Item #84 Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism. James Burnham.
Burnham’s classic warning call regarding American liberalism and the fate of Western civilization

Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism

New York: The John Day Company, 1964. First edition, first printing. Octavo. Original blue cloth and dust jacket (not price-clipped). Dent to top edge of boards, else fine. Minor scuffing to dust jacket spine and edges, else fine. Near-fine in near-fine dust jacket. Item #84

First edition of James Burnham’s (1905–1987) prescient and influential warning regarding the American liberal project. In Suicide of the West Burnham analyzes the nature of liberalism and its influence upon the decline of Western civilization. Burnham believed that Western civilization was “contracting,” and that such contraction was largely due to various pathologies within liberalism itself, including its inaptitude for power and a failure of the will to survive. As a result, liberalism permits Western civilization to be reconciled to its dissolution. After publishing his seminal work of elite theory in 1941, The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World, and following the conclusion of World War II, Burnham would publish numerous works on the West’s post-war condition, including his Cold War trilogy—The Struggle for the World (1947), The Coming Defeat of Communism (1950), and Containment or Liberation? (1953)—in which he examined the spread and influence of global communism and advocated for its unconditional defeat around the world. In 1955 Burnham would help to found National Review with William F. Buckley Jr. and lead the American conservative intellectual movement. Burnham is among the twentieth century’s most important conservative thinkers, and Suicide of the West presents his mature stand on the future of the West. The book has seen many imitations since The John Day Company first published it in 1964, but few have rivaled Burnham’s sobering presentation. “Suicide,” Burnham concludes, “is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization.” Suicide of the West is Burnham’s warning to the West to avoid this fate.

Price: $150.00

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