anticommunism brings us back to where we left off in then1940’s, before the United States divided up into two warringncamps of left and right. It was an age when most “conservatives”npersisted in calling themselves liberal — Albert JaynNock and Robert Taft, to name only two — and the greatnconservative themes were limited government, low taxes, thenautonomy of state and local governments, and “isolationism,”nwhich was nothing more sinister than the determinationnto leave other nations, respectfully, alone. Many ofnthese old conservatives had opposed America’s entry intonWorld War II, nearly all had supported the war effort, and allndeplored the concentration of state power that FranklinnRoosevelt had managed under the guise of emergencynmeasures for national defense.nThere was no conservative movement in those days, butnthere were learned men of conservative principle; individualistsnof the stripe of Mencken and Nock, and mostnprominent among them was Frank Chodorov; such Southernnagrarians as Donald Davidson and Richard Weaver; andnthe desperate ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers. Somenconservative writers in those days managed to carve outnsuccessful careers as scholars and journalists, but manynrealized that, if they wished to speak frankly about politics,neconomics, and history, they could never hope to benacceptable, much less popular. Senator McCarthy, Chambers,nand the other anticommunists were abused and revilednby Edward R. Murrow and the other propagandists who stillnrun CBS News. Mencken is even now being libeled by thenliterary journalists who make a career out of characternassassination and sycophancy, and the youthful William F.nBuckley, Jr. found himself being mocked and mimicked bynJack Paar on live television after he had made a briefnappearance on the Tonight Show.nThe poet Robinson Jeffers, although by no means typicalnof anything, was representative. Hating Roosevelt’snpolicies as subversive of everything distinctively Americannand blaming him for dragging us into “the war we havencarefully for years provoked,” Jeffers railed against the mennwho were “plotting to kill a million boys for a dead dream.”nHe, nonetheless, applauded Britain’s heroic fight against thenGermans and resigned himself both to the war and to thenbarbarization he knew would follow. In “I Shall LaughnPurely,” he assumed the prophetic mantle. These convulsionsnwere not the end of the world, or even of ourncivilization — that would take years. But,n[we] shall beware of wild dogs in Europe and of thenpolice in armed imperial America: —nJeffers hoped Christendom would “go down in conclusivenwar and a great red sunset” and not linger like India,n”old and holy and paralytic.” In a reprise of his great earlynpoem, “Shine, Perishing Republic,” Jeffers delivered hisnfinal verdict on the republican experiment he still cherished:nI have often in weak moments thought of thisnpeople asnsomething higher than the natural run of the earth.nI was quite wrong; we are lower. We are thenpeople whonhope to win wars with money as we win elections.nFor his views on Roosevelt, Jeffers was excommunicatednfrom America’s literary pantheon, and to this day his work isnstudiously ignored by critics. Even his publisher, BennettnCerf at Random House, lent his hand by inserting into anJeffers volume a preface that condemned the poet’s politicalnviews.nWhat Jeffers would say about America in the 1980’s, it isnneither difiBciilt nor pleasant to imagine: a nation of lewdnconsumers, cripples leaning upon electronic crutches; anpopulation addicted to drugs and sex at the upper and lowernends, while the saving remnant in the responsible middlingnclasses is a dwindling minority; a nation where men ofnprinciple and learning are despised, Donald Trump admired,nand athletes adored.nPoets are always extremists, and there remains much toncelebrate in contemporary American life, but we arendishonest or obtuse if we refuse to recognize something ofnourselves in Jeffers’ picture. But now that “armed imperialnAmerica” is preparing to disarm, what is next? In particular,nwhat are conservatives going to do, after winning the goodnand necessary fight and goading several administrations intonopposing the Soviets, much as Aaron and Hur propped upnthe arms of Moses?nTerrified over the loss of their one trump card — thenSoviet threat — some conservative power brokers are flounderingndesperately for issues: the drug war, democraticnglobalism, and minority rights. If you think these sound likenrecycled liberal issues, then you might also think there isnsomething strange about a conservative leader whose modelnfor the movement is “the great Democratic New DealnParty.” U.S. News & World Report described this and othernnewly respectable conservatives as “suddenly soundingnoddly like Democrats.”nNow, if ever, is the time for conservatives, liberals, andneven radicals to think through where they stand in the hopenof forging new and principled alliances to replace thenold, bankrupt coalitions of anticommunism and antianticommunism.nNow, more than ever, there is a pressingnneed for a free and open debate. Unfortunately, a vigorousndiscussion is highly unlikely. The left seems permanentlynwedded to anti-Americanism and countercultural resentment,nand conservatives who dissent from the ever-changingnorthodoxy of Washington — and even those who only lagnbehind in embracing the party line — are read out of “thenconversation” or consigned to the inner circles of “the fevernswamp,” a term used by Suzanne Carment and other EastnCoast conservatives to designate the yahoos, rednecks, andnNazis that inhabit middle Amerika.nThere is nothing new about attacks on conservatives. Innthe 1950’s conservatives were repeatedly called bigots,nnativists, and fascists, and it did not seem to do them a greatndeal of harm. Of course, in those days it was the liberalsndoing the name-calling; today, it is people who insist uponncalling themselves conservatives, usually “progressive conservatives”nand “neoconservatives.” The so-called coalitionnthey worry so much about in Washington is falling apart,nand it will take more than the shoddy plaster of slogans andnmarching orders to fix up bridges that are so badly in need ofnrepair.nWhat is really going on in conservative circles cannot bennnMAY 1990/13n