Permanent Interests

 

“I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

  • Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.”

  • Henry Kissinger

So it is worth remembering in this “winter of our discontent” that the passions of the moment are just that.  I am old enough to have noticed that many things which once seemed to matter intensely — anxious things, infuriating things, terrifying things — are now forgotten, laughed at, or even subjects for nostalgia.

I am also old enough to have lived through the end of the world, and the end of the Republic, many times.  The human race, it seems, will never cease producing William Millers, Y2K bugs, and Mayan Calendars.  Something in our hardwiring inclines us to look out over the horizon scanning for the next catastrophe that will bring it all to an end.  Some of these “seers” are in earnest, and others merely charlatans.  Either way, what they are mostly, is mostly wrong.

After the appointed date and hour, after the exam or the election, or even the foreclosure or the job loss, even after the diagnosis, the sun will come up and life will go on.  We will personally adjust and do our best to keep muddling through, knowing that our time is limited anyway no matter how we did, who wins, or what the news was in the current crisis.  Our country will similarly pick itself up and muddle through, imperfectly but better than most.  Someday it won’t, but that day will probably not be in our lifetimes.

Life throws curveballs, to individuals and to nations, but most often they come at a speed that can be adjusted to.  Breaks in continuity, though not unheard of, are rare.  And America has survived Barack Obama, the welfare state, Nazi Germany, and a Civil War.  Surviving a second Clinton presidency will present it with challenges, but the sun will come up on November 9th, the bitterness of this season will pass, and we will all live to fight another day.

It is, moreover, worth pondering that we will live to fight another day as friends and allies many of us, because our interests – in constitutional governance, in fiscal responsibility, and in human liberty – are permanent, even as our passions of the moment rise and fall, our alliances shift, and our evaluation of the tactics available in the near term diverge.

So, a little late I say, try not to say things you can’t take back.  Try to step back in the heat of the argument, and look at the forest rather than the trees.  It, and we, will still be here apre le deluge.

There are 17 comments.

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  1. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    Well written post! Words to take to heart.  Thank you for your wise words here.  It is easy to see the point of no return ahead but America manages to just keep moving on and surviving.  I think there are few more surprises left in our people.

    • #1
  2. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    There is a lump of carbon somewhere in the ground that once was grandpa, and there is even bacteria, fungi, and various other life forms growing in and around it.  But grandpa is no more.

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A good post at a very good time to read it. We will survive this one. We survived 1964, the Democrats came back after 1972. America survived both of them.

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I will confess it gives me pleasure to contemplate the mortality of my adversaries. Gives me hope for the future…

    • #4
  5. KC Mulville Member
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    For me, it’s important to remember that Election Day is not the Final Verdict. Another reckoning will come in two years, and a presidential verdict in four.

    Besides, I agree with Jefferson that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance … not just a battle until election day. On the day after Hillary is elected or inaugurated, we still have the obligation to fight for what we believe. Justice and liberty are definitely “one day at a time.”

    If liberals and the media were expecting us to give up … I hope they sit back and gloat, meanwhile we’ll still be fighting.

    • #5
  6. nandapanjandrum Member
    nandapanjandrum
    @nandapanjandrum

    Hear, hear, Cato!

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thank you, CR. It’s so important to hold on to the larger picture through these challenging times. I plan to walk arm-in-arm with my friends here and elsewhere to identify the issues that will arise and my hope is that we will work on them together. There are always new issues, new priorities, and even new dreams. Let’s tackle them together.

    • #7
  8. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Cato Rand: After the appointed date and hour, after the exam or the election, or even the foreclosure or the job loss, even after the diagnosis, the sun will come up and life will go on.

    Well . . .  I was going to try to push back on your optimism . .  but your words landed so softly on this rainy, dark October morning, that I will merely thank you Cato.   And now I’ll pass my computer to my husband in bed beside me.

    Good Morning.    Thank you.

    • #8
  9. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I could not agree more.  Great post.

