In the last months of his life, William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of the iconic National Review magazine and leader of the conservative movement for nearly half a century, saw his life’s work in shatters, writes Buckley’s brother Reid in his new book, “The Idiocy of Assent.”
“He evidently knew…that all his work was disintegrating around him and there was nothing he (nor anyone else) could do to resuscitate it,” Reid Buckley writes.
Buckley’s book seeks to fill the void with a blistering assault on American culture he sees as faltering due to moral decay, universities steeped in post-modernism and a conservative movement smugly pleased with itself and narrow in its focus.
Buckley rails against the baby boomers’ sense of entitlement, fitness “freaks” who put their faith in the “corruptible body” and, in six consecutive chapters, “American stupidity.”
He discusses resigning from a teaching position at a university out of disgust at the dismal work of his students, the big spending betrayals by Republicans during the Bush years and urges the right to make “the true, the good and the beautiful” its top priority.
Though the GOP made huge gains in the midterm elections, Buckley views conservatives’ – and America’s — overall situation as dire. Buckley urges radical spending cuts, but concedes the right will need to somehow make peace with big government or find itself soon on the fringes of American political life.
The Daily Caller talked with Buckley about his book, why expected Speaker-to-be John Boehner should resign, and what East Coast elites can learn from Sarah Palin:
Republicans just won over 60 seats in the House and made major gains in the Senate, in part because of the energy of a protest movement, the Tea Partiers, who demand a smaller government. Yet you see a dark future for conservatives?
I think it’s sort of the last gasp of an expiring base. It’s delightful and I hope that the Tea Party-backed people in the Congress have their way, but I think, still, that we’re talking about a base that is bit by bit disappearing.
Number one, the American public is almost incredibly ignorant [about] the founding of the Republic. Number two, there is a paganization in our culture. And number three, we have to absorb a whole bunch of Hispanics and also Asians, who in all their history, going back before the middle ages, have never experienced free government or the notion of a republic. That takes a huge change in their native reflexes, and it requires acculturation which is not done by the immigration services.
My wife was born in Spain, raised in Spain, she’s now an American citizen. And I can tell you, the instructions she got to become an American citizen were incredibly superficial — none of the major philosophical questions that brought up our republic.
She doesn’t really have much understanding of the structure of the government. And why should she? Nobody is really giving that kind of instruction any more.