Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Who’s Right? Patrick J. Buchanan or William F. Buckley, Jr.?

 

buchanan-buckleyOn the prospects for Western civilization, Patrick J. Buchanan said in an interview today with the Daily Caller:

When asked if a Trump victory in the United States, and the success of groups such as the National Front in France could offset this demise [the demise of the West], Buchanan was not hopeful. “Do I think those books stand up very well? Yup,” Buchanan told TheDC. “The West is disintegrating. Its faith is dead. When the cult dies, the culture dies and when the culture dies the civilization dies, and when the civilization dies the people die, and that’s what’s happening to Western civilization.”

The conservative commentator was especially grim about Europe, Buchanan said, “It’s hard for me to see how the Europeans survive whether they have the will just given the trend-lines in terms of population and in terms of immigrants pouring in.”

He told TheDC, “I’m not a great optimist about the Western civilization.”

In contrast, here is William F. Buckley, Jr., addressing a rally at Carnegie Hall to protest a visit to the United States by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on September 17, 1960:

Ladies and gentlemen, we deem it the central revelation of Western experience that man cannot ineradicably stain himself, for the wells of regeneration are infinitely deep… Khrushchev cannot take permanent advantage of our temporary disadvantage, for it is the West he is fighting. And in the West there lie, however encysted, the ultimate resources, which are moral in nature …

Even out of the depths of despair, we take heart in the knowledge that it cannot matter how deep we fall, for there is always hope. In the end, we will bury [them].

Well, good people of Ricochet? Who’s right?

There are 107 comments.

  1. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Buckley.

    We’re hardly invulnerable, but we’d be fools to overlook our very real advantages in this regard.

    • #1
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:16 PM PDT
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  2. BrentB67 Inactive

    I wonder what Mr. Buckley would say today.

    • #2
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:19 PM PDT
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  3. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Buckley.

    We’re hardly invulnerable, but we’d be fools to overlook our very real advantages in this regard.

    They’re talking about different things, though. Buckley is referring to a struggle with an identifiable external enemy. Buchanan is referring to an internal cancer, a poisoning or evaporation of the very deep “wells of regeneration” which “are moral in nature”.

    • #3
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:22 PM PDT
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  4. Richard Fulmer Member

    All I had to do was read the title’s question to know the answer. Buchanan has made a career out of being wrong.

    • #4
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:25 PM PDT
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  5. A-Squared Inactive

    All great civilizations die. America will eventually die (and I’m in the sooner rather than later camp), but the concepts that made Western Civilization great will live on.

    • #5
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:25 PM PDT
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  6. Z in MT Inactive

    You have to say this about Buchanan. He may be part of the populist (Trumpist) wing of the Republican party, but he at least he has put thought into it.

    • #6
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:26 PM PDT
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  7. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Buckley.

    We’re hardly invulnerable, but we’d be fools to overlook our very real advantages in this regard.

    ScruffySeconded

    • #7
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:28 PM PDT
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  8. Casey Inactive

    BrentB67:I wonder what Mr. Buckley would say today.

    He would quote Boris Pasternak- “If the whole world were to be covered in asphalt, one day a crack would appear in the asphalt, and in that crack grass would grow.”

    EDIT: Ilya Ehrenburg, not Pasternak.

    • #8
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:30 PM PDT
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  9. Liver Pate Inactive

    “The Word of God tells us that towards the end of time the power of this world will became so irresistible and so triumphant that the Church of God will sink underneath its hand … It will be deprived of protection. It will be weakened, baffled, and prostrate, and will lie bleeding at the feet of the powers of this world.”

    “The apostasy of the city of Rome from the Vicar of Christ, and its destruction by Antichrist, may be thoughts so new to many Catholics, that I think it well to recite the text of theologians in the greatest repute. First, Malvenda, who writes expressly on the subject, states as the opinion of Ribera, Gaspar Melus, Viegas, Suarez, Bellarmine and Bosius, that Rome shall apostasize from the faith and drive away the Vicar of Christ, and return to its ancient paganism. Malvenda’s words are: “Rome itself in the last times of the world will return to its ancient idolatry, power, and imperial greatness. It will cast out its Pontiff, altogether apostatise from the Christian faith, terribly persecute the Church, shed the blood of martyrs more cruelly than ever, and will recover its former state of abundant wealth, or even greater than it had under its first rulers.”

    Cardinal Manning, The Pope and the Antichrist, 1861

    • #9
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:31 PM PDT
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  10. SEnkey Inactive

    From what I have read, even ancient Rome reached a point where everyone knew that “there weren’t really gods.” What saved the civilization at that point, if you follow this theory, was the infusion of new faith via the Christians. The new moral fire rekindled the civilization for a time. Of course, smart people have argued that Rome fell because it became so Christian.

    Politics is downstream from culture, education downstream from politics, and economics downstream from education. The stream has run too dry. I’m not saying we lack religion per se, but our culture needs something to reinvigorate it. I think the belief in the ideal of America is enough. Unfortunately to half our country that is considered poor taste.

    Who is right? I want to say Buckley, time will tell.

