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William F. Buckley Jr. and the John Birch Society — A Book Review

A book authored earlier this year by John F. McManus, president of the John Birch Society, titled William F. Buckley, Jr.: Pied Piper for the Establishment, has not received the attention it deserves in the mainstream media and, surprisingly, the alternative, more conservative forms of communication in this information age.

Frankly, the information may be too disturbing for some readers, particularly those who think they know what is happening in the world from watching and listening to Dan Rather on CBS News, Peter Jennings on ABC World News, or Tom Brokow on NBC News ­or, for that matter, to the more conservative Fox News Channel. Ditto for those also avidly perusing more conservative publications like The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Yes, gentle reader, you will be jolted out of your most comfortable reading armchair were you to engage yourself in carefully reading this highly disturbing but meticulously documented book. The 255-page tome (including index) describes assiduously the political career of William F. Buckley Jr., a man who has been considered “the patron saint of the conservatives” by orthodox liberal and authorized biographer John B. Judis.

Let me state from the outset that for more than a decade, I was also an admirer of the intellectual prowess and elegant (although sometimes bombastic) writing skills of Bill Buckley. In fact, I have read (usually cover to cover) every issue of National Review from the mid-1980s until 1997, when I came to understand that, while the magazine was beautifully written and certainly intellectually stimulating, something was still missing, something I sensed was terribly wrong with the message it conveyed to conservative readers.

One of the final precipitating events came when the magazine printed Forrest McDonald’s review extolling the book “The Long Affair” by left-wing internationalist Conor Cruise O’Brien that trashed Thomas Jefferson and his legacy of freedom. Still I held on and kept subscribing and reading National Review until 1997, when I realized that the magazine, while calling itself “conservative,” was lending its intellectualism to propounding ideas and subtle concepts that led to bigger government, federal intrusion into functions not authorized in the U.S. Constitution ­ and the building, step-by-step, of the scaffold of a socialist world government.

And yet, the message was so subtle I could not pinpoint exactly what specifically was wrong with the publication that Bill Buckley had nurtured so assiduously and made the leading publication of “respectable” conservative opinion ­until I read William F. Buckley, Jr.: Pied Piper for the Establishment.

But this book does more than just shed light on the life of Bill Buckley; it explains with crystal clarity why he was anointed “the patron saint of the conservatives,” admiring conservatives who have now dwindled down to the Rockefeller “conservatives” of the eastern liberal Establishment, the internationalists at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), and sundry country club, moderate Republications, who have placed “respectability” ahead of duty and national sovereignty.

The book explains and warns that even today, as Bill Buckley fades in the twilight of his years, other up-and-coming “political personalities” will likewise bow to the Establishment and in a Faustian transaction pay their dues in exchange for personal advancement and ascension up the ladder of political and economic power. McManus names some of these personalities, and you will be alarmed, although perhaps not surprised, at who they might be.

One can only hope that this charitable admonition and constructive criticism may serve as a source of moral fortitude for the new generation of political and intellectual leaders. Perhaps this book may even dissuade them not to betray the truth of their cause and the moral and spiritual principles that have guided them in the idealism of their youth for the evanescent and fleeting acceptance, comfort and power provided by the ruling Establishment.

Consider how conservatism during your own life experience as a philosophic and political force has drifted from its core principles to the watered-down version of its former self. Consider some articles of faith in the old conservative movement (before they were reshaped with the help of Bill Buckley in the last four decades):

  • Free trade with all nations but non-intervention in the affairs of those nations that do not threaten our national security, and no forging of permanent, entangling alliances with any part of the foreign world;
  • Strict limitations on federal power as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land;
  • Freedom with responsibility as promulgated in Natural Rights theory prescribing that the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, property, and allowing for all citizens to pursue happiness, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.

Modern conservatism, as shaped by Bill Buckley and the neo-conservative movement, McManus argues, has helped to create, nurture and advance big government at home, and internationalism and the submergence of U.S. sovereignty to that of the United Nations abroad.

Thus, leaders of modern conservatism, despite saying otherwise, have been conditioned to feel quite comfortable with the new path the country has taken and have allowed elected officials to circumvent the U.S. Constitution, a venerable document that those same officers have sworn to uphold and defend.

When was the last time you heard “conservative” personalities even in “right-wing” radio, not to mention politicians or academicians, forcefully debate on television or in print, the crucial questions:

Of whether a new law, federal spending or taxes levied by the federal government ­ e.g., in medical care, welfare or education ­ is constitutional and should be opposed primarily on that ground?

Of whether foreign aid to countries, many unfriendly, even hateful of America, should not be extended to those nations solely on the basis of unconstitutionality?

