The liberal paradigm is dying before our eyes.  At twelve midday on March 22, Theresa May announced at Prime Minister’s Questions that she had sent her condolences to the family of Martin McGuinness, who had been the capo di capi of the IRA.  She had been preceded at the BBC by a high priest of that liberal church, John Simpson, who temperately compared McGuinness with Nelson Mandela.  (As Ben Jonson said of Donne’s tribute to Elizabeth Drury in “The Progress of the Soul,” “had it been of the Virgin Mary, it had been something.”)  The funeral of McGuinness was attended by (among other notables) former President Bill Clinton, who praised the departed hero as “honourable, strong and passionate,” a view not widely shared outside Ireland.  The former president was of course praising himself for being honourable, strong, and passionate, qualities he readily detected in McGuinness.  In the Commons, Mrs. May was heard in stony silence.  Two hours and 40 minutes after she had resumed her seat, an Islamic terrorist drove his car along the wide pavement of Westminster Bridge, mowing down many like rag dolls.  He then penetrated the perimeter of the Palace of Westminster before stabbing to death a policeman and being himself shot fatally.  His actions were notably similar to those of McGuinness, who had also been responsible for indiscriminate killings in the London pub explosions and in Omagh.  More, he had masterminded the Westminster attack when Airey Neave, Margaret Thatcher’s right-hand man, had been blown up by a car bomb.  The Letters page of the Daily Telegraph, normally as accurate an index as you will find of official censorship, devoted fully 4 letters out of 24 to the parallels between the dead terrorist and “he that died o’Wednesday,” McGuinness.  Had he died on Thursday, the tributes (from John Major and others) might have been less fulsome.  Of the McGuinness obituaries, Douglas Murray remarked that “many are as morally illiterate as the man himself.”  Yet the official media admit no comparison whatever between McGuinness and Khalid Masood, a British-born jihadist, and are unyielding in their doctrinal purity.  The state version of history is not easily to be budged.  But challenged it undoubtedly is.

The media reactions stayed in part.  The Daily Telegraph headline ran “We Will Never Allow Evil to Drive Us Apart.”  Since we are already apart, as the terrorist event rather obviously confirms, the Telegraph piety fails to grip.  Theresa May later stated to the Commons that terrorism was not religion but an evil perversion of religion, a confident distinction that is not allowed by all Muslims, only the ones who write letters to the press.  The Times editorial, in the same vein, affirmed that Britain “must come back more determined than ever to prevail against such madness.”  I think of Orwell—“Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.”  No one in politics seems to recall “Politics and the English language,” a famous and unread classic.  The Times’ star columnist, David Aaronovitch, warned that “yesterday’s attack should not once again trigger a wholesale tarring of Muslim communities in Britain with the terrorist brush.”  That one comes under “Dying metaphors” in the great text.  It is difficult to see where Islamic terrorists get their support, other than from large sections of the Muslim community.  The police quickly traced the car-rental driver’s address, and took into custody three who must have known him.  Did anyone know those three?  And the further five suspects arrested?  Even so, the propaganda organs continue to salute the superb performance of the medical and security services—praise for whom is totally justified—while applauding Londoners for their “resilience.”  Candles now resume their traditional place in the theater of public grief.  It might be an idea to bring back the festival of Candlemas (February 2), thus uniting ancient and modern in our current usages.

The official line is collapsing.  It is merely Bourbon liberalism.  And yet it persists.  Theresa May says, “They will not defeat our democracy”: Of course they will not, but this kind of hollow boast says nothing about what government is doing about the problem, other than tightening up security in certain areas, ordering more concrete blocks to surround the Westminster fortress—which now begins to resemble the green zone in Baghdad.  “We shall not be cowed by terrorism”: Whoever thought that a maniac with a knife in a rental car could “cow” a country?  I feel the same sense of mindless, Orwellian newspeak that I get from “multiple victims.”  (Are the words many, several, being phased out of our language?)  Are we really to “stand tall,” “shoulder to shoulder,” as if the current rhetoric came from the Spanish Civil War, on the Republican side?  With it goes the deepening sense that the authorities are refusing to address the issues, which come back to Islamic terrorism, a term that President Obama never allowed to pass his lips.  President Trump is right that a problem cannot be dealt with unless it is named.

