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The miracle of the argle-speaking people


Dan Hannan, the MEP man has written … a 750 word thing for The Washington Examiner v 3.1. See if you can guess what it is about.

It starts with a history lesson:

Around 10,000 years ago, our ancestors discovered farming. Almost immediately, they discovered something else, too: That it is easier to plunder somebody else’s harvest than to spend all year tending your own crops. If you want the best ratio of effort to reward, though, you don’t just go marauding; you regularize your plunder through tithes, tolls and taxes. Thus was civilization born in tyranny.

He puffs new books by Jay “Nerdfinger” Nordlinger and Tom “Don’t call me an Islamophobe” Holland. He tells us how increasingly groovy things have been for the English-speaking peoples (for a given value of “person”).

The Magna Carta! The Glorious Revolution! (No love for Cromwell?) The American Revolution! Vive les Anglophones! It’s helped make the U.S. America Despot-Proof, Hannan writes.

Why hasn’t it happened in America? Partly because the Constitution was drawn up by men who had studied Tacitus and Suetonius almost as intently as Holland has, and who cleverly stacked the incentives so that leaders had to keep looking over their shoulders at the general population. Partly, too, because, habituated by centuries of English common law, Americans were genuinely outraged by anything that smacked of rule-breaking.


Could there be some machete on the horizon that even now threatens the fragile flower of constitutional government, and if so what could it be?

  • The erosion of rights in the name of fighting the War Against Drugs and/or Terrorism?
  • Accelerated economic imbalances that are aided and abetted by the lackeys of the .01%??
  • The recent burst of disenfranchisement efforts???

Don’t be silly. In the last paragraph, he breaks the suspense, or gets to the point, or his shovel strikes something that gives a hollow thud, and after brushing away the dirt, he reveals, at long last …

When I look at the reaction to some of the more obvious power-grabs by the Supreme Court, I wonder. Nothing is more depressing in contemporary politics than people’s disregard for due process when they happen to agree with the outcome. (“Who cares whether it’s a state prerogative? You got a problem with gay people?”) Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that such a mindset was the necessary precondition to autocracy. Was he wrong?

So if you guessed: “Oppressed people agreeing with Supreme Court decisions reduce oppression but that Hannan disagrees with are the gateway drug to dictatorship.” Congratulations, you are now entitled to the best of the Thanksgiving leftovers. (Within reason. If someone else has called dibs, hands off.)

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