Thursday, 27 August 2015

Jonah Goldberg on why there's no such thing as "the wrong side of history"

Goldberg's right, of course - it's the characterisation of certain outcomes as inevitable in order to demoralise anyone opposed to them that really rankles. The only reason we have gay marriage in this country is that we were told it was somehow inevitable (it wasn't). Ditto mass immigration (remind me - who exactly voted for it?) And ditto, of course, the increasing power of the EU, an organisation whose leaders, when it comes to pushing ever-greater political and economic union, merrily conflate the concepts of desirability and inevitability, depending on which argument their opponents are employing at the time. The "wrong side of history" merchants have even moved into the field of science - climate hucksters are desperately trying to panic us into spending trillions to prevent the "inevitable" heat-death of our world that would result from inaction. Oppose us, the historicists (as Popper termed them) jeer, and you are both wicked and stupid - and who doesn't want to be smart and nice?

I managed to escape from the prison of historical necessity some years into the twin reigns of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Until them, the world seemed to be slouching towards a grey, centrally-controlled, collectivist, egalitarian future, with world domination shared between by two opposed superpowers locked in a joyless stasis known as détente. By 1989, the inevitablists' vision of the future had been shattered - only to be eventually replaced by a neocon version, in which free markets and democracy would conquer the globe - with a little help from Uncle Sam. I'll admit that I bought into it for a while. That vision lies in tatters following the failure of the US to quell the post-invasion Iraqi insurgency, the rise of a gangster oligarchy in Russia, the rapid spread of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, the election of cultural Marxist social democratic governments in Britain and the US, the increasing control exerted by the EU on its benighted member states, the government-caused economic crash of 2008, the failure of the "Arab Spring" etc. etc.

Nothing is inevitable - civilisation, as Keyenes put it in 1938, is indeed "a thin and precarious crust", and, as Ronald Reagan observed:
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

I think we on the political right need to resist both the idea that we're bound to win, (despite the fact that, when put into practice, our ideas work so damned well) - and the ennervating lie that the future belongs to the other side, their idiotic utopianism and and their teams of goofy, incompetent "experts". Benjamin Franklin got it right:  "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Well, as we can (in theory, at least) throw out governments who charge us too much tax,  death is the only truly certain thing: the rest is up to us.

I'll leave you with a quote that isn't particularly relevant to the rest of this post - but it's extraordinarily wise:

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