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Gary Saul Morson has written an absolutely brilliant article in “First Things” that I have read twice, and intend to read again. He uses Russian history explain the “Suicide of the Liberals.” It is littered with brilliant quotes, one of which is: “Better to side with people a mile to one’s left than be associated with anyone an inch to one’s right.” This was a means of self-preservation in Russia in the early 1900s. As it is on a university faculty today. Or really, in much of modern American society.
Margaret Thatcher wrote of the “ratchet effect” of liberalism. Always moving toward the left, never to the right. When Democrats seek to demonstrate their compassion, they identify with whoever is to their left — AOC, Bernie Sanders, etc. When Republicans seek to demonstrate their virtue, they identify with someone to their left as well — John McCain and George W. Bush sought to gain prestige by aligning themselves with someone, anyone, to their left. When is it a good idea politically for anyone to move to the right? My best guess is never, and that’s a problem.
Why is this? What can be done to correct it? How did we end up here?
This is not new. The Russian Revolution was over 100 years ago.
Perhaps Marx was right. The inevitable arc of history bends to the left. Democracy is simply a tool to achieve socialism and then communism, as surely as night follows day.
But if God granted people certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then Marx is wrong.
Which is it? And what can we do to bend this arc toward human liberty?Published in