Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative



➶ [Read] ➲ Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative By Michael Novak ➾ – E17streets4all.co.uk In heavy seas, to stay on course it is indispensable to lean hard left at times, then hard right The important thing is to have the courage to follow your intellect Wherever the evidence leads To the In heavy Left to MOBI · seas, to stay on course it is indispensable to lean hard left at times, then hard right The important thing is to have the courage to follow your intellect Wherever the evidence leads To the left or to the rightMichael Novak Engagingly, writing as if to old friends and foes, Michael Novak shows how Providence not deliberate choice placed him in the middle of many crucial events of his time a month in wartime Writing from eBook ´ Vietnam, the student riots of the s, the Reagan revolution, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton s welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, V clav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape and reshape his political views Yet through it all, as Novak s from Left to PDF/EPUB ä sharply etched memoir shows, his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies Without economic growth from the bottom up, democracies are not stable Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail Free societies need three liberties in one economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty of spirit Novak s writing throughout is warm, fast paced, and often very beautiful His narrative power is memorable.Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative

Michael Novak Left to MOBI · is an American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat He is George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise InstituteNovak served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in and and led the US delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in In Novak was honored with an honorary doctorate degree at Universidad Francisco Marroqu n due Writing from eBook ´ to his commitment to the idea of liberty In he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to
    If you re looking for a CBR and CBZ reader Bill Clinton s welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, V clav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape and reshape his political views Yet through it all, as Novak s from Left to PDF/EPUB ä sharply etched memoir shows, his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies Without economic growth from the bottom up, democracies are not stable Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail Free societies need three liberties in one economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty of spirit Novak s writing throughout is warm, fast paced, and often very beautiful His narrative power is memorable."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 316 pages
  • Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative
  • Michael Novak
  • English
  • 03 October 2018
  • 0385347464

10 thoughts on “Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative

  1. says:

