Since the 1950’s, when Great Britain, beset with the crushing debt and physical exhaustion of having fought two massive wars in twenty years, voluntarily gave up the mantle as a a world leader, the country has been in a steady decline in creativity and influence internationally. This is a natural consequence of the progression of an inward looking population that has become more concerned with personal security than industriousness. This process has certainly been accelerated by the willingness of the United States, a country Great Britain shared common foundations with, to accept the mantle of military and economic superpower that was once Great Britain’s. The country that helped to create legal process, educational capacities, the industrial revolution, scientific progress with Newtonian physics, the discovery of the atom and penicillin, has spent the last fifty years concentrating on the balance of a nations resources and its comfort.
This is not to say that Great Britain has given up on one very special attribute that is uniquely British, the special skill of articulate debate. The British educational system continues to produce informed thinkers who are not afraid to express their opinion in a fashion of structured argument, with the bombast left for others. Daniel Hannan is a rising star of this school of debate, and a Person We Should Know. Born in Lima, Peru to an English family, but educated through British bastions of Marborough College and Oxford, his diverse exposure to the world has led him to be both multi-lingual in English, French, and Spanish, and thoroughly aware of the various structures of government and social policy that define the western experience of the twentieth century, and equally comfortable with the intellect and rapid response required of the tradition of British debate. At the young age of 39, he has already served his southeast English district in British Parliament for a decade and as a conservative representative in the European Parliament since 2009. He is a modern interlocutor, using the internet as a podium for intellectual outreach and discussion. He holds strongly principled belief in the damaging role bureaucracy plays in societal progress and economic development, and has been a strong opponent of European integration and socialist instincts. He has been especially forceful in his arguments for privatizing reform of the sacred cow of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, which he blames for low survival rates in cancer and stroke treatments, poor hospital conditions, and inexorable waiting lists for procedures. He is a strong supporter of American leadership of the free world as the world in his view continues to be threatened with forces of fascistic suppression of individual rights and opportunity, for so long held back only by American willingness to confront far flung dictators and stand for free markets and individual rights. He is seeing now, however, a progressive fatigue building in America to replace individual industriousness with collective security and a retrenchment from world leadership responsibilities similar to what Great Britain went through a half century ago, and demands are attention.
In an important book recently published, The New Road To Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America , Hannan decries the insidious creep of socialist tendencies in the American legislative process and outlines the learning lessons for American in mistakes British Parliament has already made with similar decision points and their effect on British life. How apropo this book is in watching the current struggles in Wisconsin, New Jersey and other states to corral forces that would drive the United States into the obligations of cradle to grave guarantees that have so corrupted the flexibility of European political processes to deal with new challenges.
Whether in full agreement or not with British thought, Hannan is one of a growing set of modern debaters such as Paul Ryan, Boris Johnson, and Chris Christie that bring their considerable intellect to bear in a strong cohesive argument for stopping western societal decline and self induced economic suicide. The sad fact of modern debate is that conservative minds are progressively the deliverers of constructive and complex thought and so called liberals the defenders of reactionary chants, fact suppression, and name calling. Where is our modern John Kenneth Galbraith? Certainly not hiding in Illinois…