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Samuel Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis,
Middle American News columnist, author, and friend passed away February 15 at the age of 57.

In Memoriam
Samuel T. Francis

April 29, 1947 - February 15, 2005

By Jerry Woodruff
Editor, Middle American News

hile the death of a close friend tears a hole in a man's life, the death of a man like Sam Francis tears a hole in an entire movement. In both cases, it's a wound that won't heal easily or soon.

I first met Sam in 1979 at his desk at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a policy analyst on security and terrorism. I could never have dreamed that one day, after some 26 years of friendship, I would have the dreadful task to write an obituary for him in Middle American News - a paper whose founding was inspired, at least in part, by Sam's own writings on politics.

Sam had been influenced by sociologist Donald Warren's studies of Middle American Radicals - or "MARs," in Warren's coinage - who provided the constituency for the anti-establishment political insurgency of candidates like George Wallace, Ross Perot, and Patrick Buchanan, and who were the reservoir from which the "Reagan Democrats" emerged, giving the GOP its landslide presidential victories in 1980 and 1984.

In his introduction to Revolution From the Middle, Sam described the "long march of the MARs":

Middle American Radicals are essentially middle-income, white, often ethnic voters who see themselves as an exploited and dispossessed group, excluded from meaningful political participation, threatened by the tax and trade policies of the government, victimized by its tolerance of crime, immigration and social deviance, and ignored or ridiculed by the major cultural institutions of the media and education.

Sam came to regard the MARs as the representatives, if not in fact the vanguard, of the core population group providing America its essential history, culture, and identity. By integrating Warren's MARs analysis into the theory of elites as formulated by James Burnham, Vilfredo Pareto and others of the "Machiavellian" school of political thinkers, Sam created a potent new intellectual framework for understanding, and responding to, contemporary political events. (Sam's first book, Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham, is essential reading to understand the totality of Sam's political thinking.)

Armed with a Burnhamite analysis of elite behavior, Sam advocated that traditional conservatism must adopt a posture of political insurgency, rather than one of defense. In "Winning the Culture War," one of the more important essays in Revolution From the Middle, Sam explained that the dominant social and political elites in the U.S. today "not only do nothing to conserve what most of us regard as our traditional way of life, but actually seek its destruction, or are indifferent to its survival. If our culture is going to be conserved, we need to dethrone the dominant authorities that threaten it."

Through his understanding of elite behavior and his advocacy of the just interests of his own people and culture, Sam was able to reveal the political and historical meaning behind the surface of political events. That is one reason why his columns, essays and speeches enjoyed such immense popularity. He provided unique insights unavailable elsewhere, and gave the fight over race, immigration, and multiculturalism a political dimension others often missed. Sam did not argue the pros and cons about issues, preferring instead to show readers the real — usually anti-white — political and financial motivations behind the elites and interest groups manipulating those issues. He knew, for example, that the drive for "diversity" is simply the abstract rationalization used by America's corporate elites to cloak their appetite for cheap labor from non-Western countries.

Sam's knowledge and understanding of history and politics was encyclopedic. A voracious reader, Sam's intellectual curiosity was insatiable, and, as all his dinner partners know, he could discuss a vast array of subjects knowledgeably and comfortably. Those who knew him were impressed by an erudition Sam himself never flaunted. When he wrote or spoke, he did so not to impress, but to exchange information, to arrive at truth and understanding.

Although his enemies routinely denounced him with the usual cuss words, from "white supremacist" and "white racist" to "bigot," Sam was steadfast in the storm, even when the going got rough and his neoconservative enemies engineered his firing from the Washington Times.

He survived the blow, and found other means to distribute his column. He never betrayed his principles for a job, never apologized for telling the truth, and never for a moment congratulated himself for his virtues.

Sam was devotedly loyal to his friends, a quality some of them did not share. After Sam had been denounced in the press as "racist," the frightened editors of the formerly courageous New American of the John Birch Society quietly dropped Sam's name from the masthead where he had been listed as a contributor.

At the time of his death, he had begun work on a new book, very tentatively titled, "Conservatism and Race," which he described to friends as the first attempt to weld conservative political theory with an understanding of the role of race in the development of culture. It would have been an important and immensely valuable contribution to political theory; but, alas, it was not to be.

His passing leaves a terrible, black void, one that to his friends feels like an abyss. But we can take some solace knowing Sam lived his political life richly, as he wanted, fighting courageously for the cause and people he deeply believed in, no matter what the risks were to his otherwise promising career in mainstream conservatism.

In his office, Sam displayed a framed print of his favorite quotation from Nietzsche, which I had given him. It's from The Gay Science, section 283 of book four, which might provide a fitting epitaph. It reads, in part:

I welcome all signs that a more virile, warlike age is about to begin, which will restore honor to courage above all. For this age shall prepare the way for one yet higher, and it shall gather the strength that this higher age will require one day — the age that will carry heroism into the search for knowledge and that will wage wars for the sake of ideas and their consequences. To this end we now need many preparatory courageous human beings ... — human beings who know how to be silent, lonely, resolute, and content and constant in invisible activities; ... human beings distinguished as much by cheerfulness, patience, unpretentiousness, and contempt for all great vanities as by magnanimity in victory and forbearance regarding the small vanities of the vanquished; ... human beings ... accustomed to command with assurance but instantly ready to obey when that is called for — equally proud, equally serving their own cause in both cases, more endangered human beings, more fruitful human beings, happier beings! For believe me: the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is — to live dangerously!

For additional tributes from some of Sam's many friends see the
American Renaissance
website and the Chronicles Magazine site.