    This book is a journey of a man who began his career as a democrat, writing for presidential political campaigns, teaching religion and philosophy and politics at Harvard, and Stanford and SUNY, etc, starting in the late 50s He then gradually, through working in politics, shifted as he watched policies unfold and thought through underlying assumptions and sought logical dialogues among politicians As early as 1971 he stated that there didn t seem to be effective logical conversation in the po This book is a journey of a man who began his career as a democrat, writing for presidential political campaigns, teaching religion and philosophy and politics at Harvard, and Stanford and SUNY, etc, starting in the late 50s He then gradually, through working in politics, shifted as he watched policies unfold and thought through underlying assumptions and sought logical dialogues among politicians As early as 1971 he stated that there didn t seem to be effective logical conversation in the political arenahe also observed that while the left seemed to be gettingandextreme, they assumed conservative just meant coming alongslowly as opposed to going in the completely opposite direction while it is not my typical genre, it is really fascinating as I reflect on current political trendschokengtitiktitikchokeng 125 Not only did that review not help my reputation but the reviewer accused me of spreading hate the insult our elites hurl when they are being unmasked Really tough to take I did not then know the fury of the Left when it marks someone as beyond the pale of acceptability I had never before understood how secular excommunication works how effectively one can be banished from the innocent banter of old circles of trust, how even old friends change the flow and tone of a conversation when one approaches, signaling with a certain chill that one s presence is no longer desired All this is a good thing to go through when one is young One needs the toughness later p 133 In 1971 1972, my mind was in a fruitful turmoil regarding my left wing tendencies I had begun to notice the appearance of two lefts one that included my whole family and what it represented, and the other a new left, based on a suddenly emerging constituency of conscience, no longer rooted among people who worked with their hands and backs Instead, secure in its own affluence and in its own suburbs , this new left was now expressing arefined morality It was a ratherutopian morality More interested in peace More interested in sensitivity More interested in its own moral purity, which marked it as superior to past political classes The New Left was no longer of the old left which was patentlyvulgar, unsophisticated, and unrefined Left now meant morally superiorchokengtitiktitikchokeng 133 Curiously, even in the 1970s and maybe even the 1960s , writers with Democratic sympathies thought Republican moderates were Republicans who voted with Democrats They were blind to how far out on the extremes of the cultural and moral fronts their own positions now extended They thought conservatives were those who were moving left, butslowly They had full confidence that history was inexorably leading everyone leftward It never occurred to them that, in the eyes of a growing majority of the public, those on the left were now extremistschokengtitiktitikchokeng 149 In short, my first thought was Socialism is a pretty good idea it s just that we haven t found a way to make it work yet Then I couldn t help thinking But after scores of attempts around the world to make it work, all of which failed, maybe there s something wrong with the basic idea Margaret Thatcher would later famously put it The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people s money Socialism, I was beginning to infer, is not creative, not wealth producing It is wealth consuming it consumes the wealth of others it is parasitical These insights nudge me toward another nest of puzzles Isn t capitalism based on self interest That sounds like selfishness and greed, and it seems verified when economists concentrate all their attention on the bottom line p 152 There ispractical brainpower in the thousands of families whose livelihood depends on good decisions than in the smartest hundred government planners p 155 You can see here the beginnings of my full blown theory that a good society is composed of three interrelated systems Cultural, political, and economic, each depending on the others each checked and balanced by the others But so imperfect is this world that even virtuous, idealistic, humanitarian attempts by government often gang awry There is a right way and a wrong way for government to get involved in humanitarian attempts to better the human condition One wrong way is for government especially a distant, impersonal, federal government too easily to become a tyrant, too easily to become inefficient, meddling, bureaucratizing, corrupting, enervating Even Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized this truth Though usually though of as the founder of the welfare state in America, FDR very early recognized a grave danger our nation had better avoid Roosevelt warned Congress in 1935, as no Democrat after Lydon Johnson could have written The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration to the national fiber To dole out relieveis to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit p 159 I first realized I was a capitalist when all my friends began publicly declaring that they were soclialists How I wished I could be as left as they Night after night I tried to persuade myself of the coherence of their logic I did my best to go straight I held up in the privacy of my room pictures of every socialist land known to me North Korea, Albania, Czechoslovakia land of my grandparents , and even Sweden Nothing worked When I quizzed my socialist intellectual friends, I found they didn t like socialist countries, either They all said to me We want socialism, but not like eastern Europe I said Cuba No suggestions won their assent They didn t want to be identified with China except that the streets seemed clean Nor with Tanzania They loved the idea of socialism But what is it about this particular idea you like I asked Government control Will we have a Pentagon of heavy industry Not exactly Nor did they think my other suggestion witty, that under socialism everything would function like the Post Office When they began to speak of planning, I asked, who would police the planners Practical discussions seemed beside the point Finally I realized that socialism is not a political proposal, not an economic plan Socialism is the residue of Judeo Christian faith, without religion It is a belief in the goodness of the human race and paradise on earth That s when I discovered I believe in sin I m for capitalism, modified and made intelligent and public spirited, because it makes the world free for sinners It allows human beings to do pretty much what they will Socialism is a system built on a belief in human goodness, so it never works Capitalism is a system build on belief in human selfishness given checks and balances, it is nearly always a smashing, scandalous success It s presumptuous to believe that God is on any human s side But God did make human beings free Free to sin There is an innate tendency in socialism toward authoritarianism Left to themselves all human beings won t be good most must be converted Capitalism accepting human sinfulness, rubs sinner against sinner, making even dry wood yield a spark of grace p 178 Jack Kemp I want a government that trusts you and your kids to spend your money better than the government can If your kids can keepmoney in their own pockets, they will start businesses, and that means they won t have to do the sweaty work that you did all your life And they will send their kids to college without skimping on nice things for the Mrs as much as you did I m for tax cuts, not for higher rates I m for letting you keep your own money, to spend better than government can p 199 To sum up what I learned just before and during the Reagan administration First economics is often counterintuitive It would seem that the common good would be improved by a government supervising the economy from the top down, just as common ownership of property would produce a higher common good than private property But real experience since the time of Aristotle, Cicero, and Thomas Aquinas has shown that social ownership in practice reduces personal incentives and personal responsibility and induces a common lassitude A professor I had met in Russia in 1991, who had known only socialism, voiced sharp, sarcastic thrusts about the Soviet system The trouble with socialism is, who will stay up all night to take care of the sick cow and Without incentives, you pretend to work and they pretend to pay you The irony is that one best raises the level of the common good of all, not through common ownership and top down control, but by building in the system many incentives for personal industry, invention, and extra hard work Punishments depress activity Praise and incentives excite it p 255 The main point is that for welfare programs to do their proper job, they need an ethical component, a signaling function, a call for a bond of mutual obligations between helpers and helped The community must reach out to suffering individuals the recipients must do what they can to contribute to the community p 266 267 For an entire century the world had been testing two propositions, one political, the other economic Dictatorship is better for the people than democracy and socialism is better for the people than capitalism The bloodiest century had shown that the answer to both propositions was no democracy is better, and capitalism is better The Nazis exterminated some 16 million people, the Soviets upward of 53 million for further readings, consult The Black Book of Communism What had been neglected for a century was the third component of the free society the moral and cultural system That is the deepest system, and the inner dynamic within the two others A good economy is indispensable for human flourishing a sound, limited, law abiding government is necessary for such an economy and a truly humanistic cultural system is the indispensable life support for the other two systems Economics begins in the mysticism of creativity Politics begins in the mysticism of common action Culture supplies the mysticism for both At one time in human history the highest value was the silent contemplation of the inner light of creative truth at the center of everything that is No human could know all that truth But in the search for each fragment of it, evidence beyond the power of human altering became the judge of who was closer to, or farther from, the truth In short, there is truth to be uncovered intersubjective, durable truth Humans are not masters of that truth they are only able to glimpse it, expand their comprehension of it, hold to it in tough times, and reverence it As Jefferson wrote, the mind may rightly bend the knee only to evidence, and be bound only by evidence Only down that way of seeing reality is the advance of science possible Only down that way is the inner realm of individual conscience seen to be inalienable Evidence can animate action only when it is grasped and pursued by individual conscience each conscience at its own pace and in its own way How else can evidence shape the soul of individuals Toward the end of the twentieth century, however, it seemed that hardly anyone in the world knew how to talk about such things..chokengtitiktitikchokeng 283 Sometimes, Manhattan s wise old Jesuit John Courtney Murray once said, two people cannot come to real disagreement without sticking to the argument for a very long time maybe long enough to work through a case of brandy together as they ruminate Patience and time Careful dissection of differences, endless goodwill And, if possible, infinite good humor There are a few things that, after some back and forth reflection, we can all agree on other things we recognize that, in the limited time we have, we just cannot agree on and for still others we can over time narrow some of our differences We do this by finding the point where we began missing each other I like the lesson of my teacher Reinhold Niebuhr In my own views, there is always some error and in the views of those I disagree with, there is always some truth Still, I amdiscouraged in 2013 than I have ever been over the determination of so many to refuse to talk with those with whom they disagree I seldom hear pro life people, for example, make an effort to understand what those who are pro choice are actually thinking, or try to probe their reasons for that position The reverse is also true And I believe I have never watched a television news program in which the time is taken to hear out both sides calmly On such matters the temptation is to be absolutist yes or no It is the same with other issues Conservatives do not try often enough to grasp the motives of those who disagree with them, and liberals very seldom see the good and responsible reasons why conservatives think as they do Worse, each side too easily tends to stereotype, even demonize, those on the other side Neither you nor I would consider any of this honest argument At its best, it is simply mudslinging At its worst, it is outright disrespect The defining characteristic of civilization is the willingness of its members to engage in conversation, that is, in the effort to persuade each other through speech It bears repeating over and over Civilized people converse with one another, offering counterargument for argument, and try to follow the evidence where it leads Barbarians club one another The contemporary form of using clubs is ridicule Mutual ridicule has by now been developed into a high art form And, yet, we must do betterchokengtitiktitikchokeng 289 Republics usually fail, our founders discovered, because of envy and covetousness Sometimes one powerful family envies another one section of a city resents the behavior of another the poor covet a larger portion of what the rich have, the middle class resent the poor, and the rich are indifferent to all below themselves Sometimes two powerful personalities despise each other, and each will be satisfied with nothing but bringing down the other In the Ten Commandments, the Lord forbade covetousness seven times It is the most pervasive sin fardangerous than, say, anger Anger openly displays its destructiveness, while covetousness presents itself not as a capital sin but as the pursuit of justice Its battle cry is Equality p 297 Compassion may be the most beautiful of all virtues It is the new possibility that Christianity added on to Greek and Roman virtues It has captivated the imagination of the modern, pagan West Liberty, Fraternity, Equality These are not directives of Greek or Roman philosophy, but the teachings of the carpenter Jesus Christ They have captivated the Left Without compassion, what would be left for the Left Yet like every other good ideal, compassion is often used in a fraudulent way Instead of being blinded just by the name, take a look at the actual, real world effects of any given policy The Left leads off with the correct word, but it is not watchful enough over the unintended consequences its policies said to be in the name of compassion often dump onto history

