“An Liberalismus gehen die Völker zugrunde.”

—Moeller von den Bruck

Pat Buchanan’s exciting new book demonstrates clearly and convincingly that the population base of Western civilization is disappearing as Europeans and Americans are no longer reproducing themselves even at replacement rate and thus are being supplanted, both in their traditional homelands and in the New World that they conquered and civilized, by other races, cultures, and religions.

At present birthrates, Europe’s population in 2100 will be less than a third of what it is today, Buchanan reports.  European birthrates are far below replacement levels.  If these remain at current levels, by 2050 there will be 16 million fewer Italians (a decline from 57 million to 41) than there are today, 23 million fewer Germans (from 82 million to 59), and 33 million fewer Russians (from 147 million to 114), while a third of those alive will be over 60.  By contrast, the opposite trend holds for the Islamic world.  In the next generation, Iraq is expected to grow from 23 to 41 million and Iran, from 67.7 to 94.5 million.  Muslim Albania is the only country in Europe whose population is growing.  Buchanan predicts that the great Christian victories at Tours and Lepanto, which kept Islam out of Europe and permitted the development of Western civilization, will be reversed in this century by Islamic immigration into Europe and continued high Muslim birthrates there.  Although Israel is growing, Palestinians will outnumber Israeli Jews two-to-one by the middle of the 21st century.  No reader will forget Richard Nixon’s answer when Shelley Buchanan asked him about Israel’s future.  “‘The long run?’ Nixon responded.  He extended his right fist, thumb up, in the manner of a Roman emperor passing sentence on a gladiator, and slowly turned his thumb over.”

Buchanan makes the same judgment on the United States.  There are 30 million foreign-born in the United States,  one third of whom are here illegally.  In California, with 8.4 million foreign-born, an ethnic cleansing of European-Americans is taking place; about 100,000 flee the state every year.  Already a minority in California, they will soon be so in Texas.  And the future majority has imported its own culture and language.  Managers of fast-food restaurants in the Denver area have to communicate with their workers in Spanish.  For now, there still has to be one English-speaker in the store to take orders.  How long will it be before customers have to use Spanish to get served?  

The Death of the West is about more than low birthrates and mass immigration, however.  These are symptoms of illness, not the disease itself.  The American way of life is under attack.

Destroy the record of a people’s past, leave it in ignorance of who its ancestors were and what they did, and one can fill the empty vessels of their souls with a new history, as in 1984.  Dishonor or disgrace a nation’s heroes, and you can demoralize its people.

Buchanan’s chapters on “The War Against the Past” and “De-Christianizing America” are a bluntly stated record of the defeats we have suffered in the “culture war” he described so trenchantly from the podium of the 1992 Republican National Convention.  The thunderous applause that greeted his message left no doubt that rank-and-file Republicans agreed with him, but the GOP leadership quickly repudiated Buchanan’s prophetic words.

The Death of the West displays for all to see the fruits of ignoring or spurning our culture in the service of global free trade.  Economists reassure us that we are living better than ever because we have microwave ovens, home entertainment centers, and SUVs, but Americans value such things only insofar as they enable us to enjoy our way of life more comfortably with our families.  Now, we have lost both family and country.  “One-third of all American children now live in single-parent homes. . . . In the African-American community, two-thirds of the children live in single-parent homes.”  And in many two-parent families, children come home from school to an empty house, because both mother and father are away at work, clinging to a precarious middle-class status.  “These are the statistics of a decadent society and a dying civilization.”

“Pat,” Buchanan often heard on the campaign trail, “we’re losing our country.”  Tom Piatak, in the December 2001 issue of Chronicles (Vital Signs, “Happy Holidays? Bah! Humbug!”), targeted antireligious fanatics out to erase every trace of Christmas from public life.  In his book, Buchanan recites a litany of atrocities committed by culture-war terrorists.  In Richmond, they mutilated a portrait of Robert E. Lee.  In Selma, they repeatedly trash a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest.  Even black history is the victim of political correctness; it is not just Confederates whose history is rewritten.  At Harper’s Ferry, “activists” covered over a memorial to Hayward Shepherd, the black freedman who, Buchanan notes, “was the first man killed in John Brown’s terrorist raid on the federal arsenal.”  As The Death of the West was moving rapidly up the New York Times bestseller list, the new Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, announced that he was removing George Washington’s portrait from his office in Borough Hall, because Washington was an “old white man.”  “I respect history,” Mark-owitz told the New York Post, “but there has to be a recognition that this is 2002.  There’s not one picture of a person of color, not one kid, not one Latin.  Borough Hall should reflect the richness of our diversity.”

