Somewhere Kipling is shaking his head, as what he warned us of cycles through yet again…
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
This most recent iteration has been the progressives ascendence to the detriment of Western Civilization.
By Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest
… The past 25 years of world politics have rested on a series of polite fictions, agreed-upon conventions and hypocritical pretenses: That we had a policy to end the North Korean nuclear drive (ditto for Iran); That Europe was becoming a great posthistorical power based on the mighty engine of the euro; That the two-state solution was just a settlement freeze away; That international institutions and civil society were replacing national governments at the center of world politics; That immigration was a no-brainer; That the progress toward free trade was inexorable; That democracy was irresistibly on the march; and so on. Americans and Europeans believed that the world would look more and more like we wanted it to without us doing any heavy lifting.
If one views this as the inevitable outcome of the progressives contempt for Western Civilization and Culture and attempts to belittle both, the pattern becomes clear.
Those are all very comforting ideas, but sadly none of them are true. In the next few years we are going to have to face some less pleasant choices based on hard truths rather than comfy illusions. Having the kind of world we really want—safe, prosperous, democratic—is not fully achievable no matter what we do. And having a tolerable world involves working harder, spending more, and putting more skin in the game than we want. A different kind of statesmanship, harder-edged and less sentimental, is going to be needed. Pretending to have a Russia policy will no longer be enough; we will have to choose between the unpalatable alternatives of effectively blocking Russian moves or acquiescing in Russian wins. Brutal clarity rather than liberal pink cloud thinking is the rising force in international affairs.
Cue The Gods of the Copybook Headings again:
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
They chose the form of their destroyer.
That may prove to be the last choice they get to make for a while…