Reading Pat Buchanan’s writings on globalization, with his powerful descriptions of collapsed industrial towns in the Midwest and elsewhere, caused me to completely reevaluate my political philosophy. I used to be a typical GOP conservative. I believed in the power of the market to self-regulate and produce a kind of Leibnizian “best of all possible worlds.” I was also a social conservative, as I still am today. Eventually, this combination could not hold. The reality of global capitalism, with its rootlessness, its utilitarianism, its disregard for families and communities torn asunder by capital’s endless search for great and greater profits, started to become clear.
My own experience as a member of the College Republicans reinforced my misgivings. The leadership of my school’s GOP group was comprised mainly of the sons and daughters of upper-middle class professionals from the Chicago suburbs. They cared little about the social or cultural issues that were important to me, but they were very keen on anti-unionism. Having grown up around police officers, firefighters, municipal employees, tradesmen, and other unionized workers I knew that many of the stereotypes of greedy, lazy, and incompetent union workers were untrue.
Soon, the scales fell from my eyes, and I was able to comprehend the true nature of capitalism as an essentially anti-conservative force. Reading the works of the great French counter-enlightenment authors, such as Joseph de Maistre and the Vicomte de Bonald, revealed a different kind of conservatism, one that did not submit to capitalism but instead critiqued it on the very grounds of preserving Christian civilization. Eventually, I discovered figures such as Giorgio La Pira and Jakob Kaiser who were able to formulate a more modern form of Social Christian thought. But it all started with Pat Buchanan.