Populism, the pandemic, and resurgent socialism have recently brought Americans to ask revolutionary questions, reconsidering the nation’s founding narrative and its very identity, past and future. America, of course, was birthed in revolution. What distinguishes the American revolution from other great historical revolutions? What are the origins and the consequences of the revolutionary spirit? How should we as citizens respond to changes caused by the sexual revolution and identity politics? Inspired by these questions, the Tocqueville Program, in this series, will promote reflection on the history, psychology, and metaphysics of revolution.
In this Tocqueville Lecture Series program, Scott Yenor will discuss the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevksy’s brilliant account of modernist ideology in the book, Demons (1871). As the revolutionary circle featured in the book works toward the destruction of the existing order, some of its members are struck by the pangs of conscience. How do the revolutionaries respond to this? And to Dostoevsky’s readers, then and now, what does the role of conscience suggest about potential alternatives to the atheism and socialism that drive revolutionary actors?
Dr. Scott Yenor is a Professor of Political Science at Boise State University. He earned his Ph.D. from Loyola University, Chicago, and his B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is the author of Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought (2011), David Hume’s Humanity: The Philosophy of Common Life and Its Limits (2016), and The Recovery of Family Life: Exposing the Limits of Modern Ideologies (2020). Dr. Yenor also lectures frequently on literature and politics.