The Real News of the Month

November 2006
Volume 13, Number 11

Editor: Joe Sobran
Publisher: Fran Griffin (Griffin Communications)
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  -> Editor's Note: Banned in Milwaukee
  -> Hijacking the Conservative Movement
  -> Publisher's Note
Sobran's Forum
  -> Chilton Williamson on Books
Cartoons (Baloo)
"Reactionary Utopian" Columns Reprinted in This Issue


Editor's Note: Banned in Milwaukee
(page 1)

     The following speech was to have been delivered in 
Milwaukee on September 28 to the Wisconsin Forum, a group 
of conservative business professionals. But hours before 
I was scheduled to give it, my invitation was suddenly 
canceled. This was the result of a charge by a WTMJ-AM 
(Milwaukee) local talk-radio host named Charlie Sykes 
that I was "anti-Semitic" -- an accusation which he 
didn't define (or attempt to prove), and which I was 
given no chance to answer -- and which he buttressed with 
only a single additional lie: that I had been "fired for 
anti-Semitism" at NATIONAL REVIEW. (Sykes gave no 
details.) Sykes, I gather, is the sort of bogus 
"conservative" my speech was to discuss. He has 
apparently written several books, probably (if his prose 
is any indication) more than he has read. It's probably 
futile to try to refute a baseless falsehood, but this 
one has its amusing side.

     I was fired in 1993, as I fully expected to be, for 
writing a column making fun of Bill Buckley. It was 
nearly the opposite of Sykes's lie: I didn't accuse Bill 
of anti-Semitism, which would have been grossly unfair to 
him, but I noted that he was "jumpy about Jews," among 
other things. My editor, John O'Sullivan, phoned me to 
say he had no choice but to fire me. That was true. I'd 
really given him no choice. But John, always a good 
friend, saw the absurdity of the situation, and we both 
wound up laughing, and have remained friends ever since. 
It must have been the jolliest firing in the history of 
journalism. There were no hard feelings between John and 

     How Charlie Sykes, knowing nothing of this, 
nevertheless managed to twist it into my being "fired for 
anti-Semitism," I have no idea. I can say only that he is 
an ass, an assertion for which I, unlike him, at least 
have palpable evidence.

     While the Wisconsin Forum initially ignored Sykes's 
charges, word apparently reached the Bradley Foundation 
that I was coming. (The foundation was formed out of the 
Allen-Bradley Corporation, which used to fund many 
conservative causes, ranging from NATIONAL REVIEW to 
AMERICAN OPINION. Alas, it appears to be a "politically 
correct" organization now.) According to Jim Smith, one 
of the Wisconsin Forum board members who supported me, 
the Bradley Foundation threatened to withdraw funding to 
the Forum if I appeared. This unverified threat caused 
several members of the Forum to cave in, particularly the 
chairman, who said he would resign if I came. An 
emergency Wisconsin Forum board of directors meeting was 
held a few hours before my flight. They voted 5-4 to 
withdraw the invitation.

     In acting on the unsupported word of such a rogue, 
it is perhaps needless to point out, both the Wisconsin 
Forum and the Bradley Foundation -- if the claims about 
it are true -- have behaved dishonorably. But 
nevertheless, I thought you would like to read the speech 
that was banned in Milwaukee.

Hijacking the Conservative Movement
(pages 1, 3-4, 7)

     Nowadays, in startling contrast to my youth, it's 
very fashionable to claim to be a conservative. Back in 
the Sixties, conservatism was still rather a fugitive 
thing, and the fashion was liberalism or even radicalism. 
By the late Eighties, "liberal" had become "the L-word," 
and liberals were looking for a less alarming euphemism, 
such as "progressive." As I say, the change is startling.

     But have things really changed that much? Or is the 
change really superficial? I'm afraid the latter is the 
case. The airwaves are clogged with the clamorous voices 
of talk radio, or "squawk radio," as I like to call it -- 
people claiming to be conservative, though they don't 
sound much like the great conservatives I grew up 
admiring: Bill Buckley, Frank Meyer, James Burnham, 
Russell Kirk, Willmoore Kendall, and Barry Goldwater, to 
name a few.

