Book Write-Up: Suicide of a Superpower, State of Emergency, Day of Reckoning (Patrick J. Buchanan)

Patrick J. Buchanan. Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive Until 2025? Dunne, 2011.

—. State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America. Dunne, 2006.

—. Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart. Dunne, 2007.

Some items, as they come to mind:

A. At the end of State, Buchanan offers policy proposals about what the U.S. can do about immigration, both legal and especially illegal. Essentially, he states that the U.S. should cut off public services to illegal immigrants, then they just won’t come. He makes one exception, however: for emergency services. Presumably, if an illegal immigrant comes to an emergency room with a genuine emergency, he will be treated, even under Buchanan’s system.

B. Buchanan criticizes the idea that the U.S. is bound together by an idea (i.e., representative democracy) rather than racial and ethnic brotherhood. For Buchanan, racial and ethnic brotherhood was important to the Founding Fathers, which was why they preferred European immigration (if even that) and distinguished between Americans and the Native Americans. Yet, there are some wrinkles in Buchanan’s view. For one, Buchanan supports allowing immigrants into the country, on a limited scale, so long as they assimilate; he does not like a massive influx of immigrants coming from Latin America with ingrained animus against the United States and its native inhabitants. Second, Buchanan notes that there was a point at which the early Americans ceased to be Europeans and became Americans. Something in addition to race—-culture, history, ideology, identity, and location—-was creating this new people. Third, Buchanan has to deal with the fact that African-Americans, who have a different race from that of the Founding Fathers, are an integral part of this country, due to their prominent role in the nation’s history.

C. Related to (B.), Buchanan denies that diversity and equality are a part of America’s heritage. The Founding Fathers were committed to neither. Yet, like Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Buchanan agrees that all Americans, of all races, are equal in that they possess the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People are not equal, however, in aptitude, and the government should not be legislating or mandating equality of results, as far as Buchanan is concerned.

D. The Declaration of Independence affirms that people are endowed by their Creator with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Since the Creator endows these rights, should they not apply to all people, not just Americans? Yet, Buchanan is critical of U.S. attempts under George W. Bush to make other countries into representative democracies. He effectively picks apart Bush’s speeches. If everyone hungers for American-style freedom, why do so many lack it, and why have so many lacked it throughout history? Is democracy really necessary for the U.S. to be at peace with other nations, since America was at peace with Communist dictators for decades? Plus, there is the question of feasibility: America lacks the resources to make every country into a democracy. Yet, as far as I can recall, Buchanan fails to address the neoconservative argument that all people have God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and thus should have democracies on that basis.

E. Buchanan, as was noted in (C.), denies that the government has a responsibility to legislate or enforce equality of results. For Buchanan, the talented should be allowed to rise and that’s it. And those who do not want to learn in school should be allowed to leave. Buchanan observes that attempts to legislate equality of results, such as increased education spending on Washington, D.C., have failed dismally. On the other hand, though, Buchanan acknowledges that there are systemic problems. Corporate greed and government policies, particularly “free trade,” undermine the prosperity and economic well-being of Americans. Moreover, as Buchanan observes, the talented are not necessarily the ones who rise, for those who make millions do so because they can manipulate the financial system, not always because they create anything valuable.

F. Buchanan laments the decline of Christianity among white Americans, for Christianity has historically bound Americans together. But are not the Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. devout? Don’t they count? Here, Buchanan is pessimistic. He observes that Christianity has declined among second generation Hispanics in the U.S., who have absorbed America’s moral pollution. Apparently, for Buchanan, they are assimilating in a bad way!

G. I have been reading, off and on, some old editions of the Phyllis Schlafly Report. Schlafly disputes the idea that Americans were unfair or oppressive towards the Mexicans in the 1800’s. Buchanan does not go that far. He does dispute the Mexican narrative in some areas, as when he denies that the Mexicans have a right to southern California. Buchanan, citing a scholar, states that southern California was sparsely populated and underdeveloped before the Americans possessed it. But Buchanan does not thoroughly whitewash American history. He acknowledges historic American injustice and atrocities against non-whites. That is one reason he opposes massive Mexican immigration: Mexicans have a grievance against America, and they are open about their desire for payback! As far as U.S. history is concerned, Buchanan sees nuances: Mexicans invited Americans to settle in Texas, and the U.S. offered Mexicans millions for its territory but fought Mexico for it when the U.S. refused Mexico’s offer. What Buchanan does with America’s historic injustices is unclear. Does he deem them insignificant in comparison with the good that America has done? Does he believe that the injustices were worth it because they allowed America to build a unique civilization?

H. Buchanan devotes a lot of space to the issue of tribalism. What he thinks about that tribalism is unclear. On the one hand, he seems to be for allowing countries to do their own thing. On the other hand, he observes that Western colonialism elevated Third World nations in humanitarian and economic areas.

I. Buchanan acknowledges that there are severe economic and political problems in Mexico, which pushes Mexicans to come to the U.S. He does not discuss in depth what should be done about Mexico’s problems. He says at one point, though, that, if Mexicans stayed in their own country rather than coming to the U.S., perhaps they can organize to change their country’s condition for the better.

J. Donald Trump in 2016 said that there were some good people among the illegal immigrants from Mexico, but most were bringing crime, drugs, and rape. Mexico was sending their worst, he said. Buchanan states that most Mexican immigrants are good, hardworking people. Yet, like Trump, he argues that they bring problems: crime, low wages, and dependence on government services.

K. Buchanan believes that the American presence throughout the world should be reduced but not eliminated. He states at one point that American vessels overseas can safeguard peace and American interest against America’s competitors.

L. In Suicide, Buchanan discusses how America is divided on political, cultural, and religious issues. What he thinks should be done in response to that is unclear. Does he believe that religious conservatives should attempt to impose their values, via government, on the other half of American society? Does he believe they should try to persuade the other side, despite the societal pressures (i.e., the Internet, multiple media options) that separate them from one another? Is he for them separating themselves from one another and governing themselves as they see fit, with “conservative” and “liberal” regions?

M. Buchanan in Suicide not only talks about the decline of whites in America and Europe. He also discusses the decline of Russian birthrates in Russia and Jewish birthrates in Israel. While white nationalists would agree with a lot of what Buchanan says, how they would interact with his argument about the decline in Jewish birthrates would be interesting. White nationalists argue that Jewish elites have promoted and perpetuated the decline of the white race in order to gain power, but what if their birthrates are declining, too?

N. Buchanan laments the demise of the white race in Suicide. White birthrates are falling, white Americans are being displaced by foreigners, and elites treat whiteness as inherently bad. Buchanan is not explicit about why the white race should be preserved. David Duke in My Awakening is quite explicit: Duke argues that whites have a higher IQ and the intellectual heft to preserve society and come up with scientific innovations; that whites have contributed significantly to culture, science, and civilization; and that seeking to preserve the white race is as noble as environmentalists seeking to preserve nature. Buchanan comes close to some of that, but never that explicitly. Buchanan talks about IQ differences among the races, but his point there seems to be that seeking to legislate equality of results is futile. Buchanan does have nostalgia, though, for the America of his youth and believes that the West has contributed positively to civilization, and he is sad that this is unraveling.

O. On pages 60-61 of Suicide, Buchanan talks about Hitler’s views on history and Christianity. Hitler, according to a scholar Buchanan quotes (Eugene G. Winchy), wished that the Muslims had triumphed in eighth century Europe. The Germans then would have acquired a more warlike creed than Christianity offered and would have come to rule the Muslim empire. Albert Speer related that Hitler admired the Japanese religion, which stressed sacrifice for the country, and thought that even Islam would have been more compatible with Germany than the meek-and-mild Christianity. This is noteworthy in that it depicts Hitler appreciating other cultures.

P. Buchanan observes that the 9-11 hijackers were wealthy. In Where the Right Went Wrong, however, he states that the Islamic world hates the U.S. because it sides with oppressors who keep the people down in poverty. Buchanan in Suicide also equates Islamic terrorists with other disenfranchised peoples, who resort to terrorism out of desperate conditions.

The books have some redundancies with each other, but, overall, each book stands on its own. State has numerous details that are absent from Suicide. And, although there are tensions within the books, which I have highlighted above, they are well-written. Buchanan speaks with passion and eloquence, appealing to historical and philosophical details without getting lost in them. These three books are better than other Buchanan books that I have read.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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