In the mid 1980s, two of the enduring magna opera of conservative thought, Jean Francois Ravel’s How Democracies Perish (1984) and James Burnham’s The Suicide of the West (1985) appeared in quick succession to spelunk amongst the unconscious psychopathologies of what Malcolm Muggeridge had earlier called “the great liberal death wish”. At the same time (1984), the Conservative Book Club’s alternate selection was R. Emmett Tyrell’s optimistically titled The Liberal Crack-Up. (Reagan was in power; it was the dawning of the age of “irrational exuberance”.)
That in the West democracy and civilization as we knew them are now roadkill putrefying on the shoulder of the Highway of Progress will get no argument from the present writer. But that liberalism as a political philosophy is moribund or suicidal — if that was the authors’ implication—appears to have been a consoling illusion. The Left, in its current “progressive” modality, is very much alive, and can be seen everywhere—forgive the indelicacy, but the image is all too apposite—urinating on the graves of its erstwhile undertakers.