As the second wave of columnist comment made clear, government policy is not being bought wholesale.  The widely esteemed Simon Jenkins recommends that the media should just stop talking about terrorism: “The Westminster attack is a tragedy, but it’s not a threat to democracy.”  T.E. Utley asks, whatever happened to British stoicism?  Richard Littlejohn points to the wretched “diversity” policy: “They encouraged the pernicious doctrine of ‘multiculturalism’—which is just a fancy name for apartheid and has created vast, monocultural Muslim ghettoes in our great cities.”  This is literally true, and Birmingham is a striking example.  Khalid Masood (aged 52: so much for youthful radicalization) came from Sparkbrook, a neighborhood totally ethnic.  The service bus goes past a mile of ethnic shops and stalls.  There are 22 mosques within Sparkbrook, and the neighborhood might as well be twinned with Molenbeek and Schaerbeek in Brussels, those famous enclaves and sanctuaries of Islam.  When Donald Trump said that there were “no-go areas” in some cities, he was widely reviled by the upper ranks of the constabulary.  Those who know anything of Birmingham and Manchester were less strident in their condemnation.

The Westminster attack sharpens the key debate in British policy, the trade-off between access to the single market and the free movement of people in the E.U.  This is now critical.  Within a month or so the E.U. will have to come up with its negotiating position.  Hitherto the flak has been directed almost entirely toward the U.K. government, and its shadowy aims.  “More clarity!” cry the Remainers.  But soon the same demand will be pointed at Brussels.  The sense is that there will be red lines.  Angela Merkel’s devotion to the free movement of terrorists is undimmed.  And she remains bound by the witless egotism of her invitation to the Muslim Third World to come to Germany, a warm-hearted sentimentalism that has cruelly damaged her country.  Merkel could have sponsored the term virtue signaling, which did not exist a year or so ago and is now common currency.  My guess is that Merkel will hold the line, and so will Britain.  In which case we shall be back to Bethmann-Hollweg’s Mitteleuropa, with Britain turning to the Anglosphere.  That should suit all parties.

The Temple of the Left was the European Union.  It was the icon of pan-Europeanism, the rebuker of nationalisms, archfoe to the nation-state itself.  President Obama genuflected before it.  Neil Kinnock, who had twice failed to lead his Labour Party to victory in a general election, was still sent to Brussels as the British commissioner by John Major.  He thus signaled that failure in national politics was no bar to advancement in Brussels, and that the British political elite would hang together no matter what the objections.  Kinnock spent ten enormously lucrative years as commissioner—his wife, an MEP, made parallel gains—and retired to a peerage in England (a useful £300 per day for attendance, doubled when Baroness Kinnock turns up).  His son Stephen, now an MP, worked for the E.U. and married the prime minister of Denmark.  If an E.U. supplement to the Almanach de Gotha is ever brought out, the aristocratic house of Kinnock will take its place alongside the noble families of Europe.  Small wonder that all over Europe politicians looked up to the European Union as the great hope of their careers.  Hence the shock waves that followed the volcanic explosion of the British decision to leave the E.U.  Politicians and eurocrats were looking down the barrel of a pay cut; klaxons sounded all over Brussels.  The Temple of the Left now resembles the Tower of Babel: a huge, overambitious structure is beginning to crumble.  In Bruegel’s vision, the tower is a monument to human hubris.  It harks back to Genesis 11:1-9, in which the Lord confounds the people who have sought to build “a tower that may reach unto heaven.”  Bruegel’s verdict is plain: The tower will never get there.  As Auden said of him, “About suffering they were never wrong, / The Old Masters.”  The suffering eurocrats have devoted their efforts to thwarting the plans of the U.K. government.

The pattern in all this promotes the deep-state theory.  I’d say that the evidence is more compelling in Britain than in the United States.  Consider: The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom voted 8-3 to hold up the government’s plan to trigger Article 50, the right to invoke the Lisbon Treaty and thus leave the European Union; the House of Lords, which is stuffed with a hundred Lib Dem peers whose party adores the E.U., has put up all manner of parliamentary roadblocks; the BBC is consistently hostile to Brexit, and has just been strongly criticized for its bias by MPs; the Treasury offers consistently negative forecasts on the U.K.’s chances outside the single market; much of the City sees only dangers to the economy; the mandarinate is determined to preserve its links with Brussels and the city’s magnificent restaurants.  Governmental and linked institutions combine to resist the decision of the referendum, and to reaffirm the tenets of liberalism.  It is pointless to distinguish between “conspire” and “coordinate,” since conspire (“breathe together”) anticipates the telephone.  Deep state is algebraic for the forces that are now ranged against government and people.

The liberal paradigm must strive to synthesize a coherent attitude to McGuinness and Masood, Brexit and E.U., government and nongovernment.  Clearly, it is failing.  It unites only to enforce its will to defend the E.U. and oppose Brexit.  As for the outcome, the left likes to speak of “the wrong side of history,” with all the confidence of those in the know about the right side.  But no one knows what history is until it has happened—if then.