     In fact many of today's so-called conservatives seem 
to me to be liberals without knowing it, no matter how 
much they say they detest liberalism. Rush Limbaugh, to 
name only the most audible of them, seems to have no real 
philosophy, no awareness of conservative literature 
outside journalism. His premises are hard to distinguish 
from liberalism's. Apparently he equates favoring war 
with conservatism. He likes big government just fine, as 
long as it's shooting something. He says the Republican 
Party will save Social Security and Medicare, huge 
liberal programs which a real conservative thinks 
shouldn't have existed in the first place. Sometimes, 
after listening to him for a half hour, I want to beg 
him, "Rush, how about equal time for =real= 

     Well, just what is "real" conservatism? This is an 
old question, much debated. Dictionaries define it in 
such terms as "preference for tradition" and "resistance 
to change," but these are too general to take us very 
far. After all, nearly everyone wants to preserve some 
tradition and opposes some kinds of change, and people we 
call conservatives often want to do away with certain 
traditions and bring about important changes.

     And all of life is in flux at all times. You can 
never conserve everything. We are forced to face the 
question of which things we should conserve, which we 
should discard or even destroy, and which we should let 
pass away. When a house catches fire, we may have to 
decide very quickly what we can rescue from the flames 
and abandon all the rest.

     And conservatism isn't just passivity. It's active 
maintenance. An old house needs repair and painting, a 
garden needs weeding, trees and shrubs need pruning. To 
conserve is to renew. Conservatism can't mean neglect.

     And conservatism varies from place to place, from 
people to people. The great Russian novelist Alexander 
Solzhenitsyn, even under the Soviet regime, wanted to 
preserve tsarism and the Russian Orthodox Church. Islam 
is in many ways deeply conservative, but we have also 
seen it take radical and revolutionary forms. Mormonism 
was once seen as radical, but today it seems a very 
conservative religion. The same might be said of 
Christianity in various forms. And as G.K. Chesterton 
says, "It is futile to discuss reform without reference 
to form."

     The word "conservatism" came into general use after 
the French Revolution of 1789, its first and most 
eloquent spokesman being Edmund Burke in his REFLECTIONS 
ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE. Burke argued for the 
traditional liberties of the English against the 
"abstract" Rights of Man advocated by the 
revolutionaries, predicting correctly that such abstract 
rights, with no force of custom behind them, would perish 
in a reign of terror. The revolutionaries, he said, were 
so obsessed with man's =rights= that they had forgotten 
man's =nature.=

     History has vindicated Burke's warning, but many 
have doubted that his kind of conservatism fully applies 
to America. We don't have the sort of history England and 
France had, a feudal ancien regime with a social 
hierarchy and inherited status. It is even argued that 
our only tradition is a liberal one, of legal equality 
for everyone. After all, we are not divided into peasants 
versus noblemen, or anything of the sort. We even take 
pride in our social fluidity and more or less equal 

     This brings us to a paradox. The most eloquent of 
our own Founding Fathers was Thomas Jefferson, who 
welcomed the French Revolution and had no use for Burke. 
Yet most American conservatives look to Jefferson as 
their intellectual patriarch, he who wrote the 
Declaration of Independence and proclaimed that "all men 
are created equal."

     Today "conservatism" has become a confusing term. It 
can refer to a Jeffersonian vision of limited government 
and strict construction of the U.S. Constitution, or it 
can be equated with President Bush's militarism and what 
has been called his "big-government conservatism." And of 
course the title is also claimed by "neoconservatives" 
who share Bush's enthusiasm for war and are, when it 
comes to social policy, more like liberals than 
Jeffersonian conservatives.

     Both Bush and the "neocons" favor an undefined war 
and speak of a "global democratic revolution." But what 
is conservative about war and revolution? It has often 
been pointed out that this sort of talk is more akin to 
Leon Trotsky than to Edmund Burke. Bush even speaks of 
eliminating tyranny from the face of the Earth -- a neat 
trick, if you can do it.

     Here I think we should keep in mind Burke's 
distinction between "the abstract rights of man" and 
man's actual nature. Conservatives tend to believe in 
Original Sin, or something like it, that will forever 
prevent man from achieving perfection. This attitude 
produces a disposition that tends to be both skeptical 
and tolerant, deeply dubious about overhauling society. 
Societies and traditions can't be built from scratch; as 
Burke said, we must build out of existing materials -- 
that is, real human beings and their habits, rooted in 

     Liberals, on the other hand, speak freely of 
"ideals," imagined perfections that we can achieve if 
only we have the will. "I have a dream," as Martin Luther 
King said. Hence liberals typically talk of abolishing 
evils -- "eliminating poverty," "eradicating racism," 
"doing away with prejudice," "ending exploitation," and 
so forth. This usually means strenuous government action, 
massive coercion and bureaucracy, because these things 
don't just evaporate of themselves.

