ALSO ON THIS PAGE:
Europe and America: Identity of Decrepitude (2004)
FDR and Mussolini: A Tale of Two Fascists (2000)
Millenarianism Light: 2006 State of the Union Address (2006)
Athenian Hegemony: Lessons for America (2001)
Balkan Wars and the End of Culture (1999)
A TALE OF TWO CABALS
The Neocon-Wilsonian Axis
(Chronicles, April 2007)
Imagine yourself at a fashionable party, a century ago, in Belgravia, the Upper East Side, or the Ballplatz. After-dinner brandy is served, Augustas are lit, and the talk turns to world affairs. The host asks his guests what they deem to be the issue that threatens peace and stability more than any other.
A senior official mentions the perennial Franco-German enmity; an admiral sees the danger in the Anglo-German naval race; a banker is worried about Japan’s further ambitions after her victory over Russia; a diplomat warns of the ever-present possibility of some damn nonsense in the Balkans . . .
It is your turn, and—while confessing indecision on the most pressing issue of the day — you opine that, a hundred years hence, “the Middle . . . er, the Near East will preoccupy the nations of the civilized world more than any other region. Over a hundred thousand American soldiers, supported by some British auxiliaries, will be bogged down in Mesopotamia, and thousands will be killed. Further east, many regiments of Germans, Canadians, Poles, Czechs, and others will be helping Americans prop up the ruler in Kabul. The French will patrol the Litani — oh, it’s a river between Sidon and Palestine, you see . . . ”
By now, the respectful silence of those present has turned cold. Quick glances are exchanged, throats are cleared, but you are on a roll: “Persia will challenge us all, with audacity and apparent impunity, by striving to acquire weapons of unimaginable destructive power. In Palestine, Jews and Arabs will fight endless wars—of great bloodshed, sometimes, and attrition, always. Coarse Arabian princes from the desert will command riches that would put any Rothschild to shame and use them to build countless mosques in our cities and to buy our politicians and our businesses. The followers of Mahomet will slay thousands of us — there will be dreadful carnage in New York, London, Madrid, and Moscow — but that will not stop millions more from coming, settling in our lands, and treating them as their own. In France, more people will pray in mosques on Fridays than in churches on Sundays. In the meantime, our rulers will insist on bringing more of them in, while proclaiming all the while that their faith is really noble and peaceful, and . . . ”
At this point, the host feels obliged to interrupt you. “Well, thank goodness now I know you are joking. For a moment, I thought you were serious, old boy, which would have meant either that you’d had too much of my Old Pale, or that you’ve gone stark raving mad. But this vision of mosques and Mohammedan carnage, and in the streets of New York, of all places . . . ha ha, that’s colossal, you rascal, you almost had me fooled!” The other guests, visibly relieved that the outburst of eccentric frivolity is over, join in the laughter, and the conversation gets serious once again: Heligoland, three-year conscription in France, the dreadnoughts, Bosnia, the Bosphorus . . .
Today, however, in 2007, we need to ask, Are we mad, or drunk? We must be both, or else an unpleasant and treacherous part of the world would not have been allowed to command our attention, dominate our lives, and even threaten our very survival, the way it does today. The strange obsession with the Middle East encapsulates much of what is wrong with America’s foreign-policymaking on both sides of the dominant duopoly in Washington. At its poles, there may be differences over tactics and means, but the alleged necessity of America’s continued, open-ended commitment is never questioned.
Superficially, the madness is fueled by greed; but, of all prerequisites for the development of a sane foreign policy, radically reducing and gradually ending our unnecessary and pernicious dependence on foreign oil would be the easiest to achieve. A deeper malaise is at work. The real madness is an amorphous beast with many names — multiculturalism, one-worldism, tolerantism, inclusivism, antidiscriminationism — that demands engagement abroad and wide-open doors at home. Both abroad and at home, the impulse is neurotic; its justification, gnostic. It reflects the collective loss of nerve, faith, and identity of a diseased society, producing a self-destructive malaise that is literally unprecedented in history.
The intoxication is the arrogant belief, in general, that our reason and our science and our technology can resolve all the dilemmas and challenges of our existence, and, in particular, that enlightened abstractions — democracy, human rights, free markets — can be spread across the world and are capable of transforming it in a way that would ultimately turn Yusufs into Joes (which is what they all want, we are assured, or would choose only if they could think clearly).
Both the madness and the intoxication have a “left,” essentially Wilsonian, narrative (one-world, postnational, compassionate, multilateralist, therapeutic) and a “right,” or neoconservative, one (democracy-exporting, interventionist, monopolar, boastfully self-aggrandizing).
