Saturday, November 3, 2012

PSCI 4002

PSCI 4002, Conservative Political Thought in America: The Conservative-Libertarian Debate
This is a course covering the intellectual history of American right-wing movements since the New Deal. The course will seek to help students gain a better understanding of these movements by examining the sometimes bitter debate between conservatives and libertarians on the American right wing. Leading scholars of the conservative and libertarian movements, such as Murray Rothbard, Russell Kirk, Friedrich Hayek, James Burnham, Frank Meyer, and many others will be examined.

If you have questions, feel free to contact the instructor at rwmcmaken AT

Friday, November 2, 2012

Texts for PSCI 4002

This summer, we'll use these texts:

Carey, George W. Freedom and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate. Intercollegiate Studies Institute Press. 1998.

Nash, George H. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. 2nd Edition. Intercollegiate Studies Institute Press. 2006.

Raimondo, Justin. Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 2008.

Schneider, Gregory, ed. Conservatism in America Since 1930. New York University Press. 2003.

Rothbard, Murray N. The Betrayal of the American Right . Ludwig von Mises Institute. 2007 (

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Westword botches story about this class

Westword is running a thoroughly inaccurate article today claiming that this class is funded by "conservatives" and that it was designed by the Leadership Institute. Since the article cites no sources and provides no links to corroborating information, it's difficult to say what their source of information is, but Westword can't even get the basics right.

The facts:

This is a standard college course based on well-established scholarship in the field of intellectual history. The class texts, which I'm sure no one at Westword has ever read or even bothered to become moderately familiar with, reflect decades of scholarship on political philosophy within the American right wing. However, the editors at Westword apparently believe that any class that might contain some ideas they don't like must have an "agenda" or perhaps be unscholarly.

If the editors at Westword knew anything about conservative and libertarian intellectual history at all, they would know that libertarian anarchist and free-market economist Murray Rothbard, who is featured prominently in the syllabus, was a critic of conservatism who was condemned by National Review on more than one occasion for being insufficiently militant in his anti-communism.  His critiques of conservatism are trenchant and insightful, which is why he is featured as a counterweight to the mainline conservative views also examined in the class materials. But then again, to know that, and to recognize that the syllabus is constructed to provide critical analysis of the ideology, one would have to know something about political philosophy that extends beyond bullet points at The Daily Kos

This class was not created or designed by the Leadership Institute. It was designed by me, and while I have sympathies for a number of conservative theorists,  I have never been associated with any conservative think tank or been an employee or volunteer with any political campaign, let alone a Republican one. I have been involved with the libertarian intellectual movement for many years, however, and I do happen to have a long history of researching this topic.I also have been teaching political science for eight years.  The department apparently wished to have the class taught by someone with teaching experience and with expertise in this area.

And finally, this class is funded in exactly the same fashion as all other political science classes offered through the department. It is not funded by "conservatives" or by any other subgroup with any particular ideological bent.

Why is the department offering this class? I cannot speak for the department, but it appears that the department, of which I am a proud alum, was no doubt responding to a perceived need among its student body and is attempting to provide more diversity within its class offerings. Apparently, the department's attempt to serve the students better is worthy of condemnation at Westword.