National Review

12.07.12

From the Archives of Movement Conservatism

National Review has begun to email followers choice items from the magazine's venerable archives. They do make for interesting reading. Today, for example, the magazine sent an exchange from 1962: a debate between Otto von Habsburg and James Burnham about France's then-new president, Charles de Gaulle. Habsburg hailed the advent of the French Fifth Republic as good news; Burnham dismissed and lamented it. The exchange leaves you thinking: was ever so smart a man wrong about more things more often than James Burnham?

In the course of debate, Burnham manages to:

* Condone terrorism by French nationals in Algeria, the OAS

* Predict that De Gaulle's presidency would be brief and unstable

* Suggest that the imminent collapse of De Gaulle's Fifth Republic would leave the French communist party as the only remaining organized political force in the country

* Imply that only a military coup could save France from communism.

People interested in the byways of the history of the conservative movement will want to read the whole thing.

By contrast, Otto von Habsburg got the main points right. Nice work!