Category: Principalities & Powers

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An Infantile Disorder

“Why, we could lick them in a month!” boasts Stuart Tarleton soon after the Confederates fire on Fort Sumter in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. “Gentlemen always fight better than rabble. A month—why, one battle.” At that point,

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The New Shape of American Politics

(The following remarks were delivered in a panel discussion, “The New Shape of Politics,” at the International Conservative Congress in Washington, D.C., on September 27, 1997)

First of all, I want to thank John O’Sullivan for asking me to take

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Nationalism, True and False

Ruling classes exercise power through combinations of coercion and manipulation—what Machiavelli called force and fraud, or the habits of the lion and the fox that he recommended to princes who wish to stay in power. Like most princes, most ruling

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Looking Backward

A man from Mars visiting the United States at the beginning of 1997 might have thought that the country was wobbling on the brink of political crisis. He would have learned that the White House was occupied by a gentleman

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Impeachable Offenses

Back in March, Republican Majority Whip Tom DcLay took lunch at the Washington Times and started jabbering about how he and his party were going to impeach “activist judges” who handed down improper rulings. I know something about how those

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Revolution in the Air

Is it idle, or at least premature, to talk about “revolution from the right”? Whether it is or is not, that is exactly what leaders of the right have been talking about for some years, from Pat Buchanan’s “Middle American

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First Things Last

If the election of 1996 turned out to be an even bigger snore than most citizens anticipated, the fall of the year was nevertheless enlivened by a dangerous outbreak of something resembling actual cogitation on the American right. Given the

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The Ruling Class

One of the ironies of American political discussion in the last generation or so— indeed, of the last century—has been that, for all our boasting and braggadocio about being a nation founded on the proposition that all men are created

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Suicide of the Right

After spending several weeks in deep hugger-mugger at the Republican Party platform committee this summer, the leaders of the right wing of the GOP emerged triumphant. Their deeply beloved and totally useless Human Life Amendment was reaffirmed. The obnoxious statement

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Behind Democracy’s Curtain

One of the more exciting prospects for the Dole-Clinton presidential contest should have been the “presidential debate,” which, ever since the Kennedy-Nixon slugfest of 1960, has titillated the mass electorate with the delusion that the voters actually have a real

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Conspiracy

History, wrote Voltaire, is the sound of wooden shoes running up the backstairs and of silken slippers running down—a remark that implies that the real story of high politics is never what we are able to see but always a

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Republicans and Real Federalism

With all the febrile ebullience of a rerun of a 1950’s sitcom, the Republican Party will descend upon San Diego determined to efface any evidence that Pat Buchanan ever existed and committed to staging the miraculous spectacle of a political

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The Buchanan Victory

Whether a full-scale nuclear war between modern superpowers would last quite as long as the three-week blitzkrieg among this year’s candidates for the Republican presidential nomination is an intriguing question that neither military nor political scientists seem to have asked,

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Enemies of the State

The Great Republican Revolution took a brief trip to the benches last summer when committees in both House and Senate paused in their deliberations to burrow into the federal atrocities at Waco and Ruby Ridge. The resulting hearings were by

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Victims of Blunt Force Trauma

Even before the end of the trial of Los Angeles police officer Mark Fuhrman for the crime of white racism, the percentage of black Americans who believed that Officer Fuhrman’s most celebrated victim was innocent had risen from 60 percent

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Where the Buck Really Stops

“The question is,” Humpty Dumpty tells Alice in Through the Looking Glass, “which is to be master—that’s all.” As overused as the quotation may be, it nevertheless communicates a perennial truth that most people forget when it comes to

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Natural Born Kulchur

In the tumid political underbrush of the summer, there were a number of interesting and even important new sprouts, as Pat Buchanan slowly pushed aside Phil Gramm as the favored candidate of the Republican right and almost all of the

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Roads to Revolution

For at least a month after the mass murder in Oklahoma City, the official sentinels of the federal leviathan threw themselves into a state of panic that was probably unprecedented in the country’s history. It remains unclear how much of

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A Boundless Field of Power

Does the United States Constitution still exist? There is one simple way to answer this question. Read any article or section of the 200-year-old document written to provide the citizens of a free republic with a short and simple guide

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Poker on the Titanic

If any single act showed the essential fraudulence of the ballyhooed “Republican Revolution” we were supposed to be enjoying this year, it was the last official vote of the previous Congress, less than a month after the 1994 elections, to

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Voices in the Air

By the middle of the second month of the Republican Revolution, acute observers were beginning to see that the revolution might actually go somewhere if only the Republicans were not in charge of it. Aside from such irritating contretemps as

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Gnostic Newt

The hallmark of the sophomoric mind is that it knows the sorts of things that adult minds do but has not yet figured out how to do them. Bright undergraduates who solemnly inform their professors that they plan to write

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Racial Politics

Whatever the new Republican majority does with the immense congressional power it seized in last November’s elections, it will probably be unimportant compared to the force that started to emerge in the same elections and which the national leadership of

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Globo-Cop

No small irony attended the announcement by FBI Director Louis Freeh on July 4 of last year that his bureau was establishing a “legal attache” office in Moscow, and not only because the agency of the U.S. government historically responsible

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Religious Wrong

Despite the ocean of ink that has been spilled in the last several months on the “religious right,” perhaps the most sensible comment about it, or at least about its journalistic coverage and political analysis, was penned by John F.