The former is embodied in Al Gore and the Council on Foreign Relations here, the European Union and Prince Charles abroad, and George Soros everywhere. The latter has Leo Strauss as its prophet, “democratic capitalism” as its guiding principle, and Iraq as a tangible fruit of its benevolent global hegemony. Though differing in practice, both outlooks are utopian and firmly rooted in the legacy of the Enlightenment and the rejection of any power independent of “the market” and the ostensible will of the multitude. Both hold that Man is naturally good and improvable, that human conflict is unnatural and vanquishable, that chaos and bloodshed around the world are primarily the fruits of some flawed policies of the West (Wilsonians) or the result of our insufficient “engagement” (neoconservatives).
The former find remedies in endless self-examination, in the supranational mechanisms of “collective security” controlled by themselves, and in the promotion of “dialogue” with every Third World tyrant and madman, for as long as he declares a grievance against us. The latter rely on the use of force to impose their benevolent global order on a supposedly grateful pre-postmodern humanity. Both are determined to make the world as they want it to be rather than to deal with the world as it is. This produces policies that are invariably flawed, often evil, and occasionally fatal. Both are united in their loathing of the realist view of America not as an ever-expanding empire but as a republic with definable borders and interests rooted in her history, culture, and tradition. When a realist warns of the Hobbesian nature of the real world and advocates national interest as the foundation of this country’s external affairs, they both cry in unison, “Isolationism!” “Racism!” or some other ism.
It is incorrect to describe Wilsonianism and neoconservatism as two “schools” of foreign policy. They are, rather, two sects of the same Western heresy that has its roots in the Renaissance and its fruits in liberal democracy. Their shared denominational genes are recognizable not in what they seek but in what they reject: polities based on national and cultural commonalities; durable elites and constitutions; and independent economies.
Both view all permanent values and institutions with unrestrained hostility. Both exalt state power and reject any political tradition based on the desirability of limited government at home and nonintervention in foreign affairs. Both claim to favor the “market” but advocate a kind of state capitalism managed by the transnational apparatus of global financial and regulatory institutions. Their shared core belief — that society should be managed by the state in both its political and its economic life — is equally at odds with the tenets of the liberal left and those of the traditional right. Far from being “patriotic” in any conventional sense, they both reject the real, historic America in favor of a propositional construct devoid of all organic bonds and collective memories.
The two sects’ deep-seated distaste for the traditional societies, regimes, and religion of the European continent was manifested in President Clinton’s war against the Serbs in 1999 and in their unanimous support for Kosovo’s independence today. For the same reason, they share a visceral Russophobia, a soft spot for Chechen jihadists, and a commitment to NATO expansion. Both Wilsonians and neoconservatives are united in opposing democracy in postcommunist Eastern Europe, lest it produce governments that will base the recovery of their ravaged societies on the revival of the family, sovereign nationhood, and the Christian Faith. Inevitably, they have joined forces in creating and funding political parties and NGOs east of the Trieste-Stettin Line that promote the entire spectrum of postmodern isms that have atomized America and the rest of the West for the past four decades. From Bratislava to Bucharest to Belgrade, both present the embrace of deviancy, perversion, and morbidity as the litmus test of an aspirant’s “Western” clubbability. Ultimately, both sects share the Straussian dictum that the perpetual manipulation of hoi polloi by those in power is necessary because they need to be told what is good for them.
The essential similarity of Wilsonians and neoconservatives is apparent. The inability of most patriotic, traditionalist Middle Americans to recognize that similarity and its implications is a problem. They have no difficulty in recognizing the weirdness or evil of, say, Hillary Clinton, but they would be hard-pressed to detect identical traits in an equally radical sectarian who has morphed into a selfstyled “conservative” of the Weekly Standard variety. As Brian Mitchell notes in the conclusion to his book Eight Ways to Run the Country, the obvious disharmony between the genuine conservatism of ancient ideals — whether Anglo-American or orthodox Christian — and the ruthlessly new ideology of “democratic capitalism” embodied in Michael Ledeen’s Creative Destructionism is lost on the average “Red” American who votes Republican and watches FOX News. "It remains to be seen how far capitalism will carry us before social conservatives awake to its dangers," Mitchell writes. "When free men are allowed to amass great fortunes from global rackets in gambling, pornography, prostitution, narcotics, weaponry, and usury, the permanent things can only expect short shrift. Ultimately, such unrestrained capitalism is on the side of our enslavers. In a thoroughly capitalist world, men will buy and sell each other. Only a power independent of the free market can save us from the slave market."
Historically, Mitchell notes, only two institutions have been up to the task: the institutions of nondemocratic governments that guard against accumulation of wealth outside government control, and a unified Christian Church whose wealth and power are committed to nonmarket purposes. “Democracy alone is no match for the market,” Mitchell concludes, “for democracy is itself a market, selling power to the highest bidder.” Indeed, democracy in America is a corrupt “democratic process” run by an elite class that conspires both to make secondary issues important and to treat important issues as either irrelevant or illegitimate: One party may be in; another, out; but the regime is in power permanently.