     Conservatives don't speak much of "ideals." They 
think, more modestly, in terms of norms, which are never 
perfectly realized, but only approximated by sinful man. 
Consider homosexuality. Whereas the liberal wants to 
impose "gay rights," by law and coercion, the 
conservative sees homosexuality as a defect, which to 
some extent can and must be tolerated, because it can't 
be "eradicated," but it can't rationally be exalted to 
the plane of normality; and he knows that all talk of 
"same-sex marriage" is nonsense, like trying to breed 
calves from a pair of bulls. But to the liberal, the only 
issue is equal rights; human nature and normality have 
nothing to say to him. What the conservative sees as 
life's mysteries, the liberal sees as mere irrationality.

     One word is notably absent from the liberal 
vocabulary: "enough." For the liberal, there is hardly 
such a thing as "too much" government. There is no point 
at which liberals say, "Well, we've done it. We've 
realized our dreams. We have all the government we need, 
and we should stop now." No, they always want =more= 
government. There is no such thing as =enough= 

     Again, Chesterton sums up liberalism in a phrase: 
"the modern and morbid habit of always sacrificing the 
normal to the abnormal." We see this again in the grisly 
business of abortion. To the typical conservative it is 
an ugly thing, something that may not be entirely 
"eliminated" but must be contained, condemned, and above 
all must never be accepted as normal. But to the typical 
liberal it is a =right= -- even "a fundamental human and 
constitutional right"!

     Consider Abraham Lincoln, claimed by both liberals 
and conservatives. Most Americans consider him our 
greatest president -- a view I emphatically reject. But 
both sides have a point in claiming him. In some respects 
he was rather conservative -- for example, in his 
willingness to compromise on slavery before the Civil 
War. He doubted that he had the constitutional authority 
to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which he finally 
justified only as a wartime measure, applying only to the 
seceding states.

     But he finally became an all-out abolitionist, and 
he had a radical dream of colonizing all free blacks 
outside the United States; in his 1862 State of the Union 
message, he called for a constitutional amendment 
authorizing such colonization! In addition, Lincoln was a 
high-handed centralizer of power, who suspended habeas 
corpus and crushed freedom of speech and press throughout 
the North. Like most liberals, he talked of freedom -- "a 
new birth of freedom," in fact -- but the reality was 
power. Under the Constitution, he insisted, no state 
could withdraw from the Union for any reason. This was a 
view Jefferson did not share. The United States had begun 
in secession. Lincoln himself had once called secession 
"a most sacred right, which we believe is to liberate 

     A more recent conservative, Willmoore Kendall, who 
died in 1967, argued that American conservatism is rooted 
in its own constitutional tradition, best understood in 
the light of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, where the limits of 
the Federal Government are clearly set forth. As far as I 
can tell, Lincoln was entirely ignorant of THE FEDERALIST 
PAPERS, as well as of the Articles of Confederation -- a 
point I'll return to.

     An even more recent conservative, Michael Oakeshott, 
who died in 1990, was English rather than American, but 
he had much to teach us. Oakeshott, like Burke, decried 
"rationalism in politics" -- by which he chiefly meant 
what we call liberalism. He observed that some people 
(liberals) see government as "a vast reservoir of power," 
to be mobilized for whatever purposes they imagine would 
benefit mankind. By contrast, Oakeshott argued, the 
conservative sees governing as "a specific and limited 
activity," chiefly concerned with civility and the rule 
of law, not with "dreams" and "projects." I consider 
Oakeshott the most eloquent expositor of conservatism and 
the conservative temperament since Burke.

     I have already said that Lincoln was poorly 
acquainted with the Founding Fathers. By contrast, 
Jefferson Davis was thoroughly familiar with them, and in 
his history of the Confederacy (too little read nowadays) 
he makes a powerful, I would say irrefutable, case that 
every state has a constitutional right to withdraw -- to 
secede -- from the Union.

