Thursday, March 25, 2010

John Derbyshire is nuts

You probably knew that. But Brad DeLong posts proof:
As the fugleman for conservative despair, I am of course neither shaken nor stirred at the passing of the health-care bills. It was to be expected.

I see plainly that Western civilization, over my lifetime, has been a slow-sinking ship. The few who have known what is happening have worked desperately to seal the watertight doors, repair the fissures, pump out the flooded zones. It's been a losing fight, though. The tilt of the decks is harder and harder to ignore. Last night, a major bulkhead gave way. Soon a funnel will topple over with a great crash and a shower of sparks. Yet still the band is playing, the people are dancing, the food coming up from the galley.

Steven Hayward, writing about my latest in the Claremont Review of Books, says it is "surprising that Derbyshire never raises the obvious question: without the conservative movement of the past 50 years, how much worse would things be?" Not much, would be my answer. Certainly those working the pumps have been engaged in a noble endeavor, which I'm proud to have been associated with. They could hear the dance music too, though. It got their feet a-tapping; then an ex-colleague came down from the ballroom to mock and tempt, and soon there was one less pair of hands on the pumps, and one more government program, one more subsidy, one more tax, one more restraint on freedom of speech or association, one more futile war.

It'll be over soon. We'll be down in the cold, lightless depths of imperial despotism — in which, after all, the great majority of human beings, throughout history, have always lived. It's the natural way: liberty is an unstable temporary aberration. I once tried to compute the sheer quantity, in man-years, of lives lived under the despotic order — Egyptians and Assyrians, Persians and Chinese, Romans and post-Alexander Greeks, Incas and Aztecs, Umayyads and Abbasids, Ottomans and Zulus, Tsars and General Secretaries . . . as against humans in liberty, ruled by common consent. It came out at around a hundred to one.
This is Derbyshire's response to a statute expanding healthcare.


  1. But... but... what is a majority vote in the House and Senate if not "rule by common consent"? Consent at one remove, granted, but what Assyrian ever had the ability choose his emperor and elect his advisors? Wait - that's Eastern Civilization, so maybe the analogy doesn't apply.

  2. Apparently the government Derbyshire most admires is the Polish Sejm.