  2. says:

    A socialist grandchild of Slovak immigrants who protested Vietnam in college becomes a Reagan supply sider and cold war diplomat while remaining a Democrat and never relinquishes his leftist roots Michael Novak is a catholic Catholic I n art the morally good man can produce an ugly work, while the morally bad man may produce a brilliant one The same goes for politics That rule is a caution against overemphasizing the need to elect men of good character in order to achieve good outcomes in p A socialist grandchild of Slovak immigrants who protested Vietnam in college becomes a Reagan supply sider and cold war diplomat while remaining a Democrat and never relinquishes his leftist roots Michael Novak is a catholic Catholic I n art the morally good man can produce an ugly work, while the morally bad man may produce a brilliant one The same goes for politics That rule is a caution against overemphasizing the need to elect men of good character in order to achieve good outcomes in politics There is a crucial point in praising moral character, of course But the results are not always good, and not necessarily good in all ways Achieving the higher common good through politics takesthan a good character and good intentions Jimmy Carter helped make that truth vivid There are a million ways in which actions can go wrong and produce unintended consequences p 274

  3. says:

    Insofar as Novak was part of the Catholic neoconservative triumvirate the other two being George Weigel and the late Richard J Neuhaus , I was expecting something along the lines of David Horowitz s Radical Son A Generational Oddysey and Noam Podhoretz s Ex Friends Falling Out With Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Lillian Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer, chronicling his falling out of favor with his former ideological and literary comrades during his neoconservative turn.Novak s Insofar as Novak was part of the Catholic neoconservative triumvirate the other two being George Weigel and the late Richard J Neuhaus , I was expecting something along the lines of David Horowitz s Radical Son A Generational Oddysey and Noam Podhoretz s Ex Friends Falling Out With Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Lillian Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer, chronicling his falling out of favor with his former ideological and literary comrades during his neoconservative turn.Novak s biographical recollections in Writing from Left to Right My Journey from Liberal to Conservative aery contrast are less memorable or colorful than his neoconservative colleagues one has the impression that he deliberately glosses over what he alludes to as similar periods of ostracism We do get a bit of a taste of the 60 s with a month in Vietnam leading to the writing Vietnam Crisis of Conscience with Robert McAfee Brown and his experiences as dean of SUNY Old Westbury, an experimental college wherein students were on authoritative par with the faculty in planning the curriculum, grades be damned Novak s pseudo fictional recollection of what he remembers as the inaugural faculty meeting is laugh out loud hilarious That said, the bulk of the book chronicles his dedicated service in political and public life as a speechwriter and consultant for a number of Democratic presidential campaigns including the Kennedys as a resident scholar for the American Enterprise Institute, and later some cold war blow by blow reminiscing of diplomatic negotiations with the Soviets as ambassador to the U.N Commission on Human Rights in 1981 82 Within these pages, Novak regals us with stories of his personal encounters with such notable figures of the 20th century as Robert Kennedy, Sarge Shriver, George McGovern, President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, Pope John Paul II.All of these personal experiences are interesting in itself, and I understand in writing a memoir spanning one s life, one must be selective For my part, I would have preferred less personal history andintellectual in covering the transition from liberal to conservative Likewise, we only get a glimpse, for example, of the distinctly Catholic side of his turning, the founding of Crisis Magazine with Ralph McInerny and his involvement with First Things But those are simply personal preferences, and as having written some 27 books on economics, theology and culture, there s certainly no shortage of ideas to digest

  4. says:

