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December 6, 2011

BUCKLEY – INDIVIDUALISM/CHRISTIANITY

by profbartling1

A recent op ed  written by Carl Bogus (Startribune, 11/30/11) arrested my attention.  Bogas’ article is titled:  “Why all black and white,  no gray? For GOP it all starts with Buckley.”  The writer suggests the modern conservative movement began 60 years ago when Buckley published “God and Man at Yale”  Yale was criticized for two things, first,  economic teachers were not teaching  pure laissez-faire individualism,  rather many were Keynesians  advocating some government involvement in the economy. Buckley saw that as “thoroughly collectivist” as associated with the Stalin and Mao Zedong  regimes. (Sixty year ago during the Cold War this view may have had some relevancem as the “slippery slope”) Second, Buckley held Yale was failing to “proselytize the Christian faith -(with) a mistaken belief ” in the myth of academic freedom.  Yale failed to advance “individualism and Christianity”. Buckley summarized his view: “the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the   individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.”  Buckley tends to equate economics and religion in a struggle between good and evil, “purity in Christianity and laissez-faire economics”. Bogus sees Buckley’s view  as a “sentiment” and not closely argued.  But such sentiments, Bogus concludes, has resulted in that “many on the right equate Christianity with conservatism, and demand purity in both”. This is why, Bogus concludes, the conservative movement  sees itself as a “bulwark against liberals as “naive”  and fostering “something foul and evil”.

A consistent approach in my blogs has, I believe, called for a moderate approach to party political positioning close to the center of the political spectrum, either somewhat either to the right or left of the middle. Political discourse should champion compromise rather than the rancor of gridlock. Recently my attention was drawn to an article in the Economist (11/5) titled:  “Briefing the Republicans: A dangerous game”.  Observed is the fact that three years ago John McCain worried about climate change and favored  reducing carbon emissions.  He, as well, favored  giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Retreat from these positions  was needed to get the party nomination. Now most Republicans, the article states, deny global warming as real.  Most decry “the big-government conservatism of George Bush’s presidency . . . as a betrayal.”  The Republican control of the House in 2010 was “almost a miraculous resurrection . . . and a revolution of its own impacted by tea party movement”.  The “dangerous game”, the article intimates,  is that pollsters indicate most voters  favor “a balanced  approach to the deficit, meaning tax increases as well as spending cuts, with a bigger share of the taxes coming from the rich. And this issue is not going away.”

I observe with fascination the  distance between the right and the left in current American political discourse. My own stance is somewhat left of center as a child of the New Deal Era.. You can tinker with reshaping the New Deal but not ignore it’s reality. That tradition is, I hold, part of political reality that political parties acknowlege as discussion starting point and platform for political debate. It will be fascinating to watch the political scene in.the approaching election year. Personally I anticipate, perhaps, one more cycle of America’s grand presidential election political spectacle.

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