Scott P. Richert’s endorsement of Pat Buchanan’s candidacy (Cultural Revolutions, January) is misplaced. At one time, Buchanan was a figure who could, thankfully, separate the “Old Right” from the “neoconservatives.” Now, Buchanan is the candidate who will further divide the “Old Right” into two camps, “paleoconservative” and “paleolibertarian.” If you think that this has already happened, think again. While both camps clearly differ on trade and economic issues, they agree that the real enemy is the Jacobin central state. Not Pat, who has downplayed any discussion of seriously curbing Leviathan. How can he discuss this issue, with his call for tariffs, his attacks on Corporate America, and his carrying of the “union card”? While corporations should be roundly criticized for many policies, none has carried out a crime like Waco and then put the victims on trial. Pat is a man of passion and commitment, but he wears the blinders of a man who lived his entire life within the Beltway and has only a comic book view of industry and how a business operates.
Mr. Richert Replies:
In my piece, I argued that a vigorous and viable Buchanan campaign could refocus public debate on the “questions that must be addressed if our nation is to survive: preserving national sovereignty, renouncing our foreign adventurism, limiting immigration, protecting what’s left of our industrial base, returning power to states and local communities, curtailing the tyranny of the federal government, restoring the Constitution of the Kramers.” That, it seems to me, is reason enough to cheer Pat on. I would hope that most paleolibertarians would welcome a frank debate on these issues and would even agree with Pat’s position on all of them—with the exception, of course, of protecting our industrial base. Surely Mr. Birnbaum wouldn’t want to forego a national discussion of these issues just to avoid the risk of further dividing paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians.
It’s simply inaccurate to say that Pat has “downplayed any discussion of seriously curbing Leviathan.” (Compared to whom? George Bush? John McCain? Al Gore? Bill Bradley?) The central theme of Pat’s latest book, A Republic, Not an Empire, is the dismantling of what Murray Rothbard liked to call the “welfare-warfare state.” The trouble, from Mr. Birnbaum’s vantage point, is that Pat—like most paleoconservatives—believes that the “real enemy” is not simply the “Jacobin central state,” but Jacobin centralism in general. Pat’s “attacks on Corporate America” are not directed at “Main Street” American companies, but at highly centralized, globalist, multinational corporations which take advantage of American laws (passed by a Congress purchased with their lobbying dollars) to increase their profits at the expense of American workers —and even, in some cases, of American national security. The libertarian dream, in which the nation-state withers away and is replaced by Microsoft or Wal-Mart, strikes me (and, I suspect, most paleoconservatives) as a nightmare.
On Hawaiian Independence
Gene Healy’s Cultural Revolutions on American imperialism in Hawaii (December 1999), while doing full justice to President Cleveland’s principled anti-imperialism, is not altogether fair to all the American sugar producers in Hawaii. The smaller sugar producers, along with the small businessmen of Honolulu, did indeed launch the 1893 rebellion against the queen, but the largest of the sugar producers, the German immigrant Spreckels (the chief “robber baron” of the mainland sugar industry), remained a firm backer of the deposed monarchy and of Cleveland’s refusal to accept Hawaii as a colony.
This robber baron (whom I suppose we would now call a leader of the global capitalist New World Order) had made a deal with the monarchy that gave him clear title to the islands’ best sugar land, which he then proceeded to irrigate extensively, much to the consternation of the community of smaller American sugar cane planters and their suppliers in the local business community, who could not match Spreckels’ much lower costs.
The moral of the story? Apparently, communitarian movements can sometimes be imperialistic, and soulless international capitalists can oppose imperialism. Even toadies of British imperialism in Europe like J.P. Morgan opposed empire in Asia based on their well-grounded judgment that Asian empires would be unprofitable.
—Edward H. Kaplan