The global power of the Wilsonian-neoconservative regime is unlikely to be broken incrementally by an America gradually coming to her senses. It will indeed be broken, but the price will be paid in Middle American blood and treasure. We cannot know when and how this will happen — but happen, it will. We cannot know what will be the theme of after-dinner discussions a hundred years hence, but we do know it will not be the global grandeur of the liberal-democratic-capitalist Pax Americana.
EUROPE AND AMERICA:
IDENTITY OF DECREPITUDE
13th annual meeting of the John Randolph Club in New Orleans, November 15, 2003
It is in disease and looming death that Europe (as-we-know-it) and America (as-we-know-it) most tellingly certify that they, too, share the same chromosomes, that they belong to one culture and constitute one civilization. The same traits of terminal decrepitude are present in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, Canada, or the United States, including both the primary cause – which is the loss of religious faith – and seven secondary ones:
1. Ruling elites’ hostility to all forms of solidarity or coherence of the majority population based on common ancestry and traditional culture;
2. The loss of a sense of place and history and the imposition of one-worldism;
3. Rapid demographic decline, probably irreversible and unparalleled in history;
4. Rampant Third World immigration;
5. Collapse of private and public manners and morals;
6. Imposition of “diversity,” “multiculturalism” and “sensitivity” by despotic means;
7. Demonization and criminalization of any opposition to any of the above.
(This list, even among like-minded friends, will appear incomplete to some, arbitrary to others. It is the best balance of empiria and intuition I am able to offer.)
DE-CHRISTIANIZATION is surely the key. The loss of meaningful religious impulse started with the Renaissance, made a quantum leap in the Enlightenment, and was well nigh complete when the guns fell silent in the West in 1918. The result is that in today’s Britain, France, Belgium and Germany more people pray in mosques on Fridays than in churches on Sundays. In the United States over two-thirds of people apparently still define themselves as “Christian,” but unbelief and unconventional sects “Christian” only in name are on the rise, while canonical denominations are being steadily decimated. The number of Americans who have no religion of any kind doubled in the decade 1990-2000, from 14.3 million to just under thirty million. Those 14 percent of the population dominate the academe, the media, entertainment industry, “the Arts,” business and politics.
De-Christianization creates unhappy, neurotic and addictive people. It makes most Europeans and their overseas descendents quietly miserable, and renders millions prone to every excess, every abuse that resolves nothing and demands nothing except more of the same. It produces the “Stockholm Syndrome” among some who are thirsting for meaning, and who are doomed to live in enclaves engulfed by the non-Christian immigrant deluge. The fact that increasing numbers of young Europeans convert to Islam and thus join an alien and hostile ghetto within the country of their birth is unsurprising. Estranged from their parents, ignorant of their culture, ashamed of their history, those young converts are making a logical step on the path of alienation that alternatively leads to madness, drugs, or suicide.
In Britain Channel 4 broadcast a shocking documentary only a week ago – The Last White Kids – about two English children, Amie Gallagher (9) and her sister Ashlene (12), who live in an entirely Muslim neighborhood and attend the local mosque, wrap themselves in Islamic burkas, and learn the revelations of Muhammad by heart. The girls are typical children of the contemporary Western world, offspring of an unwed mother. In Islam they seem to have found something that is missing from their lives. At the mosque there is authority, certainty, even disciplined education in the Arabic language and the Koran.
The girls were not offered an alternative by the Christian churches that have all but disappeared from the lives of the British people. As the Daily Mail commented:
The chapels of Wales are gaunt ruins, the great Roman Catholic churches of the industrial North West are often empty and derelict, the Anglicans scuttle about in their hallowed, lovely buildings like mice amid ancient ruins, rarely even beginning to fill spaces designed for multitudes. The choirs and the bells gradually fall silent, the hymns are no longer sung and one by one the doors are locked and places which in some cases have seen worship for centuries become bare museums of a dead faith.
If eventually Britain begins to sicken of strong lager, pools of vomit, Bacardi Breezers, bouncers looming on every High Street, the battlefields in the streets of many towns on Friday and Saturday nights, ecstasy tablets, cocaine, football-worship, pregnant 12-year-olds, morning-after pills and all that goes with them, the Mail concludes that it is possible that puritan Islam will be the beneficiary: "[I]s it any more unlikely than the things which have happened here in the past 40 years, during which a country of peaceful, self-restrained, lawful and rather prudish men and women has been transformed into the land of sex and swearing on TV, ladettes, semi-legal cannabis and armed police?"
This sad little story is replicated daily all over the Western world, in different forms and formats. The ruling elites trust that a deprived mass culture and mass lobotomization in state schools will neutralize any lingering spiritual yearnings of their subjects, manifest in the two English girls’ road to Mecca. The rulers must be hoping for even more: that the blend of soft porn and consumerism bombarding every denizen of the Western world every day from every flickering screen and every printed page will de-Islamize the Muslims who are coming in by the million. If so they’ve been playing the Russian roulette and lost: the roll-call of British and French-born Muslims caught in the mountains of Afghanistan or seeking quick martyrdom as human bombs in Israel the proof.
