Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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FIRING LINE: France and Indochina


Buckley: When in 1965 the various émigré committees signed the Quebec Agreement, it was widely speculated that the inaugural chairman of the Committee for National Salvation would be François Mitterrand. The qualifications of Mr. Mitterrand were widely recognized. He had been appointed Director for National Reconciliation in 1959 by President Chautemps of the Provisional Government of the Third Republic, he had been asked six years earlier to form the Organization for the Preservation of a Free Algeria, back when he served as the principal deputy for the late General Weygand, and during the Revolution he performed several acts of courage in defense of the legitimate state for which he was decorated, before his exile here in the United States. Besides all of that, he is a productive intellectual and a politician, a combination notably alien to the French people [laughs]. He earned his degree in the thirties from the University of Paris, where he participated in several Catholic and conservative organizations and wrote articles on politics and religion for The Echo of Paris. Since his exile, he has devoted his life to the unification of the querulous cliques that once claimed the mantle of legitimate French authority, and we congratulate him on the accomplishment of that feat. Mr. Mitterrand now serves as Chairman of the Committee for National Salvation and continues to write, including his forthcoming “The Long March of Vietnam,” which will be our subject for today.

Mr. Mitterrand, your associate Pierre Boutang of French Action recently wrote in the New Yorker that “the expedition in North Vietnam cannot be understood without recognizing the political pathology at the heart of the mission...it has convinced the French people that the historical processes of imperialism have been overcome without any alteration in the distribution of power. Paris’ instructions still carry the force of diktat. Thus our tragedy is that this authority and its military accoutrement are employed towards morally degenerative ends. It is a war at once for the propagation of Marxism as well as for the continued subjugation of the Vietnamese people.” I would like to ask Mr. Mitterrand if he agrees with this interpretation?


ForVjmx.jpg

Mitterrand: I believe generally, yes. I do not think, as the passage suggests, that the collaboration can be reduced to a matter of a colonial edict. It would be better to recognize that the North Vietnamese state is itself a construction of the communist government, and so it would be easy to conclude that both the personalities and the ideology of North Vietnam are prefigured to the French position. I have no doubt that in practical terms this affords the Parisian government a great deal of latitude to…

Buckley: Perhaps then you consider this similar to the British government’s policy of moral leadership?

Mitterrand: No, no, I do not think they are the same. The British situation is distinctive in the sense that their political leadership, holding a position of real authority in the colonial world, has preferred to adopt what we might call global abstention. The French position, I would say, is rather the opposite. It has failed in practical terms to direct the empire in a coordinated direction, though it struggles admirably to ignore this reality.

Buckley: I see.

Mitterrand: But I think the important part in that passage is how it concludes. The French expedition is not only a morally degenerate campaign, in that it is a Marxist enterprise, but one of incoherence and hypocrisy. The entire mission of French Indochina has been inverted from one ideological program to another. Before the revolution, it was not without its inconsistencies, but it was still a mission that expounded the Western development of Vietnam in material and moral terms. Now the agenda is rather distorted. It seeks to impose Marxism on Vietnam, even though from a Marxist viewpoint such an imposition is a perversion of its own historical processes. I do not think anyone in France believes that the ideology of political and economic organization which persists in the Metropole is applicable to that of Vietnam, and yet that is the method and structure of authority which exists in Indochina on French insistence.

Buckley: In your mind, would it have been preferable to allow Vietnam to develop organically?

Mitterrand: Absolutely. In fact, I feel much the same way about Algeria. We hear a good deal about the desire for land reform and other such policies among the Vietnamese people, and we know how these concessions attract the peasantry towards communism. There is no reason for this. These policies might have attained the same importance and popular satisfaction through a national transformation as a communist one.

(interrupting) Buckley: And would be happier for it.

Mitterrand (laughing): Yes, quite so. It is as simple as this. There is nothing indispensable anymore about the French presence. Therefore it persists simply to impose its own state ideology, for it [syndicalism] is entirely irrelevant to the arc of Indochina’s development and for its own spiritual independence. It is a vanity project on a grand scale, as only the French could accomplish (both laughing). Still, all the time France rejoices at her anti-imperialist campaigns, ignorant to the fact that her new imperialism is the very ideological pedestal from which she sings liberation to the natives. You have not been so successful in exporting your own democratic expressions to call the Vietnamese enterprise an imperialist one.

