Lively argument is one thing, but what does that have to do with the drearily predictable responses to the death of Castro? If the comparisons between Castro, Pinochet, and other such phenomena tell us anything, it’s how unwilling our elites are to learn. In particular, learn lessons which might be summarised as: (a) Brutal dictators can sometimes perform valuable services for their people; (b) They remain brutal dictators nonetheless; (c) Whatever their ideology, brutal dictators can all exploit the radical incoherence of the so-called ‘international community’ on even matters of life and death; (d) In the Western case incoherence extends even to the definition of Western interests, and therefore to what we expect politicians, diplomats, soldiers, and indeed, businesspeople and charities to do on our behalf; (e) Moral education, including of the next generation, cannot but be confused by all of this.

If the elites (and anti-elitists) were to show some guts, and begin thinking seriously about these lessons and debating them honestly, I would start having more respect for our culture and feeling more hopeful for the future.

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