Life in the Old Right

One problem with labeling ideological movements "old" or "new" is that inevitably, with the passage of time, the "new" becomes an "old" and the markers get confusing. In the modern, post-World War II right wing, there have been a number of "news" and hence "olds" over the past half-century. But what I call the "Old Right" has an excellent claim to that label; for it was the original, oldest right, and it was in many ways radically different from all the rights that have followed after its demise.

This original right of which I speak, and of which I am one of the few survivors, stretched from 1933 to its approximate death, or fading away, upon the advent of National Review in 1955. The Old Right began in 1933 in response to the coming of the New Deal. It was "reactionary" in the best and most genuine sense: it was a horrified reaction against the Roosevelt Revolution, against the Great Leap Forward toward collectivism that enraptured socialist intellectuals and enraged those who were devoted to the institutions and the strict limitations on centralized government power that marked the Old Republic.

Last fall, David Lauter, writing a think-piece in the Los Angeles Times about the Clinton health plan, wittingly or unwittingly echoed Maoist terminology about this Great Leap Forward, declaring that "every so often . . . the...

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