Buckley: That may very well be true. But what I would like to interrogate is the origin of this project of national vanity. If, as you say, the French expedition is purely a symbolic one, an extension of Europe’s obsession with the revolutionary, does that not also impute within it a strategic value insofar as the essential quality of the revolutionary state is the relentless exportation of its viewpoint? Does Paris not view the struggle within the context of regional maneuvers against the capitalist world?

Mitterrand: By necessity, Marxist foriegn policy must be channelled through traditional avenues of power and balance. It is the natural consequence of the failure of world revolution. However, I do not think the revolutionary state has designed a regional policy in Southeast Asia from which it is pursuing its tactical ends in Indochina. France cannot confront the United States in any corridor of the globe, the disparities are too extreme. This remains the unspoken confession of the syndicalist alliance down to this day. In Indochina, however, Paris has nestled itself between two giants. Only there can it employ the specter of China, which has, since Korea, blunted the military flexibility of this country, to carry out its design. This cushion has provided the syndicalists with a refuge from the verities of international relations elsewhere, and enabled them to conduct a policy immune from American retaliation. So in this sense French participation is almost entirely improvised. Here perhaps the French and the English communists are most similar.

Buckley: One is almost inclined to respect the Soviets and the Chinese for their thoughtfulness (both laughing). Now, I grant you that the conditions have been optimal for French involvement; not even the presidential princeling would deny that. But you see, here we have outstanding the very motivation for this improvisation, as you call it. If it is as you say, and there is an absence of a coherent policy...the absence of a popular policy...

Mitterrand (interrupting): I did not say that the improvisation is unpopular.

Buckley: Go on.

Mitterrand: In fact, I might argue the contrary.

Buckley: In this country, if it were apparent to the public that the leadership was favoring a peripatetic foriegn policy, as some allege has unfolded in Southeast Asia, you would quickly discover packed pulpits and placards.

Mitterrand: The French are not Americans.

Buckley: We won’t hold it against you (smiling).

Mitterrand: No, but, this is an important point. The essence of the French Empire is as sentimental as material. Before the revolution, there were those who supported and those who opposed colonial control, just as in, say, Portugal today. Those divisions were natural for a traditional imperial state. But today, the French people feel absolved from the orthodox concerns of Empire—they do not need to inflict the same cruelties or exploitations that once girded their order. This is not to say it does not continue regardless, but Marxism has liberated their consciences.

Buckley: By ebullient speeches for “national liberation?”

Mitteracy: Yes, and there is no doubt that this feeling is the sanctuary of imperial paternalism. The French people are not ready to abandon their fatherhood. Who can blame them? We know the stagnation of syndicalism. It has revealed itself as a philosophy that can preach progress while in fact satisfying the reactionary. Everyone knows that Western Europe is much as it was in the 1940s, crushed by state power into economic and intellectual stasis, while, you know, this country has endured every sacrifice since 1941, and yet has been transformed into the first defender of liberty and material progress. The legacy of syndicalism must be recognized as one of perpetual frustration. When you understand this, you will know why the French state clings so dearly onto their adventures.

Buckley: Flattery won't save you.

Mitterrand: It never hurts (laughing).

Buckley: Well, you’ve described this, uh, ennui. I can certainly understand how these foriegn divergences would keep the approbation of the French people. Even so, this is, I’m sure you’ll agree, not the chief impulse behind the policy of the French government. Unless you mean to say something like, “the French government is willfully distracting the French public with its dangerous program in Indochina.” If that were the case...


SExJxuM.jpg


Mitterrand: No, nothing so obvious, though it might be said that I believe the recent re-election of the Left Front was in large part decided by the popularity of the war. Stil, I am sure that the leadership suffers from the same pathology as the citizenry. Most groups in the Assembly, and, of course, the leadership, are committed to a principle they call ‘normalization.’

Buckley: In Indochina?

Mitterrand: Yes. But of course this normalization is anything but normal. It does not say, we shall leave your country and cooperate on equal terms; instead it imposes a political authority that imitates our own and then insists on permanent amiability and cooperation as the pretext for accomplishing normalization. Nothing would inspire French pride as much as the ratification of various political and economic arrangements with Indochina, even if in practical terms the benefit to France would be exclusively figurative. In my mind, at least such an outcome would reveal the farcical relationship between European communism and the colonies. This would divulge something that the British have striven to avoid, though perhaps they too will be exposed the longer they remain in Malaysia and so forth. .

Buckley: For much of the past century, as you know, the problem of self-rule has haunted the European powers. Such excuses as we now hear from our Southern partisans regarding, say, the American Negro, were quite commonplace in the imperial discourse...and on and on they would go regarding the infantility of subject peoples, their inability govern themselves until they could, if you would pardon the expression, pull themselves by their bootstraps. Now, I do not detect a concern in your remarks for the capacity of the peoples of Asia and Africa to conduct government in a responsible manner. Would that be a reasonable summation?

Mitterrand: It is not that I have no concerns.. I worry that the political cultures of the colonial world are corrosive to the stability of their nation-states. This is not a racial point, mind you. I think the tremendous violence in the Third World, for all its entanglements in the global conflict, is chiefly an expression of local conditions. Here is the thing, however. It would be preferable to allow these, creation struggles, if you please, rather than concede them to the Marxist paternalism that we have discussed at length. That tutelage, whether in Korea or Vietnam, is not only destructive to the development of the nation, but also imbued with a doctrinal violence that is purely abstract in theory—in this case, universal revolution—and purely destructive in practice. It has already led these two states into aggressive war against their neighbors, and why should it ever be otherwise? Take, for example, South Vietnam. It is a nation wracked by ethnic and regional divisions. The state responds to these difficulties by a cruel employment of violence; not an unreasonable reaction for a wartime authority, though not yet justifiable. Still, it was not the provocateur of this war. It does not export its philosophy of government with a bayonet. And one can imagine, in the long fluctuations of national genesis, that it will evolve and transform into something sustainable, perhaps peacefully, perhaps violently. But is there anyone who can say the same of the North Vietnamese? Any such evolution will first be confined by the rigors of Marxist doctrine. They might employ minor alterations to their political system, but it will remain fundamentally oriented to the revolutionary crusade. And it will be further confirmed in this sclerosis by an enduring connection to the syndicalist state in France, which will spare no effort in upholding the special revolutionary connection between master and subject.

Buckley: Ironic. And the solution?

Mitterrand: As for France, and for Vietnam, and Western Europe only the destruction and overthrow of every national-syndicalist party can free them from permanent immobility.
 
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Bleh. Poltics. Give me Christopher Lee talking about secret satanic rituals in interviews anyday.

The delusions of the British and French in exile is strong. Though it is amusing that Quebeac still exists inside Canada after all that 'communism is new imperialism' thing.
 
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Bleh. Poltics. Give me Christopher Lee talking about secret satanic rituals in interviews anyday.

The delusions of the British and French in exile is strong. Though it is amusing that Quebeac still exists inside Canada after all that 'communism is new imperialism' thing.
This timeline's October Crisis is going to be wacky. And the real one was already wacky!
 
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Bleh. Poltics. Give me Christopher Lee talking about secret satanic rituals in interviews anyday.
This can be arranged.

I’ve got a Pasolini interview for the interval which was quite fun to write.
 
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Bleh. Poltics. Give me Christopher Lee talking about secret satanic rituals in interviews anyday.

The delusions of the British and French in exile is strong. Though it is amusing that Quebeac still exists inside Canada after all that 'communism is new imperialism' thing.
i bet you he's a Canadian-American now, what with his Tory Lt. Col pops.
 
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i bet you he's a Canadian-American now, what with his Tory Lt. Col pops.
That, or he’s the most famous man in Switzerland.

Him and Plummer dominating Canadian films would be quite something, mind.
 
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This timeline's October Crisis is going to be wacky. And the real one was already wacky!
The delusions of the British and French in exile is strong. Though it is amusing that Quebeac still exists inside Canada after all that 'communism is new imperialism' thing.
Coming back to these it is probably fair to say that Canadian politics needs a look in at some point soon. They haven’t ever really graduated beyond NPC status and it would a shame to deny them participation in the global madness that is the end of the 60s

Canadian imperialism is a funny thing though, for sure. They’ve got a ragtag selection of the old colonies which will no doubt be biting them in the arse soon enough
 
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Coming back to these it is probably fair to say that Canadian politics needs a look in at some point soon. They haven’t ever really graduated beyond NPC status and it would a shame to deny them participation in the global madness that is the end of the 60s

Canadian imperialism is a funny thing though, for sure. They’ve got a ragtag selection of the old colonies which will no doubt be biting them in the arse soon enough
Problem with Canada has always been stagnant economy. They have no diversification, which is ridiculous considering the size and variety available to them. Its like Australia but even worse.

