281 CHRONICLESnSimple, straightforward heroism wasnmade to seem passe. As West put it,nsimple heroism has something “dawdynabout it, while treason has certain style,na sort of elegance, or, as the vulgar say,n’sophistication.’ ” In this invertednworld. West went on to say, “peoplenwho practice the virtues are judged as ifnthey have struck the sort of a falsenattitude which betrays the incapacitynfor art, while the people who practicenvices are judged as if they have shownnthe subtle rightness of gesture which isnthe sign of a born artist.”nThis cynical inversion of values isnwhat constitutes the ruling morality ofnthe “Eastern Bloc,” which, like anynlethal disease, refuses to be containednby frontiers and geographic barriers.nThough lacking the firsthand experiencenof someone who has lived in thenCommunist East, Rebecca West managednto detect its echoes in her ownnworld, and she tried to fight it, giving itnthe proper name it deserved.nSpeaking in conclusion not of thentraitors’ but of our own morality,nRebecca West does not propose a policenstate which could handle the threatnmuch better than the weak democracies.nShe places her hope upon thenhuman species — on our ability forn”tightrope walking.”nWest had more than her share ofnflaws, but her personal and artisticnfailings are only used as convenientnweapons by critics who cannot say thatnthey really hate her for her virtues. Thenmore distant in time our writers are,nthe better off we, their readers. Verynfew among us know and care thatnGiacomo Leopardi was a hunchbacknwho hardly ever left his study, or thatnDante Alighieri switched his politicalnallegiance almost daily. Or that, besidesnhaving at least two illegitimate children,nFrancesco Petrarca, the master ofnthe verses of pure love, returned tonChristianity at the end of his life, just inncase there was a God. Or that OscarnWilde lived scandalously, though henwrote like an angel. Or that Dostoevskinwas a profligate and a gambler. Insteadnof denying the great their claim tongreatness for not being the purestnamong the pure, it would be more justnfor us to say they were often greatndespite themselves. Few of them de­nDecency Through Strength by Clyde Wilsonn”Ideas rule the world and its events. A revolutionnis a passage of an idea from theory to practice.nWhatever men say, material interests never havencaused and never will cause a revolution.”n— MazzininRight From the Beginning bynPatrick J. Buchanan, Boston andnToronto: Little, Brown; $18.95.nMy grandmother, the daughter of anConfederate “high private,” alwaysnsaid that if someone had donensomething particularly good, you couldnbe sure he had Southern ancestry somewhere.nI first heard this during the latterndays of World War II in connectionnwith General Patton, who at that time,nwith the help of a couple of uncles, wasnClyde Wilson is planning to devotenthe second Tuesday in November tonhis compost heap.nspectacularly chasing the Hun across hisnown territory.nLike everything else my grandmotherntold me, this has nearly always provednto be true. Therefore, I was not surprisednto learn from Pat Buchanan’snmemoirs that he—the favorite TV personalitynat our house—was descendednfrom the Buchanans and Baldwins ofnMississippi. In Right From the Beginning,nBuchanan has given us a livelynand good-spirited account of his backgroundnand early career, up to the timenhe went to work for Richard Nixon inn1966, describing by the way how henwas on the “right from the beginning.”nPat Buchanan is not ashamed ofnthese Southern origins and knows thatnnnserve praise for what they did, and evennfewer for what they were.nAnd though we do not have tonrediscover who Rebecca West was, wencertainly cannot fail, in her case, tonrediscover how often art becomes confusednwith politics. It is not only becausenartists themselves cannot refrainnfrom meddling in worldly affairs; it isnbecause they quite often have to surroundnthemselves with followers andndefenders, if they are to survive.n”Sanza avere armi proprie nessunnprincipe e securo,” as Niccolo Machiavellinobserved centuries ago. He himselfnwas unjustly accused of ruthlessnessnand amorality in the centuries toncome, for having honestly explorednwhat the rulers of his (and other) timesnhad to be and do to rule, withoutnpretending they were just like then”friendly folks next door.” Machiavelli,nhowever, should have directed his advicenat writers, too. As for DamenRebecca West, she, like the world shenstood for, has yet to find the rightndefenders, somewhat more aware ofnwhat they are defending, and why.nhe owes something to them (wouldnthat a few more of his tepid fellownconservatives had the same Southernn”Celtic” spirit), yet the predominant,nimmediate force in his background wasnthe confident and principled Irish Catholicismnof the post-World War II era.nOne of nine children of an uppermiddle-classnCatholic family, Buchananngrew up in what was then thensleepy, decent Southern town ofnWashington (the one our forefathersncalled “the federal district”), a townnwhich has now disappeared beneathnthe weight of the cosmopolitan capitalnof the flabbiest empire in world history.nHis education was entirely Catholicn(except for one year at the ColumbianJournalism School), academically andnmorally religious, and reinforced by anrobustly healthy and uncomplicatednfamily life in which tradition, faith,ncommon sense, and patriotism werenreflexive values. To this he attributesnhis ability to cut through the multiplyingnwebs of cant and pseudo-n