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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
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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
Other authors before and since 1992, when "Reclaiming..." was first published, have told the history of the Old Right and made the case that American conservatism did not, as I put it in another review, spring fully-formed from the brows of Buckley and Burnham at a "National Review" editorial conference in 1952. Few of those other authors, though, can match the depth of Justin Raimondo's research, the apparent range of his reading, or his skill in tying it all together.
At least until we get a chance to see Bruce Ramsey's brand-new "Unsanctioned Voice - Garet Garrett, Journalist of the Old Right," "Reclaiming..." may be the definitive taxonomy of his place in the history of American conservatism. Raimondo's salvaging of this all-but-forgotten writer -- and his fascinating and important proof of the influence of Garrett on Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" -- are alone worth the price of the book.
"Reclaiming..." was first published in 1993, and wasn't updated for this new edition (except for the addition of those "critical essays"). It therefore doesn't address George W. Bush and his form of "conservatism," the war on terror and the expansion of empire both at home and abroad, or, most recently, the Ron Paul campaign and the thousands of newly-minted Revolutionaries it raised. Though that makes it obvious this book is 15 years old, you could almost claim Raimondo saw it coming. His sections on the neocons and their imperial project more than stands the test of time.
Where this book ended up surprising me (though having read some of the author's other works and having met him a few times many years ago, it probably shouldn't have), though, is that it's not only a well-researched and documented history, but also a spirited call for the intellectual heirs of the Old Right to, well, reclaim the American Right. His energetic defense of Pat Buchanan, his takedown of the myth of Rand as philosopher-sui-generis, and his feisty rejection of American Empire all deserve close reading. And as someone admittedly prone to Nockian pessimism, I found his invocation of Rothbard's driving optimism a valuable tonic.
One of Raimondo's major documentary sources, in fact, was Rothbard's then-unpublished manuscript for "The Betrayal of the American Right." Now that it too is in print, these two titles together make for great, indeed I'd argue essential, reading for today's conservatives, both newly-minted members of the Ron Paul Revolution and those weaned on Ann Coulter (if you'll pardon the imagery) and Fox News. The idea that we can ever escape our history is a profoundly Leftist one. Fortunately, the American Right has a history that not only is worth studying, but one its heirs can learn and take inspiration from.