So presumably, being a proper sovereign country would help...maybe? Idk. I see them collapsing without the wider commonwealth and joining the US.

Or rather they would, if the US wasn't doing really badly right now.
 
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Problem with Canada has always been stagnant economy. They have no diversification, which is ridiculous considering the size and variety available to them. Its like Australia but even worse.

So presumably, being a proper sovereign country would help...maybe? Idk. I see them collapsing without the wider commonwealth and joining the US.

Or rather they would, if the US wasn't doing really badly right now.
The US have been significantly involved in, if not just outright propping up, the Canadian economy since at least the end of the 40s, so like the rest of the dollar area it’s staring down the barrel of catastrophe so long as the US situation doesn’t improve.

There is of course a sort of imperial preference area, just without Britain. Don’t know whether that gives much but presumably it’s better than nothing.
 
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Introduction

Chapter 1: Disaster on the Rao Quan
Chapter 4: Which Way Rightward?
Chapter 7: To Hell, Chicago, and Back Again
Interlude: A Distasteful Encounter with Rep. Gore

Chapter 10: The Northern Strategy

Conclusion: A Night in November

 
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A little update on my end, seeing as KH has teased his finale (and with such lovely book cover, too :p) – I had a bit of a wobbly week mentally speaking, so I took a break from writing. I'll now be away on family business until the middle of next week, so my finale stuff will probably start in a week's time at the earliest.

At this point the British and American stuff is independent, so KH may have some Buckely to fill the gap, but I'm not fully sure. In any case, this will be a nice window for anyone catching up with the foreign affairs stuff to do so should they wish (and also to do other far more exciting things away from the forums, like watch the snooker).

It's also May Day, just about, and it would seem rude not to give a nod to the occasion in this of all threads. I've got nothing to offer, so I'll have to defer to this lovely young man I once had the pleasure of meeting, appropriately enough, on a picket line.


(I will also give another mention to the fact that the ACAs are ongoing for another week. Please do find five minutes to fill out a ballot if you can. :) )
 
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Carol-Niko

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I await the coming turn with great horror, seeing as how I am rather fond of the Democratic Party (at least its progressive wing).
 
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Depending on how exactly you look at it, today marks the 95th anniversary of the OTL 1926 General Strike, which began at 23:59 on the 3rd May. In our world, Britain looks back on the general strike as the closest it ever came to working-class revolution. In the Echoesverse, of course, it ended up being a whole lot more significant than that.

If you’d like, you can read a nice overview of events, written very much from the workers’ perspective, via the libcom library. It’s interesting to me to compare this account to the timeline I devised here, where long-time readers might remember the strike ended up taking place in 1927. Success in Echoes was almost guaranteed after the workers did away with the bureaucratic union leadership, but in our own world the conciliatory faction had too much power and easily overcame radicalism on the ground level. (A salutary lesson in the pitfalls of ‘business unionism’.) Of course, it still took a great deal of pain and struggle to get there, but it’s maybe worth remembering – while we sit in the 1960s talking parliamentary politics – that the Commonwealth was born in the streets…
 
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Buckley and Mitterand together is an inspired choice, two real grade a freaks with a similar knack for cloaking themselves with verbiage.
 
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Buckley and Mitterand together is an inspired choice, two real grade a freaks with a similar knack for cloaking themselves with verbiage.
KH shared with me some selections from his upcoming Buckley intro chapter and my word do we have some fine mental gymnastic displays in store.
 
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After a week with my attention on other things (family matters, non-forum-based projects, snooker finals… all the usual suspects) I was only able to get back to the next chapter for the first time this afternoon, but progress was slow. (Turns out it's not as easy as one might think to return to variably accessible sources on the 1960s British productivity debate after a two-week absence…) The upshot is that there probably won't be anything from me until some time next week, although I'm hoping that I'll be able to recapture some momentum going into the second half of the month and things can begin to pick up again.

