L. Brent Bozell’s Radical Traditionalism

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9780739169810_500X500One of the more interesting people within the American conservative movement of the mid-twentieth century is L. Brent Bozell, Jr.  In the 1950s, Bozell was an ally of William F. Buckley and co-authored McCarthy and His Enemies with Buckley, who was later his brother-in-law.

While Buckley is rarely mentioned, Bozell is virtually an unperson among conservative theorists nowadays. Much of this is due to the fact that Bozell had a falling out with Buckley, so Bozell was largely expunged from the mainstream histories of the movement.

Bozell’s primary sin was probably that he ended up opposing Buckley’s beloved Vietnam War, but at least as big a reason is the fact that Bozell led a radical movement of Catholic traditionalists during the 1960s and 70s who stood for everything Buckley hated. Bozell’s movement was radical, traditionalist, and not at home in a world that was essentially Buckley’s oyster. Buckley was largely at peace with the status quo in the United States, as was reflected in his affected detachment from invective (except when calling Gore Vidal a “queer”), while Bozell viewed the United States government as murderous and morally illegitimate.

Bozell’s estrangement from the mainstream conservatives has meant that it’s nearly impossible to find anything written on him or his movement. I have found exactly one substantial online analysis of Bozell, however, a 2008 doctoral dissertation by Mark Popowski titled Roman Catholic Crusading in Ten Years of Triumph, 1966-1976: A History of a Lay-Directed, Radical Catholic Journal. [pdf]

Popowski later turned this into a 2012 book, although I’m not sure how different the book is from the dissertation.

If you’re not familiar with the history of the conservative movement or with Catholic traditionalists or theology, much of this may seem like a foreign language to you, but for scholars who are interested in this topic, this is pretty much the only resource I have ever found.

6:43 pm on January 6, 2014