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But behind the scattershot ranting there is a serious, even moral point being made. Namely that capitalism as it’s currently practiced is not the capitalism he signed up for. “All these toys are invented simply to enrich the companies that make them,” he complains. “Why should the manufacturers benefit while they pollute the water? When people say, ‘Let the government off our back,’ I say, ‘No, let them off our back as far as opening a small business is concerned.’ But the government should protect people from these excesses. They don‘t do that. The lobbies are too strong. How are you going to go up against the SUV lobby in Detroit? The politicians need the money, so it’s a joke.”
Seated in his luxuriously furnished living room, Taki rails against the multinationals and globalism as fiercely as any Seattle protester, even if he wouldn‘t be caught dead at an actual protest. “The American worker has not enriched himself at all,” he fumes. “He makes less money now than he did 20 years ago. Some guy takes 600 million -- Koslowsky and Welch -- I mean, that’s not capitalism. That‘s the kind of capitalism that Russia has today. Sixty people grabbed all the money. What is this bullshit?”
Though they had met several times over the years, it wasn’t until 1997, when Buchanan traveled to London to attend a funeral service for the anti-globalist tycoon Sir James Goldsmith, that Taki and Buchanan first sat down for an extended chat. Some time later they met again in New York, this time with TAC‘s executive editor, Scott McConnell, and began to discuss putting out a magazine together. So far, Buchanan says he’s very pleased by how it‘s gone, and believes that he and Taki are fundamentally in agreement on the issues. “He’s a very entertaining fellow, a likable fellow, and like me a bit out of the mainstream,” he says.
In some quarters, there is a suspicion that what really unites Buchanan and Taki is a shared hostility to Israel that verges on anti-Semitism. Though he is skeptical of the anti-semitism charge, Benjamin Schwarz, an editor at the Atlantic Monthly, does note the oddity of a nativist like Buchanan casting his lot with someone many people would dismiss as Eurotrash. (Taki did, in fact, write a column called “Eurotrash” for the East Side Express in the 1980s.) “I don‘t know if Buchanan’s an anti-Semite. All I know is that his positions don‘t make him one ipso facto,” says Schwarz. “I think his position on Israel is an intellectually rigorous one, it’s completely defensible, and from what I know of Taki‘s position, one could say the same thing.”
But how does Buchanan answer the charge? I put it to him that the only link most people see between him and Taki is that both men have a strong anti-Israel bent.
“We’re on the same wavelength, I think, on the hegemony of the neoconservatives,” Buchanan replies gravely, knowing perfectly well what I‘m getting at. “We don’t think they represent true conservatism. We clearly do not believe the sun rises and sets on the head of Ariel Sharon. As I have written, I really think the Israeli lobby simply exercises too much power and leverage and control of U.S. foreign policy. I want an independent America-first foreign policy. Our magazine is going to be economic nationalist, America-first, strong on American sovereignty and economic independence. So we do have a real overlap, and I think we have in common folks whom we do not like -- to express it as simply as I can!”
There are people in public life who wear perpetual P smiles on television, but when you meet them in private they‘re scowling. Buchanan is the opposite. Pugnacious on the box, in person he seems almost shy, and his dark eyes peer out at you with genial curiosity. Thanks to his controversial views on abortion, homosexuality, immigration, Israel and other topics, he is one of the most reviled figures in American politics, but he is very popular among his peers. His last book, The Death of the West, argued that low birth rates, high immigration, loss of religious faith and the cult of pleasure spell doom for people of European descent, both here and in Europe itself. The book received dismissive notices all across the political spectrum, from The Nation to National Review, but sales were strong.
“I think Europeans are going to face a choice,” Buchanan says. “They are dying off, and they’re going to have to cut the welfare state or bring in more immigrants. I feel like a country doctor, and I come in and tell somebody, ‘You look healthy, but my chart shows that you have pancreatic cancer and you’ve got about 18 months to live. I‘m not as trained as the fellows up in Minnesota, and you’ve definitely got to get a second and third opinion, but I‘m telling you what all the data says to me from my experience. Now you can take it or leave it, but this is what I believe.’ And that‘s what I believe.”