The Slaveholders’ Dilemma: Freedomnand Progress in Southern ConservativenThought, 1820-1860nby Eugene D. GenovesenColumbia: University of South CarolinanPress; 136 pp., $19.95nIn a recent and provocative essay, PaulnGottfried described Eugene D. Genovesenas a “hero of paleoconservative intellectuals.”nNo doubt this declarationnqualified as news in some circles, for thendistinguished historian of the AmericannSouth has always worked within thenMarxist tradition. Or perhaps onenshould say the Gramscian tradition, fornGenovese has an intellectual and ethnicnaffinity for the unorthodox Italian theorist.nSuch pedantic precision wouldnchange little, however, for Gramsci’snwritings, sophisticated though they surelynare, flowed from the pen of a self-proclaimednLeninist and member of thenItalian Communist Party.nNevertheless, Gottfried was right;nGenovese is the traditional conservative’snfavorite leftist. To begin to understandnwhy, it helps to know that Genovesenhas never wavered in hisnopposition to the politicization of thenacademy. I well recall, for example,nhow, in the late 1960’s, he helped preventnthe election of Staughton Lynd,nthen a prominent radical, to the presidencynof the American Historical Association.nHaving in the meantime lostnnone of his corhbative edge, he recentlyncalled for the use of “counterterror”nagainst faculty and administrators whonthemselves employ totalitarian methodsnto enforce political correctness.nEven more important than his effortsnto clean higher education’s Augean stables,nhowever, has been Genovese’s judiciousnapproach to the South and itsnLee Congdon is a professor of history atn]ames Madison University.n32/CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnFreedom Is Slaverynby Lee Congdonn”Too much liberty leads both men and nations to slavery.”n—Ciceronhistory. Scrupulous honesty has herengone hand in hand with an exemplaryndedication to the historian’s craft. “Thenduty of the socialist historian,” he wrotenmany years ago, “is, first and foremost,nto develop himself into as good a historiannas his talent and circumstances permit.”nGenovese’s own talent and circumstancesnhave made it possible fornhim to develop into a very good historiannindeed. That is why, I venture to suggest,nhis writings have become all butnindistinguishable from those of friendsnand colleagues on the traditional right.nGenovese emphasizes the modifyingnadjective “traditional” because he is impatientnwith “bourgeois conservatives”nand neoconservatives who get mistyeyednwhenever they hear the wordsn”democratic capitalism.” What he hasngleaned from his study of Southern historynhas reinforced his original Marxistnhostility to capitalism and to what hennncalls “bourgeois social relations.” Henseems to possess an instinctive—one isntempted to say an Italian—loyalty tonfamily and community that he judgesnto be incompatible with the impersonalnhuman relations that the market typicallynproduces. Not surprisingly, then,nit is precisely on the proslavery critiquenof the “free-labor” system that he hasnfocused his attention in this, his latestnbook.nThe Slaveholders’ Dilemma is basednupon a series oflectures that Genovesendelivered at Georgia Southern Universitynin 1990. He intends it to serve asnan introduction to his and his wife ElizabethnFox-Genovese’s work-in-progress,nThe Mind of the Master Class: The Lifenand Thought of the Southern Slaveholders.nBut although this slim volume remainsnsketchy, it leaves no doubt asnto Genovese’s profound respect andnsympathy for Southern conservativenthought. Quite understandably, then,nhe dedicated the book to M.E. Bradford,nJohn Shelton Reed, and Clyde N.nWilson.nIndeed, if anything, Genovese maynhere have gone too far in his praise fornthose; Southern conservatives who arguednfor the proslavery position. True,nhe states categorically that “slavery hasnproperly been condemned as an enormity,”nbut he also insists that thenproslavery argument was “the pillar of anworld view buttressed by close considerationsnof the great social, political, religious,neconomic, and philosophical issuesnof the day.” The question that onenmust ask, therefore, is whether a conservativenworld view can or should rest uponnsuch a pillar.nGenovese has organized his discussionnaround the interrelationship he discernsnbetween the Southern conservatives’ncommitment to progress, freedom,nand slavery. Unfortunately, the first twonterms require more precise definitionnthan Genovese has here been able ton