“I guess everything does change,” Merle Haggard sang, “except what you choose to recall.”  The culture destroyers decide what we recall, or celebrate, or even say.  When discussing the pan-European significance of the great Spanish reactionary Donoso Cortés, Carl Schmitt pondered the success of the left in imposing its version of history, so that figures such as Donoso Cortés fall into oblivion.  Italian traditionalist Julius Evola responded to Schmitt by calling for an historiography of the right.  It was high time, he felt, that the writers and teachers of the great European traditions tell our story in our own way.  By reconstructing and defending the history of our national past, Buchanan is laying the foundations for a renewal of American culture.

Neoconservatives and other leftists in the media who gleefully proclaimed that Buchanan’s electoral defeats had “marginalized” him were dumbfounded when The Death of the West became an instant bestseller.  Buchanan is achieving more with his books than any electoral success could bring, because even victories as impressive as those of Richard Nixon in 1972 or Ronald Reagan in 1984 are, by their nature, transient.  Buchanan has become a one-man intellectual arsenal, supplying Americans with the weapons we need to defend our past and the tools we require for a free and creative future.

Buchanan suggests intriguing ways to implement his call for cultural and religious renewal, from restoring Washington’s Birthday to instituting a National History Bee, modeled on the National Spelling Bee.  Good luck!  The Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee is a constant thorn in the side of the educational establishment because homeschooled children win so often.  One of them even blurted out that he won because he had studied Latin!  The educrats will not welcome the additional humiliation of a National History Bee.

“The Civil Rights Act,” Buchanan argues, 

should be amended to allow employers to pay higher wages to parents than to single people, to enable one spouse to stay home with infants and toddlers and to be there when the kids come home from school.  This should apply to single dads and moms.

As Allan Carlson has noted, we need to turn away from the “minimum wage” and return to the ideal of a “family wage.”  The economy exists to support a way of life, not vice versa.  Buchanan’s excellent idea should apply, therefore, to married couples, widows, and widowers.  We should not encourage illegitimacy or divorce.

It would take relatively few—though fundamental—changes in the tax laws to promote family farms, encourage mothers to stay home and rear their own children, and discourage corporations from moving their workers and executives at the drop of a hat (thereby preventing them from sinking roots in a community).  An important reform would be the repeal of the 16th Amendment—instituting the federal income tax—and a return to funding the federal government through tariffs.  When foreigners supported it, our national government paid more attention to the best interests of the American people than now, when our taxes contribute directly to its upkeep.

Occasionally, Buchanan displays unwonted—and unwanted—moderation.

Eventually, the incorporation doctrine, by which all the restrictions imposed on Congress by the Constitution are imposed, through the Fourteenth Amendment, on the states, must be overturned. . . .  This is the authority by which the Court dictates to the nation.

How does Buchanan propose to “overturn” the Incorporation Doctrine?  By hypnotizing Ruth Bader Ginsburg?  This is no time for halfway measures or weasel words.  We need to repeal the 14th Amendment.  Until we do, there is little hope of restoring true federalism to America, or even consensual rule—never mind controlling immigration.  Besides serving as the basis of the Incorporation Doctrine, the 14th Amendment is the Trojan horse inside our Constitution, giving any pregnant immigrant, legal or illegal, the right to become the parent of an American citizen.  Backing its repeal will give Buchanan’s American Cause a real cause and the Reform Party a real reform.

As Buchanan sees, however, we need more than a few well-tailored reforms.

With an intolerant new cultural elite now ascendant, a failing of conservatives is that they are conservatives. . . . We traditionalists who love the culture and country we grew up in are going to have to deal with this question: . . . Are we conservatives, or must we also become counterrevolutionaries and overthrow the dominant culture?

The times, he believes, call for a Conservative Revolution, to borrow Armin Mohler’s phrase.

Maistre, however, got it right.  We do not need a counterrevolution; we need the opposite of a revolution.  This means turning our back on the Enlightenment, liberalism, and communism and returning to the traditions that formed the early Republic: the English common law, the classical tradition, and Protestant Christianity.  The Enlightenment, raging in France, had relatively little influence on 18th-century America.  Harvard’s Bernard Bailyn thought the Whigs were the most significant influence on the Framers, but Whigs understood themselves as classical republicans, just as Protestants saw themselves as continuing primitive Christianity.  Their paradigm was not plunging blindly into the future, but returning to the pure sources of their traditions to renew their strength.

Buchanan still hopes that the Republican Party may “champion the cause of life, of a color-blind society, and of traditional values,” but, as he himself reports,

Not one speaker at the Republican convention in Philadelphia was allowed to defend the party’s position on the defining moral issue of life.  Yet Colin Powell was given prime time to lecture the party on its supposed hypocrisy in opposing affirmative action, and the chastened Republicans dutifully smiled through their public caning.  On the social and moral issues that once defined Reaganism, the party has fled the field.

