Et Tu National Review?

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

The National Review was founded in 1955 by William F. Buckley, Jr. It defined its’ purpose in a statement of intentions:

“Middle-of-the-Road, qua Middle of the Road, is politically, intellectually, and morally repugnant. We shall recommend policies for the simple reason that we consider them right (rather than “non-controversial”); and we consider them right because they are based on principles we deem right (rather than on popularity polls)…”

Bill Buckley, the son of an oil baron, was born to wealth and privilege. He was a lieutenant in the Army from 1943 until 1945 when he entered Yale and became a member of Skull and Bones, along with future President George H.W. Bush. In 1953 Buckley became prominent for his book “God and Man at Yale”. So when he founded the National Review he was already prominent in Conservative circles. Oh yes, it should be mentioned he was a CIA field agent under E. Howard Hunt, from 1951 through 1953.

“George H. Nash, a historian of the modern American conservative movement, believed that Buckley was “arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century… For an entire generation, he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure.”[6] Buckley’s primary contribution to politics was a fusion of traditional American  political conservatism with laissez-faire economic theory and anti-communism, laying groundwork for the new American conservatism of U.S. presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan“.,_Jr.

Whether you like the National Review or not, you must admit that it is the single most important magazine of the Conservative movement in America and has been so since its’ founding. As you can see from their mission statement above they claim to eschew popularity and polls, serving higher priciples. I was therefore interested to come across a story this week that calls into question their true dedication to higher principles, or perhaps one of their principles is merely naked greed.

Nation of Change, an informative progressive web news outlet, ran a story by Lee Fang, their investigative reporter. The story dealt with cash donations given to the National Review, by PhRMA the lobbying entity of the pharmaceutical industry:  The story discloses that PhRMA  gave the National Review Institute $205,000 in 2009. This institute is the non-profit that supports the magazine. This amount constituted about one third of the institute’s income in 2009.

The time period in which PhRMA made its contribution coincided with helpful political attacks emanating from the pages of the National Review. The National Review took a leading role demonizing a cost-saving proposal from the Obama administration that could diminish millions, if not billions, in pharmaceutical company profits. In 2009, President Obama fought to deliver reform by cutting some of the waste out of the health care system. His first signature accomplishment, the stimulus, contained some initial funding of Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER). CER would set up an independent body to develop a system to find the best medical outcomes, and in doing so, save up to $700 billion by some estimates in annual health spending. PhRMA recognized quickly that CER would most likely steer medical professional towards prescribing more generic medications over branded drugs, thus slicing a sizable share of corporate profits“. 

PhRMA also launched at series of attack ads at this time all aimed at ensuring that the government not put in place these restraints on their huge profits. This is a sad, yet telling tale, of the real motives behind the modern Conservative movement, as exemplified by its most respected institution.

The thrust of the article demonstrates intertwining of the modern Conservative movement with the needs of the most powerful corporations. Going back to the quote from conservative historian Nash above:” Buckley’s primary contribution to politics was a fusion of traditional American political conservatism with laissez-faire economic theory” we can see the changes that have been made to old fashioned American conservative belief by this  overlay of a doctrine of corporate laissez-faire. For 56 years the National Review has gradually reshaped Conservative thought from one of protection of the founding principles of this country into a pro-corporate rooting section. As the world’s economy has evolved this pro-corporate stance has further evolved into a pro-multinational corporate stance. In essence this movement no longer focuses on the needs of the United State of America, but instead caters to the “Captains” of “The New World Order”.

It might be noticed that nowhere above did I use the term business. This was intentional on my part because I’d like to make the further point that the modern Conservative movement is essentially an anti-business operation. In order for Capitalism to be a workable economic system it requires a dynamic market. The dynamics must mean that people with ideas, entrepreneurs if you will, must be free to enter the market at even a rudimentary level and thus be free to succeed or fail, based on the novelty of their innovation and/or the quality of product and/or service they deliver. When one talks of businesses and markets it should include the entire spectrum of the marketplace, not just those corporations who have become gigantic by absorbing less wealthy entities. The multi-national corporations by their nature stifle a free marketplace and in truth inhibit rapid innovation wherever they can.

This is the change that Bill Buckley has wrought, an American movement whose leaders no longer strive to uplift their country. Though to be charitable, I’m not sure he foresaw where the movement he set in motion was going, in the end he must share the damnation. This damnation that is responsible for the decline of this country and the uplifting of a Multi-National Corporate Empire.

43 thoughts on “Et Tu National Review?”

  1. Mike,

    Just in case . . . GREAT ARTICLE MIKE!!!!


    Blouise/anon nurse,

    If someday we should meet, remind me to do my Buckley impersonation. It’s really good if I do say so myself.

  2. “The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes – the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.”


    Thank you for that link, which provided that quote from Buckley above. Not
    being black, I nevertheless feel an overwhelming anger against the bigotry
    that still exists today, covered up by clever evasions and “code” words. Due
    to his elegant (if totally pedantic) vocabulary Buckley was able to couch the most vile beliefs into seemingly intellectual terms, thereby giving the appearance of being reasonable. The conservative movement thrived because of his lessons on how to make the unpalatable, seem palatable.
    It seems today though that the leaders of conservatism, beyond the savvy Rove and Norquist, have once more drifted back to clearer language making their bigotry more apparent. Nevertheless, no matter what opinions they hold, unless they’re skinhead gangs, they refuse to acknowledge the fact of their own bigotry.

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