    • #10
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:31 PM PDT
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  11. A-Squared Inactive

    Z in MT:

    You have to say this about Buchanan. He may be part of the populist (Trumpist) wing of the Republican party, but he at least he has put thought into it.

    Isn’t the fact that a candidate that has put very little thought into his positions is the presumptive nominee of one of the major parties indicative of the problem.

    We can survive Trump, but I’m not sure we can survive an electorate that is willing to nominate someone based primarily on anger and a reality TV show. Trump’s biggest supporters on Ricochet have generally acknowledged they have no idea what Trump will do as President, which appears to be a plus in their mind.

    • #11
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:34 PM PDT
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  12. Douglas Inactive

    I think you’d have to be blind to not see that the West is dying before our eyes. By suicide.

    Buchanan, all day long. In the future, WFB and Ronald Reagan will be seen as speedbumps that only slowed the inevitable for a little while. I’m with Mark Steyn on this. I think we’ve passed the point of no return already.

    • #12
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:35 PM PDT
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  13. TKC1101 Inactive

    Both would agree, but Buckley would know expressing pessimism would only speed the demise. He would do what he could to keep the fires burning. Buchanan would just as soon the dark ages got here and got over with.

    Buckley would retreat to a monastery, Buchanan would be a tribal elder. They would probably drink heavily once a week and share stories.

    • #13
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:40 PM PDT
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  14. Douglas Inactive

    A-Squared:All great civilizations die. America will eventually die (and I’m in the sooner rather than later camp), but the concepts that made Western Civilization great will live on.

    I’m sure the Egyptians and Babylonians and Carthaginians thought the same thing.

    • #14
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:47 PM PDT
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  15. TKC1101 Inactive

    The real question is what takes the place of western civilization?

    Options:

    1. Chinese Nationalism, Indian Nationalism, Islam
    2. Global Corporations and cartels
    3. Facebook, Twitter and VR
    4. Peace and Harmony with Gaia.

    My money is not on #4.

    • #15
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:50 PM PDT
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  16. A-Squared Inactive

    Douglas:

    A-Squared:All great civilizations die. America will eventually die (and I’m in the sooner rather than later camp), but the concepts that made Western Civilization great will live on.

    I’m sure the Egyptians and Babylonians and Carthaginians thought the same thing.

    And plenty would argue that the concepts that made Egypt and Babylon great have lived on.

    • #16
    • April 20, 2016, at 2:53 PM PDT
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  17. Marlowe Inactive

    Buckley is right, as normal. Buchanan is wrong once again. If you really want to drive the point home Peter I’d read Frank Meyer.

    • #17
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:15 PM PDT
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  18. Marlowe Inactive

    TKC1101:Both would agree, but Buckley would know expressing pessimism would only speed the demise. He would do what he could to keep the fires burning. Buchanan would just as soon the dark ages got here and got over with.

    Buckley would retreat to a monastery, Buchanan would be a tribal elder. They would probably drink heavily once a week and share stories.

    No that was not Bill Buckley, nor was that Ronald Reagan, or Frank Meyer. They were all fighters who believed in the supremacy of individual man over the collective. A true conservative does not roll over and sit in library crying in his beer.

    Buckley did a lot of things in his day, “retreat to a monastery” was never one of them. This was a man who built up this movement from the ground up in an age where there was no conservative groups or foundations to expand from.

    • #18
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:20 PM PDT
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  19. I Walton Member

    These kinds of systems don’t self correct, but when man climbs out of his own rubble, he has to focus on basics, so yea man goes on. But America under a constitution? perhaps not. It’ll be close. I’d have said we’ll fix it after seeing all those conservative, competent smart candidates. Then along comes Trump and the alternatives are Hillary and Sanders. It looks like climbing out the rubble, but there is still time.

    • #19
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:22 PM PDT
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  20. livingtheLoneStarlife Inactive

    BrentB67:I wonder what Mr. Buckley would say today.

    That was my first thought. A heck of a lot has changed since 1960.

    • #20
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:23 PM PDT
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  21. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    TKC1101:The real question is what takes the place of western civilization?

    Options:

    1. Chinese Nationalism, Indian Nationalism, Islam
    2. Global Corporations and cartels
    3. Facebook, Twitter and VR
    4. Peace and Harmony with Gaia.

    My money is not on #4.

    I agree that I wouldn’t bet on 4 being the answer, but I don’t think 1-3 are particularly plausible, either.

    We are in the midst of a massive transformation in education, one that increases competition in a wide variety of ways. We have more leisure time than before, longer lives, higher IQs, and greater access to the classics, and to instruction on the classics.

    The history of literate civilization in Europe is, what, three thousand years long? Rome (the empire rather than the city) starts from close to the beginning of that, and finally closes shop a half millennium ago, dominating or leading European literate civilization for about half of its existence. Since before Constantinople fell, England and France have been leading forces for the development of civilization. To my knowledge, neither of these has fallen. Oxbridge is still churning out, for instance, Peter Robinson, the City of London is still one of the world’s leading financial hubs, and a substantial portion of the world’s best food, literature, and theater is still being produced in London and Paris.

