Friday, March 21, 2008

Buckleyism: The Harmless Persuasion

Posted by Jack Hunter on Fri, Mar 21, 2008 at 9:21 AM

The best assessment of William F. Buckley yet. Writes VDare's Tom Piatak: 

"In a seminal essay in his book Beautiful Losers, Sam Francis dubbed neoconservatism "the harmless persuasion". Francis argued that, far from being a staunch opponent of liberalism, neoconservatism was merely "the right wing of the New Class".  Francis maintained that the neoconservatives were unable to make a definitive break with the New Class because they were the "products, socially and intellectually, of the northeastern urban academic establishment" and that "[i]f there is a future for the American Right, it lies in the heartland of Middle America".

I was reminded of Francis’ essay as I read the many glowing tributes given William F. Buckley by the left. To be sure, some of these tributes may best be seen as reflections of Buckley’s undoubted charm, wit, and eloquence, but something else was at work, too.  Almost all of them praised Buckley for ridding conservatism of its undesirables, and for making it "respectable", a synonym for harmless in this context.

Buckleyism has always been far more comfortable with "respectable" liberals than with disreputable rightists. Is it any wonder that American society has moved inexorably leftward during the time when Buckleyism has been the authorized voice of the conservative opposition?"

Read the entire column


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