In This Review

War and the Illiberal Conscience
War and the Illiberal Conscience
By Christopher Coker
Westview Press, 1998, 240 pp

In the tradition of Fritz Stern and Ralf Dahrendorf, the author provides a cultural and intellectual history of the various strands of illiberalism that arose in reaction to the Enlightenment and industrialism. He pays particular attention to Nietzsche's critique of British liberalism and how the various strands of his thought led to the justification of war as a salvation from the rational, stultifying nature of modern society. This book provides a welcome contrast to the excessively theoretical academic literature on war, and some of the individual sections like those on hunting and child abuse in turn-of-the-century Europe are fascinating. The book tends to flit too rapidly from consequential authors to inconsequential ones, however, and joins in the unfortunate British tradition of bashing Hegel as one of the fathers of twentieth-century totalitarianism.