Still, SJ cannot help but remark the fact that it is appropriate that the founding gadfly of modern conservatism excelled as a debater and a bon vivant, not as someone who thought. The late Norman Mailer pins the butterfly to the wheel here ; it would have been perhaps unseemly to quote Gore Vidal, who spared enough time for this fellow in his day. It is time to admit that modern conservatism is a sophism, more guerilla war than proper campaign, and not interesting as thinking. The greatest work of modern conservatism, Oakeshott's Indeed, one possible aspect of interest, itstactics and strategy of the movement were thought through by Gramsci in his Notebooks. Like most religiously inflected thinking, modern conservatism reasons with a conclusion in mind, and indeed when it reaches an aporia, the conclusion is invoked to end debate. The movement's wispiness will be revealed or rather will dissipate into mists of time, only occasionally held up like the Aztec sacrifice as an example of barbarism of a previous age.
(1) Close, but no cigar. Plimpton had no ideology and didn't need one because he simply identified the best that was being thought and said in his time. Without ideology--better understood in the US as a marketing plan--there would be no National Review. We do praise WFB for giving space and time for writers better than he, and it does appear that he helped trim away some of the more benighted atavisms indulged in by modern conservatives--the same atavisms that the jackboots of the Reich indulged in--but there is barely a shred of intellectual integrity around his legacy. A fun life, for sure, but one that was wasted on triviality. SJ may peruse a book or two about yachting, but we feel that is the extent of what WFB has to teach us.