BOLD THINKERS make mistakes, and Pat Buchanan has been wrong before:
- He opposes free trade, which is the engine of prosperity for Third World countries—and therefore, the best way to diminish immigration pressure on theU.S.
- He has sided with the likes of Edward Said in criticizing Israel for its hard-nosed nationalism – yet recommends nationalism for the U.S. and Europe.
- Buchanan’s economic populism, if enacted, would freeze in amber some of the least attractive results of the Industrial Revolution—mind-numbing jobs in factories, done by low-skilled employees for large corporations, to support life in sterile, suburban enclaves. The very thinkers who have influenced Buchanan the most—from G.K. Chesterton to Wilhelm Röpke and Pope Pius XI—aspired to move workers out of such jobs and conditions, into their own businesses, conducted in genuine communities, either rural or urban.
- In trying to forge disgruntled industrial workers into a political base for a presidential race, Buchanan even played the class-warrior—a quixotic strategy for a Republican.
On each of these issues, Buchanan allowed his sharp analytical sense to be submerged by his sentiments—which are usually decent and generous, if occasionally tinged with mischief.
But Pat Buchanan’s new book, The Death of the West, is something else again, a masterful marriage of sentiment and analysis that every thinking reader should take with deadly seriousness—a worthy sequel to Solzhenitsyn’s Warning to the West, and Dostoevsky’s The Possessed. An extremely ambitious work, this book reads as quickly (and frightens as thoroughly) as a well-done horror novel. It includes Buchanan’s frontline reports from the "Culture War" that rages on a bewildering array of fronts—from the WTO protests at Davos to the South Carolina Capitol, from the chaotic U.S.-Mexican border to the perilous confines of the womb.
And it makes for sober reading, like the first third of William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: From each front, Buchanan must report defeat, surrender, sloth or suicide. As Europeans fought Hitler’s armies to preserve liberal societies and national independence, so Buchanan believes we must wage a "cultural counter-revolution" to preserve two great goods endangered today: The Christian religion and the European peoples.
Put starkly, Buchanan argues that white people are too rich, selfish, godless and guilt-ridden to have children, and so are contracepting themselves out of existence. Now, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not this is a good thing—recall Susan Sontag, who considers herself a cell in the "cancer of the human race,"—but the empty cradle is there, and no honest person can dispute it. Like a fortress that is slowly starving to submission, in the end the question comes down to numbers: In no European nation (save Moslem Albania) is the population replacing itself. Nor are native-born Americans.
Now, an environmentalist reader might celebrate depopulation—more elbow room in national parks—until he remembers that some day he’ll wish to retire. Since we’ve abandoned the ancient, universal tradition of children caring for their own elders, and thrown seniors on the good will of the State, that means that the citizenry as a whole must support the elderly.
There must be young people—and they must outnumber the old. Currently workers outnumber retirees in Europe and America by about four to one. At current birth rates, that would drop by 2050 to less than two to one. Of course, such a crushing burden could not be sustained. But "First-World" citizens seem unwilling to raise any more children—so developed nations face a choice between mass euthanasia and mass immigration. Which brings us to Chesterton’s truism: A people that forgets its ancestors will care little for its descendants. Buchanan draws the further conclusion: In neglecting our heritage, we have forgotten to make descendants. The West today (which includes Japan) is self-absorbed and hedonistic literally to the point of sterility. As it is today it richly deserves to be replaced by the poor, fertile peoples of the earth. And it will be.
Here is the shocking fact—in 100 years Italians, Irish, Spanish, French, Germans, Croats, Poles will all be beleaguered minorities in their own lands, like Kosovo’s Serbs. Yet to point this out earns one the sobriquet "racist"—and may soon be illegal in the European Union. This is a truly Orwellian twist of logic. Does anyone think that African or Asian nations should quietly disappear from the face of the earth? If so, then he is a racist, who should be shunned. (Many "liberal" whites have treasured such eugenic fantasies about what novelist H.G. Wells called the "black, brown, yellow and dirty-white" races, including Planned Parenthood foundress Margaret Sanger.) Likewise, I think it racist to wish for the virtual disappearance of European peoples, and the transformation of their homelands into multicultural colonies—like Bosnia, Kosovo, and (soon) Macedonia.
Is it really racist to wish that the nations of Europe simply continue in historic continuity, reproducing their own populations—with some influx from outside to provide cultural diversity, humane shelter for refugees, and nifty ethnic restaurants? To hope that Koreans, Moroccans, Javanese and Slovaks, Belgians and Swiss all reproduce themselves and thrive in homelands that allow them political independence? To recognize (with the Zionists) that every nation aspires to its own sovereign state—where its folkways and foibles will survive and carry on? Perhaps we should look to the founders of Zionism for the very arguments that will justify the survival of Europe’s nations. (That would make one more debt that Europe will owe to the Jewish people.) Here I’d like to cite the spiritual father of today’s Likud Party, Zev Jabotinsky:
What do the nations of the world symbolize? They symbolize that every nation must contribute its own share to the common culture of mankind, a share which is distinguished by its own specific spirit. This contribution should not and cannot consist merely of the ideas and good advice to other nations; it must serve as a living example of ideas and ideals, tangibly realized, expressed not only in books but in the collective life of the people as well. For this purpose, every nation must possess its own "laboratory," a country wherein the nation alone is master and can freely suit the common life in accordance with its own conception of good and evil. A people’s own state is such a laboratory. (1929).
