Pat Buchanan, now nearing 83 years old, ranks as this country’s most conspicuous paleoconservative statesmen. He has filled a wide variety of positions, both inside and outside of government, as everything from Richard Nixon’s confident, candidate for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 1996, and commentator for the likes of the McLaughlin Group, CNN, and MSNBC. In “Whither America?” Alexander Riley, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, assesses Buchanan’s most important books.
Dr. Riley, professor of sociology at Bucknell University, focuses on The Death of the West (2001) and Suicide of a Superpower (2011). With the passage of time, he maintains, Buchanan’s books can be read profitably. In the earlier book, Riley has especial praise for Buchanan’s dissection of “post-Marx Marxian theory in the Western world,” foreign imports like Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci, and Theodor Adorno, which have had such a nefarious cultural influence in the United States.
Many trashed Buchanan’s writings when they first appeared in 2001 and 2011. Yet with hindsight and close reading, Riley contends, they appear to be prescient. “Buchanan was crystal clear that it is not immigration per se nor even immigration from the Third World and from cultures different from ours that poses the existential threat to America. It is a combination of several phenomena.” In the Suicide of a Superpower, which has the United States centrally in mind, Buchanan offers proposals: dismantling the American empire abroad; shrinking the size of government; “a moratorium on immigration”; disciplining globalist entities; and reigning in federal courts, legislating bench, who get “to define our culture for us.”
Nothing less than a great civilization is at risk, says Riley, if we do not have the whit to reverse course. “The freefall of American beliefs about what it takes to be American has been nothing less than stunning. In just the four years from 2016 to 2020, the numbers of those willing to say that being American has at least something to do with speaking English, sharing American customs, being a Christian, and having been born in the US decreased precipitously.”
According to its mission statement, The Postil Magazine, where this article first appeared, is dedicated to recovering a “fading vision of humanity, namely, Classical Humanism, rooted in faith and reason.”