right of which I speak, and of which I am one of the few survivors,
stretched from 1933 to its approximate death, or fading away,
upon the advent of National Review in 1955. The Old Right
began in 1933 in response to the coming of the New Deal. It
was "reactionary" in the best and most generous sense:
it was a horrified reaction against the Roosevelt Revolution,
against the Great Leap Forward toward collectivism that enraptured
socialist intellectuals and enraged those who were devoted to
the institutions and the strict limitations on centralized government
power that marked the Old Republic...
original, Right realized the horrors of the New Deal and predicted
the collectivist road on which it was setting the nation. The
Old Right was a coalition of ideologies and forces that did
not have one single, common, positive program, but "negatively"
it was solidly united: all opposed the New Deal and were committed
to its total repeal and abolition lock, stock, and barrel.
The fact that its unity was "negative" did not make
it any less strong or cohesive: for there was total agreement
on rolling back this collective excrescence and on restoring
the Old Republic, the true America...
Right experienced one big sea change. Originally, its focus
was purely domestic, since that was the concentration of the
early New Deal. But as the Roosevelt administration moved toward
world war in the late 1930s, the Old Right added intense opposition
to the New Deal's war policies to its systemic opposition to
the domestic New Deal revolution. For they realized that, as
the libertarian Randolph Bourne had put it in opposing America's
entry into World War I, "War is the health of the State"
and that entry into large-scale war, especially for global and
not national concerns, would plunge America into a permanent
garrison state that would wreck American liberty and constitutional
limits at home even as it extended the American imperium abroad.
As anti-foreign interventionism was added to the anti-New Deal
mix, the Old Right lost some adherents and gained even more.
For Eastern Establishment anti-New Dealers, such as Lewis Douglas,
William L. Clayton, Dean Acheson, and the Morgan Bank, embraced
the entire New Deal package once it came wrapped in the enticing
trappings of American Empire. On the other hand, antiwar progressives,
originally New Dealers, men such as Senators William Borah and
Gerald Nye, intellectuals and writers such as John T. Flynn
and Harry Elmer Barnes, began to realize that there was something
very wrong with a strong state that could expand into foreign
adventures, and so they gradually became anti-New Dealers in
every sense of the word.
II added foreign policy to the mix, so that by the end of the
war, the Old Right was opposed to big government on every front,
foreign and domestic. All parts of the right were opposed to
global crusading, to what Clare Booth Luce wittily labeled "globaloney."
They were opposed to what the former New Deal historian-turned-noninterventionist
Charles A. Beard labeled the foreign policy of "perpetual
war for perpetual peace."