|A Case of the Economic Shivers||The Democrats' Drive-by Politics for 2006|
by Christopher Chantrill
June 11, 2006 at 11:16 am
THE GOOD THING about the reelection of President Bush in 2004, according to Matthew Parris this week in the London Times, is that it gave a chance for the neoconservative project to be tested to destruction. He refers to a May 2004 piece in which he wrote:
What the President and his advisers are trying to do will be a colossal failure. But failure takes time to show itself beyond contradiction. The theory that liberal values and a capitalist economic system can be spread across the world by force of arms, and that the United States of America is competent to undertake this task, is the first big idea of the 21st Century. It should be tested to destruction.
Since that colossal failure cannot come soon enough, the international media has not been too enthusiastic about the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last week. Despite a small victory George W. Bush, his neoconservative cabal, and Middle America just dont get it.
On the other hand Austin Bay compares the war on terror with the Cold War against the Soviet Union and President Bush to President Truman. He writes:
Harry Truman prepared America for the Cold War -- and at West Point, Mr. Bush compared our time to that of Truman, circa 1950. Mr. Bush noted Truman laid the foundation for freedoms victory in the Cold War. Then he said his own administration is laying the foundation for victory in our new long war.
In this new long war, what Norman Podhoretz has called World War IV, the strategy of containment that President Truman formulated in the pivotal NSC-68 of 1950 has been replaced with a new strategy that President Bush calls the forward strategy of freedom. Continues Austin Bay:
A forward strategy of freedom means fostering development of states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted. This strategy requires nation-building.
So Matthew Parris and Austin Bay are essentially agreed about the Bush strategy. The difference is that Parris experiences the Bush strategy as reckless hubris, a wild gesture of imperial overreach, and Austin Bay experiences it as sober realism, the first step in a long and arduous march.
The Bush forward strategy is merely a return to the default western strategy of the last half millennium. Before the First World War western nations believed that their destiny was to expand the light of reason and trade to the uttermost ends of the world, and they acted upon their beliefs. It was the Bolshevik menace and post colonial guilt, not to mention the exhaustion from two world wars, that forced the resort to containment.
Lee Harris states the western argument in Civilization and Its Enemies. The conflict in which we are engaged, he asserts, is one between the productive western team and the eternal gang of ruthless men, or more directly, between the adult mens team and the teenage boys gang. The western team culture is one of service, transparency, trust, and the rule of law to mitigate power. But the eternal gang of ruthless men is a culture of pure power, of mistrust and routine betrayal.
At one pole is the world of global trade and commerce, with business enterprises obtaining finance in one country, design in other, parts from a third, and assembly in a fourth. It is a realm of trust that extends from one end of the global middle class to the other.
But then there is the world of the gang. It is a world of mistrust and betrayal, with thug lefty dictators, thug mullah dictators, thug secular dictators, thug populist military dictators, and just plain thugs like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
When you divide the world into productive teams and ruthless gangs then the analysis of Matthew Parris is absurd. If Bush fails then we just pick ourselves up and start again.
But would the next Democratic president do that? Will she review the forward strategy of freedom after the mess of Iraq and ratify it, as President Eisenhower in 1953 ratified the containment strategy of NSC-68 after the mess of the Korean War? Or will she reverse it? As of today, we do not know, and neither does she.
Let us return close to home. Perhaps the real conflict in the war on terror is not the battle of Iraq but the battles of Toronto, London, Madrid, and Denmark. The home-grown jihadis are not testing President Bush and the neoconservative project but something else. They are probing the west at its weakest point, the soft underbelly of the secular, single, childless welfare state beloved of the scribbling classes. They seem to be testing victimology, multiculturalism, and diversity to destruction.
In that case the only way to beat the jihadist menace would be to abandon the welfare state and repudiate its bribed apologists.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America