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Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement Paperback – May 15, 2008
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— RON PAUL, Ten Term U.S. Congressman (TX) and 2008 Presidential Candidate
About the Author
Justin Raimondo is editorial director of Antiwar.com, a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute, and author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.George W. Carey is professor of government at Georgetown University. He is the author or editor of many books, including The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition (with Willmoore Kendall) and, from ISI Books, Liberty and Virtue: The Conservative/Libertarian Debate.
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I'm a great fan of Justin Raimondo, and I started to read this book a few years ago. (Since then I have read it two more times).For some reason, I got hung up and never finished. Maybe that was good, because when I decided to revisit it a few days ago, it made more sense to me than it did then.
Justin takes us back to the Old Right (the only legitimate Right as far as I'm concerned)as well as the splintered left of the Trots. He spends a lot of time chronicling the journey from Trot/Schactmanite to the Republican Party and neoconism. I knew some of this already. Justin however, makes the labyrinth navigatable. Permanent revolution and internationalism morphed into American Empire and perpetual war for perpetual peace. The commies came running. Stalin didn't help the situation. Buckley's banishment of the Old Right and the growth of the National Review re-shaped conservatives into a tortured parody of its former self.
The book is a great introduction to libertarian "founders" Garret Garrett, John J Flynn HL Menken, Albert Nook Frank Chodorov and the great Rose Inglis Wilder and Isabel Patersen. Some of these people showed up in my years of anarchist reading and I always wondered how anarchists ended up portrayed rather recently as rightwing nuts. They weren't. But since they opposed the centralized state, they must be! I admit I"m not as taken with Garret Garrett as Justin, but I love Wilder and Patersen. Justin, also takes to task Ayn Rand, whom I know he admires greatly, but recognizes as a faulty and not original thinker. The influence of Murray Rothbard is all over the place.
Justin is quite brave in adding two critical essays at the end of this re-publication by Scott Richert and David Gordon--as well as a intro by Pat Buchanan whom he criticizes in the book.
This is a wonderful book, and I'll be using it as a reference.I'd love to see an new infusion of fusionism between the "left" and "right", but I doubt the "left" is smart enough to try it.
6/26/2017 Just finished a re-read. This is a very important book especially in the days of The Great Buffoon. Many things are much more clean now. (less)
WWII and the Viet Nam wars introduced a different kind of "conservative" into the conservative movement. The original conservatives were non-interventionists. This era found some of these new "conservatives" were internationalists or globalists. That's where the change became very evident. Even today the branding of some conservatives as isolationists is disingenuous. A point Mr. Raimondo effectively makes clear is that this tag is used rather than a more accurate word- nationalist.
In the Introduction the author addresses the changes resulting from the "co-optation" and "corruption" of what today could be called the Old Right. Rather than favoring nationalism or "America First" like the Old Right of Taft, Garrett, Flynn, and today's Pat Buchanan; neoconservatives favor a global empire with as much defense spending as they can get.
On page 30 Mr. Raimondo addressed globalism and the neocon buzzphrase "exporting democracy".
"This is the new myth in the name of which the world-savers and world planners empty our wallets and fill their coffers; the new rationale for the existence of countless think-tanks and the cushy jobs that go with them; the latest code word for a frankly imperial policy, unrestrained by either modesty or common sense."
He contrasts the priorites that have changed. The Old Right emphasized individual rights and property rights where today the key word is "democracy."
This edition was published in 1993. I am surprised by how vividly some of the Old Right quotes from more than 50 years ago have summed up the politics of today.
"The Washington of the nineties is ruled, not by Congress, or even the President, but by the lobbyists of every group aspiring to victimhood, competing to rob the taxpayers blind."- page 240. Sound accurate for today? I think so.
A Samuel Francis quote addresses what needs to be done to reclaim the original conservative movement(there was a conservative movement before Bill Buckley,jr. and National Review). "In short, what is needed, says Francis, is a populist revolt. Not a movement of intellectuals directed at the elite, not an attempt to preserve what has already been destroyed, but a grassroots movement against the welfare-warfare state."
Some more topics that the author covers in the book are:
*He identifies the first neoconservative.
*The origin of the New World Order concept.
*The European influence on American domestic policy.
*Chronicles the evolution of the left-wing anticommunists of the fifties and sixties to the neoconservatives of the seventies and eighties.
*He devotes a lot of pages to Garet Garrett and his books. The "Rise of Empire", published in 1952 was way ahead of it's time! The material on Garet Garrett alone make this book indispensable.
*Garrett's view that the federal income tax was nothing less than power to redistribute wealth and assume power over money. That is an important component of imperialism.
*Why the word "isolationist" is a straw man argument and always was.
One motivating factor for my interest in this book was the short recommendation of the book by Ron Paul on this Amazon page.
I wasn't disappointed. The author has written an honest, unbiased book about the old conservative movement and some of it's prominent figures.
I would rate this book higher than 5 stars if that was possible!