To this I can only add, "Amen."
How It Happened
How did we come to this? How did the race which at the turn of the 20th century covered most of earth’s map with its colonies—an act of hubris and arrogance for which Europe may pay with its very life—become a wretched ghost of its former self, a pleasure-addled eunuch gorging itself at the table, waiting for its hard-working servants to shove in and take its place, forever?
Buchanan argues that several factors are at work. First and most importantly, he blames the decline of religious faith. The hope, self-giving and asceticism that make it possible to raise a large family are predictable side-effects of a sound, pious upbringing—and they can still be found, he points out, among many Orthodox Jews, home-schooling Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and other religious minorities. Religious faith was one of the casualties, Buchanan argues, of the much-discussed "long march through the institutions" proposed by Antonio Gramsci and undertaken by his heirs in the New Left.
Buchanan also points to the relentless attacks by the ACLU, Supreme Court, education establishment and other elite institutions on the public practice of religion, the legal enshrinement of marriage, the institution of family life, and America’s history and heritage. He cites abundant quotations from radical feminists who attack the idea of marriage and family life with hatred and bitterness—them shows how these very ideas have been "mainstreamed" in the past three decades. Buchanan also blames the recklessness of capitalists who turned to married women as a source of cheap labor, employing feminism to pry them out of the home and into the work force.
A European America?
More controversially, Pat Buchanan expresses the desire that whites remain a numerical majority in the U.S., and that their Anglo-Scots-Irish political culture remain dominant, along with the view of history it generated.
It is precisely here that Buchanan parts ways with mainstream conservatism. As David Horowitz puts it, "Perhaps I underestimate the importance of actual Anglo-Saxons in sustaining an Anglo-Saxon political culture that I admire and to which I am indebted. Perhaps [Buchanan] over-estimates it. In any case, we disagree."
Yet mainstream conservatism has no compelling answer for the question Buchanan raises: Why should the majority of citizens in the U.S., who are currently of European origin, sentence their grandchildren to live as "minorities" in their own country? And would anyone – white or non-white – really benefit from this development?
According to Buchanan, non-white Americans should also be concerned about the disappearing Euro-America, for a very good reason: Societies are most dangerous, unstable and violent when a once-dominant group loses power, leading to a many-sided struggle that can culminate in ethnic violence. From the global scale—the break-up of the Roman Empire—to the local (the L.A. riots) when one elite gives way to many angry factions the results are never pretty. Societies that have no cohesive ethnic majority can usually be held together only by an intrusive, even totalitarian state, bent on enforcing "group rights" at the expense of individuals. Think of the ugly, bureaucratic squabbling of late-Habsburg Austria (immortalized in Kafka’s stories), or the death-throes of Tito’s Yugoslavia, for examples.
Following Buchanan’s argument, one must say, respectfully, to non-white Americans that their rights and prosperity are more likely to be preserved in a tolerant Euro-America than in the multicultural Babel that is likely to take its place.
What We Can Do
Buchanan’s proposals in this book are as stark as his diagnoses:
* He advocates a European-style pro-family policy, designed to make it easier, more economic and more attractive for American women of every race to bear children—the more, the merrier. He would change tax policy to favor child-bearers, and adapt the Civil Rights Law to allow employers to offer a "family wage" to parents. If we see children as a contribution to the future—rather than a burden—then the state should recognize that fact, and reward parents for their sacrifices.
* Deeply concerned by the failures of assimilation and the growth of multicultural separatism, Buchanan favors limiting immigration to 250,000 per year—still an historically high number—and admitting people based on skills rather than bogus grounds of "family re-unification." He would vigorously enforce the existing laws, and deport illegal aliens rather than offering them periodic amnesties.
* Buchanan calls upon the Right to abandon the notion that it is "conservative," as if the status quo in the West were possible to defend. He advocates a vigorous counter-revolution in the Culture Wars, the creation of strong conservative counter-cultures passed along through home-schools, Internet groups, new colleges and academies. He suggests that Right-wingers adopt the ferocity and fearlessness of their opponents—abandoning, if need be, the facade of social respectability and the pretense of belonging to the poisoned American "mainstream." He calls on us to "think different," even if that means shooting the TV and filtering the family Internet.
* Most basically, Buchanan calls America to repentance. He asks us to abandon the cheap self-gratification of renouncing our forefathers’ sins, and to examine instead our own. If our ancestors were cruel to black and Indian children, we do not redeem their crimes by condemning our own children (and theirs) to a hardscrabble existence in a bloody, racial battleground. Instead of paying reparations for black slaves in the past, why not figure out how to cut down the number of black children aborted in the future? Instead of purging American school curriculums of Western culture, in the name of cultural diversity, why not permit diverse cultures to thrive around the world? Let’s impose our values at home—but not abroad. Instead of trying to sterilize the world through the UN Population Fund, let’s simply bear our own children, and wish other peoples well.
There is much, much more to this prophetic book. I recommend you read it in one sitting, with a stiff bourbon in your free hand.