Welcome to a new Crooked Timber seminar, this one on Steve Teles’ recent book The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law (Amazon, Powells). This has already become a landmark book in the burgeoning literature on American conservatism, charting out the organizational strategies through which economic conservatives and libertarians (as the book notes, it doesn’t have much to say about religious conservatism) sought to respond to the liberal legal culture of 1960s America, and to turn it back. It’s a great story, not least because Teles talks about the mistakes that the conservatives made as well as their successes. There is a tendency on the left to see the conservative movement as an incredibly efficient institutional Borg that adopted a masterplan in the 1960s, implemented it through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and then saw it all collapse in the last couple of years. Teles gives this account the lie, showing us the organizational false starts as well as the success stories.
We have a great series of responses to Teles’ book – see below for links to all of them. Those who prefer to read this seminar as a PDF can find it here.
As with other seminars, all the contents are made available under a Creative Commons With Attribution Non-Commercial Sharealike license. To make it easier for people to remix the content as they will, we are making the TeX file for the seminar available here.
Our contributors this week:
Jack Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment. He blogs at Balkinization. His contribution – What Teles Can Tell Us About Constitutional Change.
Tyler Cowen is professor of economics at George Mason University, and author of the forthcoming book Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World. He blogs at Marginal Revolution. His contribution – One Economist’s Perspective on the Law and Economics Movement.
Henry Farrell blogs here. His contribution – Fabians and Gramscians in Law and Economics.
Kimberly Morgan is associate professor of political science at the George Washington University. She is author of Working Mothers and the Welfare State: Religion and the Politics of Work-Family Policies in Western Europe and the United States. Her contribution –
Legal Conservatives as Closet Gramscians.
David Post is I. Herman Stern Professor of Law at Temple University. He has just written In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace. He blogs at The Volokh Conspiracy. His contribution – Living Life Forwards.
Rick Perlstein is author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus and Nixonland, which has just come out in paperback. His contribution – What Liberals Shouldn’t Learn from Conservatives.
Fabio Rojas is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Indiana University. He blogs at OrgTheory. He is author of From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline. His contribution – The Failed Conservative Revolution.
Mark Schmitt is executive editor of The American Prospect. He previously has been a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Director of Policy and Research at the Open Society Institute, and a speechwriter for Senator Bill Bradley. He was also the author of much-missed blog, The Decembrist. His contribution – Bunglers, Egos, and Law vs. Politics.
Aaron Swartz co-founded Reddit, and is now an activist, writer and hacker. He is involved or has been involved in Change Congress, the Open Library project, the Sunlight Foundation’s Open Congress project, and other stuff too multitudinous to list. He blogs at Raw Thoughts. His contribution – Political Entrepreneurs and Lunatics with Money.