His Catholicism was a pining for the old world, Old Europe and its pre-revolutionary, pre-modernist, social order. On the other hand those on the far right knew him for what he was as this John Birch Society obituary reveals;
He his lauded for his debating skills, the laconic eyebrow that would rise, the Bostonian drawl all a pretense aimed at creating the illusion that he was the master debater. Like his Catholicism, it was all for show.
The fact of the matter is that Buckley, far from being the father of anything resembling true conservatism (as best exemplified by Senator Robert Taft, who was denied the Republican nomination in 1952 by Buckley's philosophical brethren), was merely a very capable quarterback for a team of neoconservatives (neocons) who had graduated from the World War II-era OSS into the CIA, bringing their anti-Stalinist, but definitely Trotskyite, ideas with them. The repackaging of this anti-American philosophy as "neoconservatism" rivaled any campaign Madison Avenue ever concocted for a "new" detergent that would get your clothes whiter and brighter.
The original OSS/CIA neocons, including the aforementioned Willmoore Kendall, spotted young Bill Buckley when he was on the staff of the Yale Daily News, and tagged him as a likely rising star of their movement. (Buckley, of course, was also tapped to join the secretive Skull and Bones society while at Yale, as had both presidents Bush and Senator John Kerry.) At Kendall's urging, Buckley joined the CIA after graduating from Yale. Through Kendall, Buckley became acquainted with James Burnham, another OSS/CIA veteran who would become a prominent figure at National Review. So strong was the CIA connection that the brilliant economist and former contributor to Buckley's magazine, Murray Rothbard, said in 1981: "I'm convinced that the whole National Review is a CIA operation."
Buckely's Firing Line was the model for later public affairs debate shows like Cross Fire. However unlike Firing Line these later versions simply declined into shouting matches. Despite the pretenses and his dismissive attitude towards opponents Buckley at least used reason in his debates with opponents. The new turks of the neo-con establishment have adopted his dismissive style, but added shouting and rank rhetoric to make their points.
He was perhaps the last real American voice of the neo-con right in America, having been replaced by ex pat Canadians like Charles Krauthammer and David Frum. Ironic that the new spokesmen for the American right are ex-Canadians.
They of course moved south because the right in Canada is not the mainstream of our body politic (which is social democratic an anathema that Frum and Krauthammer revile) as it is in America. The other irony is that the Buckley neo-con establishment has replaced the Democrat establishment as the voice of the American Empire.
And this right wing voice of the American Empire has its echo chamber in Canada, it is the core of the Harper Conservative Party. In fact one can find a little Buckley in the imperious and dismissive attitude of our autarkic PM.
The Fifth International
Post Modern Conservatives
Why The Conservatives Are Not Libertarians
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