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Wm. F. Buckley, Jr’s Credenda for National Review: A Tea Party Manifesto


Among our convictions:

1. It is the job of centralized government (in peacetime) to protect its citizens’ lives, liberty and property. All other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress. The growth of government (the dominant social feature of this century) must be fought relentlessly. In this great social conflict of the era, we are, without reservations, on the libertarian side.

2. The profound crisis of our era is, in essence, the conflict between the Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias, and the disciples of Truth, who defend the organic moral order.  We believe that truth is neither arrived at nor illuminated by monitoring election results, binding though these are for other purposes, but by other means, including a study of human experience. On this point we are, without reservations, on the conservative side.

3. The century’s most blatant force of satanic utopianism is communism. We consider “coexistence” with communism neither desirable nor possible, nor honorable; we find ourselves irrevocably at war with communism and shall oppose any substitute for victory.

4. The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence (rather than “newness”) and of honest intellectual combat (rather than conformity).

5. The most alarming single danger to the American political system lies in the fact that an identifiable team of Fabian operators is bent on controlling both our major political parties (under the sanction of such fatuous and unreasoned slogans as “national unity,” “middle-of-the-road,” “progressivism,” and “bipartisanship.”) Clever intriguers are reshaping both parties in the image of Babbitt, gone Social-Democrat. When and where this political issue arises, we are, without reservations, on the side of the traditional two-party system that fights its feuds in public and honestly; and we shall advocate the restoration of the two-party system at all costs.

6. The competitive price system is indispensable to liberty and material progress. It is threatened not only by the growth of Big Brother government, but by the pressure of monopolies (including union monopolies.) What is more, some labor unions have clearly identified themselves with doctrinaire socialist objectives. The characteristic problems of harassed business have gone unreported for years, with the result that the public has been taught to assume (almost instinctively) that conflicts between labor and management are generally traceable to greed and intransigence on the part of management. Sometimes they are; often they are not. NATIONAL REVIEW will explore and oppose the inroads upon the market economy caused by monopolies in general, and politically oriented unionism in particular; and it will tell the violated businessman’s side of the story.

7. No superstition has more effectively bewitched America’s Liberal elite than the fashionable concepts of world government, the United Nations, internationalism, international atomic pools, etc. Perhaps the most important and readily demonstrable lesson of history is that freedom goes hand in hand with a state of political decentralization, that remote government is irresponsible government. It would make greater sense to grant independence to each of our 50 states than to surrender U.S. sovereignty to a world organization. – William F. Buckley Jr. November 19, 1955

Never mind for the moment that the waning and post-WFB era editors at NR have been, for the mostpart, inveterate squishes. [You meant invertebrate, yes? – Ed. Please… distinction without a difference.] The robust (can we say masculine?) conservatism espoused by Buckley in 1955 is very much alive today, and since the Spring of 2009, is in greater health and popularity that at any time in over a century.

IF NR and Buckley – and conservatism in general – have made errors, they have been to focus on the gross effect of statist thinking and to deal with it in national policy terms.

They key to the long game is in the individual; Ayn Rand is having a good and hearty laugh.

[Update: We shall, from time to time, revisit this post and WFB’s credenda individually.  If you seek Peace, seek first Liberty. – Ed.]

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 2013/10/09 16:10

    WFB was of course brilliant. Even many libs were in awe of him, mostly because out-Ivyed the best (read worst) of them with his seemingly meandering speech patterns, only to spin back hard and sting them hard like the very clever scorpion he was.

    We lost a valuable asset when he passed.

    • 2013/10/09 17:58

      Then again, not a few of WFB’s protégées were statist-lite™, whilst he simultaneously rejected the Birchers and Rand. What, David Frum (stop smirking) was preferable to Robert Tracinski?

      NR (and NRO) achieved little to advance independent individualism by playing it as if Washington and “national” were the focus. That was a huge ideological lacuna and strategic blunder. A brilliant but imperfect cynosure? Or a mole?

      • 2013/10/09 18:51

        I vote for “A brilliant but imperfect cynosure” And aren’t we all in at least a few ways imperfect?

      • 2013/10/09 20:21

        I’d disagree, but of course, my modesty prevents it. (cough) Brilliant it is.

        In fairness, too, the Talmud is filled with similar examples. Ideas that later need completion, course correction or even total disagreement, but always with due thanks and respect for the groundwork.

        I hope WFB and Ayn have a favorite marina-side cafe somewhere up there. They had a lot in common.


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