Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

America after the Holy War, part 6

William F. Buckley, Jr. with an early issue of National Review

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by Revilo P. Oliver

FOR A DECADE, from 1945 to 1955, lulled by the miscalculations and illusory confidence I have confessed above, my time and attention were entirely devoted to scholarship and my graduate courses in the University. To be sure, I was not unaware of major political events, but, in my preoccupation with less transitory problems, I lapsed into the common human error of interpreting events in terms of a preconceived theory.

I was, of course, profoundly shocked by the foul murders at Nuremberg that brought on the American people an indelible shame. Savages and Oriental barbarians normally kill, with or without torture, the enemies whom they have overcome, but even they do not sink so low in the scale of humanity as to perform the obscene farce of holding quasi-judicial trials before they kill, and had the Americans — for, given their absolute power, the responsibility must fall on them, and their guilt cannot be shifted to their supposed allies — had the Americans, I say, merely slaughtered the German generals, they could claim to be morally no worse than Apaches, Balubas, and other primitives. Civilized peoples spare the lives of the vanquished, showing to their leaders a respectful consideration, and the deepest instincts of our race demand a chivalrous courtesy to brave opponents whom the fortunes of war have put in our power. To punish warriors who, against overwhelming odds, fought for their country with a courage and determination that excited the wonder of the world, and deliberately to kill them because they were not cowards and traitors, because they did not betray their nation — that was an act of vileness of which we long believed our race incapable. And to augment the infamy of our act, we stigmatized them as “War Criminals” which they most certainly were not, for if that phrase has meaning, it applies to traitors who knowingly involve their nations in a war contrived to inflict loss, suffering, and death on their own people, who are thus made to fight for their own effective defeat — traitors such as Churchill, Roosevelt, and their White accomplices. And to add an ultimate obscenity to the sadistic crime, “trials” were held to convict the vanquished according to “laws” invented for the purpose, and on the basis of perjured testimony extorted from prisoners of war by torture to confirm the foul Jewish hoax, the Big Lie that the Germans had “exterminated” six million enemy aliens, members of the Master Race that Yahweh appointed to rule the world and the lesser breeds in it.

If we are Aryans, we must judge ourselves by our own standards, for we believe that among nations, as among individuals, noblesse oblige. The moral responsibility for those fiendish crimes, therefore, falls on our own War Criminals, and, as a practical matter, nations always bear the responsibility for the acts of the individuals whom they, however mistakenly, placed in power. We cannot reasonably blame Dzhugashvili, alias Stalin: he was not a War Criminal, for he acted, logically and ruthlessly, to augment the power and the territory of the Soviet Empire, and he (whatever his personal motives may have been) was the architect of the regime that transformed a degraded and barbarous rabble into what is now the greatest military power on Earth. Strictly speaking, we should not blame the Jews morally, for they acted only in accordance with the principles, clearly enunciated in the Old Testament and the Talmuds, that have preserved their race for millennia and made the international nation a world power; and their race not only does not have our standards of honor and personal integrity, but regards our standards as foolish and childish. But whatever strict logic may require, we are human, and since we abominate certain forms of deceit and cunning, we instinctively, and with some justification, apply our own morality when we judge aliens who have chosen to reside in our country to profit from us. That is why the outrages at Nuremberg and the many other crimes for which we were made responsible did not really alarm me. I made the assumption that we commonly make when we read in newspapers that kidnappers have murdered their victim after collecting a ransom: They have merely made their eventual punishment the more certain and drastic.

There were not wanting indications that could be interpreted as confirming my projection of future events. In 1945, the best informed opinion in military circles regarded the inevitable war against the Soviet as certain to occur in five to eight years. And the so-called “cold war” begun by Truman seemed an obvious prelude to armed combat, even though it was used by traitors and looters as a pretext for exporting our resources to our eventual enemies on the idiotic theory that we could so overload them with gifts that they would become our friends. And the military action in Korea naturally seemed the beginning of a world war that we would, this time, fight to win, even though it was begun in the name of the vaudeville show called the United Nations; and it was not until the traitor in the White House recalled General MacArthur for having won a victory that it became obvious that we were fighting under the direction of our eternal enemies for the specific purpose of squandering American money and lives to make our nation weak and contemptible in the eyes of the world. But even then there were indications that American fatuity would not last forever.

In 1949 Congressman Rankin introduced a bill that would recognize as subversive and outlaw the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the formidable organization of Jewish cowboys who ride herd on their American cattle, and while the necessary number of votes in Congress to enact the legislation had not then been available, a later Congress might show a greater awareness of American interests. In both the House of Representatives and the Senate committees were beginning investigations of covert treason and alien subversion, and although they had finically touched only the unimportant outskirts of the Dismal Swamp, what they had found would necessarily lead them farther. Then Senator McCarthy undertook a somewhat more thorough investigation, which seemed to open a visible leak in the vast dike of deceit erected by our enemies, and it was easy to assume that the little jet of water that spurted through that leak would grow hydraulically until the dam broke and released an irresistible flood.

It was not until our domestic enemies and the traitors in their employ silenced Senator McCarthy that I received an intellectual jolt that made me aware that the projection of presumably inevitable future events that I, and men older and more experienced than I, had made in 1945 had been a serious miscalculation.

I was abroad in 1954 and it was from reports in the European press that I perceived that McCarthy, abandoned by those whom he sought to save, and traduced by the great lie-machines and propaganda mills, was doomed, a caribou who would eventually be pulled down by the wolf-pack that had been set on his trail.

