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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Reagan, Realistically. And a Right Willing and Able to Tell the Time

Rest easy, Gentleman, the wonderful Old Man of the Right (and there is no sarcasm or cynicism here, a point it is necessary to make given this bland medium) is not going to be subjected to the same rueful criticism the current occupant of the White House so justly deserves.

But thinking through the manifest decline of the mainstream Right, as well as the depredations wrought both by neoconservatism and its politico stooges, one cannot help but wonder about the reality of the Reagan legacy. After all, if the coming of Reagan truly meant what we tell ourselves it meant, how is it that conservatism collapsed so quickly, with the culture, in the meanwhile, getting even further away from us? (This point may be lost on those blithe souls who are unaware that there was a collapse, but among the principle virtues of a Christian are both charity and hope). To borrow a headline from an NR book review that appeared in the 90s, shouldn't decent men be today thinking, "We lost; now what?" And if they are brought to such conclusions, wherefore the great Reagan victory?

With such thoughts in mind, I pass on the following assessment of the Reagan legacy. My own reaction was reluctant persuasion. Among the sobering points made in the piece is this bit of strong medicine:

"What the American right of that era wanted from Ronald Reagan more than anything else was a counter-revolution against the cultural domination of liberalism. In that respect Reagan was a miserable failure."

Hard words, to be sure, but when you are in a hole, there is no use in fooling yourself about the accommodations available. You simply need to start digging. Or, to borrow the Francis' analogy, when the hours are closing in, you need to be willing and able to read the clock.

By the way, in considering political and cultural realities, with special emphasis on the Conservative Wars, there was no better guide than the late Sam Francis, whose style alone should have justified a column syndicated in every major newspaper. His untimely death early last year has unquestionably impoverished our current discourse. There are few modern writers whose work deserves wider currency, and if you are not already familiar with Francis, I invite you to search through his older columns at either "Vdare.com" or "Chronicles" magazine. You will find it to be time well spent.

Tributes from Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran are here and here, while one of Francis' many reflections on the dissolution of the Right can be found here.