     In the North, secession is still seen as a regional 
"Southern" issue, inseparable from, and therefore 
discredited by, slavery. But this is not so at all. At 
various times, Northern states had threatened to secede 
for various reasons. On one occasion, Thomas Jefferson 
said they should be allowed to "go in peace." After all, 
the whole point of the Declaration of Independence was 
that these "are, and of Right ought to be, Free and 
Independent States." Not, as Lincoln later said, a single 
"new nation," but (to quote Willmoore Kendall) "a baker's 
dozen of new sovereignties."

     And the Articles of Confederation reinforced the 
point right at the beginning: "Each state retains its 
sovereignty, freedom, and independence." And at the end 
of the Revolutionary War, the British specifically 
recognized the sovereignty of all 13 states! This is 
flatly contrary to Lincoln's claim that the states had 
never been sovereign.

     But didn't the Constitution transfer sovereignty 
from the states to the Federal Government, outlawing 
secession? Not at all. The Constitution says nothing of 
the kind. And as Davis wrote, sovereignty cannot be 
surrendered by mere implication. In fact, several states 
ratified the Constitution on the express condition that 
they reserved the right to "resume" the powers they were 
"delegating" -- that is, secede. And if one state could 
secede, so could the others. A "state" was not a mere 
province or subdivision of a larger entity; it was 
sovereign by definition.

     Claiming sovereignty for the Federal Government, 
Lincoln felt justified in violating the Constitution in 
order to "save the Union" -- by which he meant "saving" 
Federal sovereignty. One of the best-kept secrets of 
American history is that many if not most Northerners 
thought the Southern states had the right to secede. This 
is why Lincoln shut down hundreds of newspapers and 
arrested thousands of critics of his war. He had to wage 
a propaganda war against the North itself.

     Were you told this in your history classes? Neither 
was I. We are still being told that Lincoln's cause was 
the cause of liberty; just as we are told that he was the 
friend of the black man, though he wanted the freed 
slaves to be sent abroad, leaving an all-white America. 
Lincoln had a dream too, but it wasn't Martin Luther 

     Lincoln achieved what the Princeton historian James 
MacPherson calls "the Second American Revolution," giving 
the Federal Government virtually full authority over the 
internal affairs of the states. Columbia's George 
Fletcher credits him with creating "a new Constitution." 
A third historian, Garry Wills of Northwestern 
University, says he "changed America," transforming our 
understanding of the Constitution.

     Mind you, these are not Lincoln's critics -- they 
are his champions! Do they listen to themselves? They are 
saying exactly what Jefferson Davis said: that Lincoln 
was abandoning the original Constitution! But they think 
this is a high compliment. Lincoln himself claimed he was 
"saving" the old Constitution. His admirers, without 
realizing it, are telling us a very different story.

     Peaceful secession was a state's ultimate 
constitutional defense against Federal tyranny. Without 
it, the Federal Government has been able to claim new 
powers for itself while stripping the states of their 
powers. Lincoln neither foresaw nor intended this when he 
crushed secession. But today the states are helpless 
when, for example, the Federal Courts suddenly declare 
that no state may constitutionally protect unborn 
children from violent death in the womb. If even one 
state had been able to secede, the U.S. Supreme Court 
would never have dared provoke it to do so by issuing 
such an outrageous ruling, with no support in the 

     But Lincoln has been deified as surely as any Roman 
emperor. Today he is widely ranked as one of our 
"greatest presidents," along with another bold usurper of 
power, Franklin Roosevelt. And as I say, even 
conservatives, so called, join in his praise. President 
Bush and his supporters invoke both Lincoln and Roosevelt 
to justify the war in Iraq and any powers he chooses to 
claim in its prosecution. In the old days, Americans told 
the government what our rights were; now it tells us. And 
we meekly obey.

     If Bush and his right-wing supporters are 
conservatives, what on earth would a liberal be like? In 
these last six years, the Federal Government has vastly 
increased in power, with a corresponding diminution of 
our freedoms. Every American child is now born $150,000 
in debt -- his estimated share of the national debt, 
which he had no say in incurring. And of course the 
figure will be much higher when he is old enough to vote.

     Meanwhile, he will go to a school, where he will be 
taught that he enjoys "self-government," thanks to great 
men like Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Bush.

