More TMWWT on WFB

Here’s the rest of that article from yesterday. I hope you enjoy it! Here‘s a link to Dictionary.com in case you need it. Good luck with the rest of exams!

Also, tomorrow we will re-post the most-viewed CR Daily post ever (hint: it involves furry barnyard critters).

Inveighing We Will Go

WFB was not only important for what he brought into the Conservative Movement, but also for the riff-raff he discarded from the Movement. As he wrote in Up from Liberalism (1959), “The intellectual probity of a person is measured not merely by what comes out of him, but by what he puts up from others.”

Chief among this irresponsible faction of the Right was the shrill John Birch Society, a frighteningly active group of anti-Communist conspiracy theorists. They went so far as to claim that Eisenhower was a puppet of the Communists. In WFB’s words, the Birch fallacy was “the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence: We lost China to the Communists, therefore the president of the United States and the secretary of state wished China to go to the Communists.”

In 1962, he scorned the Birch Society and especially its founder, James Welch, in the National Review and other writings (with the public agreement of Barry Goldwater), thus expelling them from the movement. The John Birch Society retaliated by realizing that WFB must be a stooge for the liberals, if not for the Communists themselves.

The Jeweler’s Eye

Whereas one might feel satisfied with one’s knowledge of, say, Napoleon after merely reading a summary of his accomplishments, one would be wrong to feel similarly of WFB. He was an even more interesting character than the mechanical facts would suggest. Nothing about WFB was cliché, though his style was the result of his natural inclinations rather than any intentional or deliberate attempt to “be his own person.”

He had charming mannerisms and a lambent wit which he flashed both in his writing and in his off-hand, on-camera comments. His vocabulary was breathtaking. Many have called him a “sesquipedalian” because he was, in the words of Jonah Goldberg, the “Prince of Polysyllabism.” But he was not a one-horse pony: his range of words went from the highfalutin to the everyday. As Jay Nordlinger of National Review noted, “Buckley will use the word stochastic, but he will also use the word Wow! And middling writers never use either.” Having learned English in England, he had an aristocratic accent which must be experienced to be understood.

Gratitude

As opposed to continuing to try to improve upon the work of abler pens who have tried to pay tribute to WFB, it might be more profitable to recount my personal attachment to beloved Buckley. I was born into a nuclear family that- excluding me- leans to the radical Left. I shudder to admit it, but my first political affiliation was with adolescent Marxism.

Upon hearing that confession, people tend to respond by asking what turned me Republican. I typically stumble around; it’s nearly impossible to satisfactorily describe my “Saul-becomes-Paul” moment. It’s more worthwhile to describe what sustains my conservatism – WFB.

I initially encountered WFB when I was first turning Right, and was so enraptured that I spent the next month devoted to reading back issues of National Review and every book of his I could find. At that early stage, his work succinctly articulated the threat that statism poses to freedom, and cohered a lot of notions of mine that had previously been resolutely nebulous. If ever I waver, I have his immense oeuvre (his collected papers weigh seven tons) to turn to for succor.

A paragon of gentlemanly conduct, Buckley was an example of the heights to which a thoughtful, gracious man can aspire. Buckley believed that circumstances could be shaped by individuals, and he proved it single-handedly. In an era of entrenched relativism, desperate nihilism, and especially during the tumultuous and doubt-plagued years that college can become, WFB’s is perhaps the best example to which to anchor oneself.

Buckley asserted that there are truths which are self-evident and steadfast. His spirit of high-minded deviance of, well, the Modern Age, his counter-revolutionary political philosophy, unwavering conviction and unprecedented vigor should serve as a clarion call to all generations that follow.

One thought on “More TMWWT on WFB

  1. I'm here again to remind you that WFB was a vigorous and prolific supporter of white supremacy in the US and in South Africa. Other stupid things he did included endorsing McCarthyism, the use of nuclear weapons, and the tattoing of AIDS patients. Decades after the civil rights movement, he did admit that Federal intervention was necessary to overcome Jim Crow, but there's no indication he ever made any serious effort to renounce his voluminous and widely published racism. Similarly, the National Review was still publishing white supremacist cretins like Steve Sailer as recently as 2005. A "paragon of gentlemanly conduct" and a "thoughtful and gracious man," indeed.

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