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Robert L. Bartley

Editor of the Wall Street Journal, author of The Seven Fat Years: And How to Do It Again


American economic history is a story of booms fading into resentment. It is not so much a business cycle as a cycle of public sentiment, alternating between times of optimism and times of pessimism. Between, if you must, decades of greed and, if you will, decades of envy.

from The Seven Fat Years
The big temptation to conservatives, and especially conservative intellectuals, is self-realizing pessimism. As many rising movements have discovered, it is easier to tear down than build. Conservatism in particular, in its view of human nature and in its recent historical experience, has a strong pessimistic strain. Sometimes conservatives seem unhappy unless they are losing. They need to guard against seizing on a few receding waves as evidence that the tide has turned against them.

Feb. 09, 1997 - from a collection of essays published under the title "On the Future of Conservatism" by Commentary magazine