I like Daniel Hannan’s analysis and his position on matters political. From 1999 to 2020 he was a Member of European Parliament (MEP) for South East England. Here’s a short opinion piece he published yesterday at the John Locke Institute website.
“Free trade, the greatest blessing a government can bestow on a people, is in almost every country unpopular”, wrote Lord Macaulay in 1824. Since then, average global incomes have risen, at a conservative estimate, by 3,000 per cent – having previously barely sloped upwards at all. Globalisation and open markets have been miraculous poverty-busters. Take any measure you like: literacy, longevity, infant mortality, female education, calorie intake, height.
Yet, in thrall to our Palaeolithic instincts, we still refuse to accept it. We deny the evidence of rising prosperity; or else we tell ourselves that rising living standards come at a terrible cost, that society has become soulless and materialistic, that something is missing. Every protest movement against the modern liberal order – romanticism, existentialism, fascism, communism, religious fundamentalism – is a tortured cry from our inner caveman, yearning for the collectivism and authority of the kin-group.
As we haul ourselves from the pupa of lockdown, we find we are subtly transformed. There is more demand for authoritarian governments of both Left and Right. There is more protectionism, and thus more poverty. There is less tolerance of dissent. There is more identity politics – the ultimate form of collectivism, because it defines people, not as individuals, but by group.
His conclusion is bleak:
Let’s acknowledge that capitalist moment, when reason overcame dogma and when ordinary people came to enjoy lifestyles that mediaeval kings could not have dreamt of. It was an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that hardly anyone understood or appreciated it. Its beneficiaries remained suspicious and hostile to the end. Only now, perhaps, as we revert to our natural condition, do we appreciate what we are losing.
C’est la vie.