    Novak gives an insider s account of the intellectual and political forces that shaped the latter half of the 20th century Although he tends to gloss over the internal conflicts that seem to have pushed him from the left towards the right, Novak captures the broad outlines of the theories and the issues that have polarized United States politics, indeed US culture, in the adolescence of the 21st century Of greatest interest is Novak s chapter on economy, politics and culture, especially for any Novak gives an insider s account of the intellectual and political forces that shaped the latter half of the 20th century Although he tends to gloss over the internal conflicts that seem to have pushed him from the left towards the right, Novak captures the broad outlines of the theories and the issues that have polarized United States politics, indeed US culture, in the adolescence of the 21st century Of greatest interest is Novak s chapter on economy, politics and culture, especially for anyone who has read Thomas Frank and hisvirulent take on modern conservatives.Novak s latest work misses the mark in a few areas though In the latter half of the book, it readslike a diary travel guide While Novak provides some interesting insider views and tales of Reagan, Thatcher and the like, he really fails to connect the dots between 1989 and 2013 which he acknowledges At times the story is one of a wide eyed star struck politico fan, almost too giddy to be believable Therein lies the true beauty of Writing from Left to Right though In an era when so many of us have become political agnostics it is refreshing to read someone who, in the golden years of a notable career, still has respect for the process and genuine hope for both the politicians and the people A little bit of Novak s outlook would go a long way these days

  5. says:

    I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.3 stars I appreciated Mr Novak s thought provoking prose and descriptions of his unique experiences in the world of American politics That said, I wanted to like this bookthan I actually did I found Novak s writing very dense at times, and I had to put this book down a few times in lieu of some lighter reading in order to get all the way through it you can tell that Novak is a trained journalist, as his writing lacks much figurative language, a I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.3 stars I appreciated Mr Novak s thought provoking prose and descriptions of his unique experiences in the world of American politics That said, I wanted to like this bookthan I actually did I found Novak s writing very dense at times, and I had to put this book down a few times in lieu of some lighter reading in order to get all the way through it you can tell that Novak is a trained journalist, as his writing lacks much figurative language, and he tends to summarize conversations rather than use dialogue often I also had a difficult time reading parts of the book because I disagreed with some of his viewpoints however, his views have clearly been ruminated on thoroughly, and I respect the thoughtfulness behind how he came to his conclusions I think overall, this is an interesting book could be a great read for a politically inclined book club, but chances are only diehard political junkies, and likely Republican ones at that, will wholeheartedly embrace this particular book

  6. says:

    Novak is an interesting character who made a significant intellectual impact on both the New Left in the 1960s when he was a grad student and junior professor at Harvard, Stanford, and SUNY Old Westbury and the New Right in the 70s and 80s when he was a neocon in revolt against what he saw as the anti capitalist, cheese and chablis New Class that had taken the Democratic Party away from its white ethnic working class roots Even so, as I wrote in my forthcoming First Things review, he has Novak is an interesting character who made a significant intellectual impact on both the New Left in the 1960s when he was a grad student and junior professor at Harvard, Stanford, and SUNY Old Westbury and the New Right in the 70s and 80s when he was a neocon in revolt against what he saw as the anti capitalist, cheese and chablis New Class that had taken the Democratic Party away from its white ethnic working class roots Even so, as I wrote in my forthcoming First Things review, he has told this left to right story better in the past and never did manage to reconcile Rerum Novarum with Gordon Gekko

  7. says:

    Students of American politics will enjoy this memoir Novak knew and or worked for many of the most influential political figures of the past 50 years Robert Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher,both George Bushes andHe also describes his close relationship with Pope John Paul II Whether or not you agree with his current neoconservatism, you ll find this book interesting.

  8. says:

    This is a great title Novak shares some of his experiences with many memorable political and cultural figures, reflecting on their impact on American life and on his own personal moral and philosophical journey More importantly, he shows what it looks like to live in constant engagement with the ideas that shape the culture and what happens for a person and a culture when you we engage those ideas courageously and honestly.

  9. says:

    Novak s path from authoritarian liberalism to conservative ideology, his experiences with notable exponents of these worldviews, the lucid accounts of ideas and personalities, is a great reading about the recent past.

  10. says:

    I received this book as a part of the FirstReads program from GoodReadsAnd I am finding it a fascinating journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *