A correspondent, Mr Michael Hendry, calls our attention to the fact that today is the 100th birthday of Nicolás Gómez Dávila. (Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of his death.) As a website that aspires to be Canada’s leading forum of Gómez-Dávilism, & all-round reactionary intransigence, we really ought to say “Eh!” & get tanked or something. Drinks will be served at the High Doganate, to anyone who can find the place in the Greater Parkdale Area. Just go to the corner of Jameson & Queen, & ask the gentleman in the turban with the long beard. The one with the hookah.
I have carried the discussion of the last few days over to Catholic Thing, where my column continues to appear every second Saturday. (Today being one of those Saturdays.) While no Colombian sage is mentioned, the point about politics being pointless is made. I don’t think people will understand it. For many I know, giving up politics would be like giving up poker, or crack cocaine. I often think many of us know it is pointless, in the same way we know we will not win the lottery. But the devil tells us to try again. And sometimes, of course, someone does win; & then the real tragedy starts unfolding.
Which is not to say, even at this late day, that no decent men & women mix in. I have known a few, motivated by a notion of public service; who, wrongly or not, “believe in democracy,” & argue that paraphrase of Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Which is well, on the condition of self-understanding.
Burke, in my view, is the first man to read on what was best & wisest in the Anglo-American political tradition; as also for a standard in political campaigns. He refused to flatter, & gallantly accepted the consequences when required. It was he who told the electors of Bristol: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
There, in a sentence, is why populism stinks; & why it gets worse, the broader the franchise.
Conversely, however, the statesman prepared to lose his seat, the party prepared never to form a government, the man who will stand against public opinion & endure mockery on behalf of the truth — may have some power. I think that may be the exception that proves the rule.