Thursday, 16 February 2017

A new political geology

Around the developed world a new political geology is becoming apparent. The fissure is not between left and right, as we have used those words, but between people who like national sovereignty, on the one hand, and internationalists or globalists.

On the side of national sovereignty are the Burkean and Disraelian conservatives, people who like the distributist ideas of Belloc and Chesterton, who were liberals, socialists of the Orwell type and the old fashioned hard left (think Dennis Skinner). In the internationalist camp are Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, classical liberals and the modern Clintonian or Blairite liberals, The Financial Times and The Economist, a lot of CEOs of banks and large multinational companies and most on the left. Many of them, like the Clintons, hope one day for a borderless world.

This dichotomy is not identical with, but is connected to, the debate between the idealist and realist schools of foreign policy. It slightly echoes the debates between Disraeli and Gladstone. 

It also reminds me of something said long ago by Disraeli.
"In a progressive country change is constant; and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and the traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines." 

Monday, 6 February 2017

The best and worst US presidents of all time

My article on the three worst US Presidents (George W. Bush, 
Lincoln and Wilson were my choices) seems rather topical now that Donald Trump is president.

It is of course far too early to form a tentative judgment on President Trump after four weeks. He is promising in some ways, though certainly worrying in others. Never say never but it is hard to imagine that he will be as disastrous as George W. Bush.

Barack Obama was very mediocre, of course. Instead of being a mixed-race Ike who brought his country together and forgave whites for their history of racism, he was deliberately divisive. He used wedge issues like homosexual marriage and transgender people using the ladies to divide Republicans and conquer. 

Still, he was not outstandingly bad. Under him the economy improved and he to some extent kept his country out of wars. His biggest legacy, regardless of what you think of it, is creating the conditions in which President Trump won the White House.

The worst president was Lincoln. If you doubt that, try this mental exercise.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The news from Romania

I started this blog to write about Romania but other things happened instead. Recently Donald Trump happened.

I even failed to blog about the new Social Democrat (PSD) government that took power, in coalition with a small party, the misnamed Liberal Democrats, at the end of last year.

Now Romania is second item on the BBC World Service news, above Trump’s visa policy.

Readers who follow Romanian politics know what to think. For those who don’t, but are interested, I’ll fill you in.

Romania, like all her post-Communist neighbours, has been a by-word for corruption. But for the last three years Romania has become famous as a country where corruption is being tackled very effectively and in the most remarkable way.

The success of the Romanian anti-corruption drive is not just cleansing the Augean stables here. It is an example to the rest of the region. People in nearby countries look in astonishment at what is happening.

And now it is all about to end.