Published Humanitas, Volume XIV, No. 1, 2001

Claes Ryn’s article “Dimensions of Power” includes a thoughtful and closely argued commentary on my book After Liberalism, and it behooves me to respond in the same serious way in which he presents his position. Ryn does not distort my arguments; and though he stresses those aspects of my latest work and of my biography of Carl Schmitt that seem to support his reading, he does so quite justifiably, to demonstrate thematic continuity in my books. He is correct to underline our philosophic and interpretive differences, particularly given the fact that we are often lumped together as exponents of “conservative historicism.” In a monograph by the Italian philosopher Germana Paraboschi, the two of us are depicted as fellow critics of and the main American alternative to Straussian thought. Such a cosmological affinity does exist between us, together with a longtime personal friendship, but none of this gainsays our genuine conceptual differences.

In Professor Ryn’s view, my historicism is excessively naturalistic and marked by a preoccupation with power-relations, that is, with the question of who dominates whom. There is supposedly a Hobbesian grid that frames my work…

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