     What passes for "conservatism" now is a very far cry 
indeed from even the limited-government conservatism of 
Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan just a generation ago. 
It is merely a variant of the liberalism it pretends to 

     How do these pseudoconservatives differ from 
liberals? Chiefly, for some reason, in their reflexive 
enthusiasm for war. Ponder that. War is the most 
destructive and =least= conservative of all human 
activities. It is big government par excellence; it 
breeds tyranny and, often, revolution. Yet most Americans 
now identify it with conservatism!

     I am very much afraid that the next generation will 
have forgotten what real conservatism means: moral 
stability, piety, private property, and of course the 
rule of law (as distinct from the mad multiplication of 

     But genuine conservatism will reassert itself, even 
if it has to find another name and new spokesmen. If the 
Bushes and Limbaughs have usurped and discredited the 
word "conservatism" for the time being, we must try to 
take it back. If we can't, we'll just have to find a 
label they can't steal.


Dear Loyal Subscriber,

     As you can see from our Editor's Note, Joe has once 
again suffered from the charge of "anti-Semitism." The 
Milwaukee talk show host (who I have been told is a 
neo-conservative who was enraged by the title of Joe's 
speech, "The Hijacking of the Conservative Movement") 
provided no references and no proof for his false 
accusations. It is the view of many Milwaukeeans I've 
heard from that he sought to get Joe canceled because of 
the speech's content, using the "anti-Semitism" canard as 
an excuse. Hope you enjoy the "banned" undelivered 

     You may or may not be reading this before our annual 
benefactors' event on December 9. If you are seeing this 
before December 5, there is still time to join us, but 
please get in touch right away if you have not already 
RSVPed. Enclosed is Joe's invitation from our last 
newsletter. We hope to reprint Joe's speech, "Hate: An 
Introduction," in an upcoming issue, and some of Tom 
Fleming's remarks as well. Tom is a scholar, historian, 
and editor of CHRONICLES magazine.

     In this issue, our Sobran Forum piece is a review of 
a fascinating book by Chilton Williamson, the former book 
editor of NATIONAL REVIEW, who now is literary editor of 
CHRONICLES. Peter Gemma, editor of the just-released 
discusses Chilton's book THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF. The 
book critiques "essential works that impact today's 
conservative thinkers," including Joe Sobran's SINGLE 
page 5.

     I hear from readers every day praising Joe and 
lamenting that he isn't better known. You can do 
something to help this situation: give a gift 
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get the word out about Joe and SOBRAN'S.

     Christmas is approaching. Wouldn't a gift 
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subscription to SOBRAN'S is really three gifts: the 
monthly newsletter, a copy of Joe's audiotaped speech 
"How Tyranny Came to America," and a copy of the booklet 

     We'll send the audiotape, booklet and a handsome 
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But let us hear from you by December 15 so we can get the 
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Sincerely yours in Christ,

P.S. The FGF Books collection of Sam Francis's finest 
articles -- many published for the first time -- is now 
available for purchase (see enclosed flyer). Joe's 
Afterword and Pat Buchanan's Foreword to SHOTS FIRED: SAM 
FRANCIS ON AMERICA'S CULTURE WAR testify to the esteem in 
which conservative thinkers continue to hold Sam's ideas. 
Join them in savoring SHOTS FIRED -- more relevant than 
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Whether or not you can contribute, prayers for Joe's 
success and that of the newsletter cost you nothing but a 
few moments of your time, and can truly be felt by us.



Chilton Williamson on Books
by Peter B. Gemma
(pages 5-6)

     The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential 
     Works That Impact Today's Conservative 
     Thinkers, by Chilton Williamson Jr.; 
     Citadel Press, 2005; 344 pages.

     If you're like me, burdened with the good intention 
of re-reading or discovering the classics and maybe some 
recent thought-provoking volumes too, it's an opportune 
touch base with its author, Chilton Williamson.

     Williamson is a prolific wordsmith who writes with 
passion, insight, and wit. A former history editor for 
St. Martin's Press and book editor for NATIONAL REVIEW, 
he is now a columnist and senior editor for CHRONICLES. 
He has penned eight novels and five works of non-fiction 
during a lifetime that has encompassed both training as 
an opera singer and work as an oil rigger. He has also 
earned a reputation as an outstanding historian of the 
American West along the way. THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF 
is a tour of 50 good books, covering practical politics 
to philosophy, and a peek into the way Williamson's mind 
works. He lays out the recommended volumes, in categories 
and by rank, beginning with theology and ending with 
contemporary affairs. The first book is the Bible; book 
TO THE WAR ON TERRORISM, by Ann Coulter. (I would have 
stopped at 49.)

