“The Closing of the American Mind,” Revisited

S. J. D. Green, "The Closing of the American Mind, Revisited," The Antioch Review, Vol. 56, No. 1, Our Therapeutic State (Winter 1998), pp. 26-36.


Take heed of the subtitle: How Higher Edcation Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students. For that is what the book is really about. Moreover, in that sense, a lot in the text is literal. Certainly it is best read literally. This was also true, I now believe, of Bloom himself. He was not a conservative. I can be sure of this not because I knew him (I did not), but because he said so. During his famous (or notorious) commencement address at Harvard in 1988 (“My Fellow Elitists”) he made the point clear enough: “I am not a conservative-neo or paleo-I say this not to curry favor in a setting where conservatism is out of favor. Conservatism is a respectable outlook, and its adherents usually have some firmness of character to stick by what is unpopular in universities. I just do not happen to be that animal. Any superficial reading of my book will show that I differ from both theoretical and practical conservative positions. My teachers- Socrates, Machiavelli, Rousseau and Nietzsche-could hardly be called conservatives.”