When William F. Buckley Jr. began his education at the very conservative Yale University, he ruffled more than a few feathers. He began by taking on the school's hierarchy, challenging school policy. Not because it was then a place of injustice - no blacks or women allowed, but because he feared a growing liberal presence, that threatened his natural place in society.
This was not the first incident of this kind for the young Buckley. While attending Millbrook School, an exclusive private institute in New York, he appeared uninvited at a faculty meeting to complain about his teachers' politics, which he believed were too liberal.
Maybe he missed the school's motto before enrolling - Non Sibi Sed Cunctis, which is Latin for "Not for Ones Self but for All", a view he would continue to challenge throughout his life.
The Crusade for Christianity and Capitalism, Not Necessarily in That Order
William Buckley's father, William Frank Sr., was a Texas oil tycoon, who had holdings in many other countries, including Canada. His son's anti-communist leanings came directly from him, which were cemented by his experience as an oil baron in Mexico.
In 1913, military leader Victoriano Huerta, overthrew the democratically elected government of Francisco Madero. Buckley kept out of the conflict, since it had not changed how he conducted his business. However, when Pancho Villa took the field against Huerta, and threatened to expropriate foreign oil holdings, Buckley began to pay attention, and despite the fact that his own country's president, Woodrow Wilson, took the side of Villa's rebels, sending in troops to assist them, Buckley remained loyal to Huerta.
When the rebels successfully ousted Huerta, Buckley funded coups against the new government, aided fleeing priests, and lobbied Washington to intervene against the revolutionaries. In 1921, when one of his agents was caught smuggling guns into Mexico to aid anti-government forces, Buckley was kicked out of the country and his properties were confiscated. (1)
This experience indelibly shaped his worldview, seeing the Mexican revolutionaries as part of a worldwide Bolshevik takeover, and himself as a crusader, fighting a worldwide movement that was against capitalism and Christianity. In foreign affairs, he did not support his country's idea of making the world safe for democracy, but felt that authoritarianism was the best way to keep the masses in line.
He was a member of Charles Manion's America First Committee that had agitated against U.S. involvement in European wars, preferring to take sides in smaller conflicts, that would ensure U.S. control of natural resources, thus keeping communism in check.
During the Spanish Civil War, he enthusiastically backed the dictatorship of Catholic Francisco Franco, and during WWII, wanted the United States to stand aside and allow Hitler to defeat the Soviet Union, which, according to a visitor to the Buckley home, he saw as "an infinitely greater threat than Nazi Germany." (2)
The Creation of a Philosophical Anarchist
The Buckley children were home-schooled, where they were instructed in the fine arts, and indoctrinated into the religion of the free market.
A regular guest in the Buckley home was the philosopher, Albert Jay Nock, who had created the theory of a Remnant Society. The Remnant, according to Nock, consisted of a small minority who understood the nature of the state and society, and "who would become influential only after the current dangerous course had become thoroughly and obviously untenable", a situation which might not occur until far into the future.
This small minority, of course, was the country's elite, and the "current dangerous course", FDR's New Deal and the "state" as a creature of the "mass-man". In his book, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Nock claimed that only a few members of society were capable of being properly educated, seeing it as a fact of nature, "like the fact that few are six feet tall" and that "there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others"
The very tall Buckley (well over six feet) admitted that Superfluous Man, was his favourite book, I suppose because it validated his sense of superiority. He was one of the Remnants, a "Nockian counter-revolutionary remnant", who must spend his life fighting a "global contest between Christian individualism and atheistic communism". (1)
In his day, Nock (d. 1945), realized that his thinking would not be accepted by society, and referred to himself as a Philosophical Anarchist.
Buckley, while a gifted writer, was never really a deep thinker. His views were written in stone, and his pedantry, allowed him to effectively challenge those with conflicting ideas. Many liberal intellectuals, drew him into debate, only to find themselves reduced to rubble.
In his book, God and Man at Yale, Buckley debunked "academic freedom" as a screen behind which the faculty was indoctrinating gullible students in liberalism and atheism. He even named the offending professors and exposed what he "supposed to be their brainwashing techniques". "As a believer in God, a Republican, and a Yale graduate," wrote McGeorge Bundy, one of the targeted profs, "I find that the book is dishonest in its use of facts, false in its theory, and a discredit to its author." (3) However, the arguments failed to prevent it from becoming a best seller. In fact, they may have helped to make it so.
Bright Young People With Stars in Their Eyes
During the 1960 Republican convention, a large group of noisy young people, created quite a sensation. Calling themselves Youth for Goldwater, they attempted to take over the Republican leadership and turn the Party into a strict conservative body. Barry Goldwater was their chosen leader, because of his staunch anti-communist, anti-Civil Rights Movement, pro-military and pro-business, views.
However, Goldwater claimed that he wasn't ready, so instead Richard Nixon was given the nod. Nixon of course, lost to a young senator from Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Though they had been defeated in battle, the war had just begun, as a well known conservative activist, Marvin Liebman, recruited the young soldiers for a new kind of army.
Liebman's firm, Marvin Liebman Associates, Inc., provided organizational, fundraising and public relations expertise to the anti-communist and conservative movements, so he worked his magic, becoming a father figure to the young radicals. A meeting was scheduled for September 9, 1960, at William Buckley's Sharon Connecticut estate - Great Elm.
