In the face of last night’s news, we make this timely and surely compelling case for your assistance in helping National Review combat socialism, the virulent virus that seems about to emerge as a political pandemic in this election year. But first . . .
We share Ludwig Von Mises’s encouraging words for this institution, applauding its first foray into journalism and history-athwart-standing, and gracing the back cover of National Review’s 1955 premiere issue:
I am delighted to learn that national review plans to stand for political, intellectual and economic freedom and to fight unswervingly the sinister forces of totalitarian statism. I wish you full success.
This from a man who knew a thing or two about the horror of socialism and related ideologies. Some 1,700 or so issues and 65 years later, the magazine, abetted daily by its website offspring, continues this unswerving fight against the creed that speaks to man’s worst impulses and that, like an indestructible force, has manifested itself in the current American political climate, championed in the person of Bernie Sanders.
In our February 10th issue, the crypto-Soviet image of the Vermont socialist is front, center, and very red on the cover — the dictator-loving redistributionist who seeks government housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the subject of Kyle Smith’s powerful profile.
To borrow from Winston Churchill’s joke about Clement Attlee, Sanders is a wolf in wolf’s clothing. As Kyle makes clear, Bernie is no Karl Come Lately. Sanders has spent decades telling the people of Burlington, and of Vermont, and of the United States, why Marxist fantasies can be theirs. With an enabling media, he has slowly crafted an allure — through his cantankerous, gruff, goofy true-believer lecturing; his humorless, disheveled determination; and his aura of genuine leftist apostleship. Especially in juxtaposition to the cavalcade of political mediocrities who seek to be president, Sanders is appealing to a large bloc of radical voters. In fact, he is swiftly outpacing the field of knock-off Democrats in their own party’s presidential contests, as confirmed in the outcome of last night’s New Hampshire primary.
How attractive is he? So attractive that Bernie Sanders — brilliantly portrayed by Kevin D. Williamson in his 2015 cover essay as a bona fide fan of national socialism — is in position to grab the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Nice going for a guy who isn’t a registered Democrat.
As to our appeal: National Review’s embrace of the obligation to wage war on socialism (and its Bernie-esque agents) has been anything but passive. Or of recent origin.
In that same aforementioned 1955 premiere issue, in “The Magazine’s Credenda,” written by our founder, Bill Buckley let it be known from the get-go (“Among our convictions: A. . . . ”) that “the growth of government (the dominant social feature of this century) must be fought relentlessly.”
WFB had no illusion that socialism was something, like smallpox, that could be defeated. Bill and the magazine’s founders knew that waging war against socialism, Communism, and all their ideological kin would be a permanent endeavor. They knew that one could hold the upper hand in that fight only fleetingly, and that when the battle seemed to be flagging, it would be the broader duty — of NR and its friends — to fight all the harder.
We are at that point.
Last year, in yet another example of its commitment, NR published a special “double issue,” two back-to-back editions, each one collecting over a dozen major pieces by leading conservatives. The first issue stood strongly In Defense of Markets; the following one stated the case Against Socialism. It was powerful stuff, and evocative. All along the way, from NR’s Volume 1, Number 1, to the double issue last year, to our most recent “Bernie” cover piece, we’ve published hundreds of articles, essays, and editorials that, decade in and decade out, battered at the lies and false promises of socialism.
One such example we share today: from the archives, a 1957 must-read essay by Whittaker Chambers, “The Left Understands the Left.” It has this gem of a line: “Keynes is a dialect of Marx not too greatly different than Slovene, say, is from Russian.”
Amen to that. As Chambers and countless other NR authors over the years have argued, socialism is not some fair-haired step-sibling of Communist Stalinism, or some Eden-like egalitarian construct free of gulags and show trials and destitution. Maybe the nicest thing that could be said about socialism is that it is like a gateway drug. Or about socialists, that they can be patsies for their nastier relations. But whatever role it plays, whatever level of ideological intensity it displays, however it has manifested or can manifest itself, socialism is in its bones and marrow and DNA an inherently rotten thing.
And it’s something that knows no borders.
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