October 21, 2016
‘By the time they get into a position where they can help us, they are no longer one of us’
Matthew Continetti’s brief history of the modern American conservative movement is virulently anti-Trump but still worth reading:
The new party would devalue intellect and prioritize activism. “Buckley has acknowledged that most of the NR circle had been brought up on James Burnham’s Suicide of the West doctrine—a pessimistic, almost Spenglerian point of view—and that the possibility of arresting the decline of the West was not part of their consciousness at all,” wrote Paul Weyrich, who started the Heritage Foundation in 1973. “In 1978, William Buckley admitted to me that where political action was concerned, National Review had been guilty of the theological sin of otherworldliness: the belief that as long as one’s own life was free of sin, one needn’t worry about the affairs of the world.”
The enemies of the New Right were compromise, gradualism, and acquiescence in the corrupt system. Partisan identification had little to do with their antagonisms. Nor did ideology. Buckley and Will were just as much targets of media criticism as CBS and the New York Times. Conservatives and Republicans with Ivy League degrees were sellouts, weak, epiphenomena of the social disease. (…)
“There are conservatives whose game it is to quote English poetry and utter neo-Madisonian benedictions over the interests and institutions of establishment liberalism,” Kevin Phillips wrote in Commentary, clearly rebuking Will. “Then there are other conservatives—many I know—who have more in common with Andrew Jackson than with Edmund Burke. Their hope is to build cultural siege-cannon out of the populist steel of Idaho, Mississippi, and working-class Milwaukee, and then blast the Eastern liberal establishment to ideo-institutional smithereens.”
In two sentences Phillips repudiated the cornerstone of Burkeanism—the protection of established order against radical challenges—in favor of upheaval, destruction, and power.