It was Evelyn Waugh who in 1944 wrote about the "languor
of Youth -- how unique and quintessential it is!" in his Brideshead
Revisited -- though I have always believed anyone over the age of
13 enjoying languor in their youth to be the same type of people that
Waugh populated his novel with.
Impatience in the struggle to advance conservative ideals has always been
a bugbear of my youth. Although notable people have done their best to
convince me that meaningful change cannot occur overnight, it still is
a source of consternation to me that there is so much work to do to convince
people that things like liberty are good. Quackgrass Press' Michael Miller
once even wrote a lengthy email to convince me that continually worrying
over the length of the struggle was fruitless, even advancing the Fisher-Pry theory
to explain the length of time it takes for ideas to become the mainstream.
I suppose it is the mark of someone under 30 to sometimes forget how things
work in the real world, that change does not occur overnight. Though Adam
Smith advanced capitalism in 1776's The Wealth of Nations, it
is only in the 1990's that we read in magazines and books about the "final
victory" of capitalism over socialism and communism. It was in 1215
that England's King John signed the 63 clause Magna Carta, yet it took
561 years before real freedom finally came to the average man with the
American Revolution. The forces of collectivism ran free across the world
for thousands of years before a few thinkers came along and posited better
ways of doing things.
The lesson? Change -- real change -- takes a long, long time and one will
grow embittered and tired before any significant change occurs. Miller
calculated, using Fisher-Pry, that it will take another 40 to 50 years
before the ideas of Ayn Rand, as presented in The Fountainhead,
gain 50 per cent mindshare in North America. It is important to note that
several assumptions were used in this projection, but the figure is at
least plausible. So what does one do if meaningful change takes so long?
The answer to that question is my project for 1998 -- the choosing of
aims which will allow me to define victory and progress without waiting
for "total" victory. The key thing for all activists is the
definition of a realistic victory that one can actually achieve. Without
a realistic goal, optimism fades and the battle is lost.
Optimism is the most important weapon, besides reason, in our arsenal.
Without it, we give up the fight...or worse, we become martyrs to our
own inability to work towards a long-term goal. Carl Drega is not an example to be
followed. A loss of hope leads to impatience, frustration, and finally
paralysis, or in Drega's case, irrational actions.
So what goals should we be setting for 1998 and beyond? Those kind of
specifics are something that we'll have individually set for ourselves.
One thing that is for certain, however, is that change is coming. Our
goals will guide the direction of that change.
While prophecies of a "new economy" and less government are
woefully early, things are changing for the better. It is a telling sign
that the enemies of freedom and capitalism have had to at least pay lip
service to them if they wish any success in the marketplace of ideas.
In the last twenty years, or roughly since the elections of Ronald Reagan
and Margaret Thatcher, capitalism and freedom have had remarkable successes
both at home and abroad. Economies have been liberalized and government
has faced some retreats. We only have to make sure that the trend continues...and
for that we'll need goals...and patience.
Thanks for reading Gord Gekko
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Once again the image editor came out and nearly every single image has
been reduced in size. If you're looking for an alternative to Adobe's
Photoshop, give serious consideration to Fractal Design Painter. With
this software I managed to cut image sizes, sometimes in half, with no
loss of quality. ESR's index page was a hefty 37 second download
at 28.8 (according to Front Page 97), but after a go at all the graphics,
it was down to 25 seconds.
Still taking too long? Hey, this is the web, not television. If the length
is a pain I'm sure there is plenty of fascinating shiny objects on TV
to be enthralled by.
Next month:Enter Stage Right will publish
as usual, but with a twist. January 1998 will see a "Best of 1997"
theme as we'll present the best pieces of this past year. We'll carry
one or two articles from each month so if you're a new reader make sure
to check it out!
It won't all be recycled electrons though. We'll still have new content
for the Vinegar in Freedom Award, Earth is Flat Award, Tidbits section,
Site of the Month, and CFFJ Updates, among others. I've also been experimenting
with some changes to the front page layout (see, I told you that I can't
leave well enough alone) so you might see some changes there
as well...hopefully to make it as easy as possibly to find what you're
Make sure to check it out!
Still more: And now the big news! Next month we launch
a companion site to ESR! Want to find out more? Well, come back
on January 1, 1998 and learn about the newest member of the ESR