January 25, 2005

Kling in TCS on TAC

Arnold Kling's new column at Tech Central Station discusses the current problems of the Democratic Party in the context of The Anglosphere Challenge.

A perceptive and enjoyable discussion, in general.

Two points come to mind:

In regard to the future of the Republicans and Democrats, what my attention is shifting to is the question of whether the Republicans can maintain their ability to keep coalitions together, as a consequence of their successes. People forget that even though the Republicans have dominated the White House since 1968
(or even 1952, depending on how you see things) they have only attained even a minimal full control over all three branches of government since 2002, or more accurately, since the beginning of this month. It's a lot easier to maintain an essentially negative coalition aimed at blocking or repealing what the other team has done or wants to do; it is much harder to form an acceptable agenda for a governing coalition of disparate parties.

Bush's Opportunity Society initiative is an interesting attempt at formulating such an agenda. It will be interesting to see how it fares.

The second point is a historical one. Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz in a private email, took exception to Kling's description of England's "lack of a strong central monarchy," pointing out accurately enough that the English monarchy was far more effective, and far more centralized than Continental monarchies for a long period of time.

I think we are seeing an endemic problem in discussing this issue in English-speaking discourse. When we say "strong central monarchies" our image is of Louis XIV's France -- pervasive and intrusive government. Its opposite in one sense is a weak, decentralized monarchy, which would be (to give the classic example) pre-partition Poland. But the English monarchy was also the opposite of the Sun King's autocracy in a different plane -- it was strong and fully able to enforce civil peace in England from a very early time. But in terms of intrusiveness into English life, it was amazingly unlike Continental states -- no real police, no standing army. This model -- effective where needed, absent where not -- was the model the founders drew on for the Federal government. And Lex is right, this model has been critical for the success of our civil society.

Posted by Jim Bennett at January 25, 2005 11:48 AM