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Myths to Kill For

“I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list,” twitters the Lord High Executioner in a famous line of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, and indeed these days who doesn’t have one? Abortion protester Paul Hill seems to have had

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The Abortion Gambit

Trying to be the chief intellectual in the Republican Party is probably a little like trying to be an admiral in the Swiss navy, but in the last year or so, that is more or less what Bill Kristol has

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De-Americanization

Although the summer of 1994 produced no entertainments to rival the fun of last year’s Jurassic Park, let alone the previous summer’s Los Angeles riots, it did yield up the brief but amusing manhunt for O.J. Simpson and the edifying

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Secessionist Fantasies

Throughout the first half of the present year, “secession” became the new watchword for a growing number of people on the American right. Economist Walter Williams has written at least two newspaper columns openly advocating secession. Jeffrey Tucker of the

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The New Meaning of Conservatism

One of the most amazing and alarming features of the managerial system in the United States is its capacity to alter the meaning of things without changing their external appearance. This property is essentially what the Old Right political analyst

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Forty Years After

Americans have grown fond of celebrating anniversaries of one kind or another. I first noticed this new habit during the national thrombosis over the Statue of Liberty back in 1986, but more recently the habit has swollen into something like

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Beam Us Out

On a morning in April 1990, practitioners of the journalistic craft received in their mail a communication from one Jack Lichtenstein, at that time the director of public affairs for the National Endowment for the Arts, an agency then embroiled

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Global Retch

Nearly four years after George Bush, on the eve of the Persian Gulf War, first popularized the expression “New World Order,” is there anyone in the United States who does not greet that phrase with either a grin of sarcasm

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A Banner With a Strange Device

As the House of Representatives slithered toward its vote on the North American Free Trade Agreement last November, the regiments of lobbyists who were peddling the pact set up their tents in what the New York Times described as “a

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The New Populism

In the 12 months since Bill Clinton stumbled into the White House, the most notable political events in the country have consisted neither of his own successes and failures nor of the triumphs and achievements of what purports to be

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People of a Different Stripe

Precisely when it first occurred to Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun to lay her traps for the United Daughters of the Confederacy and its iniquitous insignia containing the Confederate “Stars and Bars” we are not given to know, but certainly it

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Stupid and Proud

When the editors of the New Republic told writer Stephen Rodrick to get his cute little fanny down to Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel and cover the first conference of Pat Buchanan’s American Cause Foundation last May, Mr. Rodrick must have

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Crossing the Line

On April 29, 1993, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a confirmation hearing for Roberta Achtenberg, President Clinton’s nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

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A Perpetual Censor

When Supreme Court Justice Byron White announced his retirement from public life in March of this year, a shudder rippled down the spines of Washington conservatives. Previously, when one or another of the Court’s Nameless Nine had declared his intention

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A Story of the Days to Come

Early in December of last year, while President-elect Clinton was trying to come up with a Cabinet that would “look more like America,” the U.S. Census Bureau published a report that told us what America really looks like and what

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Gangbusters

In The Killer Angels, Michael Saara’s novel about the battle of Gettysburg, there is a character named Colonel Arthur Fremantle, a British military observer attached to the Confederate forces. In part a comic figure, Fremantle is perpetually perplexed by

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Paths of Glory

As I write this column (in late January), the United States has deployed 30,000 troops in Somalia, has just launched new bombing strikes against Iraq, has announced a naval blockade of Haiti, and is debating whether it should send combat

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The Survival Issue

Long ago in March 1989, in the first column I wrote for this space, I noted that President George Bush shared with only one other American chief executive (namely, Martin Van Buren) the distinction of having been elected to the

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In Search of Impulses

Some years ago, there was a scries on American television called In Search Of . . . , a documentary show that every week embarked upon some intrepid quest “in search of” such titillating arcana as the Loch Ness Monster,

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The Life of Riley

One good way to ruin your Christmas this year would be to spend the holidays reading a new book entitled Abandoned: The Betrayal of the American Middle Class Since World War II, by two law professors at the University

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An Electorate of Sheep

Even the weariest presidential campaign winds somewhere to the sea, and this month, as the ever dwindling number of American voters meanders into the voting booths, the sea is exactly where the political vessels in which the nation sails have

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Mayday

“Revolutions often succeed,” wrote historian Lewis Namier, “merely because the men in power despair of themselves, and at the decisive moment dare not order the troops to fire.” For four days in May last spring, revolution or something frighteningly close

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The Buchanan Revolution, Part I

Nothing churns the entrails of the professional democracy priesthood more than the rancid taste of a little real democracy. Since one of the main dishes on the 1992 political menu has been a generous serving of authentic popular rebellion, the