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"Troublemakers, campaigners, evangelists"

I always find Peter Hitchens has something interesting to say even when I don’t agree with him, and I never do agree with everything he writes. His latest column was glowing with ideas.

He wrote about the recent Iranian incident, and tartly noted that “Theodore Roosevelt's original good advice in diplomacy was to talk softly and carry a big stick (his big stick was the US Navy, which under his presidency became a mighty force). We seem to have decided to do the opposite, squawking a lot, squandering our prestige on showy foreign adventures, while weakening the Army and RAF and virtually scrapping the Royal Navy.”

He makes a telling point that the wages of a family’s second wage earner go almost entirely to paying outrageously high taxes and child care. Meanwhile, the Government has just reported that the longer children spend in daycare every week the more worried and aggressive they become.

Peter is disturbed about the state of the country, but he is not frightened or dismayed.

It is important, however, not to despair at the scale of the task. We live in a prosperous, free, ordered society - badly fraying at the edges and in dangerous decline, but even so a valuable and unusual achievement well worth preserving. We owe these benefits to the actions, in many cases centuries ago, of courageous reformers, troublemakers, campaigners, evangelists - people who refused to conform to conventional wisdom or accept that because something is so, then it must and should always remain that way.


These vivid people – daring, doing, and living passionately – appear in the pages of Freedom.

Few of them lived to see any benefits of what they did, and died imagining they had failed, or even derided as hopeless eccentrics and espousers of lost causes. It is important to realise that we may be in the same position now, and not to be discouraged by that. Edmund Burke's poetic, haunting assertion that society is a compact between the dead, the living and the unborn has never been more true. Hold fast to what is good, now, and others, in a future almost unimaginable to us now, may yet be grateful that you did not give up.