Of whether the U.S. should continue to pay the lion’s share of the U.N. budget, and even more apropos, why should the U.S. remain in the egregious and corrupt U.N.? It could very well be argued that it would be in our best national interest to get the U.S. out of the U.N. and the U.N. out of New York!

Of whether the U.S. was founded as a constitutional republic, where individuals have God-given rights that cannot be taken away arbitrarily by the State, or as a democracy, where the populace is governed by majoritarian rule. The U.S. may be rapidly becoming a socialist democracy under an oligarchical rule of a power elite, but you don’t hear that in “respectable” discussions, not even by major talk show radio personalities on the airwaves, perhaps with the single exception of libertarian celebrity Neal Boortz.

Buckley helped the Establishment media set certain boundaries beyond which “respectable” discussions would not be allowed to proceed. Trespass those limits and your career is “finished, finished for good.”

This high-tech, “intellectual” censorship is not only taking serious topics out of the realm of public discussion, but is also stifling the free exchange of ideas necessary for the preservation of a free society. In American colleges and universities, it is leading to the loss of academic freedom, creating “educated” young people who cannot think for themselves but can only follow like automatons the Establishment’s dogma and politically correct orthodoxy.

Again, you will hear the pros and cons about enacting certain federal laws but you will not hear a candid debate take place on whether the law, taxation or regulation is actually constitutional. Ditto for the debate on foreign aid. You will hear the pundits discuss whether Egypt, Israel or Pakistan should receive a certain amount, and what amount each should receive, but not the fact that such aid is not authorized in the U.S. Constitution.

You have heard discussions regarding how much is our “fair share” of monetary contribution to the U.N., but chances are you have not heard a “respectable” conservative utter clearly and unambiguously that we should get the U.S. out of the U.N. and the U.N. out of the U.S. You see, such a pronouncement falls outside the bounds of “respectable” discussion and at present is not tolerated by the media elite of the ruling Establishment.

Watered-down conservatism and internationalism, asserts McManus, are the legacy of Bill Buckley and neo-conservative confreres in the CFR and the shadow government of the ruling Establishment.

And this deception has not taken place by overt liberals but by counterfeit conservatives who, headed by Buckley, Henry Kissinger and other members of the CFR, have misled conservative Americans into accepting gradual socialism at home and the surrender of U.S. sovereignty, piece by piece, to the U.N.

Consider that our Congress no longer declares war as prescribed in the U.S. Constitution, but instead, the presidents of the U.S. ask permission from the U.N. body to retaliate against our mortal enemies ­ even when they have struck in our own country and killed Americans in our own soil!

Liberals by themselves could not have done it, but under the “conservative” cover provided by Bill Buckley, “the social darling of the Establishment liberals,” all of these collectivist steps and defeats were inured by Republicans and conservatives with “wit, style, verve” and good cheer ­ while the country continued (and continues) to march to the drumbeat of socialism, less personal freedom, and world government.

And this, affirms McManus, is not due to the “blunders of liberalism” or “gross stupidity” on the part of Establishment leaders, but to a deliberate effort, an evil conspiracy to change our nation from a constitutional republic as envisioned by our Founders to a socialist world government, led by an elite, globalist establishment that ostensibly rules for our own good, an oligarchy that seeks to make America a subsidiary of the U.N.

As in the old conservatism, McManus cites a number of sources and lists a number of distinguished conservative personalities that parted ways with Buckley after they became dissatisfied with his “reshaping” of the conservative movement. Among them are the writers Medford Evans (now deceased) and his son M. Stanton Evans, the late free-market economist Murray Rothbard, and journalists Ralph de Toledano and Don Feder of The Boston Herald.

But why did Buckley want to destroy the John Birch Society? McManus provides answers and relates his own personal journey from being a Buckleyite to his eventual membership in the John Birch Society and becoming a follower of its magnanimous founder, Robert Welch. (1)

As to Buckley’s motives, McManus cites the appraisal of Retired Army General Thomas A. Lane, a staunch conservative and also once a former Buckley ally:

“William F. Buckley, Jr., learned about the obstacles which confront every attempt to illuminate the liberal shadows. He made his peace with the liberal powers by launching an attack on the John Birch Society, bracketed with ‘McCarthyism’ as the bogeymen of the liberals. He created a cleavage between Republican highbrows and Democratic commoners, which effectively destroyed all prospect of concerted conservative political action. He was rewarded with liberal acceptance as the spokesman of ‘conservatism.’ “

Regarding the damage Buckley inflicted upon the conservative movement, McManus provides an exhaustive list, from which I will cite only the following:

1. Provide “conservative” cover for the give-away of the Panama Canal to communist dictator Omar Torrijos in a deal which included $400 million for the Panamanian government.

