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After Paris I Understand Winston Churchill's Relief

by Christopher Chantrill
November 24, 2015 at 12:00 am


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 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 rag heads in 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 phoney 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 blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

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