The Corner

Revolutionary Defeatism (more)

The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison has, with characteristic rigor, taken me to task for my comments on those who appear to be embracing the prospect of the political wilderness. Unfortunately he seems to overlook the fact (or I didn’t make it sufficiently clear) that what I was writing about was politics, nothing more, nothing less. There is, of course and thank heavens, much more to life than the political. In fact, that’s just one of the reasons that the prospect of an Obama presidency (all eight years of it, oh yes) is one not to relish. On the specifics of the Tories, Mr. Larison is not, if I remember correctly, quite right. Almost as much of the thinking (at places like the IEA and elsewhere) that was eventually espoused by Mrs.Thatcher (incrementally, cautiously and far more pragmatically than later myth suggests) evolved during periods of Tory government as during periods of Tory opposition, although it’s true that many of those who were doing that thinking had a somehat on-and-off relationship with the party. That thinking was, however, primarily practical. I was fortunate enough to meet one or two of the people involved in this process on a few occasions in the three or four years that preceded Mrs. Thatcher’s arrival in Downing Street in 1979. They were very, very focused on the business of shaping policy and winning elections. They were in the arena, and proudly so. Is that necessarily inconsistent with taking a longer view? The recent behavior of the GOP may suggest otherwise, but the answer to that is no.


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