In the meantime, I will take one last opportunity to remind all comers that voting in the AARland Choice Awards has entered its final couple of days. If you are yet to fill out a ballot, you have until Sunday evening to get over to this thread here and do so. Voting is well worth doing, and there's no need for ballots to be complete. (There is also no need to vote for this project.) The ACAs are about readAAR tastes, and that includes everyone from the most voracious to the most casual forumite. An authAAR will appreciate all nods equally. :)
 
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6Venre3.jpg


XhaEi3S.jpg


Excerpts from the Introduction (1976)

At the time of the original publication of this book in 1970, I opened with the following introduction, commiserating General MacArthur’s demise in the year that was my subject.

General MacArthur was the last of the great Americans. It isn’t at all certain that America is capable of producing a man of MacArthur’s caste. Such men spring from the loins of nations in whose blood courage runs, and we are grown anemic. That is why so many have spoken of an age that died with MacArthur. An age where, occasionally, heroes arose, acknowledging as their imperatives that duty, honor, and country which MacArthur cherished, but which the nation that rejected him has no stomach for, preferring the adulterated substitutes of our age of modulation.

Six years later, we know that MacArthur was not America’s ultimate hero. There has proven to be truth in the old adage that “hard times make strong men.” But in that moment, there was little satisfaction at the passing of the old generation and even less hope for what might succeed it. Our only consolations were the outpourings of support for the General up until the last minute, when messages of grief and concern stormed the Walter Reed Hospital, on a scale that overwhelmed hospital officials, who had never seen the like it. A lot of us felt that for so long as he lived, the nation drew, somehow, from his great strength. And once we departed, we were sad and lonely, and grateful too. If we as a nation were to die, we could find no better words to die by, this side of Scripture, than his, given at his last public appearance at West Point.

The shadows are lengthening for me. The twilight is here. My days of old have vanished—tone and tint. They have gone glimmering through the dreams of things that were. Their memory is one of wondrous beauty, watered by tears and coaxed and caressed by the smiles of yesterday. I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of fain bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll...but in the evening of my memory always there echoes and reechoes: duty, honor, country.

We were rarely worthy of such stature. Our leadership, the last line of a liberalism redressed in bayesian trappings, were insects before his poise and principle. That his presidency was short-lived and ill-fated was more the consequence of the impatient disposition of the nation than his own shortcomings. And how did it shine ten years later!

At the center of the American crisis was the division of the Left. It governed our republic without too much interruption or disputation for over thirty years. Then, once, in 1967, someone charged that no committee composed primarily of American liberals had ever protested the barbarities of the Vietcong. I received this information skeptically, but on poking around found that it appeared to be true. What had happened to the anti-Communist left? The question was first entertained in a fascinating essay by Max Geltman, published in a previous issue of National Review. Mr. Geltman is a liberal scholar and publisher whose special field of interest is the anti-Semitism of the left, which, he has tried over the years to demonstrate, is the prime source of that disease. (Recently he cited the results of an inquiry into French anti-Semitism which show that among political groupings anti-Semitism is highest in the French Communist Party). His essay reminded me of how it used to be, during the late thirties, the forties, and the early fifties. In those days among the toughest anti-Communist critics were liberals and socialists, most of whom at one time or another wrote for the New Leader, a weekly social-democratic magazine sponsored for the most part by New York labor unions, and for Partisan Review, the highbrow quarterly. Just twenty years ago the crisis of the day had to do with Korea—whether to intervene to protect the South Koreans from going over by force to Communism. The fellow travelers quickly took up their places, and the chorus went up against interference—but it was all too much for the editors of the Partisan Review, who published a sham-withering editorial heard ‘round the liberal world.’ The prestigious John Dewey moved into the controversy, identifying himself completely with the editors and adding that “it is a pleasure to have plain speaking beautifully phrased” (Dewey was never much as a literary critic.) As one re-read it in 1967, one wonders why it wasn’t equally relevant then, substituting South Vietnam for South Korea, Red France for China, Ho Chi Minh for Stalin.

