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An Obituary

To Norman Macrae:

Norman’s early experiences did not just sour him to politicians. They soured him to collectivism in all its many varieties. He had no time for the government-worshipping intellectuals he found when he studied economics at Cambridge in 1945-47. He loathed the feminists and black-power activists he came across in America in the late 1960s and 1970s, smelling in their affection for group rights and their willingness to use intimidation the same intolerance he had smelt in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. He took his children on trips to eastern Europe in order to teach them the difference between freedom and tyranny. He seldom missed an opportunity to champion the “hard hats” over the “soft heads”.

Norman’s case for market capitalism did not rest merely on its ability to create wealth, but on its capacity to advance individual freedom. He was almost as critical of big-company capitalism as he was of big-government socialism. In a 1976 survey on “The coming entrepreneurial revolution” he argued that big business was as doomed as big government. Hierarchical managers sitting in their skyscrapers could no longer arrange how brain workers should best use their imaginations. The future lay with small firms that could exploit individual creativity and with bigger firms that could split themselves into small centres and encourage competition between them.

Norman’s critique of the welfare state was inspired by a similar belief in individualism. He pointed out that the market had produced a remarkable equalisation in people’s lives. Rich and poor had access to the same consumer goods—the same television programmes, the same comfortable armchairs, the same plethora of goods in supermarkets, which were spreading from the suburbs to the slums. In 1945 the average Englishman had only one pair of trousers; in the swinging 1960s he had access not only to lots of pairs of (tight) trousers but also to holidays in the sun and cheap mortgages.

I think that The Economist has gone downhill considerably since he left it.

Their Finest Hour

While it’s the seventieth anniversary of the fall of France, it’s also the seventieth (related) anniversary of one of (if not the best) Churchill’s finest speeches:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Sadly, it may have been. It’s certainly been downhill since the end of the war.

Racist Conservative Soccer Hatred

Jonah has some thoughts on the idiotic notion that conservatives don’t like soccer because they’re racist. I agree with him that most anti-soccer animus is just backlash against “progressive” soccerphilia, much of which derives, I suspect, from a knee-jerk multi-culti worship. It’s not an American sport, therefore it is to be admired. I am indifferent to soccer, but I do enjoy poking fun at it, only because it stirs up the right sort of people:

it seems to me that Zirin is displaying that all too common tendency among leftwingers to assume that if conservatives dissent from liberal affections and priorities, it must be because conservatives are evil. A far more plausible and good faith explanation for the conservative reaction to soccer can be found in the liberal overreaction to soccer. It seems to me that most of the conservatives I know who make a fuss about the World Cup (I should say a “make a negative fuss,” since I know quite a few conservatives who love soccer and the World Cup. I am not one of them.) do so because they are sick of being told how soccer is the future; how it’s elegant and sophisticated and cosmopolitan. As with women’s professional basketball, journalistic and other elites tell the masses they’re supposed to love it – and they just don’t. Moreover they resent being told to “evolve” in their sports tastes. Now, tastes change of course, and soccer will undoubtedly grow in popularity. But being told that all the smart and decent people love something is a sure way to get the Irish up in a lot of Americans. I am willing to concede that some conservatives get carried away in their anti-soccer tirades, usually just for fun, but I’d very much like to see a few more liberals admit that at least some of the soccer-mania here in the states is driven by a faddish desire to seem hip and worldly.

But we know that any disagreement with “liberals” has to be rooted in racism, right?

[Update a while later]

Per some comments, I would note that my sports preference is for a game with strategy and time to contemplate the next move (e.g., football, baseball). I have an extreme dislike for any game with continuous motion with the point of getting a ball/object into the opposing team’s goal. That is, basketball, hockey…and soccer.


Is it too big to fail?

Just more crony capitalism, despite the fact that the president won’t meet with BP’s president.

By the way, this is one of the reasons that I don’t like the Marxist term “capitalism.”

Can you imagine the phrase “crony free enterprise”?