After Paris I Understand Winston Churchill's Relief
When everyone was emoting about the Paris massacres last week, I am afraid I did not join in. This is war, after all: what do people expect? When you have a war and one side is militarily weak, it tends to use terror as a weapon, because it’s the only way to show it is not weak, not really, but strong!
We in the West are rather irritated by the War on Terror, or whatever it gets to be called this week. We like to think that the questions of the modern age -- democracy and tolerance and cities and trusting the stranger on the other side of the world to deal faithfully in market transactions -- have been decided in our favor.
(OK, our lefty friends have a slightly different take. Democracy is fine, but don’t ever trust a capitalist, and woe betide anyone that warns, as Enoch Powell did a lifetime ago, that a “concentration of immigrants and their descendants in large communities [would kill] the prospects of integration.”)
So when inhabitants of the desert start replaying the Dervish War in Sudan that made Winston Churchill’s reputation, or a new generation of immigrants starts rioting in big city slums, we ordinary people feel irritated. Don’t “those people” understand that the ship has sailed?
Simple answer: they don’t. So the rational ethical thing to do would be to teach and instruct them how to wive and thrive in the post-industrial-revolution-city using our own experience and the experience of our parents and grandparents as a guide. But that would be rational. Instead, everyone from radical imams to lefty safe-spacers are telling “those people” that they are exploited and oppressed and ought to burn the place down.
(Imagine the world if the left had spent the last 160 years teaching the working class and then women and blacks and now Muslims how to wive and thrive in the capitalist economy instead of teaching them how to wreck it. But I digress).
For me, each new terror outrage is a good sign. It tells me that we are getting closer to the inflection point where we demand that our glorious leaders “do something” and in response our glorious leaders will ditch their ridiculous War on Climate and realize that the War on Radical Islamism will be way more fun for them.
Yes. I mean that. Government is force, and governments are born to fight wars, even liberal governments. The New Dealers were never happier than when they were fighting fascism in World War II and the future liberal lion John Kenneth Galbraith, deputy head of the Office of Price Administration, was teaching captains of industry how to price a widget.
In fact, fighting a war is the only thing that government can do. That’s why governments insist on fighting wars on poverty and racism and sexism and rape culture and climate change when there isn’t a real war for them to fight. So it’s a good thing when the ruling class gives up on the phony wars, and turns its brilliant collective mind to fighting a real war against a real threat.
In Winston Churchill’s great history of World War II he records his relief when the levers of power had been finally handed to him in the dark days of 1940. Now at last the years of crying in the wilderness were over, and he could lead the British people in their existential fight against Nazism.
I feel a similar relief as each new terror outrage splashes into the news. Each new event gets us nearer to the point where we will select the Churchill of 1940 or elect the Reagan of 1980 with the mandate to take decisive action.
In my view the meanderings of a Chamberlain, the malaise of a Carter, and the utter incompetence of an Obama cannot be avoided. In their mistakes and bumblings the fools enable the rest of us to gain clarity on the problem we face, and to develop the resolution to do something about it. We are humans; we make mistakes, we learn from them, and the worst human mistakes are usually connected with government.
Usually the ruling class starts to wake up to its follies in the months before the Churchill or the Reagan takes over. Britain did start to rearm in the late 1930s. It was Carter that started the “Reagan” defense buildup after the Soviets went into Afghanistan, and appointed Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Fed as inflation raged. This time the bumbler-in-chief can’t even be bothered to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.
I’m pretty serene about that too, on Napoleon’s view that you shouldn’t interfere with your adversary when he is making a mistake.
Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.