Weekend Reading

Now that you have some time to yourself, this Memorial Day weekend, and can while away the hours reading, a few blog recommendations: Bill Kauffman is a writer who defies categorization, which is only appropriate because people who defy categorization happens to be his favorite subject: his latest book, Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists, just out from ISI Books, illustrates how the tired old labels of “left” and “right” no longer seem to apply — not when ostensible “conservatives” espouse a Jacobin radicalism and exhibit an abiding faith in the power of the state to effect revolutionary transformation on a world scale. His book is a series of portraits of disparate individuals whose stubborn individualism captures the underlying spirit of the real America: from Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, to regionalist painter Grant Wood, and including farmer-writer Wendell Berry, publisher Henry Regnery, and Senator Eugene McCarthy. These mini-biographies, taken together, add up to a patriotism more authentic than the nationalistic leader-worship and war hysteria promoted under that label by the neocons.  

In any case, the book has — naturally! — given birth to a blog, Reactionary Radicals: along with Bill, featured writers include Alan Crawford, Caleb Stegall, Clark Stooksbury, Daniel McCarthy, Darryl Hart, Jason Peters, Jeff Nelson, Jeremy Beer, Jesse Walker, and John Zmirak. It is a delight to read.

Another weekend delight: Dan McCarthy’s Tory Anarchist. Dan is the book editor of The American Conservative, and his comments are consistently interesting, and imbued with the same fierce anti-imperialism that animates his Old Right confreres at TAC and Reactionary Radicals. Well worth reading.

Speaking of reactionary radicals (or is that radical reactionaries?), one can’t continue without mentioning the wonderfully reactive and radically delightful Taki Theodoracopulos, whose Spectator and TAC columns are archived here. I met Taki for the first time on a recent trip to the Big Bad Apple, and I have to say he lived up to his reputation: although he has got to be at least 60 years old, he doesn’t look a day over 50: tanned, bright-eyed, and jaunty, with the muscular shoulders and bearing of a boxer (which he was in his youth), Taki looks like he just stepped off his yacht. I was met at the door by his butler, a young man who graciously offered me a drink as I sat in Taki’s drawing room and had the mischievious look of someone who has seen much and had the good sense not to say much except for an occasional raised eyebrow. 

Taki and I had a wonderful lunch, and I had the sense, as he talked to me, that here was a representative of a world that I would have loved to have lived in — but, alas, I was born too late. Charming, witty, and yet very serious, Taki is my kind of guy (no, no, not in that way!), and so I was glad to see his recent interview with the LA Weekly in which he told the interviewer that he doesn’t have much in common with the leftist element of the antiwar movement, in spite of being against the Iraq war, and yet:

“Can I tell you something? It just boggles the hell out of me to be on the side of those guys. Because I don’t respect the Left, I think the left is phony and all that, but here I am on the side of Justin Raimondo [of Antiwar.com].”

He then goes on to opine that, in a more rational world, “If Rumsfeld was named Ford and a great-grandson of Henry Ford and owned 100 percent of the company and ran it this way, he wouldn’t get a job selling hubcaps.” Yes, but tell us what you really think, Taki! While I don’t agree with his wholesale dismissal of the left as “phony,” and am not at all boggled to note that I am on the same side with the Nation magazine on the question of war and peace, Taki’s endorsement highlights Antiwar.com’s unique appeal: we are beyond traditional concepts of “left” and “right,” the only website that unites admirers of Pat Buchanan and Dan Ellsberg. Go figure …

While I’m on the subject of my favorite online reading matter: check out Billmon, frequent Antiwar.com contributor Leon Hadar, Jim Henley, and, of course, James Wolcott, and Laura Rozen.