William F. Buckley, Jr. And The Libertarians

Robert Poole, former Editor-in-Chief at Reason comments on the passing of William F. Buckley and his role in what eventually became the American libertarian movement:

By creating National Review in 1955 as a serious, intellectually respectable conservative voice (challenging the New Deal consensus among thinking people), Buckley created space for the development of our movement. He kicked out the racists and conspiracy-mongers from conservatism and embraced Chicago and Austrian economists, introducing a new generation to Hayek, Mises, and Friedman. And thanks to the efforts of NR’s Frank Meyer to promote a “fusion” between economic (free-market) conservatives and social conservatives, Buckley and National Review fostered the growth of a large enough conservative movement to nominate Goldwater for president and ultimately to elect Ronald Reagan.


Some commentators dubbed Buckley a “libertarian conservative,” and in the broadest sense, I guess that was true. Though he seldom let National Review deviate from his own Catholic social issues positions (especially on banning abortion), Buckley courageously took a stance against drug prohibition, making common cause on that issue with Friedman and other libertarians. And that enlightened view seemed to survive Buckley’s retirement as the magazine’s editor in chief (as one hopes it will survive his demise).

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.

  • oilnwater

    when he was alive, i never looked at him as any sort of great man whatsoever. courage? he sailed his fucking yacht out to sea and smoked pot. who owes this man homage?

  • Benjamin Kuipers

    Buckley, in the numerous speeches I attended at Hillsdale, projected a wonderfully statist view of what our government should consist of… remember, it was he who advocated Republicans embrace the Bismarkian model of the administrative state decades ago… When at the foundation for economic education I saw a marvelous punch bowl with his, Hayek’s, Mises’, Rothbard’s, Meyer’s, Read’s and many other names inscribed on it, I wondered what truly went astray in such a powerful intellect to convert him into a later-apologist for leviathan.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    I never believed in reincarnation before, but I do believe Benjamin Rand has made me a true believer.