Irving Babbitt: Democracy and Leadership

Introduction by Russell Kirk

Liberty Fund, 1979 (1924)

From the Publisher’s Website:

Babbitt“…one of the few truly important works of political thought.”  Russell Kirk

Irving Babbitt was a leader of the intellectual movement called American Humanism, or the New Humanism, and a distinguished professor of French literature at Harvard. Democracy and Leadership, first published in 1924, is his only directly political book, and in it he applies the principles of humanism to the civil social order.

Babbitt rejects all deterministic philosophies of history, whether they be the older type found in Saint Augustine or Bossuet, which tends to make of man the puppet of God, or the new type, which tends in all its varieties to make of man the puppet of nature. He offers a compelling critique of unchecked majoritarianism and addresses the great problem of how to discover leaders with standards.

Table of Contents:

Foreword, by Russell Kirk

Prefatory Note


1  The Types of Political Thinking
2  Rousseau and the Idyllic Imagination
3  Burke and the Moral Imagination
4  Democracy and Imperialism
5  Europe and Asia
6  True and False Liberals
7  Democracy and Standards
Appendix A: Theories of the Will
Appendix B: Absolute Sovereignty


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All original writing and photography © Jan Olof Bengtsson

"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
Ramana Maharshi