Daily Bell: Everyone knows who you are but let’s pretend they don’t. Give us some background on yourself and how you have come to your current success. Give us a sense of your intellectual development.
Pat Buchanan: I went to journalism school right after college and went out to St. Louis where I became an editorial writer for three years. Then I joined up with Richard Nixon in 1965 and was with him both through the out years until 1969 and the five years of his presidency up to August 1974.
Then I became a syndicated columnist, which I had always intended to be, and ten years later I went into Ronald Reagan’s White House. I spent two years there and went with him to the summits in Geneva and Reykjavik. Right after that I went back to writing a column until I challenged my old friend, George Bush, in the New Hampshire primary in 1992. We did very well. We closed the gap from about 65 points to about 14 but we didn’t win.
I ran in 1996 again and we won the New Hampshire primary and came in second for the nomination out of a field of ten. In 2000 I ran again, on the Reform Party ticket, which was unsuccessful.
Since then, I have been writing books, writing a regular column and appearing on The McLaughlin Group and MSNBC. We have had success with the books; we’ve had seven New York Times bestsellers in the last seven books. We’ve had some failures, too, and that is pretty much my background.
Daily Bell: Are you more libertarian and less conservative now or vice versa? What is the difference between a libertarian and a conservative? Are you surprised at the ascendency of libertarian thought in the 21st century?
Pat Buchanan: I am more of a traditionalist conservative than I am a libertarian but I share with Ron Paul the view that America has become an over-extended empire. After the Cold War we should have downsized the empire dramatically and returned to become a more normal nation in a more normal time.
I believe government has gotten too huge. Republicans have colluded with Democrats to make it so and I am pessimistic that we’re ever going to be able to turn this around.
Daily Bell: Tell us about your latest book, Suicide of a Superpower.
Pat Buchanan: Well, the United States is certainly not a failed nation or a failed state but we are failing. We’re unable to control our borders, we are unable to balance our budgets, we’re unable to win or end our wars successfully and achieve our objectives, and we’re unable to stop the hemorrhaging of American jobs and manufacturing abroad.
I think the annual deficit of 9-10% of GDP indicates that the American empire and the massive US government are to be downsized, if not through political action, then through a de facto default on the debt via inflation. And I fear we are headed down the road toward the end of the United States as a traditional nation, which is one people, one nation, under God, indivisible.
The mass immigration that is taking place of peoples of every culture, creed, country, civilization, continent, is converting us into a multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial, multilingual continent of a country, which has little or nothing to hold it together. No such polyglot country has ever existed before and I don’t think we are going to succeed in creating one. I think we are headed for Balkanization and break-up, not in the sense of a secession of the states or civil war, but in the sense that we will resemble the Balkan peninsula more than the country we were under Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy.
Daily Bell: Would you say that is your main concern about the US today?
Pat Buchanan: America has many problems and some of the problems that I address in Suicide of a Superpower, I believe, are beyond the realm of politics to solve.
One of the unifying features of the United States was that we were a predominately Christian and European country. We had an ethno-national core, where 90 percent of Americans hailed from Europe and 95 percent were Christian. Both of these unifying features are crumbling now, and when the cradle faith dies in a country the moral consensus disintegrates and as does the consensus of what is ethical conduct. All these developments are leading to what I believe will be the disintegration of the nation and the evolving of something far different.
Daily Bell: You were recently featured in James Jaeger’s film “SPOiLER” and in an earlier film called “Original Intent.” Cultural Marxism was a big discussion in these films. Can you expand on that discussion?
Pat Buchanan: I use the phrase Cultural Marxism to describe what Antonio Gramsci had in mind for the West, after he went to Russia. He saw Lenin’s Soviet Union as a failure, in that, while the regime had total power and the obedience of its citizens, the people were terrified of it and gave it no loyalty, allegiance or love. And eventually the Soviet Union would and did collapse, as did Mao’s China. Gramsci believed in the cultural approach. He believed that, through a long march through the institutions of the West, Marxists could overturn Christianity, the heat shield of the West that made people automatically reject Marxism. If you could extirpate Christian culture from the heart of Western man, with the “acids of modernity,” destroy this heat shield, people would embrace Marxist ideas and you could advance your ideology, and the people would be more receptive to it.
What we call Cultural Marxism has certainly been more successful than the economic Marxism of the 19th century and the Leninism associated with it. I have used this term Cultural Marxism along with other terms – socialism, secular humanism. Basically it is a political ideology, a set of ideas, antithetical to traditional, Judeo-Christian beliefs and ideas predominant in this country up until the middle of last century.
