Angelo Codevilla: The Tragic Loss of a Philosopher and Conservative Legend

COMMENTARY Conservatism

Angelo Codevilla: The Tragic Loss of a Philosopher and Conservative Legend

Sep 30th, 2021 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Helle C. Dale

Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy

Her current work focuses on the U.S. government’s institutions and programs for strategic outreach to the public of foreign countries.
The American conservative movement, and indeed the world, lost one of its greatest thinkers and historians on Sept. 20. Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Key Takeaways

As irrationality and wokism rage across the land, listening to Codevilla speak was music for the soul.

Codevilla understood American exceptionalism better than most and how important it is to protect that exceptionalism for future generations.

Many will miss Codevilla’s towering intellect and ready wit.

The American conservative movement, and indeed the world, lost one of its greatest thinkers and historians on Sept. 20.

Angelo Codevilla, age 78, was killed in a tragic car accident.

His passing comes at a time when the United States can hardly afford to lose an eloquent voice of reason and deep learning. As irrationality and wokism rage across the land, listening to Codevilla speak was music for the soul.

In a 2014 lecture at The Heritage Foundation, Codevilla called the American Revolution exceptional because it was the first time human beings accepted peace as a natural state, rather than conflict.

Codevilla’s speech was based on his book “To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and With All Nations.”

“The American Revolution’s intention of establishing limited government was consistent with the American Revolution’s primacy of peace on the revolutionaries’ thought,” he said.

That faith, founded in historical fact, in the principles of the American founding is deeply inspiring today, even as we mourn Codevilla’s loss.

Born on May 25, 1943, in the northern Italian town of Voghera, near Milan, Codevilla emigrated to the United States in 1955 as an undergraduate and became a U.S. citizen in 1962. Like many immigrants, Codevilla felt a deep and enduring love for this country, which is expressed in his distinguished career and his numerous writings.

Like other perceptive European observers of the U.S., including Alexis de Tocqueville, Codevilla understood American exceptionalism better than most and how important it is to protect that exceptionalism for future generations.

A 1965 graduate of Rutgers University, Codevilla earned his doctorate from Claremont Graduate University in 1973 following a stint in the Navy Reserve.

He served in the U.S. foreign service and as a congressional staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for Sen. Malcolm Wallop, R-Wyo. He was most known for his work on the Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

He taught history at Georgetown University, the Claremont Institute, and Boston University. He was also a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Codevilla authored 14 books that spanned an immense range of subjects, and many have become classics. They include “War: Ends and Means” (with Paul Seabury), “Informing Statecraft,” “To Make and to Keep,” and “Arms Control Delusion.”

Rush Limbaugh’s favorite Codevilla book was “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America,” which predicted the social fissures we are witnessing today in American society.

Codevilla’s writings for American publications was a lifework in itself. He wrote commentary for National Review, The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Claremont Review of Books, and The American Spectator, where his groundbreaking article “America’s Ruling Class” first appeared in 2010, the longest in the magazine’s history.

The article became the basis for Codevilla’s book on the American ruling class that uncannily pointed the way toward the Trump era.

Many will miss Codevilla’s towering intellect and ready wit. But he is also survived by an extensive family mourning his loss. They include his wife of 54 years, Anne Marie Blaesser, and five children, to whom The Heritage Foundation extends its sincere condolences.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal