A Giant Beset by Pygmies

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By Tom Piatak – Chronicles Magazine

Nor was Francis the bitter critic of Christianity that Rose portrays. As Rose notes, Francis exuberantly supported the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan, a principled social conservative who has made no effort to conceal his Catholicism.

Most newspaper and magazine articles are forgotten not long after they appear. Does anyone read the 25-year-old columns of Norman Podhoretz, William F. Buckley, or Richard John Neuhaus for insight into current events? It therefore tells us something when First Things prints a 20-page essay about a political journalist who has been dead for almost 15 years. This person, we learn, “won almost no access to major conservative outlets” in life, and indeed was “purged and marginalized.” It tells us even more when the journal running this long essay rarely agreed with the subject during his life. Thus, whatever else it may be, First Things’ lengthy essay on Sam Francis must be regarded as proof that he remains relevant to contemporary debate, and was what many readers of Chronicles knew he was: a genius.

The essay’s author, Matthew Rose, says as much. He describes Francis’ posthumously published Leviathan and Its Enemies as “the most ambitious book by an American conservative in the last quarter-century.” Rose also admits that Francis accurately predicted our current political situation. “His hope for a conservatism rooted in economic nationalism and cultural populism is no longer difficult to imagine,” Rose writes. Francis described “the new right-wing parties coming into view across the Western world.”

Rose also recounts how Rush Limbaugh read portions of Sam’s essay “From Household to Nation” from the March 1996 Chronicles 20 years after its publication, and “hailed it as the Trumpist manifesto that no one, including the candidate, had been able to formulate.” Rose, to his credit, has called attention to a thinker who continues to resonate on the right.

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While Francis was being “purged and marginalized,” the editors of Commentary, National Review, and First Things were maintaining that America should use its military power to spread “democracy” around the globe, particularly in the Middle East, while welcoming globalization in the form of free trade and mass immigration. These positions reflected a belief that America wasn’t a real country inhabited by a real people, but a mere incubator of ideas, and its people were worthwhile only insofar as they embodied neoconservative ideas.

As a result of such profoundly misguided thinking, thousands of American lives were lost and hundreds of billions of American dollars were wasted on pointless wars in the Middle East, which continue down to this day. Meanwhile tens of thousands of American factories were closed and millions of American manufacturing jobs were lost…

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