Klaus Comes Around
by Virginia Postrel • Aug 30, 2005 at 4:58 pm
Almost exactly six years ago, I gave this speech to a regional meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society. The theme of the conference was "creeping socialism." I argued that socialism was not the biggest threat to liberty today and that fighting old, familiar battles was a serious mistake.
Although the speech got thunderous applause, one audience member absolutely hated it and let me know in no uncertain terms. Vaclav Klaus scornfully told me what I was saying was no different from socialism in the guise of a "third way." Socialism was in fact the biggest threat to liberty, and it was wrong (and, his tone suggested, stupid and evil) to suggest otherwise. He wasn't looking for an argument, as far as I could tell, just a chance to put an obscure young lady in her place.
Well, now he's apparently come around--at the Mont Pelerin Society meeting, no less. Turns out old-style socialism is not, in fact, the biggest threat to liberty in the 21st century. Turns out it's not heretical to say we shouldn't fight old battles--at least if you're Vaclav Klaus. Gee.
His analysis isn't as clear as mine (nor can it accommodate Islamicism, which is a virulent form of reactionary stasis). But at least he's finally grasped the general point. Better six years late than never.
Comment on this item
Buy Virginia's Books
Copyright 2013 Virginia Postrel. All commercial rights reserved.