2. Provide “conservative” cover to sundry CFR internationalists such as Zbigniew Brzezinski (CFR), Henry Kissinger (CFR) and, notably, President Richard Nixon (CFR), who shocked genuine conservatives with his 1971 admission on ABC-TV: “I am now a Keynesian in economics” (followed by the imposition of wage and price controls, the severance of the last tie of paper money to precious metals and other socialist policies in the U.S.).

3. Provide a rationalization for the savage downing of Korean Airlines Flight 007 by a Soviet fighter in which 269 people were killed, including the chairman of the John Birch Society, U.S. Representative Dr. Larry McDonald. Buckley wrote: “The only thing we know for absolute sure that has come out of this is that never again will a Korean airliner carelessly overfly Russian territory. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the point the Soviet Union sought to make. It has made it.”

4. Provide “conservative” cover for continued U.S. aid to the USSR during the Cold War, aid that prolonged the collapse of Soviet communism. As a result, “Faced with peril from a U.S.-fed Soviet monster following World War II, the American people were persuaded to accept increased taxation, burgeoning federal controls, foreign entanglements, and steady contravention of the Constitution,” writes McManus.

5. Provide “conservative” cover for the U.S. to remain in the U.N. “In the immediate aftermath of the UN General Assembly’s vote to expel Nationalist China (Taiwan) and admit Communist China, Buckley advised that ‘the United Nations has its uses, and the United States would be mistaken recklessly to withdraw from it.’ ” Instead, Buckley recommended that the U.S. refrain from casting votes in the U.N. General Assembly!

This book should be read by all Americans who value freedom, particularly those who have wondered, as I have, why ­ despite repeated turnover of Democrat and Republican administrations ­ no matter which political party wins, we continue our steady march toward less personal freedom, more government and more foreign entanglements ­ and thus more conflicts abroad.

Despite “partisanship,” why do we continue our steady descent toward socialism and world government, no matter who is holding the reins of power? The answer might be that since the presidency of Eisenhower every administration, Republican or Democrat, has been loaded with members of the internationalist Council of Foreign Relations.

Prior to his suspicious death in 1949, Secretary of Defense James Forrestal had stated, “Consistency has never been a mark of stupidity. If the diplomats who have mishandled our relations with Russia were merely stupid, they would occasionally make a mistake in our favor.”

In other words, all that continues to go wrong with our country cannot be the result of a series of “liberal blunders or gross stupidity,” as posited by Buckley, but perhaps to deliberate betrayals to change our American way of life, as asserted by McManus.

When the reader has perused this book, perhaps he too will get confirmation about evils he suspected and come to understand why politicians say one thing but act another way, and observations that defy conventional wisdom will suddenly come into sharp focus.

Herman Dinsmore, former editor of the international edition of The New York Times (1951-1960), praised Robert Welch’s controversial book, The Politician, about President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was because of this book that in 1963, McManus was seized by his final epiphany and joined the John Birch Society ­ an organization he would eventually lead.

Thus, I find it fitting to paraphrase Dinsmore in praise of McManus’ own book, only substituting what Dinsmore wrote about The Politician for McManus’ own magnum opus, William F. Buckley, Jr.: ­Pied Piper for the Establishment:

Reading William F. Buckley, Jr.:­ Pied Piper for the Establishment, which I have just done in anticipation of this Christmas holiday, was for me quite a revealing experience. It is hard for me, as a well-read, informed and vigilant American, to confess that so many things, which I thought were just happening, were actually being made to happen by sinister and deliberate forces. But in all honesty the confession must be made. William F. Buckley, Jr.: Pied Piper for the Establishment is a real eye-opener, which causes all kinds of mysterious pieces, of a puzzle that still bewildered me, to fall logically in place. I recommend the book emphatically to every concerned and patriotic American seeking to understand not only what is now taking place all around us, but also why. This book is the product of historical research of the first order. (2)

Get a copy and read this book!(3)


2. C-SPAN2 will broadcast a speech given by John McManus about this book on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002, at 4:00 p.m. EST.

1. In response to Buckley’s unsuccessful call for the destruction of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch, founder of the JBS, responded graciously among other things with a poem by Edwin Markham: “He drew a circle that shut me out ­/Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout./ But Love and I had the wit to win:/ We drew a circle that took him in!” Welch even contributed money to keep National Review afloat in the early years and promoted Buckley’s books.

3. McManus JF. William F. Buckley, Jr.: Pied Piper for the Establishment. The John Birch Society, P.O. Box 8040, Appleton, WI, 54912.

Reviewed by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D., is Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel () and author of “Vandals at the Gates of Medicine” (1995), “Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine” (1997) and “Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise” (2002). All three books are available from

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. William F. Buckley Jr. and the John Birch Society — A Book Review., December 13, 2002. Available from:–a-book-review/.

Copyright ©2002 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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