     The American Library Association's BOOKLIST magazine 
had this to say about THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF when it 
was first published in 2004: "One doesn't have to read 
much of this excellent book to wonder whether its 
subtitle is wishful thinking. Many of the works discussed 
are demanding, the likes of Augustine's CITY OF GOD, 
and Richard M. Weaver's IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES -- hardly 
books that Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or David Brock 
might curl up with." The 2005 paperbound edition is new 
and improved, as they say.

     How did THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF come together? 
The author explains, "Unlike Marxism or even liberalism, 
conservatism is both a way of life and of thinking about 
life, what the American novelist and story writer 
Flannery O'Connor called a 'habit of being' -- not a 
plan, program, or even a programmatic way of thought. For 
this reason, and because conservatism is finally a 
cultural phenomenon and all culture is by definition 
conservative, I did not hesitate to include fiction, 
narrative nonfiction, and poetry in my version of the 
conservative canon."

     Williamson's fascinating introduction to his essays 
begins with a simple question: ="What is conservatism?"= 
His answer includes this line: "Conservatism, rightly 
understood, is man's willingness to discern for himself, 
and to accept from God, a fundamental, practical, just, 
human, and unchangeable plan for man -- =and to stick 
with it."= Emphasis is indeed in the original. Addressing 
this writer's hot button, he adds to that definition the 
observation "high-powered, high-pressured modern society 
has largely succeeded in reducing conservatism from a 
broadly informed religious, intellectual, moral, and 
aesthetic tradition to a narrow and shallow party 
politics that often amounts to nothing more than a party 
line." I think the man is a recovering Republican. Of 
course when you get into the mind of Chilton Williamson, 
you discover far more depth to his description of 
conservatism than quoted here, and he mines richly from 
the books he has chosen to comment on.

     Williamson's list is personal and anecdotal to his 
thesis, and his picks are perhaps controversial -- his 
exclusion of some works may make readers think twice. But 
good books, like THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF itself, 
should make you think. I asked the author if there were 
any titles he had trouble leaving out. "Aristotle's 
POLITICS. The thought of discussing Aristotle in 2,500 -- 
or even 5,000 -- words defeated me. Two others, John C. 
Calhoun's DISQUISITION and James Fitzjames Stephen's 
LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY found chapters in the new, 
expanded paperback edition published last year."

     Some of the classics he reviews include the familiar 
and the difficult: THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, Hilaire 
FRANCE, by Joseph de Maistre, and the MEDITATIONS of 
Marcus Aurelius. Williamson provides good summaries of 
these books, explaining their content and putting them 
into context. Let me emphasize here this is not CLIFFS 
NOTES for conservatives, but serious cogitation about the 
values and vision that make a difference in defining 
ourselves and our movement (if there is one).

     Among the classics he considers are such recent 
titles as Thomas Fleming's MORALITY OF EVERYDAY LIFE, and 
CIVILIZATION (although Williamson says he might be 
tempted to replace it with Pat's newest, STATE OF 
AMERICA, if he wrote BOOKSHELF today). Williamson's 
BOOKSHELF, like its author, is not predictable. His list 
of 50 thoughtful books for thinking conservatives 
includes novels and even poetry.

     The books on Williamson's bookshelf embody the ideas 
and issues of the modern conservative movement and the 
ideals it was built on. "Neo-conservative" advocates have 
been essentially omitted because, according to the 
author, neo-cons "have relentlessly promoted the 
secularization of government and of society to an extent 
that is wholly at odds with the explicitly Christian 
character of the Western tradition."

      The late pundit Sam Francis wrote of THE 
CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF, "The great dilemma that 
conservatives who are 'Rightists' are coming to face is 
how they can retain loyalty to what prevails in this 
country today and remain wedded to their vision of 
eternal principles.... Many of the thinkers whom 
Mr. Williamson discusses in his book faced it also in 
their own times. Reading his account of how they resolved 
it just might help real conservatives today deal with the 
same problem."

