Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley and Discourse (JM)

My knowledge of the history of William F. Buckley pales in comparison to some of the amazing obituaries that are available. I highly recommend you seek them out. However, it has given me the opportunity to revisit the show Firing Line. We have nothing like this on television today, and never may again. Take the opportunity to view the two imbedded Youtube videos of Buckley and Noam Chomsky debating the ethical nature of interventionism and imperialism. It is simply a level of outstanding we may never see again. I may not agree with his politics, but he is perhaps the greatest debater I have ever had the pleasure of seeing:

EDIT: I will just point out that I say this, despite the fact that Chomsky clearly wins this particular debate.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I think the most interesting part of this clip has to do more with style than substance. It seems Buckley's legacy is not only that he offered up an intellectual justification for modern conservatism, but that he promoted his views with a smug assertiveness that inspired his adherents on college campuses and in political circles to stick to their guns. And in the clip, his delivery is admittedly impressive and effective.

However, substantively, I think Buckley's argument here is borderline incoherent. Though I don't agree with either debater - the truth seems to be somewhere in between - Chomsky clearly gets the better of his host, who must resort to debate tricks in his attempts to trip up the arguments of one who clearly has a better command of the facts.