The loss of a sense of place and history experienced by millions of Westerners – whether they are aware of that loss or not – is the result of the emergence of a trans-national hyper-state in Europe and the quest for uninhibited global dominance by the decision-making elites in the United States. These two mindsets, seemingly at odds, are but two aspects of the same emerging GLOBAL EMPIRE: European one-world globalists and American “benevolent global hegemonists” are essentially identical.
The former advocate “multilateralism” in the form of an emerging “international community” controlled by the United Nations and adjudicated by the International Criminal Court (ICC). As an interim step they favor transfer of sovereign prerogatives to regional groupings exemplified by the European Union. By contrast the neoconservative urge for uninhibited physical control of other lands and peoples bears resemblance to the New European Order of six decades ago, or to the “Socialist Community” that succeeded it in Eastern Europe. Both Europe’s multilateralists and Washingtonian neocons share the same distaste for traditional, naturally evolving societies and cultures. Echoing the revolutionary dynamism and the historicist Messianism equally common to fascists and communists, Michael Ledeen wrote that “creative destruction” is America’s eternal mission, both at home and abroad, and the reason America’s “enemies” hate it: “They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence—our existence, not our politics—threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”
The Weekly Standard editors and other proponents of this view have staunch allies in Europe’s neo-Marxists. Divisions between them refer not to the common goal of protecting the stability of the universal institutional framework but only to the ways and means of doing so.
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the outlook seemed pretty grim for the Left, but the end of the Cold War has cleared the way for the rise of a new global empire, and the realization that new possibilities were on offer to the revolutionaries who wanted to move beyond the Gramscian ‘long march.’ In the apparent defeat of revolutionary struggle - epitomized by the triumph of liberal capitalism over bolshevism - they have found the seeds of future victory for their neo-Marxist paradigm, which global empire makes possible by eradicating traditional structures capable of resistance.
Global empire is objectively an ally of the revolution desired by neo-Marxists, not only because it destroys the remnants of the old order, as Ledeen gloats, but also because it contains the germ of another form of globalization: the counter-Empire that will be made possible by demographic change within the West. Edward Gibbon could have been writing of today’s Marseilles or Los Angeles when he wrote of late imperial Rome, its inhabitants sinking “into a vile and wretched populace, which must, in a few generations, have been totally extinguished, if it had not been constantly recruited by the manumission of slaves and the influx of strangers. As early as the time of Hadrian it was the just complaint of the ingenuous natives that the capital had attracted the vices of the universe and the manners of the most opposite nations.”
But more of this later. The revolutionary character of the Global Empire project is revealed in the mantra of Race, Gender and Sexuality, now elevated to the status of the post-modern Philosopher’s Stone. Race, Gender and Sexuality are the Force that moves the linear historical process forward, towards the grand Gleichschaltung of all nations, races, and cultures that will mark the end of history. Race, Gender and Sexuality have replaced the Proletariat as both the oppressed underclass (hence the cult of the non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual victimhood), and as the historically preordained agent of revolutionary change.
The Worker in the heyday of Soviet socialist realism, was white, muscular, blonde, unmistakably “straight” and often accompanied by the equally Aryan-looking she-Peasant. (A superb specimen is still to be seen at the entrance of Moscow’s Pavilion of Science and Industry.) Such images have no place in the new Pantheon that was initially dominated by Mao, Che, and Ho, followed by Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and “Princess Di” (an honorary non-white par excellence), and now by assorted gangsta-rappers, drag queens and non-human cult figures. The negative, bourgeois capitalist stereotypes of yore (top hats, cigars, tuxedos, dollar-sign cufflinks) have been likewise replaced by the universal Dead White Male (or by any non-self-hating European, of whatever gender, age or class, who is still alive).
Classical Marxist political economy found the dynamics of revolution in the inevitable conflict between the owners of the means of production and the proletariat that has nothing to sell but its labor and nothing to lose but its chains. The system was self-referential and therefore fatally flawed but in the late 19th century it seemed to possess a degree of quasi-scientific neatness. Latter-day Marxist revolutionaries go beyond any recognizable variety of dialectical materialism, however, by introducing a wholly metaphysical concept of victimhood and an array of associated special-rights claims. Those claims are invariably based on the alleged victim’s “otherness” vis-à-vis the white European (American, Australian, not to mention South African) oppressor.
The Enemy is guilty of oppression by his very existence. In post-1917 Russia, or post-1945 Eastern Europe, the facts of one’s education, income, or land ownership automatically classed one as an enemy of the people. Then as well as now once a person is deemed objectively guilty of being an obstacle to the march of times – regardless of his actual behavior or beliefs – his physical destruction is not only justified, or merely desirable, but mandatory. All this is light years away from the “scientific” claims of old-school Marxism, but highly effective as a means of atomizing society and undermining its sense of coherence. Like all of their predecessors, the revolutionaries around us do not know precisely what is it that they want to create but they do know what is it that they hate and want to destroy.
