Round Table Discussion

Paleos in Context

The significance of Chilton Williamson’s new book, The Conservative Bookshelf, is that it is the first general account of the conservative tradition to place what is now called paleoconservatism in the context of that tradition.  Once upon a time, the connection would have been obvious because all conservatives were paleoconservatives, or close to it.  Today, however, it is not so obvious and has to be explained, even to readers who regard themselves as “conservatives” and who labor in the delusion that Bill Kristol, David Frum, Rich Lowry, and Ramesh Ponnuru are of the same cast.

Section VI of Chilton’s book on the “present day” contains accounts of books by Pat Buchanan, Peter Brimelow, Tom Fleming, Clyde Wilson, and me, all of whom can fairly be lumped into the paleo persuasion, even if they don’t much like the term (as I don’t) or apply it to themselves, and even if we do not really deserve to be in the same book with Cicero, Burke, and Saint Augustine.  He also includes Joe Scotchie’s useful but too short book on paleoconservatism, Revolt From the Heartland.  The fly in the ointment, of course, is the inclusion of Treason, by Ann Coulter.  I have no problem generally with Miss Coulter, who is an articulate and sharp-witted (and -tongued) polemicist, and I even wrote a column defending her book against anti-McCarthy attacks...

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