The Conscience of a Conservative
Blue Cross and Private Health Insurance Coverage of Older Americans [Medicare] Committee on Aging, U.S. Senate, together with Minority and Individual Views by Senators Dirksen, Goldwater, Carlson, and Fong.
Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the War on Poverty Bill together with minority and individual views by Senators Goldwater, Tower, Javits, and Prouty. 88th Congress 2d S ession, Report No. 1218
These works, by Arizona’s leading political scientist, seem to be a must this summer, though not for reading aloud at public meetings in Harlem. There they might unwittingly prove as unsettling as Malcolm X. Take the chapter in The Conscience of a Conservative which sets forth the evils created by the Welfare State. “One of the great evils of Welfarism,” Senator Goldwater wrote, “is that it transforms the individual from a dignified, industrious, self-reliant spiritual [his italics] being into a dependent animal creature without his knowing it.” This launches an original theory for the high incidence of juvenile delinquency and narcotics addiction in Negro ghettoes.
How much of the credit for all this should go to Senator Goldwater is not easy to determine. A Jefferson, a Lincoln, or a Wilson may be reconstructed from his writings. What a public figure today is supposed to have written may sometimes be less revealing than the men he picked to ghost-write it for him. In the Introduction to Why Not Victory? Senator Goldwater admitted with engaging candor that Brent Bozell “was the guiding hand” in writing his earlier book, The Conscience of a Conservative. L. Brent Bozell was co-author with William F. Buckley, Jr., of McCarthy and His Enemies, the leading defense of the late Inquisitor. Bozell is the right wing of Buckley’s rightwing weekly, National Review. He has moved down in recent years from an editor to a contributor. His enthusiasm for Franco Spain and his predilection for holy war and statism may have proven a little gamey even for the tastes of Buckley’s “conservatives.”
The introduction to Why Not Victory? gives credit for help on that book to a longer list, including Buckley, Russell Kirk, and Dr. Gerhart Niemeyer of the University or Notre Dame. Dr. Niemeyer fights the cold war as if he were reliving the bitterest controversies of medieval theology. He writes with the pedantic fury of a Thomist attacking William of Occam and Nominalism, with which he identifies modern Positivism and links the evils of Liberalism. It is hard to believe that Goldwater could follow Dr. Niemeyer’s intricate polemics more than fifteen minutes without propping up his eyelids. But he writes that this dogged casuist’s “views on the Communist War have proved an invaluable help in my research.” At one point Goldwater refers to himself metaphorically as a cripple: “These are but a few of those who provided me with the crutches I so badly need…The fight for conservatism requires the thoughts and the efforts of many.” Another collaborator who turned up at the convention was Karl Hess, author of those phrases in the Goldwater acceptance speech which defended extremism, a subject on which he can claim to be an expert, after long association as editor and organizer with extremist publications and movements, including Counter Attack, which compiled the blacklist of suspected Leftists in the entertainment industry; the American Mercury,…
This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all content on nybooks.com.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.