As for demography, Europe’s grim demographic statistics are familiar to those who have read Pat Buchanan’s Death of the West and I won’t go into details. In France of some 700,000 live births last year, non-European, mainly North African immigrants or their French-born descendants accounted for just under a third. Italy will plummet from today’s 57 million to a much older 40 million by 2050. The continent as a whole will face a net loss of some 150 million people by that time. There are over six billion people on Earth today, twice as many as three decades ago; but over 90 percent of the increase is taking place in the “developing countries” whose share in the world population will exceed 90 percent by the middle of this century.
America’s population keeps rising, but its increase is entirely due to the immigration from the Third World and to the disproportionately high fertility rates among non-white groups. North American Europeans are reproducing below replacement levels and within a decade will start the precipitous decline that has already taken place in Europe. “Child-free” is used as a legitimate lifestyle term among American yuppies, on par with “fat-free” and “drug-free.” On present form within a century there will be no “Europeans” as we still know them today, in the Old World or New, as members of coherent, well-defined groups that share the same language, culture, history, and ancestors, and inhabit defined territories as compact majorities. But whereas the threat of extinction of an exotic tribal group in Borneo or Amazonia – let alone a species of owl or whale – would cause alarm and prompt activism among the ruling elites, they regard as inherently racist any mention of the fact that Europeans are now, literally, endangered species. They accept the notion that each ethnic and racial group is a treasure to humanity, but with one notable exception, that of Europeans and their overseas descendants.
In the process of Euro-annihilation, IMMIGRATION is an essential tool of revolutionary change. By allowing a vast subculture of often hostile immigrants to emerge within their societies, the dominant elites in all Western nations have already permitted the emergence of an alternative social and political structure in their midst, of which Islamic terrorism is but one consequence. By seeking to appease present and further newcomers by granting them special privileges in the name of multiculturalism and diversity, the host-countries only whet these aliens’ appetites for more concessions from the ageing baby-boomers ever more dependent on imported labor to keep them fed, clothed, washed, and medicated.
A similar writing is on the wall for both Europe and America. On both sides there are metropolitan areas similar to the Rome of Diocletian; culturally and intellectually they are at the level of the Rome of Commodus. In the cities still dominated by spires and domes the starkness of the Cross is forgotten; the image itself is being removed from sight. The new global order creates hybrid identities; it eradicates national peculiarities and blends them in the global rainbow. The new global imperium is total, in that it creates the world it inhabits. It not only regulates human nature but also seeks to rule over it.
The masterminds of this crime have made a colossal miscalculation. They still do not realize that the unassimilated and unassimilable multitudes do not want to be the tools of their Wille zur Macht. Immigrants have their own, instinctive scenario. That scenario has a Turkish rendering in Germany, Arabic in France, sub-continental in Britain, Oriental in Australia, and Amero-Indian in the United States. In all cases the newcomers share the same contempt for what they perceive as a supine, degenerate host-society. In all cases the majority of the host-society population opposes immigration, but the ruling elite disregards the view of the majority as illegitimate and therefore undemocratic. “Democracy” is an ideological concept that does not signify broad participation of informed citizens in the business of governance. It denotes the desirable social and political content of imposed, ostensibly popular decisions. The outcome – a multiracial society – is preordained; the process of reaching it is “democratic.”
Anything likely to disrupt it, or question its assumptions, is a priori criminal. Hence the hysterical insistence of the elite, on both sides of the Atlantic, that the deluge is really a blessing that enriches an otherwise bland and culturally deprived host society. The notion of assimilation has been abandoned (“para servicio en Español oprima el dos”). Vast tracts of Berlin have been turned into Anadolia as thoroughly as vast tracts of Chicago have been turned into Chiapas. But the masterminds – in Europe and America alike – are yet to learn the hard way that these people will not be their pliant tools of revolutionary change. They do not want to live in a post-national Utopia – just look at their murals in the inner cities – especially not now when they sense that they can supplant the enfeebled natives and take over this candy store with a busted lock.
The elites may try to correct the mistake by ensuring that the next wave of immigration is more diverse – that the United States needs more Africans and Asians to offset Mexicans and Puerto-Ricans, or that Europe needs more Latin Americans – but it will be too late to dilute mono-ethnic, mono-cultural alien monoliths that are already in place. Either way the tsunami will continue. Europe’s southern frontier is as porous as that on the Rio Grande. Boats packed with migrants from Africa and Asia land somewhere along Europe’s Mediterranean coast almost every day. Their numbers are unknown, but the cumulative effect is not in doubt: it is estimated that Italy – 100 percent Italian until two decades ago – is currently home to one million Third World migrants, mostly illegal and overwhelmingly Muslims from North Africa, Somalia, and the Middle East. By 2050 these people will account for a third of Europe’s young residents.
