REVIEW: Russell's Reviews Volume One # 9

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Sun Mar 2 09:08:39 PST 2008

On Mar 1, 7:21 pm, Saxon Brenton <saxon.bren... at> wrote:
> On Saturday 1 March 2008 Tom Russell wrote, among other things:
> [...]
> >    In our last issue, I compared Derek Radner to
> > William F. Buckley, the American conservative also
> > noted for his intellectual rigor.  Well, as some of
> > you may know, Buckley passed away this week, and as a
> > result I was reminded of some of his intellectually
> > indefensible positions-- such as, for example, wanting
> > to brand people with HIV to warn the rest of us.
> Hmmm.
> On a level both other-than-personal and relating-to-RACC
> I find this disappointing, for a complicated reasons.  I
> need to ask a question about this, but will first need
> to explain the context.  I ask you to bear with me on
> this.
> Longtime readers of my work will know that I try to
> include a wide variety of characters with a wide variety
> of backgrounds and outlooks.  Admitedly these are
> sometimes painted in very broad strokes (or for a less
> charitable description: they tend to be cliches).
> Traditionally I have focused on giving people different
> faiths.
> Anal-Retentive-Archive Kid I know is a conservative.
> Unfortunately having identified him as such I find that
> I've painted myself into a corner, since as an interested
> outsider I only have a superficial idea of what
> conservatism in the United States actually looks like.
> I'm not sure that that I even trust the idea of using
> Australian conservatism as a substitute, partly because
> of differences in culture, partly because the US is
> further to the right than Australia.
> There are further constraints.  ARAK is a member of a
> minority religion, so there's no way that he'd be a
> member of the evangelical wing of the Republicans (and
> certainly not considering the specifics of the way he
> was attacked with a HIV infected needle back in Flame
> Wars 4).  Moreover, from the moment of his creation as
> a character ARAK has been a thinker and an intellectual,
> so there is also no way he'd be interested in those
> commentators whose methods involve noisy stunts and
> appeals to prejudice.
> So when I heard of William F. Buckley and his reputation
> as a thinking US conservative, I thought I had found a
> role model for Anal-Retentive Archive Kid, but hadn't
> gotten around to doing any research yet.  Now Tom has
> disabused me of that notion.  I doubt me if a true
> conservative in the minimum-government-intervention/let-
> people-just-get-on-with-their-own-affairs mold would
> support the stance that Tom describes of Buckley - and
> moreso since FW4 as the issue would now be personal.
> So I throw this question to the people on RACC who are
> reasonably knowledgeable on the subject: Given the type
> of personality that Anal-Retentive Archive Kid has, which
> conservative intellectuals would he be likely to be
> influenced by?
> -----
> Saxon Brenton

I think, as Arthur suggested, that Goldwater is generally a better
fit, though you could certainly base ARAK on the popular *perception*
of Buckley, even among liberal circles, as the pithy intellectual who
isn't evil.  Just because you're influenced by someone doesn't mean
that you necessarily agree with them or their more unsavory

Martin's suggestion of the Libertarian party might work, though I must
be impish and add that, while they claim to be neither Democrats or
Republicans, they vote almost exclusively for the latter party, who,
in turn, try to restrict their rights.  It reminds me a bit of the Log
Cabin Republicans-- the gay wing of the gay-bashing party.

Obviously, I'm biased and make no bones about it.  I'm passionately
Democratic and liberal.  For, as a greater man than I once said:

"If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind,
someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who
cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing,
their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil
liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate
and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what
they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

(JFK, of course.)

I was raised a Republican.  My family hated Clinton and applauded when
the Starr Report came out.  As I got older, though, I got incredibly
wiser.  I realized that the things I believed-- freedom of speech and
religion, equal rights for all people, all races, all genders, all
sexualities, leaving people be if they're not hurting anyone-- those
things are in stark opposition with the Republican party as it exists

And while, yes, years before the GOP focused more on economic issues,
there has since the fifties and sixties always been a strand of the
party that is racist, sexist, reactionary, and fascistic.
The difference is, of course, that in the eighties and nineties
especially this wing of the party became the dominant wing.  If
Buckley is the father of modern conservativism, it's not only because
of his "smaller government, free market" economics but also because of
stuff like this:

"The central question that emerges--and it is not a parliamentary
question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog
of the rights of American citizens, born Equal--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 predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes--the White
community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the
advanced race."

Or, this charming ditty about Gore Vidal and his homosexuality:

"The man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction,
and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the
man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even
respected, not the pusher."

There are, to be sure, Republicans who believe in equal rights just as
there are many Democrats who believe in the free market and less-
intrusive government.  I think excessive partisanship and black-and-
white either-or stances has been largely responsible for the state of
the two parties as they exist today.  After the great sweep of 06,
many of the more reactionary Republicans lost their seats in
Congress.  If the GOP does make a comeback, it will probably be
comprised less of people like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and more
of people like ARAK and Goldwater.  And maybe that's the kind of thing
to shoot for.


More information about the racc mailing list