Buchanan gives George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt.  “The culture war is not going away. . . . Eventually, even Mr. Bush, a reluctant warrior, will be dragged in.”  Is calling Bush “a reluctant warrior” in the culture war a reasonable interpretation of his actions?  Candidate Bush equivocated on affirmative action (saying he supported “affirmative access”), met with the homosexual Republicans of the Log Cabin Club, apologized for speaking at Bob Jones University, refused to take a principled stand in the Confederate Battle Flag controversy in South Carolina, and, after he won the primary there, promptly removed from the Texas Supreme Court Building “two plaques to Confederate war dead, paid for from a Confederate widows’ fund.”  President Bush is nationalizing the public-school curriculum, praises the Civil Rights Act of 1964, backs affirmative action by his appointments and policies, endorses food stamps for immigrants, and is perpetually negotiating with Mexican President Vicente Fox to flood our country with aliens against the will and the best interests of the American people.  Like Bush père, Bush fils sees himself as overseer of a kinder, gentler transition from a European, Christian republic to a multicultural, imperial Brazil.

“Once an ideology takes hold of a society, only a superior ideology can exorcise it,” Buchanan writes, with his sure instinct for the right verb.  “To defeat a faith you must have a faith.  What, other than Christianity, is the West’s faith?”  Hilaire Belloc saw no alternative.  “The Faith is Europe.  Europe is the Faith.”  By “the Faith,” Belloc certainly, and Buchanan perhaps, means “the Church of Rome,” and here I must respectfully disagree.  The American Founding was not just English and classical but Protestant.  To win the Culture War, we must rally to our banner traditionalists from every people of the Book.  Catholics and Jews have made important contributions to America, for which all Americans should be grateful, but they are contributions to a national culture that was flourishing when those contributions were made.

Today’s Catholic Church is far different from the Church of Buchanan’s childhood, which he described so lovingly in his bestselling autobiography, Right From the Beginning.  There are wonderful quotes in The Death of the West from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “Plea for Intolerance” (1931), but it is significant that Sheen was prominent generations ago, in an age of great Catholic nationalists like Father Coughlin and Sen. Joseph McCarthy.  Buchanan mentions with approbation remarks about contraception made by Pope Paul VI and Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput.  Paul VI, however, was a neo-Thomist enemy of traditionalists and the Tridentine Mass.  Archbishop Chaput has stood up for the Trinity and traditional morality, but when the Vatican appointed an auxiliary bishop for Denver, it sent a priest born in Monterrey, Mexico—a native speaker of Spanish.  The appointment signaled to Colorado’s immigrants that, as far as their Church is concerned, they do not need to learn English and assimilate to the American way of life—a very different message from that taught at the fine Jesuit schools of Washington, D.C., when Pat Buchanan was a student.

The American hierarchy is infested with neo-Thomists.  Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent who spied for the Soviet Union, communed at a church full of them.  He fit in well, because the neo-Thomists who dominate American Catholicism are, like communists and liberals, anti-traditionalist and anti-American globalists.  There is an inherent contradiction between wanting to be the Church of the New World Order and remaining loyal to traditional commitments to families, nations, and the principle of subsidiarity (federalism).  Catholicism has functioned well as a national church in Poland and in Italy after the Concordat of 1929.  Her catechism defends nations as part of God’s plan.  Traditionalists can begin to trust the American hierarchy when it declares against mass immigration and affirmative action and reaffirms the Church’s commitment to the historic American nation.  To win the culture war, nationalists of all stripes need to unite with all people of faith against the globalists and Enlightenment rationalists.  We also need to be clear about who is really on our side.

Pat Buchanan’s Death of the West is a gimlet-eyed diagnosis of Europe facing its last generation and the United States, its last century—unless we move beyond shortsighted political and economic nostrums and recover our past and our faith.  Buchanan is absolutely right to insist that the real battle is cultural and religious.  To win the culture war, we must learn to tell our story of America and her heroes, and we must be free to teach that story to our children.  Near the end of his beautiful book On the Platonic Myths, Josef Pieper reminds us that Platonists and Christians agree that stories—myths and parables—are essential for knowing the truth.  The Enlightenment obsession with theories and abstractions, fostered among conservatives by economists and neo-Thomists, has led us to ignore how important stories are.  Buchanan knows how to argue with the best of them, but he also knows our stories.  In his books, he is showing us how to tell them.  If we want our nation to survive into the 22nd century, we need to listen to what he has to tell us.  That future America, prosperous and free, will owe much to Pat Buchanan. 


[The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization, by Patrick J. Buchanan (New York: St. Martin’s Press) 308 pp., $25.95]