Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do We Have What It Takes?

It's all very well to imagine a war against liberals, as I did yesterday.  You can conjure up a purpose, to turn back the administrative state, and objectives, to demoralize and delegitimize liberals, and so I did.

But do conservatives have what it takes to turn back the administrative state and fight the decisive battle against liberal cultural and political hegemony?  Back in the early 20th century, conservatives and liberals like to remember, Antonio Gramsci called for a "long march through the institutions."  Well, liberals did that, and so they control the parameters of all the great cultural institutions of our society -- excepting a few redoubts like talk radio.

More to the point, the ordinary young person grows up in the culture of liberalism: it is the water in which he and she swim.  How can conservatives hope to penetrate the citadel of liberalism to get a chance to communicate to young people, let alone actually persuade them of the glories of an America freed from the fetters of the liberal administrative state?

The short answer is that it can be done.  It has been done.

Let us take as our example the great wars between Britain and France.  In the Hundred Years War the British were continually invading France, from the time of Edward III to Henry V.  They were always winning battles: Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt.  But Britain just did not have the power to defeat France.  At the end of it, the Brits decided to go in for the civil Wars of the Roses back home.  So that was the end of the conquest of France.

Never mind.  After the civil wars of the 15th century and the civil wars of the 17th century, the Brits got a Dutch king, and the first thing the Dutch King William III did was to start another war with the French, sending John Churchill off to fight the War of the Spanish Succession. It was the first bout in the Second Hundred Years War.

Only this time, in the Second Hundred Years War from 1690 to 1815, the Brits won.  They beat them in North America; they beat them in India; and they beat them in Europe, with the culminating Battle of Waterloo.  France was never the same again.

Want to know why the Brits won?  The answer is Dutch Finance.  The Brits paid for their century long war with a gigantic National Debt.  Here is what it looks like, from ukpublicspending.co.uk:

Yeah.  It's impressive, making the debt for the 20th century wars look puny in comparison.

The National Debt is key because, unlike the French, the Brits in the Second Hundred Years War never went through a national financial collapse.  They were always able to keep paying interest on the National Debt, and that meant that there were always more people willing to lend money to the Brits.  Look at that chart.  The Brits cranked the National Debt all the way up to 250 percent!  But they never succumbed to sovereign debt default.

Conservatives today are in the position of the Brits in the First Hundred Years War.  We can score fantastic victories against the liberals, like the Reagan era in the 1980s.  But it doesn't stick.  So we need a paradigm change, something equivalent to the Dutch Finance that William of Orange brought from the Dutch Republic to London.  Something that transforms the correlation of forces.

Otherwise our glorious conservatism will be limited to the modern equivalent of the fine speeches at Harfleur and Agincourt conjured up by Shakespeare to make a national icon out of Henry V.

And a modern French cynic will be able to say: "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre."

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