On this edition of Parallax Views, a previously unpublished conversation from April 2022 with Brandan P. Buck, a Ph.D. candidate in history and Digital History Fellow at George Mason University. Brandan has been researching the topic of a early-mid 20th century conservative formation known as the "Old Right". Epitomized by figures such as Senator Robert A. Taft and journalists like John T. Flynn and Garet Garrett, the Old Right was a force that opposed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Some of this was in opposition to FDR's New Deal, but the Old Right was also known for its antiwar stance often leading to it being accused of isolationism or antisemitic, fascist/Nazi sympathies. Brandan and I discuss all of this as well as the history of the Old Right and specifically its connection to antiwar thought.
This conversation came about after reading Brandan's piece at Responsible Statecraft entitled "No ‘Putin apologia’ and certainly not new: the Old American Right on war". Said piece details the history of the Old Right including the figure of Republican politician Eugen Siler's 1968 Senate run as an explicitly antiwar candidate during the Vietnam War. Prior to his Senate run Siler was a Congressman where he was the sole member of the House of Representatives to oppose the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (a resolution that led to greater U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War).
Among the topics discussed in this conversation:
- The connection between the Old Right's opposition to FDR-era progressive economic policies and the Old Right's non-interventionism and opposition to mass conscription
- Understanding the Old Right and its origins within the GOP
- Anti-interventionist and antiwar sentiments in the aftermath of WWI and the U.S. soldiers who were casualties of that war.
- The question of antisemitism; the America First Committee; Charles Lindbergh's September 11th, 1941 speech
- The book Merchants of Death about war-profiteering in WWI and left/right anti-war coalition
- The Cold War, the Ronald Reagan era, Pat Buchanan, William F. Buckley and the National Review, and the decline of the Old Right
- The differences between the antiwar left and the antiwar right
- The Old Right's view that war and militarism were destructive to either individual liberty and/or family units
- The influence of both Jeffersonianism and particularism on the Old Right
- And much, much more!