I’m having trouble getting back into the blogging swing of things and I’ve always been fueled creatively by my massive hatred of David Brooks, so I thought I’d go after this low-hanging fruit:
In 1920, Winston Churchill’s mother held a dinner for M. Paul Cambon to celebrate the end of his 20 years as the French ambassador to Britain. One of the guests asked Cambon what he had seen in his two decades in London.
“I have witnessed an English revolution more profound and searching than the French Revolution itself,” Cambon replied. “The governing class have been almost entirely deprived of political power and to a very large extent of their property and estates; and this has been accomplished almost imperceptibly and without the loss of a single life.”
Buried in that answer is a picture of how politics should work. Britain faced an enormous task: To move from an aristocratic political economy to a democratic, industrial one. This transition was made gradually, without convulsion, with both parties playing a role.
Gradually? Without convulsion? I don’t know if you’re aware of this David, but most British historians believe that the First World War was pretty convulsive. And definitely not very gradual. He seems to think that Britain cast off her aristocratic rulers by a process of “constructive competition.” In fact, what happened was that we went to war, conscripted millions of young men and sent them to France to be machine-gunned. Simultaneously, our government was taken over by a clique, led by Lloyd George, which ruled autocratically from a garden shed in No 10 Downing Street. Meanwhile, a whole part of the country – Ireland – descended into civil war. Somehow, I don’t see that as a “gradual” transformation.
Without convulsion to Bobo means without argument among elites and without undue influence from the vituperative, foul-mouthed masses. Millions of pointless deaths? It’s all in the game. The important thing is that no elites’ fee fees were hurt.
I can’t think of a better example of how differently the Village views things than you or I do. Better that an entire generation gets mustard gassed than that a single president gets blown by an intern.