—Feburary 8, 2013
"Just at a time when Republicans are debating what sort of party they should have and what sort of conservatism they can practice and still win elections comes along an important and highly readable book by Hoover scholar Peter Berkowitz."
Click here to read the full interview, "A Conversation about Conservatism," by Jennifer Rubin.

Wall Street Journal—December 14, 2012
"For conservatives who need cheering up, I recommend strong drink and refreshing the mind with two short books from the Hoover Institution. One is... Peter Berkowitz's Constitutional Conservatism... it brings Edmund Burke and the American Founders together on behalf of political moderation and rational liberty."
Click here to read the full reading recommendations of Harvey Mansfield.

National Review—December 10, 2012
"Berkowitz's forthcoming book, Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation, makes a counterintuitive yet powerful case that the secret of conservatism's success has long been, and will continue to be, its hard-won political moderation. Coming at a time of conservative soul-searching in the wake of the 2012 elections, Berkowitz's brilliant and accessible meditation on the inner-workings of the larger conservative tradition—and the contemporary conservative movement—is well worth your time."
Click here to read the full review by Stanley Kurtz.

Midwest Book Review—March 2013
"Although Constitutional Conservatism's message is expressly dedicated to strengthening the principles and practice of those who embrace a conservative philosophy, Americans of all political leanings will find it measured, thought-provoking, and succinctly argued."
Click here to read the full review.


"Peter Berkowitz makes a match between Edmund Burke and the American founders to give 'political moderation' a good name on our partisan battlefield. A short, effectual book with shining prose, a telling argument, and a lasting message."
--Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University

"Peter Berkowitz is among America's wisest and best political philosophers. He proves again why in Constitutional Conservatsim. In it he covers a significant amount of intellectual terrain—from Burke and the American Founders through Buckley and Reagan to the here and now—in a manner that is lively, informed, accessible and timely.
Conservatism is now engaged in a period of reflection that may lead to recalibration. One of the best things that could happen is for those on the right to listen to the counsel of Professor Berkowitz as he helps us to recover the constiutional connection between liberty, self-government, and political moderation rightly understood. Constitutional Conservatism is a wonderful and necessary book. In looking back, Peter Berkowitz helps us to see our way forward."
--Peter Wehner, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, member of the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations



Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation, by Peter Berkowitz by Hoover Institution

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