Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bill Buckley: On the wrong track?

There have of course by now been many eloquent eulogies of W.F. Buckley. And not only from conservatives. Some libertarians have also weighed in with kind words. I have said nothing so far because I don't want to seem like an old grouch, and I do have in mind the old adjuration about speaking only good of the dead: De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. But perhaps another viewpoint won't do any harm, after all:

A recurring theme is that Buckley made conservatism respectable in polite society. And that is exactly why I did not immediately add my voice to the eulogies. From a libertarian viewpoint, polite society is overwhelmingly comprised of Fascists -- and that is using "Fascism" in a precise historical way, to mean advocates of pervasive government power and control. So conservatism SHOULD NOT BE respectable in polite society. What have conservatives got to gain from the approval of people who think that they know what is best for other people and who want to enforce that on other people in any way they can?

To me, polite society is the ENEMY and I personally want no truck with the self-satisfied knowalls who in reality know next to nothing. And that is partly why in 1974 I wrote a book under the title "Conservatism as Heresy". The intelligentsia and their allies will always be Fascistic and should always be opposed because of that. Conservatism SHOULD be heretical.

I have no doubt that Buckley was a fine man and a good conservative but his modus operandi was in my view only superficially helpful to the cause of liberty. At the risk of appearing to make an absurd comparison, I note that the carpenter of Nazareth did not seek convivial relationships with the top people in his day. He was happy among outcasts. And his disciples were "agrammatoi kai idiotai" (translatable as "ignorant and unlearned" -- see Acts 4:13). I respect Christ's example much more than the example of W.F. Buckley, I am afraid, though I certainly don't claim to be a good follower of Christ. But I too get on very well with ordinary working people and it is they who matter most in my view. And as far as "intellectuals" are concerned, do the one thing that they hate most: Ignore them. Fortunately, the workers almost invariably do.

Buckley himself of course acknowledged the good sense of ordinary working people with his famous remark about the first 1,000 names in the Boston phonebook. It's a pity he did not seek them as his audience. He would have found them much more receptive than the self-anointed wise ones of the world were. And the workers have a lot more votes! Still, as the old saying goes: "It takes all types to make a world" and I don't dispute that Buckley had his place.

Coda: I can see that what I have written above could well be taken as sour grapes. Under Leftist influence, ad hominem argumentation is rife these days so people might well conclude that I am simply justifying some failure of my own in polite society. Just a few words then about my background: I am the son of a lumberjack and regard my late father as the greatest gentleman I have ever known. I have in fact moved in all sorts of social circles in my life, sometimes in very rarefied ones, and my acceptance has always seemed good to me. I certainly have no complaints about the ladies concerned. Nonetheless, I just don't seek (and barely notice) acceptance among anybody but those whom I personally value as people.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and for a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. Also, don't forget your handy-dandy summary of Obama news at OBAMOLOGY

No comments: