William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F.
Buckley, Jr.

American Intellectual, Interviewer, Author

Author Quotes

If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign,

Modern formulations are necessary even in defense of very ancient truths. Not because of any alleged anachronism in the old ideas ? the Beatitudes remain the essential statements of the Western code ? but because the idiom of life is always changing

Pentagon ought to win the Nobel Peace Prize every year, because the U.S. military is the world?s foremost guarantor of peace

The duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world, and the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.

There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable.

Along comes AIDS, School A continues, and even though it is well known that the virus can be communicated by infected needles, known also that heterosexuals can transmit the virus, still it is both a fact and the popular perception that AIDS is the special curse of the homosexual, transmitted through anal sex between males. And if you look hard, you will discern that little smirk on the face of the man oh-so-concerned about public health. He is looking for ways to safeguard the public, sure, but he is by no means reluctant, in the course of doing so, to sound an invidious tocsin whose clamor is a call to undo all the understanding so painfully cultivated over a generation by those who have fought for the privacy of their bedroom. What School B is really complaining about is the extension of civil rights to homosexuals. School A will not say all that in words quite so jut-jawed, but it plainly feels that no laws or regulations should be passed that have the effect of identifying the AIDS carrier. It isn't, School A concedes, as if AIDS were transmitted via public drinking fountains. But any attempt to segregate the AIDS carrier is primarily an act of moral ostracism.

Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm, to protect common needle users, and on the buttock, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.

I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven't just been sitting on my ass all afternoon.

I'm attached to the conviction that sometimes the word that you want has an in-built rhythm that's useful. And there are some words that are onomatopoeic, and when they are, they too can be very useful.

More people die every year as a result of the war against drugs than die from what we call, generically, overdosing. These fatalities include, perhaps most prominently, drug merchants who compete for commercial territory, but include also people who are robbed and killed by those desperate for money to buy the drug to which they have become addicted. This is perhaps the moment to note that the pharmaceutical cost of cocaine and heroin is approximately 2 per cent of the street price of those drugs. Since a cocaine addict can spend as much as $1,000 per week to sustain his habit, he would need to come up with that $1,000. The approximate fencing cost of stolen goods is 80 per cent, so that to come up with $1,000 can require stealing $5,000 worth of jewels, cars, whatever. We can see that at free-market rates, $20 per week would provide the addict with the cocaine which, in this wartime drug situation, requires of him $1,000.

Professor Greene's reaction to GAMAY, as published in the Yale Daily News, fairly took one's breath away. He fondled the word fascist as though he had come up with a Dead Sea Scroll vouchsafing the key word to the understanding of God and Man at Yale. In a few sentences he used the term thrice. Mr. Buckley has done Yale a great service (how I would tire of this pedestrian rhetorical device), and he may well do the cause of liberal education in America an even greater service, by stating the fascist alternative to liberalism. This fascist thesis . . . This . . . pure fascism . . . What more could Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin ask for . . . ? (They asked for, and got, a great deal more.) What survives, from such stuff as this, is ne-plus-ultra relativism, idiot nihlism. What is required, Professor Greene spoke, is more, not less tolerance--not the tolerance of indifference, but the tolerance of honest respect for divergent convictions and the determination of all that such divergent opinions be heard without administrative censorship. I try my best in the classroom to expound and defend my faith, when it is relevant, as honestly and persuasively as I can. But I can do so only because many of my colleagues are expounding and defending their contrasting faiths, or skepticisms, as openly and honestly as I am mine. A professor of philosophy! Question: What is the 1) ethical, 2) philosophical, or 3) epistemological argument for requiring continued tolerance of ideas whose discrediting it is the purpose of education to effect? What ethical code (in the Bible? in Plato? Kant? Hume?) requires honest respect for any divergent conviction?

The individualist insists that drastic depressions are the result of credit inflation; (not excessive savings, as the Keynesians would have it) which at all times in history has been caused by direct government action or by government influence. As for aggravated unemployment, the individualist insists that it is exclusively the result of government intervention through inflation, wage rigidities, burdensome taxes, and restrictions on trade and production such as price controls and tariffs. The inflation that comes inevitably with government pump-priming soon catches up with the laborer, wipes away any real increase in his wages, discourages private investment, and sets off a new deflationary spiral which can in turn only be counteracted by more coercive and paternalistic government policies. And so it is that the long run is very soon a-coming, and the harmful effects of government intervention are far more durable than those that are sustained by encouraging the unhampered free market to work out its own destiny.

They [progressives] are men and women who tend to believe that the human being is perfectible and social progress predictable, and that the instrument for effecting the two is reason; that truths are transitory and empirically determined; that equality is desirable and attainable through the action of state power; that social and individual differences, if they are not rational, are objectionable, and should be scientifically eliminated; that all people and societies strive to organize themselves upon a rationalist and scientific paradigm.

As a businessman, Frank Lorenzo gives capitalism a bad name.

Everything I do and say and the way I do and say it annoys me.

I guess I was seven when I first heard the maxim that only people with a small vocabulary use "dirty" words. I am forty-seven and have just received a communication from a reader delivering that maxim as though he had invented it. The trouble with the clich‚ is (a) it isn't true; (b) it doesn't take into account the need to use the resources of language; and (c) the kind of people who use it are almost always engaged in irredentist ventures calculated to make "dirty" words and expressions that no longer are, and even some that were. . . I had reason to reach, a while back, for a word to comment upon a line of argument I considered insufferably sanctimonious. "Crap," I wrote: and the irredentist hordes descended upon me in all their fury. I have replied to them that the word in question is defined in a current dictionary in several ways. That among these are meaning 2: "nonsense, drivel: Man, don't hand me that crap. 3. a lie; an exaggeration: Bah, you don't believe that crap, do you? Notwithstanding that the word has these clearly nonscatalogical uses, there is an Anglo-Saxon earthiness to it which performs for the writer a function altogether different from such a retort as, say, "Flapdoodle.

Industry is the enemy of melancholy.

Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq. If he'd invented the Bill of Rights, it wouldn't get him out of his jam.

Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality have never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity.

The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence (rather than "newness") and of honest intellectual combat (rather than conformity).

They are men and women who tend to believe that the human being is perfectible and social progress predictable, and that the instrument for effecting the two is reason; that truths are transitory and empirically determined; that equality is desirable and attainable through the action of state power; that social and individual differences, if they are not rational, are objectionable, and should be scientifically eliminated; that all people and societies strive to organize themselves upon a rationalist and scientific paradigm.

Back in the thirties we were told we must collectivize the nation because the people were so poor. Now we are told we must collectivize the nation because the people are so rich.

For people who like that sort of thing, that's the sort of thing they like.

I had much more fun criticizing than praising.

Is it then proposed by School B that AIDS carriers should be publicly identified as such? The evidence is not completely in as to the communicability of the disease. But while much has been said that is reassuring, the moment has not yet come when men and women of science are unanimously agreed that AIDS cannot be casually communicated. Let us be patient on that score, pending any tilt in the evidence: If the news is progressively reassuring, public identification would not be necessary. If it turns in the other direction and AIDS develops among, say, children who have merely roughhoused with other children who suffer from AIDS, then more drastic segregation measures would be called for. But if the time has not come, and may never come, for public identification, what then of private identification? Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals. You have got to be kidding! That's exactly what we suspected all along! You are calling for the return of the Scarlet Letter, but only for homosexuals! Answer: The Scarlet Letter was designed to stimulate public obloquy. The AIDS tattoo is designed for private protection. And the whole point of this is that we are not talking about a kidding matter. Our society is generally threatened, and in order to fight AIDS, we need the civil equivalent of universal military training.

Author Picture
First Name
William F.
Last Name
Buckley, Jr.
Birth Date

American Intellectual, Interviewer, Author