Westerners are facing an invasion, and predictably losing their nerve. In Arizona, first-aid kits and drinking water are being left in the desert to reduce the risks of passage of the illegals sneaking in from Mexico. To quote a recent example, Giuseppe Pisanu, Italy’s minister of the interior and top official responsible for controlling the country’s borders, declared that the high fatality rate of African illegals on high seas is “a dreadful tragedy that weighs on the conscience of Europe.” His reaction is characteristic of the liberal mind. If “Europe” should feel guilty that people who have no right to come to its shores are risking their lives trying to do so illegally, then only the establishment of a free passenger service between Libya and Italy—with no passport or customs formalities—would offer some relief to that burdened conscience. This mindset is reflected in America in the demands by “human rights groups” to “restore immigrant rights at the borders” and to stop “abuses” by the Border Patrol. Even after 9-11 dozens of American cities – including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Portland (Maine) and Seattle – retain their “sanctuary” ordinances banning police from even asking people about their immigration status, let alone reporting illegals to federal authorities.
This phenomenon was forecast and diagnosed with uncanny precision over three decades ago by French novelist Jean Raspail in his Camp of the Saints. He predicted a conquest of Europe by Third World boat people supported by the enemy within—politicians, professors, talking heads, churchmen—who had already quashed in the minds of young Europeans any vestige of “the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest” and replaced it with a “monstrous cancer” of self-loathing. “It wasn’t a matter of tender heart,” Raspail says, “but a morbid, contagious excess of sentiment.” Sr. Pisanu could have been his model. He belongs squarely to a secular theocracy, as Paul Gottfried calls it, which is focused on the task of reforming and reshaping the individual conscience. To this theocracy multiculturalism is not simply an attitude or a set of beliefs, it is also a policy to be enforced upon unwilling nations. In both America and Europe multiculturalism has ensured that Western nations have lost the capacity to define and defend themselves vis-à-vis others, just as on both sides of the ocean most Third World immigrants have no kinship with the host-societies. They have no desire to establish any such kinship – except to partake in their wealth, know their women, and eventually take over their lands – and nurture a healthy contempt for the society willing to grant them every indulgence without a fight.
Muslims in particular, their utter disdain for the secular-democratic institutions of the host-countries notwithstanding, will gladly invoke those institutions when they clamor for their “rights”—including the “right” of Algerian girls to have their heads covered in French state schools, or the “right” of a Muslim child not to face the effrontery of a cross on the wall of an Italian classroom. Like their Bolshevik predecessors they demand democratic privileges to organize and propagate their views while knowing that—given the power to do so—they would impose their own beliefs and customs, and eliminate all others, on the pain of death.
DEATH WISH: Population explosion and utter dysfunctionality of most Third World societies, coupled with the spiritual enfeeblement and demographic collapse of Europeans old and new, has produced predictable results. In all creation disease and frailty invite predators, as witnessed in the scene of Madame Hortense’s death in Zorba the Greek. Both the loss of the will to define and defend one’s native soil, and the loss of the desire to procreate, send an alluring signal to the teeming favellas and kazbahs: Come, there’s money for nothing and chicks for free! Come, for no Western nation has the guts to shed blood—alien or its own—in the name of its own survival. As Raspail says in his Afterward, “the proliferation of other races dooms our race, my race, irretrievably to extinction in the century to come, if we hold fast to our present moral principles. No other race subscribes to these moral principles—if that is really what they are—because they are weapons of self-annihilation.”
Those “moral principles” produce the identity of decrepitude in Europe and America. Those “principles” are traced by Igor Shafarevich, in his Socialist Phenomenon, to Utopianism—the yearning for man’s God-like absolute freedom that cannot stop short of the freedom to choose death over life. Short of a miraculous last-minute recovery, the choice of death will become irreversible within decades. The elites cherish the prospect. “The Christian misunderstanding and stigmatization of death,” one of its organs says, is the root of most evils in the world: “A whole theology of evil, sin, punishment, and salvation is anchored in seeing death as an enemy.” Our “siege mentality” in relation to death in Christianity has created “the sense of opposition, battle, victory and domination, which has powered Western Civilization in its geographic and technological exploits.” Only by accepting death can we acquire peace and overcome neurosis inherent to the Western mind. The triumphant chant of Paschal vigil – Christ is risen from the dead, by His death hath He trodden down death and on those in the tombs hath He bestowed life – is to be reversed: only by accepting death can we become really free.
Are Europeans doomed? Can a gigantic reversal happen at five to twelve? A Christian would say that a miracle can and therefore - God willing – will happen. To a political scientist the model of recovery requires a catastrophic event – specifically, a colossal, rapidly spreading global economic crisis. The meltdown would have to be rapid and so comprehensive as to include the collapse of confidence in the ability of governments to offer relief. That would preclude a further strengthening of the all-powerful Nanny State in the face of adversity, 1930s style. A breakdown of the “global economy” would force millions of people to re-examine their lives and their assumptions. By being painfully disillusioned in progress they would rediscover the value and force of tradition. The ensuing brutal struggle for diminishing resources will make them drop the neurotic becoming in favor of just being, i.e. surviving. The global economic collapse would reaffirm the values of historical man in the teeth of his progressivist reduction to technology and intellect.
