Da jeg i sin tid først stødte på Buckleys navn, var jeg til at begynde med ikke imponeret–men det skyldtes nok, at jeg alene havde Murray Rothbards meget negative vurdering af manden, som var meget præget af deres modsætninger i 1960erne og uenighed om sikkerheds- og udenrigspolitik. Som tiden gik, blev jeg mere og mere imponeret over Buckley, som trods hans lidt specielle taleform uden sammenligning var USA’s mest velartikulerede–og morsomme–konservative tænker i det 20. århundredes anden halvdel. Han blev “verdensberømt” i USA som 22-årig med bogen God and Man at Yale, og han var som skribent, stilistisk og intellektuelt set, milevidt over niveauet fra mange af de mere højlydte, nyere konservative kommentatorer såsom Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham og Michelle Malkin, for nu blot at nævne nogle oplagte, eller tågehorn som Mike Huckabee. Hos Buckley var der–selv når man var uenig med ham–altid en vis (høj) standard, selv når han var morsom og perfid.
Samtidigt var Buckley, både intellektuelt og organisatorisk (ikke mindst som grundlægger og redaktør af National Review og initiativtager til “Young Americans for Freedom”), en person af måske større betydning for formningen af amerikansk konservatisme end nogen anden amerikansk konservativ i det 20. århundrede, ihvertfald et par præsidenter inkluderet. Som WSJ skriver:
“Buckley and his talented stable of editors and contributors gave coherence and shape to what he called “a fusion” of traditionalism, anti-Communist internationalism and free-market economics. Equally important, the magazine worked to discredit fringe elements like the John Birchers, the Jew-haters and the Lindbergh isolationists.”
Det er ikke helt ved siden af at sige, at uden Buckley, Goldwater og Reagan, ville der ikke have været nogen amerikansk konservativ “revolution” i 1980erne. Han var en ener, og som NYT skriver én, der “marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse”.
Vi har tidligere skrevet om ham her. National Review selv gør det her.
Q: In what sense, if any, would you describe Mr. Buckley as a libertarian?
A: He supported the legalization of drugs, was an utter devotee of Milton Friedmans economic principles and said African Americans had every right to boycott industries that discriminated against them. Those are just a few examples, and I think its safe to say his traditionalism was in dialog with his libertarianism throughout his life.
Til de “historisk udfordrede”: Det er i dag 25 år siden, at Ronald W. Reagan blev indsat i embedet som USA’s 40. præsident, og i dagens anledning er det vel nok værd at sende “the Gipper” en venlig tanke.
Nuvel, som øverste chef for den udøvende magt i verdens mægtigste nation får man uvilkårligt lidt … skidt … på fingreneselv når man i øvrigt efter alt at dømme har en generelt pletfri karakter. Og selv de mest “die hard” Reaganistas (Søren Pind? Morten Holm? Finn Ziegler?) må vel erkende, at det langt fra var alt, der gik, som det skulleisær ikke i 2. embedsperiode. Jeg vil ikke gå så langt som Murray Rothbard gjorde i 1989 i hanssom altidafsindigt velskrevne (og spydige) essay, “Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy”, men snarere sige at Reagan var en mand, hvor der ikke helt var konsistens mellem ambitionerne/retorikken og de faktiske resultater.
Men det ville også have været svært. Tænk på, hvor revolutionært det var i 1981 at sige ting som disse i sin indsættelsestale:
“[G]overnment is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? …
We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. …
Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.
It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of Government.
It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”
Og mens Rothbard nok havde ret i, at Reagans resultater af mange på den amerikanske højrefløj er blevet overdrevet, så er de nu ikke alle helt sådan at kimse afisær ikke når der anlægges et lidt længere tidsperspektiv. Wall Street Journal har fredag en hyldest og opsummering i en lederartikel, der passende hedder “Still Morning in America: Reaganomics 25 Years Later”:
“Twenty-five years ago today, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th President of the United States promising less intrusive government, lower tax rates and victory over communism. On that same day, the American hostages in Iran were freed after 444 days of captivity. If the story of history is one long and arduous march toward freedom, this was a momentous day well worth commemorating.
All the more so because over this 25-year period prosperity has been the rule, not the exception, for America–in stark contrast to the stagflationary 1970s. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the success of Reaganomics is that, over the course of the past 276 months, the U.S. economy has been in recession for only 15. That is to say, 94% of the time the U.S. economy has been creating jobs (43 million in all) and wealth ($30 trillion). More wealth has been created in the U.S. in the last quarter-century than in the previous 200 years. The policy lessons of this supply-side prosperity need to be constantly relearned, lest we return to the errors that produced the 1970s.”
