Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism

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William F. Buckley, Jr. Interview on Books, Education, Family, Finance, Political Views (2000)

The paradoxical reply: It is not dead because the original was not an ideology. That declaration had always annoyed me in my younger days, when William F.


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Buckley, Jr. Sure it was. What did Buckley himself write in his Up from Liberalism about the essence of conservatism? The recent events at Yale began with an e-mail from a collection of no fewer than thirteen university bureaucrats e. Cornell University distributed guidelines on the public display of holiday symbols short version: avoid religious symbols but mistletoe too. That ukase issued from the Department of Environment Health and Safety, since it also included fire safety tips.

Buckley and Individualist Conservatism

Anyone serious about political philosophy will learn from it. Highly recommended. Buckley Jr. When Buckley launched National Review in , conservatism was a beleaguered, fringe segment of the Republican Party. Buckley and his allies devised a new-model conservatism that replaced traditional ideals of Edmund Burke with a passionate belief in the free market; religious faith; and an aggressive stance on foreign policy.

Buckley's TV show, Firing Line , and his campaign for mayor of New York City made him a celebrity; his wit and zest for combat made conservatism fun.

The Maker of a Movement

At Yale University, he created a sensation by attacking the liberal faculty in a best-selling book, "God and Man at Yale" , brashly contending that education was all about indoctrination, and that the Yale faculty was promulgating a godless secularism that should not merely be attacked but expunged from the college curriculum. Raising money from his father and other donors, Buckley at 30 began promoting the conservative point of view in a magazine that sought to enlist the services of prominent conservatives, including Kirk and Whittaker Chambers -- the latter pilloried in the liberal press for accusing Alger Hiss, a State Department official, of espionage.

How did Buckley not only make a success of his magazine, but also enlist as his first subscribers Ronald Reagan and others who would take conservatism from the extreme edges of electoral politics to the mainstream? Bogus provides the customary tributes to Buckley's wit and commanding rhetoric, but, more important, he points to Buckley's organizing skills and the way he co-opted even those conservatives who opposed certain of his positions.

‎Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism (Unabridged) on Apple Books

In other words, Buckley used his magazine to drive a wedge into the heart of American liberalism, making National Review a force conservatives dare not oppose. Perhaps the biographer's greatest accomplishment is exposing the shameful aspect of Buckley's legacy: a racism that his conservative contemporaries have tried to obscure.


  • "Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism" by Carl T. Bogus.
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  • Bogus never calls Buckley an out-and-out racist, but this conclusion is inescapable, given the evidence the biographer supplies. Buckley thought African Americans were inferior, and he used the National Review as an apologist organ for Southern segregationists.

    Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism (Unabridged)

    This sorry chapter in Buckley's biography and in the history of the National Review is, however, put in perspective, one that gives Buckley due credit for, in the main, making a powerful contribution to American political thought and to the culture of politics that would have been considerably diminished without his sparkling contributions.

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