Politics & Policy

Conservatives Refuse to Repeat the Mistakes of History

Human nature being what it is, we never really learn the lessons of history. Instead, we are granted a series of temporary reprieves, during which our last mistakes are still apparent and their admonitions are still sore. And then, slowly but surely, we slip back into bad habits.

National Review exists to fight those habits, wherever they may be.

Tricky as it may be to acknowledge, the eternal verities care little for the zeitgeist. Fashions may change, and the shape of the mob may morph, but the truth does not. Markets, not governments, yield real and sustainable progress. Strength, not weakness, is the finest prophylactic against war. Laws, not benevolent men, serve as the guarantor of Liberty. There is nothing old-fashioned about civil society or local knowledge; no evolution that will render our Constitution moot; no technological replacement for a healthy and humble admiration of the divine. Each generation must learn these axioms anew, and if it does not, we will face decline and fall.

That is why National Review exists.

Properly understood, American conservatism is no enemy of advancement and change. On the contrary: Commerce, as Schumpeter put it, is the author of creative destruction; Socialism on the other hand, is a boon to the status quo. But there is change and then there is vandalism; there is the man who cycles his crops and then the man who torches his field; there are those who wish to revise, and then there are those who wish to burn all that came before them to the ground. G.K. Chesterton held that one should never tear down a fence before one understands why it is there. Ensuring we understand why our fences stand where they do is a tireless and never-ending job.

That is why National Review exists.

William F. Buckley Jr. famously promised to “stand athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so.” For six decades now, his magazine has picked up that slack.

But it has not done so alone. Year in, year out the generosity of our readers has kept us going. Without you, the “Stop” in Buckley’s speech bubble would by now have come crashing down to the ground. Without you, America would be a different – and a worse – place.

Now, once again, we need your help – not just to face down the relentless assault that conservatism faces from the Left, but to fight against the hijacking of the American conservative movement by Donald J. Trump, a late-arriving heir to the very Birchers whom National Review was instrumental in driving into exile all those years ago. 

We never really learn the lessons of history. But we can avoid the repetition of our mistakes. As long as we’re around to do so, that is . . . 


The Latest