My third and final act of shameless self-promotion PLUS How to annoy a liberal
Yes, that’s right folks, my new book The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia is available now, at a huge discount, at the world’s biggest bookstore, viz Amazon.
The President of the United States wants you to forgo “wedding, anniversary, or birthday” gifts in order to contribute to his campaign. “It goes a lot further than a gravy bowl,” he says. (But does it go further than the government-funded gravy train? We’re left in the dark about that.)
I say, keep your silver-plated fish slicer, if that’s what you want, but why not consider a lasting gift—The Fortunes of Permanence? Maybe you should send a copy to the President: he’ll have plenty of time for serious reading come January, and what could be better calculated to stir this President’s gray matter than a book featuring an image by Thomas Cole of a ruined city on its cover? A single click here and the book will be winging its way to you (or to anyone to whom you’d like to send a gift) in hours. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you (or he or she) will get it in 2-days post-free. Think of how many liberals you could annoy by the simple expedient of sending them Kimball’s latest! Any day now (or so I am told) a Kindle version will also be available, ditto a version for the iPad through Apple’s iBooks store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook: we have all the technological bases covered. But right now you can take a moment to go to the page, buy the book, and don;t forget to click Like if you like the book or to leave a customer review if you feel so moved. What’s in it for you? Here’s a sample from the book’s coda:
A growing influence of elites brings with it an erosion of local initiative as the blandishments of security are dispensed in exchange for a tithe on freedom. Tocqueville noted the perennial tension between the demand for freedom and the demand for equality in democratic regimes. And as we saw in the last chapter, his great disciple Friedrich Hayek described the process by which “extensive government control” produced “a psychological change, an alteration of the character of the people.” “The important point,” wrote Hayek, “is that the political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much the effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives. This means, among other things, that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.” Evidence for the collapse of the spirit is not far to seek. In a characteristically penetrating observation, Mark Steyn cites the deliciously awful spectacle of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown endeavoring to come up with a patriotic British equivalent of Independence Day for Americans. What did his government turn up? July 5, the anniversary of the inauguration of National Health Service, a fitting symbol of British surrender of personal freedom for the sake of a spurious security. “They can call it,” Steyn writes, “Dependence Day.”
The anatomy of servitude, which has formed an important leitmotif in this book, tells a depressing story. But it is not all of the story. Even the “apocalyptic” Mark Steyn points to the way out. He is quite right that “you cannot wage a sustained ideological assault on your own civilization without profound consequence.” We’ve had the assault and we are living with the consequences. He is also right that “without serious course correction, we will see the end of the Anglo-American era, and the eclipse of the powers that built the modern world.” The hopeful part of that prediction comes in the apodosis: the course may still be corrected. As Hayek noted about his own dire diagnosis: “The consequences can of course be averted if that spirit reasserts itself in time.” There are, I believe, two main sources of hope. One lies in the past, in the depth and strength of the Anglo- sphere’s traditional commitment to individual freedom and local initiative against the meddlesome intrusion of any central authority. “The future is unknowable,” said Churchill, “but the past should give us hope.” The Anglosphere, James Bennett writes, “is not a fragile hothouse flower that can be easily uprooted and disappear forever.”
The second main ground for hope lies in the present and immediate future. In the United States, anyway, we have lately witnessed a new “revolt of the masses,” different from, in fact more or less the opposite of, the socialistic eruption José Ortega y Gasset limned in his famous essay on the subject. A specter is haunting America, the specter of freedom. It travels under different names, but its core motivation centers around the rejection of the business as usual: the big-government, top-down, elitist egalitarianism practiced by both major parties in the United States. In the aftermath of the November 2010 mid-term elections, I spoke on a cruise sponsored by National Review at which the pollster Scott Rasmussen observed that one thing the election demonstrated was that Americans do not want to be governed by Democrats or by Republicans: they want to govern themselves. If he is right — there’s that little word “if” again—the Anglosphere has a lot more mileage in it. Are things bad? Is it late? Yes, and yes again. But as Lord D’Abernon memorably put it, “An Englishman’s mind works best when it is almost too late.”
It’s late, but not too late. Order The Fortunes of Permanence Now.