How things had changed! At the the spring international 1968 P.E.N convention, the writers refused to seat the delegates from Germany and Portugal, but smothered the Soviet delegation with togetherness, and joined with Arthur Miller in helping to table a modestly worded resolution protesting continuing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. There were writers at the convention who had applauded the anti-Communist toscin sounded by the Partisan Review twenty years ago, but now they went along with the same acts they then condemned. The arguments they isolated, scorned, penetrated, finally won them over, attesting to the acuity of their own warning that these were the most dangerous arguments of all, so dangerous they finally infected the pathologists who first identified them. Who were the new pro-Communists? They were not so much pro-Communist as anti-American. But since they worked at anti-Americanism feverishly and at anti-Communism not at all, the vector of their beliefs and passion was pro-Communist. Soon after the convention, an issue of Partisan Review featured a symposium of literature leftists under the title “America,” which might better have been called “Hate America.” Just about everyone in the symposium seemed to agree that the United States is irredeemably a racist country. “As some Negroes begin to move beyond civil rights into the need for radical changes in social structure, education, housing, and employment policies,” wrote the critic Nat Hentoff, echoing the views of the majority, “the fundamentally racist character of the majority of the white adult population is unmistakably revealed. In September 1966, Senator Eastland observed: ‘The sentiment of the entire country now stands with the Southern people.’ There wasn’t much hyperbole in his satisfaction.” Mr. Hentoff wanted to run Benjamin Spock for president. (If they’d let babies vote, Spock might have done well)...

The anachronistics of liberal anti-Communism, who by their own follies isolated the ruling regime from the sources of progressive energy, attracted all the hatreds of the new cadre. Paul Jacobs, the labor writer, urged American youth as their highest duty to let it be known “that the America of President Kennedy is not the only America there is.” Jack Newfield, the Village Voice’s most agonized conscience, said that JFK’s “egotism, deceitfulness, pettiness, vindictiveness, provincialism are destroying the country. To see the President on the 7 o’clock news each night, and know he is lying again, does more damage to us than any specific policy.” And always, right after a criticism of JFK, there would follow, as inexorably as the day follows the night, the friendly reference to Eugene—”I don’t know whether Eugene McCarthy would end the war, wage a grassrootsy War on Poverty, or send more registrars into the rural South, but I do think his intelligence, candor, wit, and activism would have a beneficial effect. His style and character could unify, inspire, energize people, rather than disgust, alienate and embarrass them.” And then there was the critic Susan Sontang, a sweet young thing, who puts it this way: “When [and if] the man in the White House who paws people and scratches [himself] in public is replaced by a man [Bobby Kennedy] who dislikes being touched and finds Yevtushenko ‘an interesting fellow], American intellectuals won’t be so disheartened. The said Miss Sontang was the most expressive of the spokesmen of discontent. “Today’s America, with Ronald Reagan the new daddy of California and John Wayne chawing sparibs in the White House, is pretty much the same Yahooland that Mencken was describing...the quality of American life is an insult to the possibilities of human growth...if the Bill of Rights were put to a national referendum as a new piece of legislation, it would meet the same fate as New York City’s Civilian Review Board. Most of the people in this country believe what Goldwater believes, and always have. But most of them don’t know it. Let’s hope they don’t find out.” Was it just America that they hated? No, not really. It was the West. “The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballets, et al., don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world., The white race is the cancer of human history.” Miss Sontang, whose sense of humor was about as developed as King Kong’s, was an authentic voice of the new pro-Communism...

We conservatives could not be blamed for this endogenous dilemma of liberalism. Certainly the national torment traced itself to the global unintelligibility of JFK’s position. If Vietnam and Indochina were local affairs, we had no more business dying there than we did dying for the freedom of Biafra. If it was a part of an international enterprise, of which we were intended as the strategic victims, then by all means we must be prepared to die there, in order to interdict a major salient that might otherwise reach across the Pacific to our own continental shoreline. But Mr. Kennedy, whose habit of mind is schizophrenic in so many things, confused us. Consider that Secretary Robert McNamara, in his extended report to the Senate Armed Services Committee defending the 1967 stalemate in Vietnam, disdained to refer, even one time, to the North Vietnamese as “the enemy.” From which it naturally followed that vis-a-vis the North Vietnamese, we must have watched ourselves very carefully, must be careful not to close their ports, not to infer unduly with their agriculture or commerce. Airstrikes against the movement of provisions to South Vietnam, yes—but carefully, oh, so carefully, much as we would be careful to respect, to the extent possible, our neighbor’s property even while making use of it to fight a fire on the adjacent lot. The war in Southeast Asia, he said, has to do with assuring “the people of South Vietnam and Indonesia the freedom to choose their own political and economic institutions.” Period? If so, of course, we had no business there. It is an inescapable conclusion that we were refusing to impose our will on North Vietnam and China because we were afraid that to do so would get in the way of the grander policy of convergence. In a strange sort of way in the Southeast Asian War, our bizarre conduct may well be viewed by historians not as anti-Communism, but as anti-anti-Communism.

