Old Right and
the Future of Conservatism
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Note from the editors: We reprint below Patrick
J. Buchanan's Foreword to the second edition of Justin Raimondo's
1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right The Lost Legacy
of the Conservative Movement.
happened to the American Right? What became of a movement once
so united and disciplined it could deliver the presidency, consistently,
to the Republican Party?
the old house is divided, fractured, fallen, is undeniable. The
great unifier, Ronald Reagan, is gone. The cold war that brought
conservatives together, is over. With the Berlin Wall down, the
captive nations free, the Evil Empire dissolved and subdivided,
many on the Right have stacked arms and gone home. Once there,
they have discovered that we come from different neighborhoods,
honor different heroes, believe different ideas. To understand
the new rifts on the Right, scholars have begun to research its
history, explore its roots. Latest to do so is Justin Raimondo,
who, in this book, argues that conservatism is a cause corrupted
and betrayed. His is a story of heroes and villains, heresies
and excommunications, faithfulness and betrayal a veritable
Iliad of the American Right.
book goes back sixty years to the days when the Old right first
rose in rebellion against the New Deal and FDR's drive to war.
Believers in limited government and nonintervention, the Old Right
feared involvement in a second world war would mean permanent
disfigurement of the old republic, and a quantum leap in federal
power that could never be reversed.
history is written by the winners.
these men lost it all: jobs, careers, and honored places in their
nation's memory. But they never lost their principles. Garet Garrett,
John T. Flynn, Frank Chodorov who has heard of this lost
platoon of the Old Right? They went down fighting and ended their
lives in obscurity, resisting the clamor to sign up for the cold
declares Raimondo, is the lost legacy. And the failures of conservatism
are traceable to the Right's abandonment of that legacy. Beginning
in the mid-fifties, the Right was captured and co-opted by the
undocumented aliens from the Left, carrying with them the viruses
of statism and globalism.
in from the cold, Raimondo writes, came the Communists, refugees
from Stalin's purges, from the Hitler-Stalin, and Moscow's attack
on the Baltic republics and Finland. First among these was James
Burnham, ex-Trotskyist of whom Orwell wrote that he worshipped
power. Burnham went o the masthead of National Review from
its founding in 1955, to become grand strategist of the cold war.
He would be awarded the Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan himself
. . . but, Raimondo argues, Burnham was never a true conservative;
indeed, was barely tolerant of conservatives. A Machiavellian
after renouncing Marxism, Burnham preached "American Empire"
as the necessary means to combat Communist empire and was first
to call for the creation of a "democratic world order."
second wave of migrants was the neoconservatives. Though Trotskyist,
socialists or Social Democrat in their youth, by the mid-sixties
they were JFK-LBJ Democrats orphaned by a party dedicated to the
proposition that Vietnam was a dirty, immoral war. In 1972, they
signed ads for Richard Nixon, a man not widely cherished among
their number in his Alger Hiss and Helen Gahagan Douglas days.
Reagan's triumph, the neocons came into their own, into his government
and his movement. Raimondo echoes the Old Right journalist who
calls the neocons the cow-birds of conservatism, migratory fowl
that wait for other birds to build their nests and lay their eggs,
then swoop down, barge in, and kick the first birds out. If conservatism
has failed, he writes, it is "because a Trojan horse inside
the movement has been undermining the fight against big government.
Since the mid-fifties . . . these interlopers have acted as a
Fifth Column on the Right: conciliating the welfare state, smearing
their Old Right predecessors, and burying the real story of how
they came to claim the mantle of conservatism."
today? "Two traditions stand head-to-head, contending for
the future of the . . . movement. One piously holds out the promise
of enterprise zones from South Central Los Angeles to Mogadishu,
while the other dares utter the forbidden phrase, America First!"
Written in defense of, and in the style of, the dead lions of
the Old Right whom Justin Raimondo reveres, Reclaiming the
American Right is not about olive branches; it is about conflict,
about taking back the movement, about taking back America. Richly
researched, beautifully written, passionately argued, Reclaiming
the American Right is targeted at the "new generation
of conservative theorists and activists [that] yearns to get back
to first principles and get in touch with its roots." Many
will call this revisionist history of the Right, but even those
who work for consensus need to understand how those who do not
believe, feel and think. And the timing is perfect. For, suddenly,
all the new issues before us, Bosnia, Somalia, foreign aid, NAFTA,
intervention, immigration, big government, sovereignty, bear striking
resemblance to the old.
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