Daniel J. Mahoney’s The Statesman as Thinker calls into relief the failing performance of our political class today and the ever-increasing distance between its intellectual and moral underpinnings and the Great Tradition of the West. That tradition, consisting of classical, humanist, and Christian threads interwoven in an intricate tapestry, remains superior to the alternatives, whether non-Western or anti-traditional—Communist, fascist, woke. Above all, it provides a foundation for a sensible liberal and democratic politics that those alternatives have failed to supply in the past as surely as they will fail in the future.

Not many years ago, such a defense of the Great Tradition would have commanded wide agreement in the United States and elsewhere in the civilized world (if the expression can be pardoned), at least outside academic circles. Today, these are fighting words. To hold up the cultural or intellectual superiority of the West will be taken as prima facie evidence of a benighted imperialism, not to say white supremacism, while our postmodern relativism deprives it of any standing to criticize woke neo-totalitarians. Although the book is not polemical, Mahoney concedes nothing to the wokists.

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The Statesman as Thinker presents itself as a kind of primer on the subject.

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