Daily Bell: So what happened in the middle of the last century that is accredited to this change?
Pat Buchanan: The revolutions of the 1960s. They began within the mainstream of American thought – the civil rights revolution, anti-war protests – but degenerated into more alien ideas. The anti-Vietnam protests degenerated into anti-Americanism, the belief the United States was on the wrong side in the Cold War. The marches and demonstrations began with “Let’s get out of Vietnam” and ended with “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; the NLF is going to win.” The fight for civil rights ended in demands for quotas, affirmative action, set-asides and an entirely different country.
The feminist revolution that began with a desire of women for equal opportunity in academia and the job market degenerated into a clamor for sexual liberation and abortion on demand. And all of these things are part of a great revolution that has put down roots and been extremely successful in converting a significant slice of the country, and capturing half of the elite. I don’t think we can reverse this revolution. I think it’s divided us permanently and I don’t think we are going back to being one nation and one people again.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Ron Paul and the strides he has made and the traction he is getting?
Pat Buchanan: He has done extremely well. Ron Paul‘s an old friend of mine and I like him, admire his consistency and his political courage. He’s a man who is willing to stand up there alone and vote his convictions when people laugh at him, which is one of the most difficult things to do in politics.
Some of the ideas Ron Paul is championing now – some of them – are ideas that I championed in the 1990s. For instance, the idea that the United States has to give up the empire, to cut back and pull our horns in a bit, that we cannot be the policemen of the world, that we cannot give orders to the world. This idea is gaining traction and gaining ground. It’s not a majority view yet in the Republican Party but it is moving ahead.
This idea about smaller government is obviously consistent with Republican philosophy. But, candidly, I don’t think they’ll be able to accomplish a great deal in the next four years even if the Republicans win. They’ve accomplished next to nothing, or very little in the last year when they had control of the House. On securing the border and halting mass immigration, I don’t have much hope of great progress.
So I think Ron Paul has done a fine job. But do I think his ideas will be incorporated into the platform or the policy of a dominant Republican Party in 2013? We have to wait and see but I doubt it seriously. I truly believe that the American economic problems are going to be solved by massive inflation wiping out a lot of this debt – and wiping out the real savings of a lot of Americans.
Daily Bell: Do you still vote? Would you vote for him?
Pat Buchanan: Well, I’m in Virginia so I can only vote for Ron Paul or Mitt! (LOL) And that leaves out Perry and Newt and all the others, so I’ll wait for the primary to get here but I can’t endorse any candidate because I’m on television and we are not allowed to.
Daily Bell: Ron Paul is getting some press now but why does he get such bad press or no press? We know mainstream media is controlled but what are your thoughts about it and if you agree it is controlled, by whom?
Pat Buchanan: The mainstream media is deeply hostile to Ron Paul‘s ideas. The mainstream media is caught up with the idea of globalism, caught up with the idea that America should be the dominant force in virtually every region of the world. It is caught up in the idea that government has the answers to a lot of issues.
Mainstream media is predominantly left of center, undeniably, and Ron Paul represents the antithesis of what it believes, morally, politically and every other way. But I do think they are also getting caught up in the idea that Ron Paul is growing in strength, and he has a lot of young people supporting him. So if you see Ron Paul win Iowa, and go on to win New Hampshire, that will make what happened to me in 1996 look like a mainstream media endorsement. (Laughing again).
Daily Bell: Are you an Austrian, economically?
Pat Buchanan: No, not really, but I’m obviously not a Keynesian. On trade I disagree with Ron Paul because I’m a believer in the Economic Nationalism of Hamilton and Henry Clay and the Republican Party from 1860 to 1928 when the United States was turned from a county that produced half of what Great Britain produced, into a giant that produced more than all of what Europe produced. Free traders decide policy based on what is best for the world and for the consumer. Milton Friedman wrote that even if other nations don’t practice free trade we should get rid of all tariffs and allow them to dump their goods in the US market at any price they want because the consumer would benefit. Libertarians tend to put the consumer first and I put the country first.
Daily Bell: What do you feel is government’s role in society?
Pat Buchanan: Government’s role in society is to keep the peace and protect the inherent rights of the people, especially the minority, but to allow the majority to build a society that reflects its views, values and beliefs, and to pretty much get out of the way. In a country of 300 million you need more government controls than you would need in a country of 3 million. One consideration is, for instance, we have highways spanning the country and you’ve got to have speed limits. Here’s where I disagreed with my old friend Ronald Reagan, who told me in 1976 that he wondered why we needed driver’s licenses. I told him I grew up in DC, and thought they were necessary. (Laughing) But he used to drive a tractor without a license. And I understood that in Dixon, Illinois but we were a different world by the 1950s.
