The Corner

Sigh: Gloom and Doom

Derb – I think there are strains within that pessimistic cri de coeur which are probably true or at least very real concerns. But in general, I think that’s a pile of — what is it you grey rainy Brits call it? — rubbish.

The windsocks pointing to statism — a better word for these purposes than socialism — blew far more robustly in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and, arguably, in the 1980s. Reagan, after all, was considered an ahistorical loon for his anti-statism. The 1990s — what I like to call the Reagan Dividend decade — was fairly encouraging but even then the “Third Way” blather was supposedly the hot new idea (it was not very new at all, by the way).

If people listened to the Derbyshires of those days — and there were many (I think Albert Jay Nock was the conservative movement’s Ur-Derbyshire in some respects) — the 20th century would have been vastly uglier than it was. And that’s saying something. Of course, we can’t win every battle and some trends aren’t amenable to argumentation at all; the free market stubbornly refuses to listen to scolds. But come on man, don’t go wobbly. Ideas have consequences and not arguing and fighting makes all of the trends you decry worse, not better. Such pessimism is not only misplaced it is selfish.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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