Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Wishy-Washy Waste

Christopher Hitchens, 5/13/2010:

[Ralph Miliband's] best-known book was Parliamentary Socialism, in which he analyzed Labor's attempt to transform society through the ballot box. His conclusion was that a party too wedded to pragmatism and compromise would in the end sacrifice its principles, but in doing so it would also cease to work as an electoral machine. Perhaps I'll take this book down from the dusty old shelf on which I have preserved it.

(Italics mine.)

A.J.P. Taylor, 10/1957:

I doubt whether anyone with an Anglican background can become a true radical. George Lansbury came nearest to it. Yet there was always a subtle dividing line between him and the rebels around him. Gladstone tried hard, but he could never rid himself of the belief that a duke or a bishop had more political sense than Cobden or John Stuart Mill. The rule still applies in the Labour Party. Its leaders with an Anglican education seek radical ideas, but they lack radical instincts. Time and again they wind up on the Right without ever meaning to do so.

Throw out Taylor's "Anglican" and replace it with "professional" or even "typical" and it holds true for modern Labour and Democratic politicians. The result is or will be just as Miliband thought.