Recent reminders that things that aren’t well founded don’t last no matter how settled they seem:
- It’s easy to forget how extraordinarily out of favor non-socialist ideas were when Hayek published The Road to Serfdom in 1944. Only 2,000 copies were published in England, and he had real trouble getting it published at all in the United States. He gave lectures in Europe and the U.S. and everywhere people would sidle up and say “I agree with every word, but I’m the only one and there’s no one I can talk to about these things.” After 45 years and millions more corpses communism collapsed, because it was a stupid and evil idea that couldn’t be made to work. Why shouldn’t the same thing happen to cultural Leftism? And would communism have collapsed faster if there had been talk radio and the Internet in 1944?
- The doctrine that there are no significant human differences administrators can’t manage out of existence, and that it’s wicked to suggest otherwise, is extremely durable. Managerial liberalism depends on it: if it were false then unmanaged society might not seem so unjust or comprehensive intervention to abolish the injustices so necessary. Still, one wonders whether a side-effect of globalization will be greater difficulty sweeping differences under the rug. There must be some significance to the fact that no more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire past millennium, and that the spread of free markets and technology confirms the close connection between IQ and economic potential. Will hate speech laws, sensitivity training, and happy talk about diversity really be enough to overcome such things?
- To an extent neo-conservatism has been an alliance between modernizing Jews loyal to their people and modernizing Catholics loyal to their Church. The two groups shared an interest in reconstructing America as a sort of universal nation that nonetheless retained basic principles of traditional moral order and provided a favorable setting for both Jews and Catholics to become respected and influential collectively and thrive individually without giving up too much of their traditions. To me it doesn’t seem a project that could work in the long run—it was too artificial, and there were too many inconsistent things to balance against each other. Now a movie (of all things!) is displaying some of the gaps that had to be papered over for the alliance to work: ‘The Passion’ and the Neocons. In a way I’m surprised that Jewish neocons are surprised—or still haven’t taken in—that the Passion just as it happened is absolutely central to the Christian and especially Catholic understanding of reality. But then I’m a Catholic and not a Jew, and it should never be surprising when it turns out that people haven’t understood each other in the least.