Speaking to a Labour Party conference in October, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a vainglorious speech he may live to regret. His words heartened some of his more enthusiastic supporters, but shocked the shires and clarified the ideological battle lines. Even some naive neoconservatives, like Paul Johnson and Lady Thatcher, who had long maintained that Blair was nonideological or even “one of us” because he had abandoned socialism, have recanted or subsided into shocked silence.

Speaking in his usual syntax-free style—”Fail a single person, we have failed Britain”—Blair nonetheless made it completely clear what and whom he didn’t like. He placed the blame for all the world’s ills squarely on the shoulders of “the forces of conservatism allied to racism.”

He mentioned specifically the supporters of fox hunting, General Pinochet, and hereditary peers as worthy of execration. But his grapeshot peppered all those, past or present, who wanted or want Britain to remain a united, independent country and a part of Western civilization. The forces of conservatism, he stated, do not reside merely in the Conservative Party, but include socialists opposed to his dumping what remains of the working class in favor of Islingtonian vegetarians. He attacked all those who saw multiculturalism “as a left-wing conspiracy.” He implied that the Conservative Party was guilty of the death of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager killed in South London in 1993 whose death was exploited for political purposes by some on the left, and said that the modem Conservative Party was “weird, weird, weird,” like the Addams Family. He attacked “the old elites, establishments that have run our country too long.” (In fact, as Melanie Phillips said in a recent article in the Times, “The top tier of politicians, civil servants, academics, journalists, judges and the rest of our elites are no longer conservative . . . but anarcho-illiberal.”) Finally, he intoned climactically, like a latter-day “Praise God” Barebones, Labour would “set the people free.” As Boris Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph on October 5, Blair’s speech was a “mix of puerile malice, historical ignorance and maudlin emotional blackmail.”

With its combination of mawkishness and ruthlessness, Blair’s speech was a perfect exposition of the “Third Way.” The values of the Third Way are still those of the hard left, but socialism has been replaced with revolutionary feminism, gay rights, multiculturalism, “deep ecology,” political correctness, cultural schlock and relativism, and the contemptible “counseling culture.” The left’s aim is no longer to corporatize society, but to break it up into easily manageable lobbies, united under a new, safe kind of “patriotism”—in a country without even its own currency. (Labour is trying to catapult Britain into the European single currency as soon as possible.) Now that even Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who has a face like a Dickensian parish beadle, considers himself to be middle class (his new allegiance caused a massive public argument with his father), the left needs to invent new client groups, new victims who can be bribed into becoming supporters. It then uses the new groups as battering rams against mainstream society, whilst Middle England is distracted by talk of curfews for teenage vandals.

Blair’s student-union idealism would be merely risible except that it is now being driven by skillful political managers. For tacticians like Peter Mandelson, political idealism seems almost to take second place to professional pride. Most worryingly of all, for the first time a large number of wealthy businessmen have been persuaded to back Labour. These businessmen wish both to salve their own guilty consciences and to expand their companies’ markets in the increasingly borderless world promised by Third Way internationalists (and conservative “useful idiots”). The ultimate destination of the Third Way express train, whether all the passengers know it or not, is an antiseptic, ultramodern, rational, egalitarian, politically correct, regimented—and inhuman—world, where everyone will have equal access to polenta and mineral water.

Leftists claim that they are a persecuted minority of “radicals.” This belief is important to them, and allows them to recruit among each new generation of young people. The truth is, of course, that being left wing has not been radical (or even interesting) since about 1920. In our shrinking, ever less interesting world, the real radicals now are the localists, regionalists, patriots, traditionalists, agrarians, some anarchists, ecologists, communitarians, and religious conservatives. These are people who are attached viscerally to their own peoples or regions, who remember history, who like life on the human scale, who believe in plain speaking, who distrust all elites, who are suspicious of Pelagian “progress,” who respect nature, who are romantic and chivalrous, who prefer Shakespeare to Salman Rushdie, and who like using imperial measurements rather than the system devised by Labour’s cruder French ancestors. But unless these groups can be persuaded to work together, they will simply be mopped up or made “irrelevant,” one at a time.

Blair’s speech, which was nothing less than a declaration of war against all of British civilization, has finally made some rightists feel threatened. Even William Hague’s overly well-mannered Conservatives have realized dimly that they are in trouble, leading Mr. Hague to propound a retaliatory “Common Sense Revolution” of tax cuts and educational choice that, when combined with Hague’s moderate Euro-skepticism, is likely to be popular electorally. But Hague’s “revolution” leaves many things unaddressed—Labour’s pro-IRA policies in Northern Ireland, its cheap selling-off of gold reserves, its rabid political correctness, its promotion of homosexuality, its love for “benefit tourists” and “political refugees,” its continuing dumbing-down of culture, and its hypocrisy, exemplified by a government minister’s attacks on those who own two homes. (This particular minister has three.)

Rightists (and leftist patriots) need to wake up now to the menace posed by this current administration. Soviet-style communism may be gone, but it has been replaced by a vast post-Marxist/post-Methodist campaign to revolutionize fiery aspect of British life. To counteract Tony Blair’s “missionary zeal,” as one approving trade-union observer called it, all those opposed to globalization, Puritanism, and mediocrity will need to discover some missionary zeal of their own.