In the aftermath of economic collapse children would no longer be seen as an economic burden and a financial liability. They would regain their traditional value as economic assets and the substitute for non-existent social security and pension systems. The family would re-emerge as the essential social unit. Amidst collapsing political structures all ideological “propositions” will be recognized as empty abstracts. Communities linked to their native soil and bonded by kinship, memory, language, faith, and myth will be revived, and hostile alien ghettos expelled or otherwise neutralized. And in adversity the eyes of men would be lifted, once again, to Heaven.
The alternative is the end of the world, as we know it and as it is worth living in.
On Mr. Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address
Some commentators have said that President George W. Bush’s 2006 State of the Union address was more low key and less assertive than a year before. That view is incorrect. A grand domestic theme was absent this time — in 2005 it was the ill-fated Social Security reform — but on world affairs and terrorism Mr. Bush offered a host of clichés, platitudes, and assertions every bit as ideological as his first State of the Union address in 2002, every bit as misguided as his speech at the National Endowment for Democracy in October 2005.
Barely 300 words into his address Mr. Bush presented the choice facing America in starkly Manichean terms: we must “act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom—or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life.” In a complex and challenging time, he went on, “the road of isolationism and protectionism may seem broad and inviting—yet it ends in danger and decline.” The only way to protect America, to secure the peace and “to control our destiny is by our leadership—so the United States of America will continue to lead.” Abroad, Mr. Bush asserted, this demands pursuing “an historic, long-term goal . . . the end of tyranny in our world.”
This is a breathtaking agenda indeed. “The end of tyranny” is a metaphysical objective that is indistinguishable from candidate John Kerry’s insistence, in 2004, that America’s interests “are consistent with the peace, prosperity, and self-determination of every country on earth . . . [America’s] interests and the world’s are one.”
There is nothing to choose between those two “visions.” The bipartisan consensus is set, and its implications are staggering. For as long as there is a single country anywhere in the world that is gripped by tyranny (Bush), or that does not enjoy peace, prosperity and self-determination (Democrats), it is ripe for regime change by all practicable means, USAF and USMC included. This is not to be done in order to protect America’s security interests in any traditionally defined sense: even supposing that such interests are not necessarily identical with those of “the world” smacks of “isolationism” and shows readiness to “retreat from our duties.”
Mr. Bush’s circulus vitiosus was reinforced last Tuesday by some bad history, and in particular by the entirely false claim that dictatorships are inherently aggressive while democracies “replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbours, and join the fight against terror.” As Tom Fleming reminded us Athens was a democracy when it converted the Delian League into the Athenian Empire and provoked war with Sparta and its allies.
The parallel is worth expanding. In imposing their benevoleng hegemony, the Athenians claimed that their “leadership” was needed to promote free trade and, yes, democracy. That was the first time in history that one state sought to order the affairs of others in the name of an ideological concept. Athens’ self-appointed role signaled the birth of a view of international affairs that has created endless problems, both for its upholders and for its victims, ever since. Pericles sought to justify Athenian imperialism in the language heralding Bush-Kerry’s millenarianism, claiming that it brought freedom from fear and want to the Greek world. He, too, subscribed to the view that the way “to control our destiny is by our leadership.” The end of that road came in 404 B.C., when Athens was routed by Sparta, stripped of its empire and de-militarized, never to rise again.
The worst single statement in Mr. Bush’s Tuesday address concerned his characterization of “radical Islam” as “the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death.” This stale mantra is not worthy of a fresh comment, so let us merely restate our verdict on similar statements made by the President over the years.
In the immediate aftermath of 9-11 we hoped that Mr. Bush was not serious. In a “Memo to the President” (Chronicles, December 2001) we wrote, “While political considerations may temporarily oblige you to say that ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’ you must understand that Islam as such—not some allegedly aberrant form of it—is the main identifiable threat to America’s global security in the coming century, and, in the longer term, to the survival of our civilization.”
Two months later, after Mr. Bush’s first State of the Union address that contained the idiotic claim that the “real” Islam is America’s ally in the War on Terror (“Let the skeptics look to Islam’s own rich history—with its centuries of learning, and tolerance, and progress”), we again noted that Bush may be disingenuous rather than seriously deluded:
Like communism or Nazism, it is part-religion and part-ideology that seeks to impose mind-numbing uniformity of thought and feeling on its faithful, to subjugate and ultimately destroy all non-believers. It accepts no “peaceful coexistence” and never will. But while Mr. Bush should have no illusions about the nature of the beast—which may lead him to serious miscalculations as to who is, or can be, America’s friend or ally—there is no reason to continue alienating over one billion Muslims in Asia and Africa. Their peculiar ways notwithstanding, he should make it clear that we have no immediate quarrel with them for as long as they do not threaten America. Once again, the U.S. foreign policy must avoid creating conditions for specifically anti-American Islamic hostility.
