Genovese was an interesting figure who migrated from the Marxist far left to American paleoconservatism, all the while maintaining a deep suspicion of the capitalist system and its “inherent tendency toward the concentration of capital in which the most dynamic entrepreneurs are generally the most socially destructive.”
Eugene D. Genovese, a prizewinning historian who challenged conventional thinking on slavery in the American South by stressing its paternalism as he traveled a personal intellectual journey from Marxism to conservative Catholicism, died on Wednesday at his home in Atlanta. He was 82. [...]
Mr. Genovese enthusiastically melded politics and academia even as his politics changed. A member of the Communist Party at 15, he had remained firmly on the left when, in 1965, speaking to students, he inflamed politicians by saying he would welcome a Vietcong victory in the Vietnam War.
By the 1980s, however, he had rejected Communism and liberal politics. In 1998 he helped form the Historical Society to combat what he saw as the “totalitarian assault” of political correctness and ideologically tinged research. He also came to support conservative Republicans like Pat Buchanan.
“I never gave a damn what people thought of me,” he said in an interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark in 1996. “And I still don’t.” [...]
Mr. Genovese came to believe that religion should be taught in public schools, and opposed abortion on demand and special laws to protect homosexuals. He believed pornography should be banned. But Mr. Genovese did not affiliate himself with any segment of the political right. He said he felt uncomfortable around conservatives who believed that unfettered markets solve all problems.
“if somebody wants to disorder the world and give me political power,” he said, “they’ll find out how conservative I’m not.”