Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pause to remember

The curmudgeonly John Derbyshire went a little bit gooey in June, and I missed it. Mind you, I think he was right to do so and that's why I want to recall what set him off.

Tony Blair’s stepping down to make way for Gordon Brown is, whatever you think of the likely consequences, wonderful evidence of the political maturity of Anglo-Saxon democracy. There was no constitutional requirement for him to step down, no election, no parliamentary defeat, not even irresistible pressure from inside his party. He is just honoring a gentlemen’s agreement.

It makes you proud to belong to this wonderful political culture. We—I—spend a lot of time grumbling about the faults of our system. Let’s just pause and remember how far we have come from the primitive gangsterism that has passed for politics through most of human history, and is still normative in much of the world today.

We tend to compare what we have with what we believe we should have. Not an unreasonable thing to do; in fact, a necessary one. However, every now and then, for the sake of perspective, we ought to see what we have in the light of virtually universal human experience, what has gone before, what is all around. And, in that light, we are among the very fortunate very few.

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