Liberal theories of development and democratization were endemic to the thinking processes of the Kennedy doctrinaires. The politics of the Cold War had migrated from an affirmation of enduring moral principles vested in the dignity of the individual and the omnipotence of the Almighty to a crude materialism of cost-benefit analyses and an axiomatic belief in the rectificatory power of democracy. Our preoccupation was not so much with the kind of society democracy brings forth in a given political situation, as with democracy itself. But democracy has no program. It cannot say to its supporters: do thus, and ye shall arrive at the promised land. Instead, the nation was dumbstruck when the pressures of war and civil strife revealed that its prevailing approach, a self-satisfied superficiality, could no longer hold the balance. State power had created material abundance but it had also eroded the spiritual purpose of the Cold War, which had conferred upon this global struggle the virtue of a righteous cause. Still, the underlying facts of the Cold War remained unaltered, and the potential for a reimagining of this just crusade was not extinguished. It was enough to read from Solzhenitsyn’s Ivan Denisovich to know that the pro-Communist intelligentsia had been exposed for their mollifications. And yet the American people, deprived of a consensual anti-communism, were beset by the influential allies of a new pro-Communism which had sprung from the very materialism preached by the American leadership. They disrupted the sanguinity of the public with an infectious radicalism that afflicted all the institutions of social life. The university, long occupied by the disciples of liberal materialism, was to become as inhospitable to our national values as communist Indonesia. The fight for freedom warped the collective consciousness towards self-destructive ends...

The narrative that follows is bracketed by calamity and redemption. It remains to be seen if that redemption was an ephemeral feature of “bottoming-out” from our debauched position or an enduring transformation towards superior ends. How far we were to fall! Like Phaethon, the rise seemed so effortless, so foreordained; the fall so agonizing and relentless. I can remember the moment when Helios’ chariot started to buckle. A few of our colleagues, and a few opponents too, were huddled around the television watching President Kennedy’s State of the Union address on January 18. The President, it was said, handwrote the version we all heard, and the credibility gap notwithstanding, it is altogether plausible that it was so. It was a pretty awful speech, awful in every sense. In concept, it was utterly unimaginative — nothing of the quality of his earlier years. In style, totally relentless, lacking in distinction. Mr. Kennedy's delivery (surely?) was the worst in history. I would have rather listened to James Buchanan read through the entire encyclopedia, rather than the incumbent recite one poem by Alan Seeger. The principal deficiencies of the speech have been fully remarked — the failure to integrate the Southeast Asian War into a coherent feature of foreign policy, the failure to explore the root causes of the restlessness to which he barely alluded; the encyclopedic enumeration of all the blessings (social programs) he had conferred upon us. But besides all that, the speech was peppered with irritating phrases of little moment except insofar as they suggested the deteriorating profile of the President's thought. Every conscious person, even those least immersed in national events, felt, if not understood, the crisis of American affairs. And lo and behold, the President was finding time to mention his program for the redwood trees in California. Whereupon Mr. Arthur Schlesinger leaned upon me and whispered, "Better redwoods than deadwoods." At that moment I decided to grant him a plenary indulgence for all his past sins, which were not immune from the charge of fomenting our present difficulties. For the first time, we conservatives could not decide if the state of the union was better than the state of its President's mind.
 
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There is something quite amusing about the US having had a series of middling to bad post-war presidents and Buckley using this as pretext to venerate MacArthur as a demigod. As only Buckley could.
 
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It reads like a modern day alt right paper. So...Good job, I guess. If the polticis of the amercian 70s and 80s has moved such that JFK is considered a communist sympathiser, we are in for a rocky time of it.
 
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It reads like a modern day alt right paper. So...Good job, I guess. If the polticis of the amercian 70s and 80s has moved such that JFK is considered a communist sympathiser, we are in for a rocky time of it.
Yes I have to laugh at this bit

Who were the new pro-Communists? They were not so much pro-Communist as anti-American. But since they worked at anti-Americanism feverishly and at anti-Communism not at all, the vector of their beliefs and passion was pro-Communist.
Buckley essentially inventing a person just to hate on them.

It’s not looking good for the capitalists on this showing…
 
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