Won’t you go left, Bill Buckley?: Over at Lingua Franca, Corey Robin poses an interesting question in summing up a survey of conservatives migrating to the other end of the political spectrum.
At the end of our interview, I ask Buckley to imagine a younger version of himself, an aspiring political enfant terrible graduating from college in 2000, bringing to today’s political world the same insurgent spirit that Buckley brought to his. What kind of politics would this youthful Buckley embrace? “I’d be a socialist,” he replies. “A Mike Harrington socialist.” He pauses. “I’d even say a communist.”
Can he really imagine a young communist Bill Buckley? He concedes that it’s difficult. The original Bill Buckley had the benefit of the Soviet Union as an enemy; without its equivalent, his doppelg�nger would confront a more complicated task. “This new Buckley would have to point to other things,” he says. Buckley runs down a laundry list of left causes�global poverty, death from AIDS. But even he seems suddenly overwhelmed by the project of (in typical Buckleyese) “conjoining all of that into an arresting afflatus.” Daunted by the challenge of thinking outside the free market, Buckley pauses, then finally says, “I’ll leave that to you.”