"Let's go for September 9 at Great Elm, in Sharon, Connecticut. That's the Buckleys'—Bill Buckley's—family home, plenty of room." The word went out, and a month and a half after the convention, as summer lingered in New England, a hundred young people gathered at Great Elm, where, over three days, they would lay the foundation of Young Americans for Freedom. (4)The location was not without its symbolism. Buckley's father, William Sr. chose an area, where as a Conservative Catholic Texan, he would be surrounded by liberal protestant Easterners. They would have to take notice. He no doubt used the same logic when choosing the progressive Millbrook School in New York, for young Will, who immediately took on the establishment.
So while most young people were pushing for equality, an end to nuclear armament and the military-industrial complex; this group of 100 met to push for the exact opposite.
The meeting resulted in the creation of The Sharon Statement comprised of a series of clauses, introduced by the words, "We, as young conservatives believe..."
They could have just as easily been led by the words, "We, as young conservatives don't accept...", because they were against almost everything. Eisenhower, nuclear disarmament, the censor of Joseph McCarthy, the Welfare State, unions, Civil Rights, liberals .... all on the YAF "hit list".
But they did adopt three basic principles: the acknowledgement of God, states' rights (segregation), and the sovereignty of the free market.
On March 16, 1962; Time magazine covered YAF's first major rally at Madison Square Garden. One reader commented the following week: "I attended the Young Americans for Freedom rally at Madison Square Garden and was duly impressed with the rousing example of patriotism. I was a Republican, but am now a confirmed conservative. Perhaps a new political party is what this country needs." WILLIAM H. WISDOM Cherry Hill, N.J. (6)
But another reader was not as impressed with the attacks on the New deal and the Welfare State, and their trumpeted war cries: "Why it should surprise anyone that the bulk of ultraconservatives are under 30 puzzles me. Why not? They missed the Depression, so can't understand the desperation that led to social-welfare bills. Never having been hungry and without work, they can't understand why they should have to pay to help those who are. They missed World War II and Korea, and seem to think that war is some grand chess game. They've lived so long in the soothing syrup of security of job and home that they can't tolerate the insecurity of the cold war. I'd rather be dead than Red, too, but first I'd like a chance to fight the battle without bombs." SHIRLEY PUDAS Charlotte, N.C (7)
Since then, according to a new book - A Generation Awakes: Young Americans for Freedom and the Creation of the Conservative Movement, by former YAF leader Wayne Thorburn: "hundreds of thousands of young conservatives have passed through YAF on their way to becoming conservative leaders -- among them a Vice President of the United States, 26 members of Congress, eight U.S. Circuit Court Judges, numerous media personalities and journalists, college presidents and professors, authors, and leaders of every kind of conservative and libertarian organization in America."
The vice-president was Dan Quayle.
Other important alumni, include, David Keene, President of the National Rifle Association; Michelle Easton, Founder and President of Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute; which is promoted by Ezra Levant, Geert Wilders and Sun TV; Christopher Long, now President of the paleoconservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute, begun by Buckley Jr. in 1953; and Richard Viguerie, pioneer of direct mail political fundraising. They have also helped many Republicans get elected, including Ronald Reagan.
The Republican Party Destroyed
When William F. Buckley Jr. got off his plane in July of 1964, to attend the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, he was greeted by a large contingent of YAF members, detonating confetti bombs and singing "Won't You Come Home Bill Buckley". (8)
Since their formation, four years before, Young Americans for Freedom had grown, and young people dressed like Bill Buckley was a common sight on college and university campuses. He was their hero.
And while they cheered and hooted for Buckley's arrival, a different scene played out for Dwight D. Eisenhower. There Yafers showed their support for Barry Goldwater, holding up signs and chanting "We want Barry", letting the former president know that his support for Goldwater's rival, William Scranton, would not be appreciated.
Throughout the convention, wherever Barry Goldwater went, his noisy young fans went with him, standing in front of both the Confederate flag and the Stars and Stripes. Journalists were shouted down and mowed down, though they did manage to capture a few quotes, including the gem from a Goldwater supporter: "The nigger issue will put him in the White House!" he roared, when asked about the Civil Rights groups protesting outside.
Creating bookends in the Cow Palace, where the convention was held, one side would yell Viva! while the other would promptly answer Ole! Norman Mailer, who was in the crowd, called it a "mystical communion", reminiscent of Seig Heil. (9)
The moderate Republicans, of whom there were many, began to panic. What if Goldwater won on a platform of inequality, union busting and nuclear attacks on perceived enemies? Scranton warned that "Godwaterism has come to stand for a whole crazy-quilt collection of absurd and dangerous positions that would be soundly repudiated by the American people." He was right, although a colleague presented the biggest Question of the day:
"WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAS HAPPENED TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY?" Little did he know that it was going to get a whole lot worse.
One of the young Goldwaterites, was the seventeen-year-old Morton Blackwell, who continues to train young conservative warriors, at his Leadership Institute. He helped Preston Manning create his version of the school, with a $10 million donation from a single corporate sponsor, who asked to remain anonymous.
The strong influence of the American neoconservatives, now has me asking "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAS HAPPENED TO CANADIAN POLITICS?", though I already know the answer.
This is what happened.
1. The Remnant: William F. Buckley, Counter-Revolutionary, By John Judis, The New Republic, March 26, 2008
3. Columnists: The Sniper, Time magazine, November 03, 1967
4. Flying High: Remembering Barry Goldwater, By William F. Buckley Jr. , Basic Books, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-465-00836-0, p. 18
6. Letters: Time Magazine, March 23, 1962
8. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, By Rick Perlstein, Nation Books, 2001, ISBN: 0-8090-2858-1, p. 372
9. Perlstein, 2001, p. 382(4)