Daily Bell: Should the American federal government be pruned back?
Pat Buchanan: Many of the Great Society programs were a terrible mistake. In 1965 we weren’t starving in Washington, DC, but there was nobody on food stamps. Now, one in every five citizens in DC is on food stamps. Nationwide there are about 47 million on food stamps at a cost of $77 billion. Do I think all that is necessary? Of course not. As I say, no one was starving and if anyone were at the local level we could handle it. We have all kinds of private programs for food, but once you get these things written into law they’re hard to get rid of.
When I was a kid my mother made us sandwiches and we took them to school. Milk was a nickel but the Buchanans had nine kids. We didn’t buy milk and get milk at lunch. We were to drink water. It wasn’t hardship but when I see how much money they spend on school breakfasts and school lunches and the eligibility runs up to middle class….All these things are added, one on another.
Let me say this. You have four elements of the budget. One is the interest on the debt. The second is what you might call the empire – the wars, the defense budget, the CIA budgets, the nuclear budgets, all the intelligence agencies, and that amounts to about one trillion dollars. Third, you’ve got the big entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, which are even larger together, I think, than the empire budget. Fourth is the Great Society budget, where food stamp programs, unemployment insurance, all these programs – school lunches, earned income tax credits, basically massive income transfer programs, redistributive programs, and all those elements.
I don’t see the two parties getting together and rolling back any one of these four. The Democrats aren’t going to let you touch the Great Society programs or the entitlement programs. Republicans aren’t going to let you raise taxes or go after the empire, and you can’t touch interest. I don’t know how you succeed in making serious cuts. So I think we continue down the road we are on, which is the path that the Italians are trotting on today and they are trotting right after the Greeks.
Daily Bell: How does America make changes with this mentality? What would you do if you could start an education program to change American thinking now?
Pat Buchanan: You know, people who read my book say, “Pat, you are not a roaring optimist,” and I’m not. Look at the education system. We have dumped trillions of dollars into it in the last 45 years, since 1965, and what do we have to show for it? We have test scores that continue go down until they revise the tests to make them easier, so the scores will stop going down. You are getting no real progress there. The United States as a country has fallen into the middle level of Western countries in terms of its test scores, and it’s headed toward Third World status.
To turn that around, you have to reject certain conventional beliefs about education and introduce ideas that are unacceptable. Do I think we are going to to this? No, I don’t. I think our politics are getting increasingly to the point where anyone who suggests we are going in the wrong direction is so demonized and is called so many names that it’s intimidating. People simply refuse to face up to the truth.
The country is in the grip of an ideology that seeks to lead us toward some sort of Utopia . But that’s a country that’s never existed before. We had a successful country in 1960, and it was still successful in the 1980s when Reagan was there. But we have since embraced ideas that preclude our succeeding and those ideas have changed the mindset of the American people.
Daily Bell: Is America too militaristic?
Pat Buchanan: I don’t know that it’s too militaristic, but America is very interventionist. Why? Because we’ve convinced ourselves that we have found the solutions to history’s great questions. Some Americans are almost neo-Trotskyite. Trotsky believed he had the right idea about how men should be ruled and the Communists should impose those ideas on the world. And the world democratic revolution that Bush was preaching, and that many of his followers still preach is the mirror image. They believe we have some right to interfere in the internal affairs of countries all over the world since we have found the Rosetta Stone to solving all the world’s problems. If only these backward peoples will embrace democracy and human rights and all these ideas that we have embraced, the world will be a far better place. We are seeking some grand utopian goal and we are going to fall short. The whole world is resisting us now. Do I know how to stop this or change this ? No, I don’t.
Daily Bell: Is the US headed toward martial law?
Pat Buchanan: Well, down the road I think the US is headed toward a much more militarized domestic society. I notice that half a million people got a gun for Christmas this year (LOL)! That tells me there are a lot of people that agree with Pat Buchanan about where we are going.
Daily Bell: Where do you stand on the war on terror? Is al Qaeda still a real threat to the US?
Pat Buchanan: When we were attacked, we were victims of terrorism. It was an outrage and we went after the people that did it and rightly so. We did the right thing in dumping over the government in Afghanistan, and going in and trying to kill Bin Laden and his collaborators, and running them down around the world because of what they did.
