In my piece on American decline for NR a couple of issues back, I tried to emphasize something that I think U.S. conservatives are too complacent about — the impact of Big Government on free peoples:American exceptionalism would have to be awfully exceptional to suffer a similar expansion of government and not witness, in enough of the populace, the same descent into dependency and fatalism. As Europe demonstrates, a determined state can change the character of a people in the space of a generation or two.
And not just Europe. John O'Sullivan once suggested the entire post-war history of Canada could be summed up in Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song": The eponymous lumberjack hymning the manly virtues of a rugged life "leaping from tree to tree . . . down the mighty rivers of British Columbia" in the preamble has morphed by the third verse into a transvestite in high heels, suspenders, and a bra. From Canada 1945 to Canada 2000 in nothing flat.
Or take Scotland. Most anywhere you go around the planet, from Hong Kong to Hudson's Bay, almost everything that works was created and developed by Scotsmen. Now the whole joint's a statist swamp where government spending accounts for 75 percent of the economy and the menfolk idle away their days on a diet of drugs and fried Mars Bars with a life expectancy in the less salubrious parts of Glasgow getting down to West African standards. They'll never make any contribution to the world again.
Or consider Geert Wilders's address at the House of Lords today, a Dutchman citing Churchill, the Mother of Parliaments, desperate victims of Nazi-ruled Europe listening on their radios for the BBC's famous "This is London . . ." To a significant percentage of the British people and to the entirety of their ruling elites, these are not inspirational evocations of their glorious inheritance but something between a lost language and prima facie evidence of why Wilders is so dangerous he needs to be put on trial.
Second Amendment types insist the same thing could never happen here, but they underestimate the transformative power of government at their peril . . .
Sunday, 7 March 2010
Mark Steyn on Canada , Scotland and the ends of state power -