November 14, 2006
I mean this idea that it's normal for the state to be as big as it is in advanced social democratic societies is something that would have seemed incredible to anyone a hundred years ago. I mean, I remember being struck by - on September 11th - and I was writing a column a couple of days afterwards and, you know, we're all done with our initial reaction, so you're trying to think a couple of days ahead and find a new angle on it, and I happen to just notice that it was more or less (a hundred years after the) assassination of President McKinley. I was thinking, well, maybe I could tie these two things together, these two big traumatizing events and, you know, bookending the century, whatever - you know, just peck, peck, peck - we journalists always are going to peck.
So I sort of rummaged around the clippings of President McKinley's assassination and realized that while people were upset about it, they essentially regarded it as the removal of a remote figure who played a peripheral part in their lives. To that point for most people in most parts of the U.S. the federal government did not impinge on their life in any way.
So when people talk about the modern social democratic state, you know, cradle to grave entitlements, we should understand that it is, in effect, a huge experimental departure from the normal course of human history - and the experiment as we can see in almost every other country apart from the U.S. has failed.
And if you need an even bigger dose of Steyn, check out his newest column:
If they'd done a Spain -- blown up a bunch of subway cars in New York or vaporized the Empire State Building -- they'd have re-awoken the primal anger of September 2001. With another mound of corpses piled sky-high, the electorate would have stampeded into the Republican column and demanded the U.S. fly somewhere and bomb someone.
The jihad crowd know that. So instead they employed a craftier strategy. Their view of America is roughly that of the British historian Niall Ferguson -- that the Great Satan is the first superpower with ADHD. They reasoned that if you could subject Americans to the drip-drip-drip of remorseless water torture in the deserts of Mesopotamia -- a couple of deaths here, a market bombing there, cars burning, smoke over the city on the evening news, day after day after day, and ratcheted up a notch or two for the weeks before the election -- you could grind down enough of the electorate and persuade them to vote like Spaniards, without even realizing it. And it worked.
Posted by: Will at November 14, 2006 01:49 PM (QRBGL)
Posted by: david foster at November 14, 2006 03:31 PM (/Z304)
Posted by: Will at November 14, 2006 06:15 PM (QRBGL)
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