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Keep the faith, brothers, they will hear us eventually

Declare free trade unilaterally, says Tim Worstall in the Telegraph. Good and true are his words, but since you all know that already, allow me to draw your attention to an exchange you may not have seen in the comments that manages to be both entertaining and at the same time slightly sad.

“davidaslindsay” wrote:

A perfect illustration of how there is nothing more anti-conservative than capitalism.

The Cold War is long gone, so there is no remaining need for Tories to be corralled out of fear into voting for Conservatives and other such Liberal parties

Imagine, just imagine, if a site not unlike this one in structure, if in nothing else, were to give a platform to people who recognised that there was no patriotism without economic patriotism, set within a broader appreciation of the rural, the provincial, the socially conservative, and the classically (and Classically) Christian, with the consequent pronounced aversion to global capitalism, to American hegemony, to obeisant Zionism, to wars to make the world anew, to wars generally, and so on.

Just imagine such a voice in the debate. Just imagine it. Even if only for one moment, just imagine it.

“TimWorstall” replied

David, this is a blog.

You have a blog. Thus there already is a blog which reflects such views.

Very democratic place, the internet.

What is both funny and sad about David Lindsay’s cri de coeur is that he does not just have a personal blog but has, or had in 2009, a slot in the Telegraph, a privilege that most bloggers would give their best stripy pyjamas to obtain. Lindsay’s cry of “Just imagine such a voice in the debate. Just imagine it. Even if only for one moment, just imagine it” makes him sound like a combination of Galileo facing the Inquisition and Captain Kirk trying to get the Fabrini to believe they are on a generation ship in For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky. Yet he scarcely had to stretch his imagination to conceive of a voice exactly like his being given a platform even beyond the one offered by davidaslindsay.blogspot.com. All he had to do was remember as far back as 2009.

What is the appeal of believing that you are silenced when you are given a megaphone?

Some of it is persecution envy, or to be more accurate, envy of the chance to be heroic. Mr Lindsay is of the nostalgic Right and appears to me to suffer a little from this condition but the phenomenon is most common and strong on the nostalgic Left. How they do hate being the rich, safe, privileged ones. How they love to reminisce about standing up to Thatcher, or at a pinch, their resistance during the grim Bush years. How they would have loved to have been a Freedom Rider. They would have been heroes, honest.

Some of it is a desire to maintain the delusion that the world would heed your message if only it were allowed to hear it. This thought hurts much less than the thought that the world has had ample opportunity to hear your message and heeds it not. Before you laugh at Mr Lindsay – or being realistic, slightly after – remember that (a) in so far as this is a delusion it is one he shares with us (have we not blogs? Seen the libertarian sentiments of the populace lately?) and (b) the belief that the people are being stopped from hearing minority voices by a semi-conscious conspiracy of the mainstream media is only just now ceasing to be true.

We do not quite match the faithfulness in delusion of those communists who have announced the imminence of world revolution every year for close on a century, but many of the bloggers whose writing I love most – Instapundit, Brian Micklethwait, me – have announced the imminent death of the gatekeeper every year for close on a decade. Yet there the decrepit old bastard is each new morning, bleary eyed, swaying on his feet, pretending not to know about the people who slipped past him while he was drunk and incapable the night before – but still manning his old rotten gate most of the time and just damn refusing to die.

Mind you, we were not exactly wrong about the old boy’s morbidity, just premature. He’ll turn up his toes eventually and the patient messengers of every suppressed creed with break through and be heard in all the land, only we’ll be heard most gladly because we are in the right. I hope. I think.

10 comments to Keep the faith, brothers, they will hear us eventually

  • Laird

    “persecution envy”

    Wonderful phrase. It describes a lot of people.

  • Bruce Hoult

    That’s exactly what we did in New Zealand in the late 80’s — unilaterally declared free trade with the entire world.

    We’ve since concluded various free trade agreements with particular counties (e.g. China, with India and Russia coming up) to help our exporters, but there’s really nothing to do on the import side.

  • Myno

    Being heard most gladly because you were correct in the end is not my experience of human nature. Still, I too fondly hope for that deliverance.

  • Dale Amon

    Nothing changes at all until it all happens at once.

    It is all the little victories, the minor wins that pile up step by step over decades that bring the world to a tipping point. If I have leanred anything, it is that such points are really hard to predict. But when they happen, empires crumble over night, as did they Communist Empire when the Berlin Wall came down. One day we were in the familiar world we grew up in. The next day it was the dawn of a new age with threats and joys yet to be understood.

  • Alsadius

    Unilateral free trade is a policy that I think we can all agree is better than no free trade, but it has one obvious real-world problem – you want the other guy to be a free trader too, and he’s not likely to do that unless he gets something for it, politics being what it is. It’s a judgement call whether the prospects of a bilateral free trade agreement are high enough to forestall unilateralism, and there’s no obvious answer to that.

    (Now I will agree that, given the real-world experience of recent years, the odds of sufficient bilateralism to justify forestalling unilateralism seem low. And of course, there’s other paths – say, putting into law a generic free trade agreement that applies automatically to any nation who passes the mirror image, without need for negotiations. But it’s not a trivial question, even before considerations of political capital.)

  • MajikMonkee

    Worstal really is awesome, every post hits the nail on the head

  • Paul Marks

    To deal with David L’s arguement….

    “Capitalism” – does he mean freedom of choice? A limited government – rather than the hyper government we have now (taking up about half the entire economy – and regulating almost detail of human life).

    Well this can be perfectly consistent with conservatism – IF people choose to maintain traditional ways of life.

    If (for example) Bavarians choose to follow Bavarian culture and traditions there is nothing “anti capitalist” in this.

    As for the nasty tone of anti Americanism and antisemitism (sorry “antizionism”) is Mr L’s piece….

    That is sillyness.

    Israel is a increasingly conservative place – I have been there. No more that 5% of Jews ever choose to live in communes – and these things (and the anti conservative ideology that went with them) have been in decline for decades.

    Isreal stands in battle – for private enterprise against collectivism. And for the West – against the forces of Islam (and their unholy alliance with international leftism).

    What could be more conservative?

    And America has (inspite of Comrade Barack and the vile education system and media) much stronger conservative traditions than (for example) BRITAIN.

  • David Gillies

    “no patriotism without economic patriotism, set within a broader appreciation of the rural, the provincial, the socially conservative, and the classically (and Classically) Christian, with the consequent pronounced aversion to global capitalism, to American hegemony, to obeisant Zionism”

    Apologies for the argumentum ad Hitleram but he sounds like a rather grubby little fascist. All that Blut und Boden stuff gives me the willies. And the ‘obeisant Zionism’ line is a dead give-away.

  • I agree, clearly this Lindsay guy is just a run-of-the-mill fascist

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – even ignoring the (pooly disguised) anti semitism, the “economic patriotism” guff gives it away.

    As Sir Dudley North (long before Dr Johnson) pointed out – this sort of “patriotism” is just a cover for cheating customers of cheaper prices and better quality goods.

    Still at least we are not treated to an “argument” for a state owned railway system (which we ALREADY HAVE, Network Rail being 100% government owned, Peter the perfect) and a state owned water supply.

    And for the “tradition” if the war on drugs – totally ignoring the fact that drugs used to be legal, and that making them illegal was just imitating the American Progressive movement.

    Hardly Tory partiotism.