For de sentimentale har Heritage Foundation i dagens anledning lavet et helt nyt website dedikeret til Reaganhvor man bl.a. kan sample gamle citater, hyldesttaler m.v., men hvor man også kan læse tænketankens mere kritiske bemærkninger om Reagan-periodens mindre vellykkede elementer.
“This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down — [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the “Great Society,” or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they’ve been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, “The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism.” Another voice says, “The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state.” Or, “Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century.” Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as “our moral teacher and our leader,” and he says he is “hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document.” He must “be freed,” so that he “can do for us” what he knows “is best.” …
Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as “the masses.” This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, “the full power of centralized government” — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without
controlling people. And th
ey know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy. …
Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the — or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. …
You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.”
Den er sgu’ til at blive både sentimental og helt oprørsk af.
Kongresmedlem John Shadegg (R-AZ) er en af kandidaterne til den ledige post som Republikansk flertalsleder i Repræsentanternes Hus. Han kæmper for sit kandidatur bl.a. med et indlæg i onsdagens Wall Street Journal, hvori han priser Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater m.fl. som idoler for, hvad partiet burde være i dag. Heri hedder det bl.a.:
Ten years ago, the American people put Republicans in control of the House of Representatives for the first time in more than 40 years. It was a historic achievement, made possible because we stood for the principles the American people believed in: smaller government, returning power to the states, lower taxes, greater individual freedom and–above all–reform.
Some Republican leaders in the House seem to have lost sight of those principles, though the American people still believe in them. Meanwhile, Americans are sick of scandals. To fully regain their confidence–and to retain and grow the Republican majority–we need to make a clean break with the past and return to our ideals.
Republicans promised the American people two things in 1994. First, we promised to rein in the size and scope of the federal government. Second, we promised to clean up Washington. In recent years, we have fallen short on both counts. Total federal spending has grown by 33% since 1995, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Worse, we have permitted some of the same backroom practices that flourished in the old Democrat-controlled House. Powerful members of Congress are able to insert provisions giving away millions–even tens of millions–of dollars in the dead of night. The recent scandals involving Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff have highlighted the problem, but this is not just a case of a few bad apples. The system itself needs structural reforms. …
I grew up watching the example of Barry Goldwater, who worked closely with my father. He taught me that “a government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” That philosophy guided me when I ran for Congress in 1994. I was thrilled to be part of the Revolutionary Class of ’94, and the sense of hope and mission of the early days after the American people elected a Republican majority in the House is still with me. We believed then that we could take back our government, and I believe it today. …
House Republicans differ about policy and tactics, but we stand together in our respect for this institution, our hatred of corruption, and our support for the basic principles of our party. The American people overwhelmingly support the principles we stand for. We cannot allow the current scandals to distract their attention from our substantive agenda. If we do not make a clear, public break with the recent past, there is a good chance we will lose our majority.
I do not need a poll or questionnaire to tell me what Republicans stand for. The party of Ronald Reagan exists not to expand government, but to protect the American people from government’s excesses. President Reagan once said, “If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.”
New York Times havde mandag en længere artikel om den nysafdøde, amerikanske højesteretspræsident William H. Rehnquist.
Der var et par ting i den, som jeg ikke vidste men fandt interessante. F.eks. at Rehnquist i 1964 havde ført kampagne for Barry “Extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice” Goldwater, da denne som Republikanernes præsidentkandidat forgæves prøvede at slå Lyndon B. Johnson. Men også dette om Rehnquists ideologiske inspiration:
“Chief Justice Rehnquist often said that he was strongly influenced in his world view by a book he read as a young man, “The Road to Serfdom,” by Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian-born, Nobel Prize-winning economist. A best-seller after its publication in 1944, the book warned of the dangers of collectivism and big government and predicted that socialism, the “road to serfdom” of the title, would eventually collapse.”
Der var også denne lille anekdote fra da Rehnquist i 1986 blev udnævnt til højesteretspræsident, inklusive en fin lille parafrase:
“While the new chief justice found the confirmation process extremely disagreeable, he kept his composure and even his wry sense of humor. At one point, a Republican Senator, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, commended him for his recent dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree, the case on silent prayer in the Alabama public schools. Senator Hatch observed that the Senate Judiciary Committee had voted for a constitutional amendment to allow such prayer. “What you have been labeled extreme for, is something a majority of this committee supports,” Senator Hatch said.
Justice Rehnquist smiled and shrugged. “We’re all extremists together,” he said.”