What are “conservatives” trying to “conserve”?

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Great Buchanan column today:

What Is It We Wish to Conserve?
By Patrick J. Buchanan on October 24, 2011

A conservative’s task in society is “to preserve a particular people, living in a particular place during a particular time.”

Jack Hunter, in a review of this writer’s new book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? thus summarizes Russell Kirk’s view of the duty of the conservative to his country.[Suicide of a Superstate, American Conservative, October 20, 2011]

Kirk, the traditionalist, though not so famous as some of his contemporaries at National Review, is now emerging as perhaps the greatest of that first generation of post-World War II conservatives—in the endurance of his thought.

Richard Nixon believed that. Forty years ago, he asked this writer to contact Dr. Kirk and invite him to the White House for an afternoon of talk. No other conservative would do, said the president.

Kirk’s rendering of the conservative responsibility invites a question. Has the right, despite its many victories, failed? For, in what we believe and how we behave, we are not the people we used to be.

Perhaps. But then, we didn’t start the fire.

Second-generation conservatives, Middle Americans who grew up in mid-century, were engulfed by a set of revolutions that turned their country upside down and from which there is no going home again.

First was a civil rights revolution, which began with the freedom riders and March on Washington of August 1963 and ended tragically and terribly with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

That revolution produced the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, but was attended by the long, hot summers of the ’60s—days-long riots in Harlem in 1964, Watts in 1965, Detroit and Newark in 1967, and a hundred other cities and Washington, D.C., in 1968 that tore the nation apart.

Crucially, the initial demands—an end to segregation and equality of opportunity—gave way to demands for an equality of condition and equality of results through affirmative action, race-based preferences in hiring and admissions, and a progressive income tax. Reparations for slavery are now on the table.

In response to this revolution, LBJ, after the rout of Barry Goldwater, exploited his huge congressional majorities to launch a governmental revolution, fastening on the nation a vast array of social programs that now threaten to bankrupt the republic, even as they have created a vast new class of permanent federal dependents.

Full story here: http://www.vdare.com/articles/what-is-it-we-wish-to-conserve



  1. Buchanan seems like two people to me. He can write something like the column you posted, then, a year later he says in an interview:

    “Daily Bell: Did you vote for the GOP’s Romney for president?

    Pat Buchanan: Yes, I did vote for Governor Romney and Paul Ryan and did so enthusiastically. My sister worked for his campaign as a national surrogate and I was disappointed in the outcome but it was not altogether unexpected. I think that Hurricane Sandy stopped the Governor’s momentum. It was a great benefit to the President when you can play the role of comforter-in-chief. I think he did it well. After that, President Obama seemed to have regained the footing he had lost in the debates. So I was not wholly surprised. I had not predicted a Romney victory but I did have hopes.

    Daily Bell: We believe the GOP hijacked the nomination and took it away from Ron Paul who was clearly gaining momentum and gave it to Romney. Agree? Disagree?

    Pat Buchanan: I disagree with that. I think Romney won it fair and square and it was a very rough campaign. Ron Paul is a friend of mine and I have campaigned for him down in his congressional district in the old days. I like him and he’s been true to his convictions but I don’t think he was winning the nomination.”

    He’s delusional or a liar, or both. Maybe like most Republicans, he’s a delusional liar.

    That interview was with the Daily Bell and I read it on LRC’s Monday Dec.3, 2012 edition.

    • On Pat:

      He’s a paleo-con (nationalist conservative), not a Libertarian. He’s much to be preferred (philosophically as well as a human being) over, say, a creature like Billy Kristol – but he’s also no Libertarian, either. Still, despite the many things I disagree with him about, he’s not a thug – or a fool. He’s just an old-school American conservative. And, of course, he is getting old. It’s hard to see beyond one’s own time and generation. So Pat still sees – or pines for – the America of 1950.

      We are looking farther back – to the America of 1776.

      • I laugh when people accuse Ron Paul of wanting to go back to the America of the 1800’s and he says the same thing: I want to go back further than that.

        People hold such subjective/abstract ideas of reality when it comes to gov’t. Something they would never do in any other aspect of their lives.

        They verify every item and its price on the reciept when they go shopping and if there’s a single discrepency they correct it with the store manager immediately.

        When it comes to the gov’t? Eh, I’m taxed at some arbitrary rate, and my money is spent on arbitrary things that I have to say about and that’s fine with me.

        It’s as if they are two different people. So they can’t imagine an earlier American society where there was NO income tax, and NO federal reserve, and NO drug war. To them – even though America still had roads, and schools and national defense – that would be irresponsible.

      • No, he isn’t a paleocon, though he seems to see himself as one. I’ve been reading his schizoid rants for 20 years. He’s a typical modern republican, deluding himself into believing that he’s a conservative while continuing to write apologia for the GOP, neocons and all, even though he was so badly assaulted by them when he worked for Reagan and afterwards.

        Buchanan is, at the very least, a profoundly disturbed nutball. I really believe that he’s insane, though probably not evil himself. His self delusion simply doesn’t allow him to see the evil of his party and of their candidates.

        • I think you’re going too far – and being unfair to the man. Do you know him? I do – a little. I met him/talked with him a few times when I worked at The Washington Times back in the ’90s. He’s got a good sense of humor, is personable – and smart. I can tell you that from direct, first-hand knowledge.


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