Mar 30, 2008

Bill Bonner on the historical shift to neoconservatism

After the war [World War II], there was no going back. America was the leading world power. "Isolationism" became a kind of insult. A few of the old conservatives – such as Frank Chodorov, Robert Taft and Warren Buffett's father, a US Congressman – kept wearing their old starched collars. But the fashion had clearly changed. They could vote against government spending programs...and they opposed further military adventures abroad... but they couldn't win national elections and they couldn't participate in the great fun of having an empire – getting to boss people around all over the world. There was no glory in being a conservative. No power. No money. No style.

Then, with the Cold War, even the old die-hards went shopping for new clothes. In their minds, it was a contest between good and evil...freedom and and white.

Indeed, the Cold War played roughly the same roll as the War on Terror would half a century later – it perverted the old conservative values.

"We are again being told to be afraid," wrote Frank Chodorov. "As it was before the two world wars so it is now; politicians talk in frightening terms, journalists invent scare-lines, and even next-door neighbors are taking up the cry: the enemy is at the city gates; we must gird for battle. In case you don't know, the enemy this time is the USSR."

Few Americans had even met a communist, but they were certain that if they didn't go toe to toe with them in places like Korea, Berlin and Vietnam, they'd soon be stealing the family silver in Dubuque. The urbane, witty, charming and cosmopolitan William F. Buckley:

The "invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union" imminently threatens the United States, he said. "We have to accept Big Government for the duration – for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged...except through the instrument of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores."

And thus was the fabric laid out...cut and sewn...for America's new conservative outfits. Now, they could fight totalitarians by being totalitarians.

~ Bill Bonner, "Listening to Bill Buckley Give a Speech Was a Painful Experience,", March 27, 2008

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