Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Macho Response: William F. Buckley, Jr. (November 24th, 1925 - February 27th, 2008)

"It's very hard to stand up carrying the weight of what I know."

- William F. Buckley, Jr., the father of modern Conservatism and the National Review, when asked why he was always seated on television.

The grand old man died on my birthday. Damn. Here's one more from him, which, I think, sums it all up nicely:

"There's something known as American conservatism, though it does not even call itself that. It's been calling itself "voting Republican" or "not liking the New Deal." But it is a very American approach to life, and it has to do with knowing that the government is not your master, that America is good, that freedom is good and must be defended, and communism is very, very bad."

Hear, hear!! WFB is dead. Long live WFB!


  1. Buckley was the only political hero I had, or cared to have. It wasn't just the genius, or the erudition, or the wit. He also had the perfect attitude to the world: take it seriously, but don't take it personally.

    Happy birthday, by the way. I've been following your writing for a few months now, and greatly enjoy it.

  2. Buckley's career can best be understood as a Betrayal of the American Right. His philosophy, best summarized in his own words, amounts to "we have got to accept Big Government for the duration–for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged...except through the instrumentality of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores."

    Therefore we must accept, "large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington..."

    Given that the U.S. has always found a way to been at war, be it with drugs, terror, or poverty, Buckley's main intellectual contribution to the world has been a clear vindication of "a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores" ("A Young Republican View," The Commonweal, January 25, 1952).

    Contrast this view with that of the Old Right. Whereas Buckley believed in tyranny and oppression, people like Frank Chodorov and Albert Jay Nock believed that freedom and liberty should be the highest end of government. Whereas Buckley believed in perpetual war, the Old Right believed in the Constitution. They believed in trade with all, entangling alliances with none.

    In short, Buckley and his National Review had/has a near religious belief in an all-knowing, omnipotent government.

    Though Buckley was certainly a charming, erudite writer whose prose will be missed, let us hope that his ideas and failed philosophy are buried with him.

  3. Thanks, Andrew.

    Yea, I used to hate Buckley (I used to call him "The Snake" because of those lifeless eyes and that darting tongue) but I always listened to him and, though I wouldn't admit it at the time, was completely in awe of him. Then, as I grew into my conservatism, he grew too - much, much, larger - and his example overwhelmed me. Shamed me, really. How could I, a "smart" guy, have been so wrong, for so long, about (so obviously) a genius?

    I give credit, now, to my upbringing in the ghetto - just like my past positions on race were born there - but still, I've always been a thinker, so it was a shock to discover even I can let my mind be overcome by misguided rhetoric. I've since learned not to be too hard on myself (I mean, I was literally raised with certain attitudes and, except for defending them vocally, my crimes are few) and, since committing to not repeating such mistakes again, I've learned to walk with my head up.

    Bill Buckley was a great man, with a brilliant mind, and he set an example of scholarship, perseverance, and conviction, that I now try to follow with pride:

    I'm hoping the fact I learned from him is a legacy he would have been proud of.


    Please. You know as much about Buckley as I once did, and it shows: Why don't you just admit he was too complex a thinker for you to grasp and be done with it?

  4. Come back to Obama? When was I ever with Obama? And why? All those startlingly brilliant ideas he's laid out there? Or is it the hours-long string of banalities, that mean nothing, that's attracted you?

    Whatever it is, I think somebody ought to take away that Kool-Aid container 'cause the sugar's gone straight to your head,...