by Shihang

I’m still reading Ill Fares the Land after a particularly ill-advised outing on Saturday evening, and there are two things that seem to stand out. (By the way, I think the book is a remarkably clear and eloquent exposition of the economic divisions between the right and the left, and as expected from a historian, brings valuable historical context to the debate.)

1) How the post-war consensus was a solidly “left” one, and that efforts were made to pare down the excesses of the unregulated market economy. Which stands to reason that if the modern right succeeds in reversing those reforms (child labour laws?), the old tensions that plagued society will re-emerge.

2) An extremely interesting chapter on how the 60s college protesters were borne of the prosperity of the social democratic state, but rebelled against bureaucracy and statism. The shift was from collectivism (from the belief that important social problems cannot be tackled by the individual)  to individualism, and interestingly, the new left also led to the resurgence of the new right, which similarly espouses individuality. All in all, those hippies did not stand for much of American youth (as not many people did attend college), alienated both right and left, and were inconsistent in their advocacy for foreign governments to intervene in their countries and for their own governments to back off.

Get the book.