James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buckley: the Gateway Drug

What someone like William F. Buckley can do is open one's eyes to the superiority of free markets, or inspire one to question the War on Drugs. That is what ultimately inspired me to go beyond Buckley's conservative ideology into libertarianism. In that way, he was like a gateway drug: getting a taste of the freedom philosophy, one starts to look for something deeper and more powerful. And then one goes back and sees that Buckley's Warfare State is just as unworkable as the Welfare State and anti-drug Police State. Maybe I would have come around to libertarianism some other way, but it was through Buckley.

My experience with National Review thought in the 1990's is actually what makes me hopeful about Ron Paul. If Paul could get legions of young people to actually think about militarism, the Fed, and free markets for the first time, a good number of them will go further than Paul.

In the battle of ideas, Buckley was right a lot of the time, disastrously wrong other times. Paul is right more often than Buckley was, and wrong much less often. Perhaps libertarianism today is as conservatism was in 1955, when National Review was launched. Who knows? With the proper organization and charismatic leadership, libertarianism may hit the mainstream in ten years and become dominant in 25.

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