The Twilight of Authority

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by Nisbet
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In 1975, when Robert Nisbet wrote The Twilight of Authority, Vietnam was vivid in the minds of the American people and the Watergate scandal had shattered many illusions about our nation’s leaders. As a leading sociologist and a neoconservative during the era, Nisbet made his voice heard. His analysis likened the time to a period of twilight before the dark. Nisbet could hardly have known at the time that his disconcerting viewpoints would be so valid and important over thirty years later.

In this book, “Nisbet declared America to be unquestionably in a twilight age where the forces of decline outweighed the forces of progress,” according to Charles B. Forcey. Although his outlook may seem bleak, Nisbet does offer an answer. In the preface, he admits, “I seek to identify the essential social elements of an alternative to the twilight age we live now. It is possible, as I suggest, that certain countervailing forces are already in evidence, leading at once to diminution of the state’s power and to a greater degree of vitality in our social organization.” Nisbet was a man with a warming and a vision for American society, and by heeding his voice from 1975, perhaps our twenty-first century culture will avoid sinking into its own twilight age.

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