[Marxism] Socialism, Then and Now » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 26 09:34:36 MST 2013

When William F. Buckley, Jr. Debated the Marxists
Socialism, Then and Now

Not long ago I watched an online video segment from conservative writer 
William F. Buckley, Jr.’s old TV public affairs program, Firing Line. 
The year was 1968 and Buckley’s guests were two socialists, Fred 
Halstead and Paul Boutelle, who were then running as the Socialist 
Workers Party (SWP) candidates for President and Vice President of the 
United States.

They were the minor-party candidates, while Buckley was the well-known 
founder of the conservative magazine, National Review. Son of a wealthy 
oil man, Buckley liked to cultivate an image as one of conservatism’s 
more erudite minds, the “civilized” intellectual who enjoyed sailing and 
Bach and clever raillery in pursuit of “the truth.” Of course, Buckley 
wasn’t all that civilized. His political track record included defending 
both white supremacy in the south and Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt 
against communists in the 1950s. He was also a defender of that orgy of 
violence known as the U.S. government’s war in Vietnam.

His socialist guests were cut from a different cloth. In fact, Halstead, 
a garment cutter by trade, was a prominent figure in the American peace 
movement (He would later write an impressive history of the anti-Vietnam 
War movement.) Boutelle (now known as Kwame Somburu) was an articulate 
young civil rights activist who had been involved in the Freedom Now Party.

The show’s viewers may not have known this, but Buckley was certainly 
already familiar with the SWP. One of his colleagues at National Review 
was James Burnham, a philosophy professor, founding member of the SWP in 
1938, and later author of a 1940s best seller, The Managerial 
Revolution. On the eve of World War II, Burnham had a change of heart 
about socialism, beginning a political turn that by the 1950s would lead 
to his transformation into a right-wing Cold Warrior and supporter of 

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/26/socialism-then-and-now/

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