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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bill Kauffman: Paleo-Jeffersonian

9780805082449 W. James Antle III, associate editor at the American Spectator, reviews Bill Kauffman's new book, Ain't My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism in the summer issue of Reason. For the unaware, Bill Kauffman is the Sage of Batavia, a localist and one of the most interesting traditional conservative voices today. A tiny excerpt of a long and fascinating exploration:

"Reagan said that his political message could be summed up in “Just five words: family, work, neighborhood, freedom, and peace.” When the right applies these principles more consistently to foreign policy, it will be morning in Bill Kauffman’s America."

Responding to a portion of the review which talked about:

"A conservatism that identifies with McGovern more than Reagan, Gore Vidal more than William F. Buckley Jr., and the New Left more than the religious right probably has no political future. Neither does a Kauffmanesque coalition of libertarians and socialists, segregationists and Black Panthers, hippies and Birchers, however interesting that coalition might be."

Joshua Snyder, the Catholic American expatriate says "future or not, count me in," Snyder isn't alone, the last attempt at an Old Right-New Left coalition came during the Vietnam Conflict, when Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess tried to bridge the gaps, but the anti-imperialists are coming together even now. If you're wondering exactly how interesting this coalition of "reactionary radicals" can look, go no further than the section of Kauffman's book Look Homeward America about the novelist and "militia of love" founder Carolyn Chute after the break.

I've written more about Bill Kauffman and "Little America" here and about the Old Right and the Remnant here.

UPDATE: From Jim Antle's blog: "A blogger at the Western Standard says I'm selling Kauffman's proposed Old Right/New Left political coalition -- reactionary radicals of the left and right -- short ... These movements would have to be much bigger than they were during Vietnam or are now for me to persuaded that I'm misjudging things or perhaps being too conventional in my political thinking. For now, I'll only concede I was somewhat more dour about Ron Paul's impact when I wrote the review than I am now."

If a rat deserts a sinking ship, what do we call those brave souls who climb aboard and start bailing? Carolyn launched the 2nd Maine after the Oklahoma City bombing, when "it started to look bad for militias. I wanted to give them a good name."
...So Carolyn and and an activist from the leftist Labor Party organized the 2nd Maine Militia. Their early meetings were a true rainbow coalition. There were "guys in camo, hippies, bikers, old ladies, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Marxists, Libertarians, John Birchers. It was so cute!" says Carolyn with delight.
...The 2nd Maine got a bit too big for Carolyn's taste. "My idea was to have it tribal: Different people start their own militias all over the place and then we get together to do a big thing. ... People can develop their own style, their own neighborhood.

- Bill Kauffman, Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on July 16, 2008 | Permalink


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