What astonishes me is that people don’t understand why they did what they did. Americans didn’t read the fatwa, the declaration of war against the United States. So I don’t think we properly understand their motives. Their motives are really not that exceptional. People say our enemies don’t like what Hollywood is producing. But our enemies didn’t bomb Hollywood. My view is that the main reason they attacked us is because they believe that we are infidels, and that we are imperialists, and that we are interfering in their affairs, and that we are all over their world — and they want us to get the hell out. They are using the same tactics that Algerians and Viet Cong and the other organizations have used. They use terror attacks even against civilians to convince imperial powers to get out of their country. They want us out of their part of the world.
Some may want to create their own caliphate. I don’t think those guys could organize one. They detest us, mainly because we are over there. They were over here because we were over there.
In that sense, Ron Paul was correct. He was not saying we were responsible for 9/11 but he is saying that 9/11 happened because these folks are protesting – not just our existence or our Constitution. They didn’t sit in some cave and say, “Hey did you see how the Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms?” They saw us moving into Saudi Arabia, they saw what we were doing to the Iraqis, they saw our support for what the Israelis were doing to the Palestinians – and they said, ‘We have to get these people out of our countries, out of our civilization, and out of our lives. We are tired of it. We detest their culture, we detest their presence and the way to get them out is through acts of terror. And if we can wave a red flag in front of the American bull, it will come charging over here. And the same thing will happen that happened to the Soviet Empire.’” And they are right.
Daily Bell: Give us your thoughts on Global or One World Order?
Pat Buchanan: We have been fighting the new world order ever since Bush declared it in 1991. That was one of the issues I ran on. I said we are Americans first and we are a separate and unique country and we don’t want to disappear in any new world order. We need to preserve our sovereignty and independence.
This is behind my belief in economic patriotism. You want the country to be self-sufficient the way it was before WWI and WWII. We could have stayed out of both wars. Nobody was going to bother us; we produced everything we consumed, except I think for tea, coffee, bananas, and chrome, or something like that. And that’s the kind of country I believe in.
But I do believe this. The new world order is in crisis. Take a look at what’s happened to the Kyoto protocol. The Canadians walked out. They said we aren’t taking any part. That’s it. The Chinese are taking that stance, too. The Doha Round of trade negotiations failed. The Americans are not going to pay the $20 billion annually to the Third World to prepare for global warming that Hillary Clinton promised. That’s out the window.
The European Union is in trouble and the Eurozone is on the cusp of disaster. You see the small nationalist parties, anti-immigrant parties in Europe sprouting and some of them are already in power or approaching power. You see those forces and they are all against this new world order, this federation of mankind, and all the rest of it. Those ideas go back to Emmanuel Kant and Woodrow Wilson. And the movement forward toward that, which was dramatic between 1990 and 2010, I see halted and moving in reverse. The Eurozone could come crashing down. In those times you see people who are more nationalistic saying, “Let’s take care of ourselves and let’s not worry about this globalism.” The globalist and anti-globalist forces are more evenly matched now.
Daily Bell: Will you run for president again?
Pat Buchanan: Nope, I don’t think so. (Laughing). No, the answer is no.
Daily Bell: We believe that the Internet has spawned a kind of “Internet Reformation” and have been preaching this paradigm for about a decade. Where do you stand on this?
Pat Buchanan: I think the Internet is a neutral thing. Like dynamite, it can be used for good and bad. The fact that the major economic driver of the Internet and the most commonly visited sites are pornography – I’m not sure that’s a reflection of a real progress. It’s like the telephone and the telegraph.
Of course, it improves the access that we have to news and information, thoughts and ideas, but it also provides an opportunity for every idiot in the world to put out insults and slurs. I view it as an advance. But you don’t change the character of people with inventions like this, which can be used for good or ill. There’s no question but that it’s been used to undermine tyrannies and despots, but my guess is they will eventually find ways to use it to maintain themselves.
Daily Bell: As we’ve just closed one year and ascend into another, would you share your thoughts for the coming year?
Pat Buchanan: The politicians and the political classes everywhere are losing control. “Events are in the saddle and ride mankind,” as Emerson wrote. That’s what I said in a year-end column. People now accept the idea that the people shall rule themselves — one man, one vote. But I think democracy of that kind is going to turn into an enabler of the more powerful forces in the world.
In my book, Suicide of a Superpower, I argue that this force is ethno-nationalism. Ethnic majorities all over the world are trying to create countries where their own culture, language and religion are predominant and where they themselves rule over their minorities and, if necessary, expel them and create countries which are purely ethno-nationalistic.
Secondarily, I think religious fundamentalism, certainly of the Islamic variety, is the most powerful force in something like one-fourth of the countries in the world today.
