migrants can be expected to display a perfect grasp of, and commitmentrnto, them. The precise content of this absolute, universalrnliberty always varies, of course, depending upon whichrncollege sophomore or Asian immigrant is spouhng off about itrnin the Weekly Standard or National Review this week, but thenrnthe content and meaning of such abstractions always van,’ preciselyrnbecause they are mere inventions of the mind rather thanrnanything that really exists. The contemporary conservatives’ absolutismrnand universalism of rights is, of course, the ideologicalrnbasis for “global democracy,” the happy neoconservative embracernof “civil rights,” and the political centralization necessar’rnto enforce “civil-rights” statutes and court rulings against statesrnand private institutions. Its heroes are Abraham Lincoln, MartinrnLuther King, Jr., and (to some extent) Thomas Paine—all ofrnthem most improbable icons for conservatism.rnIf the paleoconservatives’ affirmation of the rootedncss andrnparticularity of liberty is one difference from movement conservatismrnthat is directly related to the conflict between particularismrnand universalism, so also is the paleos’ willingness tornentertain the question of legitimacy. In this respect, neoconservativesrnare perhaps closer to the right of the 1950’s thanrnare the paleos, and one of the major and most bitter objectionsrnthat neoconservatives lodge against paleos (and especiallyrnagainst Buchanan) is that they question the legitimac}- of therncurrent system. It was precisely the suggestion of illegitimacyrnthat incited the controersy at First Things a couple of years ago,rnwith neoconservatives denouncing such suggestions and anyonernwho uttered them as “anti-American.” For the neoconservatives,rnit is precisely the universalism they perceive as an integralrnpart of American society that makes the current system thernlegitimate fulfillment of the American identity, and in theirrnshallow reading of the nation’s history, we are the “first universalrnnation,” a “proposition country,” where mass egalitarianrnglobo-democracy, mass egalitarian globo-capitalism, and massrnegalitarian globo-kulcher define the nation and its way of life.rnAnyone who challenges this way of life is un-American, probablyrna McGovernite but possibly a Buchananite, as well as an antisemite,rnan isolationist, and a xenophobe, if not an outright fascistrnor Nazi.rnIn stark and direct contrast, paleoconseratism argues that,rnwhile the current system may be legally legitimate, it is definitelyrnnot historically legitimate—i.e., it is not an authentic continuationrnof traditional American or Western identitv’ but ratherrnits revolutionary antithesis and its betrayal (tlie “great betrayal,”rnas Buchanan called it in his book on trade) precisely because ofrnits incorporation of a universalist ethic and imperative that arcrnthe enemies of traditional American institutions, identities, andrnvalues. It is this ver claim that is the ground of the neoconservativerncharge that paleos are not really conservatives at all.rnWhen William Bennett, the Weekly Standard, and NationalrnReview all say that Pat Buchanan is “no longer a conservative,”rnthey are not just talking about his differences with “main.streamrnconservatives” on trade, foreign policy, and immigration.rnThose policy differences themselves mainly derive from thernperception of Buchanan and other paleos that current trade,rnimmigration, and foreign policies reflect a system at odds wiflirnthe norms that have pertained throughout most of Americanrnhistory. That is precisely what Buchanan argues in his tvvo recentrnbooks—that most presidents in our histon.’, especialK’ Republicanrnones, have been economic nationalists or protectionistsrnas well as supporters of an “America First” foreign policy ofrn”enlightened nationalism” and that only in recent decades havernfree trade and globalism prevailed. The neoconserx’atives sensernthat Buchanan is declaring a kind of war against the whole political,rninternational, economic, and cidtural system — thernregime —that has imposed itself in the United States sincernWorld War II, and one major reason the attacks on Buchananrnare so enraged is precisely that, in his new book, he questionsrnthe verj’ legitimacy of World War II itself, a major (if not the major)rnfoundation myth of the regime.rnTo the simpleminded, the criticism that Buchanan and flicrnpaleos are not really conservatives because thev reject the legitimacyrnof the current sstem is compelling, but the criticismrnconfuses “conserving” the regime with a “conservatism” thatrndistinguishes between the current regime, on flic one hand,rnand the historic norms that define the American idcntitv’, on thernother, and which opposes the former insofar as it threatens thernlatter. Hence, it woidd be entirely consistent to sa’ fliat a figurernlike Buchanan is a conserxative since he seeks to conserve — orrneven restore—what he takes to be the historic norms and idcntit)’rnof American societ}’, government, and culture, and at thernsame time that he is not a conservative in his challenges to therndominant system of government, economy, and culture. Inrnother words, he is, like other paleoconservatives, a radical conservative,rncommitted to or influenced by the philosophical contentrnof classical conservatism (at least in its American formulation)rnand also to the view tiiat the current system does not reflectrnbut in fact threatens the institutional incarnation of that philosophicalrncontent. By contrast, moement conservatives andrnneoconservatives today are neither committed to the philosophicalrncontent of classical conscn’atism (the libertarians have alwa’rns been quite up-front about this) nor to any opposition to therncurrent .system. Indeed, their defense and rationalization of therncurrent system in their political ideology is the only thing thatrndefines them as “conserx-ative” in any sense at all.rnThe differentiation of paleoconser’atism from both its 195()’srnancestor and from its increasingly remote cousins among neoconsen’atives.rnRepublicans, and movement consci-vatives is partrnof a process of major intellectual and social-political significance,rna process of which Buchanan’s departure from flic GOPrnand the angry recriminations visited upon him by many in thernpart’ and the “movemenf arc convenient symbols. Intellectually,rnit is a reasonably clean and sharp schism between politicalrnparticularism (defined by Buchanan as “nationalism”) and politicalrnuniversalism (defined by the dominant riglit as “globalism”rnor “democracy”), and it is the historical roots and legitimizationrnof diis particularism —not its allegiance to the currentrnhegemonic system — that make it consen’ative. Socially and politically,rnthe difterentiation is part of the continuing formationrnof a socially rooted resistance to the hegemonic svstem in “MiddlernAmerica” rather than in merely a “conservative intellectualrnmovement” confined to academic seminars and Latinate magazinesrnwritten and read by Ivy League alumni. Yet the radicalizationrnof the right that Buchanan’s break symbolizes and fliernpolitical success that radicalization could produce can be ftilfilledrnonly if a paleoconscrvative—or rather, what should nowrnbe called a radical or revolutionary conservative —vanguard isrnable to define and articulate it fnrtiier and more clearly than itrnhas been articilated so far. The opportunitv’ to accomplish thatrnarticulation and to institutionalize it finally in a separate andrnpennanent political partv’ and a distinct political and culturalrnmovement is the task to which paleoconservatives should nowrnturn. t’rn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn