Whoever wins, Tories lose

Replace Tories with conservatism, and the same observation will hold true for any Western European country. I’m just using Britain as my test case for simplicity’s sake.

Socialists have won the hearts of Britons, and it takes something extraordinary for the mind to step in and override the deep-seated intuitive bias.

That’s how Margaret Thatcher, the last conservative PM (and I do mean the last, not the latest) won her election at the end of the 1970s. That was the decade during which Britain had recklessly set out to prove it wasn’t so much the sick man of Europe as its basket case.

The social and economic conditions were nothing short of catastrophic, the unions were running riot, the country was grinding to a screeching stop, and the people were getting desperate. In came Maggie, preaching a philosophy more libertarian than conservative, but definitely anti-socialist. Drowning people clutched the straw and voted for her.  

She then delivered an economic turnaround, an act of political heroism for which I struggle to find any analogues during my lifetime, and it’s a rather long lifetime. Previously on the way to becoming a slightly richer version of the Soviet Union, the country began to resemble a slightly poorer version of the United States. That gave Britons a chance to heave a sigh of relief – and then revert to their innermost feelings and leanings.

That proved yet again that, though the Tories may at times win elections, they’ll never win the argument, not as Tories at any rate. They can achieve electoral victories only on the crest of an utter mayhem perpetrated by a Labour government or else by a successful attempt to hijack Labour policies and – above all – philosophies. They must out-Labour Labour to govern in the name of conservatism.

As to winning the argument, any seasoned debater will tell you it’s impossible to do so if the other side sets the terms. And the terms of political discourse have been not just set by socialism but chiselled in stone by it.

The NHS is a case in point. This is a massive socialist project that has been elevated to a moral high ground previously occupied by God. Anyone with a modicum of analytical ability will know that the problems of that socialist Leviathan are systemic, not symptomatic.

It doesn’t work as a civilised health system not because of mismanagement and corruption – although these are in ample supply – but because it’s based on a wrong premise. Like all ossified socialist structures, it can be neither reformed nor improved. It can only be replaced.

I’m certain that any Tory politician with an IQ creeping into triple digits knows this as well as I do. Yet he also knows that saying something along those lines publicly is impossible – not just politically but, if you will, ontologically.

The socialist notion that equally bad is morally superior to unequally good has been hammered so deeply into people’s minds that it has penetrated their DNA. The same goes for education.

Many parents deny themselves not only luxuries but also many necessities to spare their children the horrors of mind-numbing state education. Yet they’ll be aghast if a Tory MP suggested scrapping comprehensive schools altogether. Their own children’s education is actual reality, whereas politics is the more compelling virtual kind.

As private individuals, they’ll send their progeny to a private school. As people concerned for the greater good, they’ll vote for a politician who puts socialist education on a moral pedestal.

By the same token, as private individuals they resent having to have almost half their income extorted by the government, and they may even think that perhaps our social expenditure is too high. But they’ll flee like demons from the cross if a Tory leader were to explain rationally that the welfare state isn’t just ruinous economically but also defunct morally.

“We must all pledge our allegiance to the welfare state,” wrote the arch-Tory Peregrine Worsthorne back in the early 1950s. That was tantamount to worshipping socialism and all its dud products, but the future editor of The Sunday Telegraph knew what he was talking about. There it was, another socialist idea raised to a plateau occupied by cast-iron orthodoxies.   

Any vociferous dissenter would be using cold reason to argue against febrile emotions, which is invariably a losing proposition. Such an intrepid individual would be accused of getting sadistic pleasure out of the sight of poor people dying without food, shelter and medical care.

His attempts to justify his position by proposing a more effective system based, say, on private charities, would fall on deaf ears. By trying to change the terms of debate to which the people have given their unqualified agreement, he has branded himself a callous monster, an inveterate misanthrope.

The same applies to the belief that everyone with a pulse should play an active role in politics by voting governments in or out. Socialists know that the broader the franchise, the better their electoral chances, and any political party has to try to win power. Yet the idea that even adolescents should decide how their country is governed is manifestly insane.

That’s why it had to be put onto the terrain of socialist egalitarianism, where it became hard to argue against. The underlying principle has entered the people’s hearts, making all its offshoots well-nigh irrefutable. The collective heart is mightier than the collective mind.

The question of how the Left has won the power to set the terms of debate can’t be answered in a few words. I tried to answer it in a few books but, regardless of whether or not I succeeded, the process was gradual and it took not years but centuries to come to fruition.

My overarching argument has an element of determinism to it, not my favourite element in the periodic system of political philosophy. But denying determinism shouldn’t mean denying continuity and causality.

Hence it stands to reason that the Enlightenment, with its destructive animus against all traditional beliefs and hierarchies – religious, political, social and cultural – was bound to initiate a chain of begets. All those hierarchies had to be put six feet under for the common man to soar miles high.

That had to beget a boundless political democracy, which in turn extended the same principle to every walk of life. Equality of wealth, status and even taste got to be universally accepted as a desideratum not only ideal but also achievable.

By a series of incremental steps over a couple of centuries, democracy of everything turned into socialism everywhere, as it was bound to do. People got to believe that they could only be saved collectively, not individually – and that such collective salvation was their birthright.

All this adds up to the secular religion of modernity, and secular religions preclude fundamental debates. People may question their particulars, but not their essence, and all political parties with any chance of ever forming the government in Britain tacitly subscribe to this injunction.

The dominant secular religion punishes heretics and apostates with political impotence and oblivion. The socialist terms of debate are the rules by which the game must be played, and the only option is not to play the game at all.

This option is available, with a long list of qualifications, to thinkers. But it’s off-limits for doers, men of action, which all politicians must be by definition. That’s why the perennial choice in British politics is between Labour Lite, aka the Tories, and Labour Full Strength.

The latter looks set for a triumphant landslide this time around. However, even when socialist candidates lose, their principles win. Such is the ineluctable logic of modernity, and it won’t be bucked.

1 thought on “Whoever wins, Tories lose”

  1. I recently watched a presentation by Yeonmi Park, who escaped the oppression of North Korea for the oppression of the United States of America. She was in tears as she described the terrible incidents she has endured here in “the land of the free.” From the horrible state of our education/indoctrination system to being call “racist” for wanting to report a physical assault, it was embarrassing to hear. People living in the freest countries in the world advocate for socialism, while the people living under socialism want to escape to these “free” countries.

    “…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” It certainly seems more evident today than it was in 1776.

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