On September 28, Lady Thatcher - formerly Margaret Thatcher, Prime
Minister of Great Britain - delivered an important speech to Conservatives
assembled in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of taking stock.
Lady Thatcher puzzled over the odd combination of current political
indicators which seem to confound other observers as well. On the
one hand, the Soviet Union is no more and Socialists from Tony Blair
to Bill Clinton have adopted much of the rhetoric long associated
with Conservatives. The natural deduction is that "Socialism
- The Idea" has lost. On the other hand, Socialist parties
have recently won elections from Britain to Hungary, and all fundamental
institutions of America - as well as of Britain - are threatened
by forces from within and without.
Lady Thatcher then lists the various threats to our institutions,
from the Constitution through Language, Family and Defense, all
the way to National Identity. She calls for a "Defense of the
West" in response. It is confounding indeed. If Socialism has
lost, who or what is threatening our way of life? Against whom do
we defend "The West?"
Most of us have watched police stories in which the sketch artist
is given a photo and asked to produce a series of drawings which
show how the person in the photo might look at different ages, with
hair and other features also changed. These then are circulated
nationally, or through Interpol, leading to the apprehension of
the suspect. What if we have been searching for the "wrong
person" at the wrong places? What if the passage of time and
the current choice of appearance make the entire "package"
Perhaps we have been staring at old photographs where Socialism
wears the uniforms of the Red Army, or the SS - or the shiny leather
jackets both Nazi and Soviet paramilitary units preferred. Perhaps
we think that Socialism currently sports the straight blue garb
of Mao, or battle fatigues with a khaki cap and a Havana stuck in
its mouth. And we keep peering in the distance with binoculars.
But "Socialism - The Idea" did not come from Russia,
China, or Cuba. And it did not start out to exterminate people,
or to confiscate their possessions. It began hundreds of years ago
as philosophy in books, written mostly in French and German. It
began by declaring human reason capable of comprehending, evaluating
and arranging the affairs of the world. It continued by prescribing
exactly how the affairs of the world ought to be run. Next, advocates
of "The Idea" took it upon themselves to decide who had
come by their possessions in a "good," and who in an "evil"
way. From there, it was just one step to taking away people's possessions
so that the wise could then distribute them "fairly."
In time, it was found that certain people best be eliminated altogether.
Killing entire classes of human beings based on "philosophical"
considerations was introduced in the French Revolution of 1789.
Adopted as a way of "life" by Russia as of 1917, it reached
a particularly abhorrent phase during the years 1939 through 1945
But what if the killings and the wholesale confiscation of people's
possessions were the convolutions of adolescence? Lenin, after all,
called leftist thinking "Communism's Infantile Disorder."
What if we are still looking for the insurgent youth destroying
all in his path, when in fact today's protagonist is a calm and
purposeful adult, going about his business with the agenda now freed
from the "errors" of immaturity?
For the agenda itself, Lady Thatcher confirms, has not changed
in two centuries. The primary target has always been the unique
system of laws in the English-speaking world, reaching back to the
Magna Carta of 1215, expressed in the Constitution. (France, now
in its Fifth Republic, has yet to come up with a structure that
lasts.) Our rule of law makes people free and, according to Socialist
doctrine, free people "cannot be trusted" to behave. Hence
the need for speech codes and hiring quotas.
The next target has always been national identity which had come
so naturally to England, and which America acquired in 1776, at
the moment of its founding. (There was not even a "Germany"
until 1871, and they had to start from scratch yet again in 1991.)
Our national identity includes the English language - embodiment
of our institutions - a common culture, family life based on a shared
morality, and a defense establishment of unfailing loyalty and unbeatable
strength. No good to those who want to change the world.
Whether for reasons of ideology, a score to settle, or misguided
good intentions, those who have chosen the Socialist road have always
wanted to change the world and the behavior of people, as President
Clinton confirmed in his "tobacco" speech of September
17. In that sense it is immaterial whether Russia is Communist or
not because Russia never was interested in changing anything - it
simply used "The Idea" to conquer more territory. On the
other hand, French and German thinkers, from Rousseau to the Frankfurt
School, have had an obsession with changing everyone's behavior.
Confiscating property, eliminating millions were means to that end.
What if means come and go, but the agenda remains?
We watch every day as the search for "social justice"
replaces the rule of law, as group privilege replaces individual
rights, as redistribution replaces guaranteed property, and as national
identity is eliminated in favor of "diversity." Is that
not the same agenda as before? Do we still declare victory?
And is it really "The West" we need to defend? France
and Germany, after all, represent unalienable parts of Western Culture.
What if the conflict is confirmed as one between two opposing views,
And what if peering in the distance with binoculars has kept us
from noticing that which surrounds us from every side?