GREAT BARRINGTON - Corey Robin was planning to speak about conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday at Bard College at Simon's Rock.
"But then we had the election," he said, "so, I'm going to discuss the history of conservatism."
Over 30 people crowded into the sitting room at Blodgett House at the college for the Proseminar in Humanistic and Social-Scientific Inquiry lecture series. The proseminar is an advanced class for juniors and seniors at Simon's Rock, although "rising sophomores" are also welcome.
The lectures and symposia aim to "nurture an intellectual community seeking to bridge scholarship and citizenship through critical engagement with problems that impede the development of a just and sustainable global civil society," according to the Simon's Rock website.
The lecture series is open to the public; the crowd on Monday was mostly made up of students there for the lecture although members of the community also were present.
Robin, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, was introduced by Simon's Rock associate professor of politics and philosophy Asma Abbas.
He read an abridged chapter from his book, "The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin." The reading concerned the reactionary nature of conservatism and why the political philosophy needs the left to survive.
Without progress, Robin said, there's no need to go back to the way things were, and therefore no energy in the conservative movement.
During the question-and-answer period, Robin said that Donald Trump's success on Nov. 8 can be traced to that desire to push back against a changing world.
But it's Trump's appeal to racial divisiveness and his belief in the magic of wealth that are key to his success, Robin said. While President Obama rose to the presidency through hard work and meritocracy, Trump's success is dependent on his inheritance.So Trump talks about wealth as magic because it did come from nowhere for him - it's easier for people to relate to success based on magical wealth than on ascending the ladder of power, he said.
Robin said Trump doesn't represent anything radically different than others in the Republican Party.
"In many ways Trump is textbook conservative, straight out of central casting," Robin said. "He's often depicted as different, but in my belief I think he's very consistent."
Robin was the 11th speaker for the proseminar series; Moustafa Bayoumi will speak next Monday for the 12th and final lecture. Bayoumi's lecture will focus on the challenges of living in America as a Muslim American.
Abbas said she hoped the lecture series will help inspire people to look at the world in a critical and empathetic way.
"We want to know things differently," Abbas said, "and hopefully by knowing differently, we'll want to change things."
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 5, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.