I read with interest Greg Johnson’s recent article about Douglas Hyde’s Dedication and Leadership, a book where the author — who fed 20 years of his life to the meat-grinder of Communist activism — provided trenchant advise on how best to mobilize the idealism, and inspire the sacrifice, of those seeking to change the world. In bringing Hyde to readers’ attention, Johnson’s aim was to encourage activists on the Right to learn from the winners on the Left. The Right, he argued, has been fighting a losing battle since 1943, to the point where nowadays even so-called “conservatives” are defined by their political enemies. Understanding, therefore, how the Left achieved cultural hegemony during the twentieth century is indispensable if we are to end the Left’s tyranny during the twenty-first.
Learning from the successful strategies of the Left, however, is only part of the ‘homework’. The other part is learning from the failed strategies of the Right. Studying the latter is just as important, because the triumph of the Left is as much a consequence of how egalitarians built their credibility (or at least the illusion of credibility), as the defeat of the Right is a consequence of how elitists squandered theirs. The Left’s early victories were hard fought and hard won, but the Left’s recent victories have been largely by default, possible because they faced virtually no opposition.
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