The ever wonderful Claire Berlinkski

The following passage is reproduced from this Ricochet piece. I feel that this elegantly understands the appeal of socialism or rather of political utopianism, bound up as it is with collectivist thinking.


For a brief, perishable moment during the 1990s, it was possible to imagine that the great questions of history had been settled. But history did not, as Francis Fukuyama predicted, come to an end. Quite the contrary.

Socialism was buried prematurely. This fact has been little remarked, precisely because the world’s attention has in recent times been focused on the dramatic rise of Islamic extremism. Amid this anxiety it has been forgotten that the appeal of socialism as a political program is ultimately far wider, more seductive and more enduring than political Islam. To the vast majority of the secular world, Islam is alien and will always be alien. Islamic law is widely and correctly perceived as a recipe for immiseration. This is not so of socialism, a political movement that like fascism embodies the religious impulse in secular form, and is thus an ideology destined to rise again and again from the grave.

Wherever men are miserable – and that is almost everywhere – they will be vulnerable to those who promise Utopia, for if Hobbes expressed some portion of the truth, Rousseau expressed some portion of the truth as well. There is no inconsistency between the declaration that life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short and the declaration that man is everywhere in chains. That this observation is bleak is no reason not to think it correct. If for no other reason, I doubt the promises of socialism will ever lose their capacity to inspire. …

This conflict, even more than the divide between religion and secularism, will be the fault line of the coming century. How could it not be? It has been the fault line of political life since the French Revolution.

I cannot promise this … but I do strongly suspect that Margaret Thatcher’s ideas and personality will assume an even greater significance with time. Recognizing what she achieved in Britain – and coolly appraising the cost of these victories, which was considerable – is as essential for our generation as for hers. Every society confronting these historical forces will inevitably arrive at the same place. It is the place Margaret Thatcher found herself upon her ascent to 10 Downing Street.

She perceived these forces, and for a time she mastered them: This is why she matters.

These forces are still at work; they must again be mastered again.

This is why she matters to you.


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