The Corner

Doomed, Doomed

Jonah, Andrew:

You’re both spitting into the wind. Conservatism is a dead letter, as I pointed out five years ago on this site.

There aren’t going to be any more Coolidges or Reagans. It’s over. Fuggedaboutit.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher came to power not because people were fed up with socialism. People — practically everybody, practically everywhere — LIKE socialism. In Britain, people were fed up with the overweening power of labor unions, which were the vehicle for socialism in that age. The wheels of that particular vehicle were coming off, that was all. In the USA, the humiliations of Iran and Afghanistan, obvious mismanagement of the economy (though not a particularly too-much-socialism kind of mismanagement), and the unattractive personality of Jimmy Carter got the Presidency for Reagan. Not by much, though: in the 1980 election, Reagan only got a tad over 50 percent of the popular vote. (In 1984 it was

58.8 percent.) Thatcher I believe never made 50 percent.

All the windsocks are now pointing in the direction of more socialism. As the population ages, Americans will want more leisure, drugs, health care, nursing homes, security. As the Jihadist threat continues to metastasize (from the MidEast to Indonesia, Thailand, Africa, the Caucasus, Europe), we shall want the state to have more police powers, more scrutiny of us and our lives. The trend of the last 40 years away from the old Anglo-Saxon rights and liberties — private property rights (google “tobacco settlement,”

“Kelo,” etc.), freedom of speech, contract and assembly (“speech codes,”

anti-discrimination laws, etc.), limited government (is Washington DC shrinking? looking poorer and shabbier? not that I’ve noticed) — will accelerate. And everybody will be fine with all this, because that’s what everybody wants, except for a few freakish intellectuals like ourselves.

It’s fun to kick this stuff around on The Corner, in Reason, in National Review, and elsewhere. Nobody’s listening, though, and none of it’s going to happen. All the other things, all the opposite things, are going to happen. There’s no new age of freedom coming — our freedoms diminish daily, and nobody much minds. There’s no fiscal responsibility on the horizon — nobody really wants it, so long as the trough can be kept full of swill. Socialism is gathering strength for a great comeback, with the winds of demographic collapse, nuclear proliferation, and smug prosperity filling its sails, and with new technologies of information management and biological manipulation to help steer the course.

It’s over, conservatives. Go home. Take a cab.

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