And these two forces are tearing multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nations to pieces. I think they’ll continue to do that and the nations that are very vulnerable are nations like the United States and India, just like the old Soviet Union was. Czechoslovakia broke in half and, of course, Yugoslavia did.
If you see the one country in Europe that did not break but pulled together, it was Germany, at the end of the Cold War. And for what reason? Ethno-nationalism. The West Germans saw the East Germans as people that belonged with them and so they spent a trillion dollars pulling them together and bringing them home.
This is the force that is the predominant force in the world, and some of the forces that used to be predominant will be overwhelmed by that. The future divisions and conflicts in the United States, I fear, will be ethnic and racial.
Let me give you one example. Right here in our state of Maryland, which is very liberal, they have to re-district the Congressional seats. And the Democrats naturally wanted to divide it up so they could get the maximum number of Democrats. But the African-American Democrats said, “No, we want to divide it up so we get the maximum number of African-American Congressmen.”
So you see basically ethnicity and race trumping traditional politics and I think that’s the future. I see us becoming a country of four major ethno-national groups by mid-century, with all four negotiating and bidding with one another for shares of the pie rather than as one nation and one people.
Daily Bell: Any books or websites you want to mention?
Pat Buchanan: Well, I have had some medical issues these past few months and have not been able to get out there and talk more about Suicide of a Superpower, which is my last book of this kind. It was doing very well the first two weeks but I had to sort of drop out for a bit.
Daily Bell: Thank you, Mr. Buchanan, for your time and for this informative interview. We have enjoyed speaking with you.
Pat Buchanan: Thank you. Good luck and happy new year to you.
UPDATE: While we initially stated in these After Thoughts that Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC, supposedly for “racism” as a result of his latest book, we are now informed by Mr. Buchanan himself that he was not only not fired but not even suspended. Prior to writing our After Thoughts, we did request a comment from Mr. Buchanan but having not received one by deadline, we felt it was necessary to deal with the apparent issue since it was so current.
In any event, we apologize to Mr. Buchanan for raising what was apparently a false issue, and additionally for reporting an inaccurate quote. We hope that it has not caused him too much consternation. We have great respect for him, his career, and what he has accomplished throughout an illustrious tenure as a commentator, and we are most gratified to have presented his interview to our Daily Bell audience.
As we pointed out in an earlier version of this After Thought, now that Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? has attracted so much attention, Mr. Buchanan doesn’t have to say much more about it. The book speaks for itself. In fact, it touches the third rail of American politics and is one of an increasing number of rhetorical areas where most “dare not go.” (Another is the idea that the mainstream storytelling surrounding 9/11 lacks both cohesiveness and veracity.)
Is it a good idea for public discourse to hold various discussions out-of-bounds? Words don’t kill and the terminal confusion between the expression of certain concepts and violence itself is a lot more damaging to public discourse than the opinions themselves, however incendiary.
Of course, despite his libertarian leanings, Mr. Buchanan departs from free-market orthodoxy in numerous ways. Formal libertarian theology would focus on the idea that it is private business that should be the driver of prosperity and that the nation itself has little or no business determining who can and cannot enter a country.
Mr. Buchanan has a right to say what he has said, and he’s certainly not a racist. His perspectives are grounded in a good deal of sociopolitical literacy and history and he’s been making the same, considered arguments for decades, or at least elaborating on them. That suddenly he is painted with one nomenclature or another is a sign of the times, another disturbing warning that the US and the West are headed in the wrong direction.
We’re glad to have provided Mr. Buchanan with yet one more platform to express his views, which are literate not loony. You may disagree with some of them but why shouldn’t he have a right to voice them? He enriches, not impoverishes, public discourse with his considered perspectives. It is only censors who believe that we benefit from reducing rather than expanding our frame of reference.
Ed Note: We wish to thank Mr. Buchanan again for clarifying his situation. We also wish to note that given the amount of “news” swirling around the issue, it would be understandable if there was more to come. Thanks again, Mr. Buchanan, for this insightful and thorough interview.
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Patrick Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three Presidents, a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and was the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. From 1966 through 1974, Patrick Buchanan was an assistant to Richard Nixon, and from 1985 to 1987, White House Director of Communications for Ronald Reagan. In 1992, Mr. Buchanan challenged George Bush for the Republican nomination and almost upset the President in the New Hampshire primary. In 1996, he won the New Hampshire primary and finished second to Sen. Bob Dole with three million Republican votes. Patrick Buchanan has written ten books, including six straight New York Times bestsellers: A Republic, Not an Empire, The Death of the West, Where the Right Went Wrong, State of Emergency, Day of Reckoning and Churchill, and Hitler and The Unnecessary War. His most recent book is Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?