     His commentary, such as the essay on Jean Raspail's 
CAMP OF THE SAINTS, can be as deep and moving as the book 
he reviews: 

      The modern West's paramount enemy is Hate in 
      its social, ethnic, metaphysical, and 
      theological forms: hatred of quality, hatred 
      of racial differences, hatred of 
      intelligence, hatred of Truth. Because all 
      conflict is at bottom theological, this hate 
      must be understood as satanic in its nature 
      and origin. Its totem and figurehead is the 
      turd eater's monster child from the Ganges, a 
      deformed counter to the Christ Child in Whose 
      name Western civilization assumed its form 
      and development. And so it is not (Jean 
      Raspail tells us) the West itself, but rather 
      this same Child Who represents, finally, the 
      object of attack from within and without what 
      used to be called Christendom.

     Who =is= this guy Williamson? In an interview a few 
years ago he made some succinct political observations on 
neo-con jingoism: "The Middle East can never be 
democratic, because democracy is not compatible with the 
local culture and religion. Bush may just be naive enough 
to believe otherwise. One way or the other, however, the 
Iraq War was engineered by ... neoconservatives, eager to 
have the U.S. [make] the Middle East safe for Israel." On 
conservatism itself, "Properly understood, [it] has a 
theological foundation. Liberalism (and not just 
contemporary liberalism) is essentially another example 
of man's rebellion against metaphysical reality."

     As a writer and a reader, Chilton Williamson has 
noted that some of the books "nearest my heart are 
probably Waugh's A HANDFUL OF DUST, O'Connor's THE HABIT 
OF BEING, Hemingway's THE SUN ALSO RISES, Faulkner's THE 
BEAR, and Abbey's DESERT SOLITAIRE" (discussions of all 
are included in THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF). He told me, 
"Last winter I reread all seven volumes of the Narnia 
series, and I try to read HUCKLEBERRY FINN every couple 
of years."

     Williamson is currently pitching publishers for his 
first children's book, THE GREATEST LION. I asked him if 
there were books in his childhood that made a life-long 
impact. "TREASURE ISLAND, all of Mencken, BORN FREE, 
Albert Payson Terhune's LAD: A DOG, and all of Laura 
Ingalls Wilder."

     THE CONSERVATIVE BOOKSHELF can be a standard 
reference book for thinkers and doers on the Right -- the 
author's premise makes the book compelling and universal: 

      With this book, I have attempted to present a 
      vision of conservatism having little or 
      nothing to do with the caricature version 
      signified by fat men in top hats and generals 
      with swords that has seemed indelibly stamped 
      on the popular mind since 1789. The 
      conservative tradition has never been an 
      apology for ignorance, superstition, 
      despotism, war, power, wealth, or privilege: 
      Rather it has been their scourge, their 
      mortal enemy. Nor is the conservative 
      tradition a narrow and restricted one; 
      instead, it is as broad and varied as life, 
      having all of life and of human experience in 
      it though rooted in a specific culture, that 
      is Western culture.

     For combatants in America's culture war, Chilton 
while one is (briefly) at rest in a foxhole.

[Peter B. Gemma, a columnist for MIDDLE AMERICAN NEWS, 
AMERICAN, HUMAN EVENTS, and many other publications. He 
CULTURE WAR ( and is currently writing 
a biography of former Louisiana judge and congressman, 
John R. Rarick.]


A COUNTRY is in real trouble when even its conservatives 
have forgotten the past. (page 9)

            -- REGIME CHANGE BEGINS AT HOME by Joe 
            Sobran; $5 postpaid or free with a renewal of 
            your subscriptions to SOBRAN'S.

IN AN AGE abounding in official "enlightened" nonsense, 
humor is the revenge of the normal on the official. 
(page 11)

            -- REGIME CHANGE BEGINS AT HOME by Joe 
            Sobran; $5 postpaid or free with a renewal of 
            your subscriptions to SOBRAN'S.


REPRINTED COLUMNS ("The Reactionary Utopian")
(pages 8-12)

* A Republican Recovery? (October 26, 2006)

* The Executive Empire (October 24, 2006)

* Getting Up There (October 19, 2006)

* Bush's Learning Problem (October 12, 2006)

* News from All Over the Place (October 10, 2006)


All articles are written by Joe Sobran, except where

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