James Forsyth

The right case for optimism

The right case for optimism
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William F. Buckley’s 1955 editorial declaring that the Nation Review “stands athwart history, yelling Stop” is one of the defining texts in modern conservatism. But as David Frum argues, the changes that have happened since 1955 have, on balance, been overwhelmingly for the better:

“But think how much worse a place the world would be if Bill Buckley had actually succeeded in calling a stop to history in 1955. Vienna would still be occupied by Soviet troops. The federal government would still regulate prices on everything from natural gas to brokers commissions. Racial segregation would remain American practice. People would continue to die unnecessarily of cigarette smoking or in unseatbelted automobile accidents. The country would be poorer, more regulated, less innovative, less educated. All in all: There’s been a lot of progress since 1955.”

One of the great divides on the right is between optimists and pessimists. Every political party, movement, think-tank and even publication on the right is a coalition between these two groups.

Unsurprisingly, I’d say the evidence—in the medium to long term—is pretty firmly on the side of the optimists. So, as David Frum signs off, “Let us study history and learn optimism. Stop? No – forward!”

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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