It was twenty-five years ago today that the cold war came to an end. Communism as a political and economic model was finally bankrupt; morally and spiritually destroyed from within as it succumbed to the inevitable results of its unworkable ideas. A political scheme that had started with great fanfare, built upon the utopias of the dreamers had ended not in an explosion but with a sputter. The empire was not brought down by a great war or an epic betrayal. Instead it came to its end at the hands of nameless faceless bureaucrats, stale day-old bread and colorless prison camps. Even turning their countries into the greatest slave-labor camps in the history of the world was not enough to save their project. One day the factories just stopped and the beleaguered worker-slaves, still hunched and pale from their labors stumbled into the streets to face the bright light of their uncertain future.
Unfortunately, it did not end there as it should have. Confident that nobody could defeat our armies or outperform our markets, the west grew complacent. We retreated into smugness, and declaring victory we stopped making the case for liberty in the hearts of men.
And we left the work unfinished.
Instead of driving home our advantage and bringing freedom to the corners still dark with the denial of self – places like Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam and others – we told ourselves that our work was done. But we underestimated our foe. Where there is sloth, hate, anger, bitterness and jealousy our adversaries will always find fertile ground for their weeds to grow. They started to expand again – moving slowly and with greater finesse they sold redistribution as the answer and government as the panacea. One by one nations started to fall; not to the old party system but to savage populism at the service of an overlord.
And as we reveled in our victory, the men who Frederic Hayek called the second-hand dealers in ideas retreated from power positions into the murky world of academia, the arts and other positions of influence. They called themselves intellectuals, a self-proclaimed title that defied challenge. Putting aside their copies of Mao and Lenin – and putting down their guns – they became experts in Gramsci. They focused their efforts on making the principles of liberty boring. In a bait and switch the old ideas of honor, hard work, propriety, dignity, family, faith and liberty were called tired prejudices and replaced with the bitter politics of envy. And from their perches, they work tirelessly to hollow out the hearts of men. For men with empty souls are easy to control.
Despite the setbacks, all is not lost – we still have time. Our ideas, the old ideas first given to man upon tablets of stone at the top of a mountain – ideas of life, liberty, property, family, faith and of law – are still the only way to prosperity. But now more than ever we must drive home these truths that we hold as self-evident and quietly alight the hearts of men to liberty. If we do not, our adversaries will come like thieves in the night and return us to a time without rights and without liberty; like they have so many times in the past.