    There’s a bizarre myth that countries are like bodies, with defined lifespans. Generally, this claim is put forward with the suggestion that death is imminent. In the English language, this claim has always been incorrect. It’s possible that we’ll have a nuke go off and that the current era of prosperity will thus come to an end, but it’s just as likely that the next centry will see as positive an extension of western education and civilization as the last one did, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that.

    • #21
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:23 PM PDT
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  22. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m pessimistic in the near term, but a bit more optimistic long term.

    All in all, I’ll take Buckley’s view of things over Buchanan’s.

    • #22
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:32 PM PDT
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  23. Marlowe Inactive

    livingthehighlife:

    BrentB67:I wonder what Mr. Buckley would say today.

    That was my first thought. A heck of a lot has changed since 1960.

    It’s gotten considerably better. Today our biggest problems pale in comparison to what they dealt with 50 years ago, when nuclear destruction from an aggressive Marxist power was a very real fact of life real.

    • #23
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:38 PM PDT
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  24. A-Squared Inactive

    tabula rasa:I’m pessimistic in the near term, but a bit more optimistic long term.

    All in all, I’ll take Buckley’s view of things over Buchanan’s.

    I’m curious, what is the mechanism back? There isn’t even a majority in the Republican party willing to fight for capitalism and a smaller government. The Democrats have nearly nominated a socialist but seem likely to nominate a woman famous for being the wife of someone famous. Even the baby-boomers are saying screw my grandkids, give me my social security.

    I would like to be optimistic, but I don’t see a mechanism.

    • #24
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:41 PM PDT
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  25. Bob Thompson Member

    Buchanan is right. And Trump may be right about one thing, immigration. There are two main things we must be able to control if we are to survive. When I say we, I’m referring to the US as a representative constitutional republic. First is immigration and border control, a policy issue that is completely within our power given the will to do so. And, parenthetically, I am treating us separately from Europe, Canada, and Latin America and others, not that they are not elements within the issue, but they will need to act for themselves. I think Trump puts America first on this issue, at least attitudinally, and he would search out solutions. The second, where only our effort is completely under our control, is national defense and elimination of the terrorists threat.

    Obama has totally failed all the way here and risks our survival and another Democrat POTUS will continue down this road. The existential threat is within us. No nation can survive if it does not pay attention to threats. Why does our oath of office make reference to enemies, foreign and domestic.

    Every person who has served this nation, many who have given their lives, deserves all that can be done to preserve the ideals embodied in our founding. Slavery was the great test of the unfinished work of the founders and it was overcome at great sacrifice. Now we face a bigger test.

    • #25
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:46 PM PDT
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  26. Bob Thompson Member

    A-Squared:

    tabula rasa:I’m pessimistic in the near term, but a bit more optimistic long term.

    All in all, I’ll take Buckley’s view of things over Buchanan’s.

    I’m curious, what is the mechanism back? There isn’t even a majority in the Republican party willing to fight for capitalism and a smaller government. The Democrats have nearly nominated a socialist but seem likely to nominate a woman famous for being the wife of someone famous. Even the baby-boomers are saying screw my grandkids, give me my social security.

    I would like to be optimistic, but I don’t see a mechanism.

    This is why I say Buchanan is right. We need an unknown unknown force to save us.

    • #26
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:50 PM PDT
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  27. A-Squared Inactive

    Bob Thompson: Every person who has served this nation, many who have given their lives, deserves all that can be done to preserve the ideals embodied in our founding. Slavery was the great test of the unfinished work of the founders and it was overcome at great sacrifice. Now we face a bigger test.

    The good news in the event of a second civil war is that all the productive people will go to the capitalist seceding area. The bad news, the other side will have at least one order of magnitude more people and nothing useful for them to do.

    • #27
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:50 PM PDT
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  28. Bob Thompson Member

    A-Squared:

    Bob Thompson: Every person who has served this nation, many who have given their lives, deserves all that can be done to preserve the ideals embodied in our founding. Slavery was the great test of the unfinished work of the founders and it was overcome at great sacrifice. Now we face a bigger test.

    The good news in the event of a second civil war is that all the productive people will go to the capitalist seceding area. The bad news, the other side will have at least one order of magnitude more people and nothing useful for them to do.

    Will the other side have any guns?

    • #28
    • April 20, 2016, at 3:58 PM PDT
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  29. TKC1101 Inactive

    James Of England: I agree that I wouldn’t bet on 4 being the answer, but I don’t think 1-3 are particularly plausible, either.

    Civilizations do not exist in a vacuum, like they did in the past where China could ignore the rest of the world and so forth.

    If Western Civilization loses it’s dynamism, the next dynamic civilization will eventually replace it, just as North America replaced Europe within Western Civ.

    Brains drain, capital flows and innovation follows innovation. The Dynamic blows away the static over time.

    On my optimistic days , for my grandchildren’s sake, I hope your vision is right, but I fear we are handing our drive over to our successors.

    • #29
    • April 20, 2016, at 4:00 PM PDT
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  30. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When judging predictions, those made nearer to the future are often more accurate.

    • #30
    • April 20, 2016, at 4:02 PM PDT
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