The West's Enduring Strength


"That our society no longer represents a philosophically unified and substantive whole is a loss greatly outweighed by the exuberance and genius and creativity that freedom has unleashed. Miracles in science and technology, astonishing advances in communication, the empowerment of millions to experience freedom of thought independently of big corporations, governments or expensive printing presses: these achievements of free people have expanded the possibilities of human freedom still further. The attack on the West by Islamism was not a function of the West's weakness, but a nihilistic, embittered swipe at a success that cast the dreary failure of so much of the Muslim Middle East into a shaming shade. It turned out our flaw was not our softness, but our strength.

When asked to defend the contingent, and foundation-less conservatism I have sketched here, this should be enough. We like it here. We love our way of life. The proof is in the millions who long to be here, who aspire to this dream of human potential, who yearn to escape the stifling constraints of oppressive government interference or brutal theocratic tyranny. What greater argument need we have? Our only weakness is self-doubt, which is part of our own querulous, paradoxical strength. The achievement of this freedom is a consequence of luck and tradition, history and thought, of great leaders in dark times and ordinary people in the unlikeliest of places. But it is an achievement nonetheless. We can touch it with our hands, and express it with our voices. It is more secure than any abstract argument or esoteric thesis. It is as good a defense as we shall ever have. Why on earth should we ask for more?" - from "The Conservative Soul," out October 2.