The news that Herb London died Sunday morning at age 79 was a devastating blow to conservatives in his home state of New York and nationwide.
London was a renaissance man of the right and the Empire State’s most notable conservative.
London rose to fame as Dean of New York University’s Gallatin Division, a program where students designed their own curricula and studied great books, selected by London himself.
He later went on to head the Hudson Institute and, in recent years, started the London Center for Policy Research. There he oversaw studies of public policy and wrote scholarly papers and books on topics from the U.S. relations with Iran to the fiscal perils of New York State.
It was London who coined the “Vampire State” label for New York, referring to its blood-sucking tax rates.
Like his friend the late William F. Buckley, London tried to mobilize theories on public policy into action by seeking political office.
In 1989, London sought the Republican and Conservative Party nominations for mayor of New York but withdrew. A year later he ran for governor on the Conservative Party ticket.
“Herb London was a strong proponent of conservative values and an outstanding candidate for governor on the Conservative Party line in 1990,” Mike Long, state chairman of the Conservative Party, told Newsmax, “His voice will be greatly missed and what he did in 1990 will be long-remembered.”
In 1994, London carried both the Republican and Conservative nominations in a bid for state comptroller.
“Herb may never have won office, but he still had a tremendous impact on conservatives in New York and across the nation,” said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, and a long-time friend of London’s.
“He was passionate about making America better and keeping our country strong,” Ruddy added.
London’s conservatism was of a traditionalist bent.
Writing in an op-ed earlier this year he cited Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the decline of the West.
“Solzhenitsyn understood that if God is displaced by humanism any idea the human mind can conjure is possible,” London wrote. “Taste, manners, kindness, respect are subordinated for freedom and personal sentiment. ‘If it feels good, do it.’ Even churches and synagogues have lost their way now spending more time on social conditions than religious doctrine.”
Contemporary friends of Herb London were inevitably surprised to learn that he was a star basketball player at New York City’s Jamaica High School and was actually drafted by the National Basketball League’s Syracuse Nationals.
Equally surprising was the discovery that he wrote songs as a hobby. One of them, “Sorry We’re Not Going Steady,” actually made it to the record charts in 1959.
A graduate of Columbia University, London earned his doctorate in history from New York University.
After retiring from NYU, London maintained his scholarly regimen as Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and chairman of the National Association of Scholars.
A prolific writer and commentator, he became a fixture on talk radio and television in New York. His commentaries were featured in National Review, the Washington Times, Commentary, Fortune, and Newsmax, among many outlets.
Much like fellow thinkers on the right such as Buckley or Russell Kirk, Herb London was remembered by young up-and-coming conservatives for the time and insight he freely shared with them.
One of them, New York’s Alexandra Preate said, “Herb had time for everyone and that was just one reason he was a giant of a man.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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