    • #9
  10. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Permanent interests is an interesting way to put the domestic challenges we face now, but that notion has to do with the global system and a Hobbesian world where there is no law.  In such a world  alliances form around interests which are defined by separate extant political systems.    Domestically, in contrast we are losing our inherited rule of law and we may indeed deteriorate into that zero sum Hobbesian world where we speak of permanent interests, every man and family for himself.     We haven’t survived Barak Obama, we are about to elect the head of a criminal conspiracy with tentacles into all things and rotting everything it touches, in part because of Barak Obama.  The world is in flames and will remain so at least in part because of Barak Obama and that won’t just go away when he does.  We didn’t survive Nazism, we crushed it at great cost, but millions who lived in Germany and Nazi conquered Europe didn’t survive.    Evil never goes away and we and our ancestors get to fight it again, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t evil or that we should resign ourselves to it.   Civilizations come and go and life goes on, we had a good run, and like others it will end when a coalition of cliques at the top gather in so much  power and wealth people can’t shake themselves free and  have to wait for it to rot and die.

    • #10
  11. Cato Rand Member
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Walton, my purpose was not to deny the challenges or problems we face.  Nor was it to counsel surrender to the inevitable.  It was to remind us all that for all of those, we still have much to be grateful for, living in one of the most free and most prosperous states in human history (even after 8 years of Obama) and many erstwhile allies available in the continuing struggle to preserve that — even among those with whom many of us have become quite testy of late.

    We on the right do, in fact, share certain permanent interests including importantly those mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the OP.  That makes us allies to a degree regardless of our infighting.  And we will come home to uniting around the fight for those interests in time.  Call that a prediction if you want, but it is one you can bank on.

    • #11
  12. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Cato Rand:Walton, my purpose was not to deny the challenges or problems we face. Nor was it to counsel surrender to the inevitable. It was to remind us all that for all of those, we still have much to be grateful for, living in one of the most free and most prosperous states in human history (even after 8 years of Obama) and many erstwhile allies available in the continuing struggle to preserve that — even among those with whom many of us have become quite testy of late.

    We on the right do, in fact, share certain permanent interests including importantly those mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the OP. That makes us allies to a degree regardless of our infighting. And we will come home to uniting around the fight for those interests in time. Call that a prediction if you want, but it is one you can bank on.

    I know, and agree, but use of the concept permanent interests opened an avenue to make a point about the rule of law.  The rule of law is the source of our prosperity, flourishing and strength and it is on the line.  The administrative state is not the rule of law but of men and hence, of other kinds of interests that will become permanent.

    • #12
  13. RMD Coolidge
    RMD
    @rmdvs301

    Well said Cato

    • #13
  14. Cato Rand Member
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    I Walton:

    Cato Rand:Walton, my purpose was not to deny the challenges or problemsweface. Nor was it to counsel surrender to the inevitable. It was to remind us all that for all of those, we still have much to be grateful for, living in one of the most free and most prosperous states in human history (even after 8 years of Obama) and many erstwhile allies available in the continuing struggle to preserve that — even among those with whom many of us have become quite testy of late.

    We on the right do, in fact, share certain permanent interests including importantly those mentioned in the penultimate paragraph of the OP. That makes us allies to a degree regardless of our infighting. And we will come home to uniting around the fight for those interests in time. Call that a prediction if you want, but it is one you can bank on.

    I know, and agree, but use of the concept permanent interests opened an avenue to make a point about the rule of law. The rule of law is the source of our prosperity, flourishing and strength and it is on the line. The administrative state is not the rule of law but of men and hence, of other kinds of interests that will become permanent.

    I agree completely with this.  The administrative state is, among other things, unconstitutional.  It is a long road to rolling that back though and I believe that effort will have to be incremental.

    • #14
  15. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I very much enjoyed your post [cue inevitable “but”].  However, optimism for “the future” is at least somewhat age-dependent and a function of the extent of one’s future.  Certainly I will arise on November 9 and make a serious effort to enjoy that day and the days thereafter.  But I’ll also likely know that a fixed portion of my life will be spent under a Clinton presidency (sorry, Trump fans) and with conservatism in disarray.  Suppressing those notions  and taking the sage advice in your post isn’t all that easy for some of us.

    • #15
  16. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    KC Mulville: For me, it’s important to remember that Election Day is not the Final Verdict.

    Elections seem to be thought of as either the beginning of a new thing or a trophy.  But they are really more like the halftime score.

    If we look at it like that, then we can go into the locker room, give ourselves some good honest analysis, make some adjustments, and get back out there for the second half…

    ….which leads to another halftime… I haven’t worked out the math yet but you get the picture.

    • #16
  17. Petty Boozswha Member
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    There is hope, but not for us — Franz Kafka

    • #17

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