Angelo Codevilla, “a great and prescient mind on the right, passed on Monday night at the age of 78 after a car accident,” sadly reports BRIGHT editors.
Ryan Williams, President of the Claremont Institute, to which Mr. Codevilla was tied, wrote on his influence and impact:
“It’s hard to convey the breadth and depth of Angelo’s scholarship and experience. He was fluent in (at least) French, Italian, and Spanish, in addition to English. He translated Machiavelli’s Prince. You would ask him how to understand foreign policy properly and he would tell you to read all of John Quincy Adams’s diaries and correspondence. He had the number of the “intelligence community” long before they foisted the Russia Collusion hoax on America, having served as the lead staffer for the Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence back when real oversight could still put the fear of God into bureaucrats—even those at the CIA. From that perch he was also instrumental in congressional support for the Strategic Defense Initiative. His books on how to think about international relations and foreign policy are indispensable, especially Informing Statecraft: Intelligence for a New Century, The Character of Nations, War: Ends and Means, To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and with All Nations. For a wonderful short introduction to IR, see his ISI monograph, A Student’s Guide to International Relations.
As influential as he was on foreign policy thinking, many came to know him for his writing on our increasingly oligarchic American regime. He wrote an essay in 2010 for The American Spectator titled “America’s Ruling Class.” It caught Rush Limbaugh’s attention (like Mike Anton’s The Flight 93 Election would six years later) and would become a short book. Rooted in his deep love of America’s founding principles, Angelo has consistently and cogently warned against the accrual of power, wealth, and prestige to a class hostile to the American way of life and republican self-government. “Our Revolution’s Logic” remains one of the most-read pieces we’ve ever published at The American Mind.
We have lost a great and good man at a time when we are still very much in need of his wisdom and guidance. We will now have to settle for his voluminous writing over many decades. May we keep his memory alive so that future generations of students and statesmen seek him out, in dark and trying times, to the benefit of their country.”
Mr. Codevilla wrote about our ruling class in 2010, long before such analyses became obvious and popular:
Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity…
Much less does membership in the ruling class depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams. Hence for good or ill, France’s ruling class are bright people — certifiably. Not ours… graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America’s “top schools” is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile…
No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in… Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority…
Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof.”
BRIGHT editor Inez Stepman remembers Mr. Codevilla as “not only the brilliant professor, “but a man whose passion, politically incorrect jokes, and Italian gesticulation stood out even in the erudite roster of the Claremont Institute when I had the privilege of completing a fellowship there in 2018.”
Who Was Angelo Codevilla?
In his long, productive life, Mr. Codevilla was an immigrant, student-athlete, naval officer, scholar, husband, father, foreign-service officer, Capitol Hill staffer, adviser to senators and residents. As American Greatness’s senior editor Julie Ponzi fondly reports, he was a distinguished author of great insight and foresight. Mr. Codevilla, perhaps first, was a patriot, who had already accomplished a great deal in his 78 years and was determined to never abandon the fight.
Ms. Ponzi continues that Mr. Codevilla may have been the world’s most privileged man (by Mr. Codevilla’s own description).
But it was our privilege to know him, to learn from him, to fight alongside him, and to enjoy his friendship. Above all, it was our privilege to know someone else who knew what a privilege it is to be an American. America, like the friend we lost, deserves our awe and admiration. Angelo’s loss is an incalculable one for us. We are not likely to find another of his caliber among us anytime soon.
RIP Angelo Codevilla, whose death is a loss to the country, especially at this critical juncture.
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