On the Horizon:
Scrambled Eggheads on the Right
Last fall a self-confident young man named William F. Buckley, Jr., an-nounced that he had raised $290,000 from 125 “investors” to publish “a new conservative weekly of opinion.” He said he had put in only $10,000 himself, but had majority control. On November 19, 1955, the first issue of National Review appeared without causing undue public agitation. Nor have the ten following issues I have seen set any rivers aflame.
However, NR seems worth examining as a cultural phenomenon: the McCarthy nationalists—they call themselves conservatives, but that is surely a misnomer—have never before made so heroic an effort to be intellectually articulate. Here are the ideas, here is the style of the lumpen-bourgeoisie, the half-educated, half-successful provincials (and a provincial may live within a mile of the Empire State Building as well as in Kokomo or Sauk Center) who responded to Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and Senator McCarthy. Anxious, embittered, resentful, they feel that the main stream of American politics since 1932 has passed them by, as indeed it has, and they have the slightly paranoiac suspiciousness of an isolated minority group. For these are men from underground, the intellectually underprivileged who feel themselves excluded from a world they believe is ruled by liberals (or eggheads —the terms are, significantly, interchangeable in NR) just as the economic underdog feels alienated from society.
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