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Know the West

The "real' right isn't wacky

  Dear HCN,

I am writing in response to the excellent essay by Ken Toole on the far right (HCN, 12/8/97). I have only one problem with his article: Except in the title, he almost always refers to extremists and militias and white supremacists as "the right." This might give readers the false impression that the entire political "right" holds their wacky beliefs. These fringe groups are in no way part of the responsible right, which goes by the name of conservatism, nor are their ideas at all closely related to the political philosophy of conservatism, which developed from two schools of thought which go back to Adam Smith (the libertarians) and Edmund Burke (the traditionalists).

The principles of that political philosophy clearly support conservation and environmental protection - something which our politicians who claim to be "conservatives' too often don't know, never having read a word of political philosophy in their lives, or which they forget whenever convenient for their campaign contributors.

Nor does the wacky right recognize the implications of some of the slogans they spout mindlessly. To take just one example from Toole's essay: The far right says it favors the free market. But that's pretty doubtful, especially coming from Westerners, because it would mean giving up subsidies - so logging would cease on all but a few national forests and many ranches would quickly go bankrupt. And a true free market would mean absolutely no "negative externalities," i.e., pollution would be prohibited, unless the polluter negotiated with and compensated all victims in advance. Goodbye to a large part of the mining industry.

Enclosed is my explanation of conservative principles as they relate to environmental protection. It appeared in a newsletter published by Republicans for Environmental Protection and shows that the wacky right is not "conservative."

John R.E. Bliese

Lubbock, Texas

The writer is a professor of communications studies at Texas Tech University. For a copy of his essay, "Conservative Principles and the Environment," published in the fall 1997 issue of The Green Elephant, write to: Republicans for Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 7073, Deerfield, IL 60015 (847/940-0320).