That posed for me two very grave questions when I returned to the United States: (1) Was I, as an American and a scholar, personally under a moral obligation to make an effort to preserve my country and my race and thus to endanger my academic career and even the welfare of a lady who is far dearer to me than myself, or could I instead assume that the research on which I was then engaged and the standards of scholarship that I was striving to maintain in the increasingly perverted and debauched universities were my proper concern, so that I should leave to others a responsibility that was not mine? (2) Even supposing that I had such a duty, what could I do that would be more effective than encouraging rationality and intellectual integrity in the comparatively few graduate students who came under my tutelage? If, in the exercise of textual criticism and study of Graeco-Roman history men learn the methods of determining objective facts, which the best minds of our race hold to be of all things the most sacred and inviolable, and of making the nice calculation of probabiIities that is the basis of the scientific method in both the exact sciences and in historical and philological researches, are they not equipped to understand their own times, to see reality through the shifting mists of vulgar illusions and crafty propaganda, and to perceive what is necessary for the survival of the race and nation into which they were born? Perhaps so. I do not know the correct answer to those questions.

As so commonly happens in human affairs, mere chance and coincidence determined my decision. My friend, Willmoore Kendall, one of the keenest minds I have ever known, a master of eristics and a practitioner of the Socratic dialectics, which, although often misunderstood, are based on the belief that truth or the closest feasible approximation thereto can be elicited by debate, had long believed that the decisive sapping of American culture had been the work of journals of opinion that advertised themselves as intellectual, ostentatiously addressed a presumed elite, and by acute criticism, in which what was valid lent plausibility to what was merely sophistical, undermined Americans’ belief in their own culture; and he specifically recognized as the most influential two weekly periodicals, the Nation and the New Republic. A serious effort to counter and undo what those publications had done required the establishment of a comparable journal of opinion that would defend what the two weeklies had undermined. With Professor Kendall’s conclusion I agreed in general, for in the 1930s, when the Roosevelt gang was quite obviously working gradually to bring the United States under a totalitarian dictatorship, I constantly marvelled that all the intellectual vigor should be directed against us and pejorative criticism, however flimsy and sophistical, left effectively unanswered, with the result that subversion gained prestige in the academic circles that ultimately determine the set of a nation’s mind — circles which are extremely vulnerable, for scholars and scientists, even in their own specialties, must rely on the integrity and judgement of their peers, and outside the areas of their own research they naturally tend to rely on the conclusions of persons who have been accredited as honest and highly intelligent experts in other fields.

At Yale, Professor Kendall found an apt pupil, a brilliant young man with a real talent for eristics and debate, the son of William F. Buckley, an American gentleman and financier, who, although he had suffered great losses through the confiscation of his holdings by revolutionary governments in Central and South America, was still wealthy, undoubtedly patriotic, and well known in certain circles for his discreet subvention of effectively anti-Jewish periodicals and his drastic private opinion about the aliens’ perversion of our national life.

Professor Kendall’s pupil had, through his family, the resources requisite to found the desiderated periodical. He made himself known to the public with a book, God and Man at Yale, that very adroitly and cleverly punctured the arrogant complacency of the “Liberal” fanatics who had, by essentially conspiratorial tactics, gained control of Yale University; and he gained practical experience in the offices of the American Mercury, then an outspokenly anti-Jewish monthly owned by Russell Maguire. The young man then prepared to launch the journal, which was to be called the National Weekly and to begin with the ample financial resources necessary to establish a new periodical of national circulation on the newsstands.

A corporation was formed, but unfortunately, as the event proved, the youthful founder, against the advice of his poorer friends, issued a prospectus, under the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, in which he described the new periodical as one designed, not to promote any cause or political principle, but to make money, and he set forth estimates to show that the heavy losses to be expected during the first two years of publication would be more than offset by the handsome profits that would be realized in the fourth year and ever increasingly thereafter.

The new journal, its name changed to National Review, was scheduled to begin publication in the first week of January, 1956, but as rumors about the plans for it spread in New York City, an unexpected development had consequences that certainly determined its future. There was then being published and distributed on newsstands as well as by subscriptions a mildly “conservative” periodical, The Freeman, which had revived the name of a famous journal once edited by Albert Jay Nock, and was trying to revive, after discreet censorship, the “libertarian” principles that Nock had espoused and had tried to bring back from the vanished era of American life before it was blighted by Woodrow Wilson and his masters. The new Freeman, which had seemed to flourish for a short time, was caught between editorial salaries and other expenses that were very high in proportion to its circulation and the huge losses it suffered on the copies it continued to place on the newsstands in the hope of attracting subscribers. It was in financial difficulties, and the majority of its editors, dominated by two “anti-Communist” Jews, approached the prospective publisher of the new weekly with an interesting proposition: If promised suitable salaries as editors of the new periodical, they would torpedo the foundering Freeman by sending out to all of its subscribers a letter in which they, in their official capacity as its editors, urged those subscribers to change to a really worthwhile publication, the nascent National Review, which could then start by taking over the entire subscription-list of the bankrupted Freeman.

In keeping with this ingenious scheme and the projected date of the Freeman‘s demise, the schedule of National Review was hastily advanced and the first issue rushed through the press with a date of 19 November 1955. The coup was well planned, but there was a slip between the cup and the eager lip, largely because one man, thinking the methods objectionable, mistrusted the new publisher. The Freeman was taken over by the Foundation for Economic Education, which converted it to a pocket-size journal, fulfilled its subscriptions, and for years published it and distributed it gratuitously to former subscribers and anyone who evinced an interest in it.

When the plans for National Review were being matured, but before the attempted take-over of The Freeman, Professor Kendall assured me that he had been unable to find a single university professor who, although secretly espousing the purposes of the projected weekly, would dare to contribute openly to a journal that was certain to arouse the anger of the “Liberal” Establishment and provoke clandestine reprisals.

That was a challenge. I took it up.

(to be continued)

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Source: America’s Decline

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