‘The worse, the better’ is a time-dishonoured Leninist tactic. Its essence is to drive the country into such penury and chaos that the desperate populace will welcome whatever the strategy is designed to achieve.
In that spirit the Bolsheviks and other socialists did their best to sabotage Russia in the First World War by demoralising the army with pacifist agitation and sowing sedition in the rear with endless strikes and limitless propaganda.
You know what happened next: an orgy of sanguinary repression and enslavement, millions of victims, and a malodorous reflux from which Russia is still suffering a century later.
Learning from the best, Mao raised ‘the worse, the better’ strategy to its logical, cataclysmic peak. Back in the 60s he advocated an all-out nuclear war, killing half of the world’s population but ensuring the triumph of communism for the survivors.
Putting a political objective before horrific human suffering strikes me as rather, well, unconservative, which is to say dubious.
For all political, military and economic earthquakes have one feature in common: while the ensuing suffering is guaranteed, nothing else is. Rising out of the ashes may be either a phoenix of virtue or a carrion of evil, and no one can know for sure which it will be. That’s why conservatives try to keep cataclysms at bay for as much as possible.
Thus I’ve often written that the West has taken so many wrong turns over the past few centuries that only a major military or economic disaster could get it back on track. But, I always add, no decent person could wish for such a calamity nonetheless.
Without taking exhaustive polls, I suspect that most conservatives would agree with me on that. After all, if true conservatism is defined by prudence, intelligence and morality, ‘the worse, the better’ strategy flies in the face of all these virtues.
That’s why it’s so surprising to see supposedly conservative Leavers advocating just that for the upcoming general election.
‘Supposedly’ is a key qualifier here because I’ve always had my doubts about people who taper their whole political Weltanschauung down to the point of a single issue – even if I happen to agree with the single issue.
Conservative thought is based on a broad vision of things in their complex interrelationships suspended in a fine balance. Overstressing one element at the expense of all others can have the effect of sawing off three legs of a chair and hoping that just one leg will provide sufficient support.
Hence, by insisting on their ideological purity, Nigel Farage and his admirers are prepared to dynamite the very Brexit by which they swear and usher in a Trotskyist government into the bargain.
They want Boris Johnson to form an election-winning pact with the Brexit Party, thereby ditching the deal he managed to wrench out of the EU, one that parliament has already accepted. It takes a particular deafness to political nuances to think that any PM would ever do something like that.
I don’t know how long it took Johnson to reject the idea, but I suspect the elapsed time was measured in seconds. Then, says Farage, the Brexit Party will contest every seat possible, splitting the Leave vote.
And if as a result Britain will suffer the catastrophe of a Trotskyist government, then so be it. Those dastardly Tories will have only themselves to blame.
When I describe to people, in writing or orally, the full magnitude of the horror befalling Britain should that evil Marxist lot get their hands on the levers of power, they just shrug. We’ve had bad governments before and lived to tell about it.
True, Britain has had bad governments before. But never an irredeemably evil one, which the Corbyn-McDonnell clique is. So what, one reader wrote to me.
Let the people experience a few years of unvarnished, unadulterated socialism. They’ll be so appalled that we’ll finally get a true conservative party, which the Tories aren’t.
It’s that Leninist strategy at work again: the worse, the better. In this case, its success is predicated on a few assumptions.
First, that the emergence of a true conservative party, one capable of forming a post-Trotskyist government, is the likeliest consequence of Britain turning into an Anglophone Venezuela.
It’s not, if history is anything to go by. One thing evil socialists of either the red or brown hue are good at is brainwashing. Give them a few years at the helm, and they’ll fill the airwaves with so much effluvia that people will think they’re smelling roses.
More Germans voted against than for the Nazis in 1933. However, had an election been held two or three years later, Hitler would have won by a landslide. Dr Goebbels would have seen to that. And the Germans were at the time infinitely better educated than the Britons are today.
History is replete with examples of weak, vacillating governments being ousted, only to be replaced with bloodthirsty tyrants hungering for human flesh.
Without going too far back, both the Provisional Government in Russia c. 1917 and the Weimar Republic in Germany c. 1932 were ineffectual, quasi-socialist contrivances. Yet once they collapsed, it wasn’t conservative angels but socialist ogres who took over.
I’d suggest that, after a few years of Trotskyist mayhem, Britons will be much more likely to vote not for a hypothetical conservative party, but for one even more Trotskyist or else fascist.
The second assumption from which Farage groupies proceed is that true conservatism isn’t only desirable but also possible in today’s Britain. I agree it would be desirable, but I doubt it’s possible.
This isn’t an argument that can be adequately made in this abbreviated format, so, skipping the intermediate stages, I’ll simply give you the conclusion I reach in my books.
True conservatism is at odds with modernity because it’s deeply rooted in the founding Christian ethos of our civilisation. Those roots have been systematically severed, leaving us with a materialist, deracinated, egotistic world whose fields are so comprehensively sown with godless salt that nothing conservative can ever grow.
Indulging my pun Tourette’s, I always say that in any election we are faced not with the choice between a towering titan and a political pygmy, but with the evil of two lessers.
Any attempt to pursue what we see as absolute goodness can only result in the triumph of absolute badness. Seeking a political heaven on earth we run the risk of creating hell on earth.
So a message to Nigel Farage and his fans: by all means cut off your noses if such is your wont. But please don’t spite my face.