QUITE A FEW PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED ME to say that the Pim Fortuyn assassination feels bigger to them than it ought to. As David Carr writes on Samizdata, "I think those tectonic plates of history just juddered." Such intuitions are often true when widely felt -- but of course, when widely felt they are often self-fulfilling. We'll see. Europe is in a bad way, as I've been saying since, well, before InstaPundit even started. Because the problems have been papered over, and because there's an agreement among the elites not to talk about them, a lot of people haven't realized how bad they were. Now they're starting to.
And, you know, it's not always bad for political "tectonic plates" to move. It just depends on how they move.
I don't doubt that this is the first assassination of a Dutch politician in the modern era, as all the networks have been reporting. But it is not the first assassination of an important right-of-center person in Europe -- not even the first this year. It's only been seven weeks since the Red Brigades murdered Marco Biagi, a Berlusconi adviser "who had drawn up proposals for dramatic labour reform" in Italy (to quote the BBC account). So far as I have heard, no one's been arrested.
The U.S. has enough of a problem with various politicians, pundits, and professors demonizing conservatives by pretending that anyone to the right of Jim Jeffords is no better than Pat Buchanan or David Duke. The situation seems even worse in Europe. They certainly have their Buchanans and Dukes -- Le Pen and Haider -- but since Mrs. Thatcher was deposed there has been a severe shortage of actual conservatives, a yawning void between the me-too pseudoconservatives and the racist fringe. With the assassinations of Biagi and Fortuyn, the shortage has worsened. Cui bono? We can't assume that it was the Red Brigades or their Dutch equivalent who murdered Fortuyn. More than one political faction, none of them particularly admirable, gains from the lack of a solid but not extreme right in Europe. In sum, I don't think people are wrong to feel that Fortuyn's murder is very important, possibly some sort of turning-point, and that its importance extends far beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands.Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 06, 2002 11:38 PM