But like a Bourbon who “learns nothing and forgets nothing,” President Bush announced last Tuesday that the policy of poking the hornets’ nest will continue: “In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.”
Mr. Bush is simply wrong. The war against those “vicious attackers” can never be “won” in the sense of eliminating the phenomenon of terrorism altogether, but it can be successfully pursued to the point where the Western world can be made significantly safer by adopting strategies—defensive strategies—that would reduce the danger of such incidents to as near zero as possible. To put it succintly, this would necessitate leaving the Muslim world to its own devices and preventing it from having a toehold in America: the victory in the War on Terror will come “not by conquering Mecca for America but by disengaging America from Mecca and by excluding Mecca from America; not by eliminating the risk but by managing it wisely, resolutely, and permanently.”
The intent “not to abandon our commitments” Mr. Bush justified by the unprovable assertion that “America rejects the false comfort of isolationism”: “We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire.” He was wrong or misleading on three counts:
• “Our commitments” imply the existence of a constitutionally binding document, debated and passed into law by the House and Senate. Policies pursued by executive fiat and ad-hoc decisions of the White House or various Cabinet members are no “commitments.”
• America’s alleged rejection of “isolationism” should be tested against the fact that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s Iraq policy and only 39 percent approve. This represents a reversal of those ratios since May 2003, and compares to the nation’s mood on Vietnam in 1968.
• Europe was saved from Nazism—never mind “saving liberty,” we all know what happened at Yalta—by the Soviet Army, which caused 85 percent of all Wehrmacht casualties, and which also liberated the worst death camps of them all, Auschwitz, Birkenau and Treblinka.
Not allowing mere facts to invade his pseudo-reality, Mr. Bush went on to assert that, “once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace.” This reference to “the call of history” is an old theme in Mr. Bush’s speeches. It was present in his 2003 State of the Union address, when we commented on its megalomaniacal implications:
To deal with various threats effectively and on the basis of consensual leadership, the United States should discard the pernicious notion of its “exceptionalism,” reflected in Madeleine Albright’s memorable phrase that “the United States stands taller than other nations, and therefore sees further.” The implication that America is not only wise but also virtuous, and that its foreign policy is influenced by values and not by prejudices, is untrue. It hinders interest-based alliances and blurs the clarity of debate . . . That the claim of exceptionalism makes literally billions of people all over the world very angry indeed is neither here nor there; but it should also irritate all real Americans, whose sense of common decency and modesty has to be offended by such hubristic ravings.
Moving to Afghanistan, the President declared that “we remain on the offensive” in that country, “where a fine President and a National Assembly are fighting terror while building the institutions of a new democracy.” This is in line with the manner in which Mr. Bush hailed last September’s parliamentary election in Afghanistan as “a major step forward” for the country’s democratic process.
When the results were published three months ago, however, it became obvious that the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House) will be dominated by warlords, veteran jihadists and former Taliban officials. The new National Assembly includes Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the head of the Ittihad-e-Islami (Islamic Union Party), who was mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report as a mentor to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind behind the attacks in New York and Washington. It also includes Hazara warlord Mohammed Mohaqiq, notorious for hammering nails into the heads of captives; the Jamiat-i-Islami’s Younis Qanooni, accused of countless atrocities during the civil war in the 1990s; and many others tainted by violence and criminality. Far from being a “major step forward,” Afghanistan’s elections illustrate the perils of “spreading democracy” in the Muslim world. That world’s genuinely democratic transformation would require a reform of Muhammad’s faith so colossal as to turn it into something altogether new and different. Short of that elusive goal, the question we should ask is not how shall we bring them democracy, but how shall we reduce interaction with them and make America safer.
The President’s presentation on Iraq was devoid of any new moments. We’re on the offensive, with a clear plan for victory. We’re helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized. We’re continuing reconstruction efforts. And, third, we’re striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy: “In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections.” This is all old hat, and so is the critical scrutiny.
Suffice to say that Mr. Bush’s expressed confidence “in the will of the Iraqi people” may be at odds with his assertion that “we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.” His words imply the existence of a consensual and cooperative relationship in which a significant majority of Iraq’s citizens is actively supportive of the U.S. presence in their country, or at least tacitly sympathetic to it, but the reality is vastly different: according to British government sources, 82 percent of Iraqis are “strongly opposed” to the presence of foreign troops and 45 percent support attacks on them. Almost three-quarters of Iraqis, 72 percent, have “no confidence” in the foreign forces, and fewer than one per cent (!) think that continued military involvement by the United States and her allies is helping to improve security in their country. This being so, the real question is how to end the war and disengage. That it can never be “won” in a conventional sense is obvious, but in his State of the Union address the President appeared devoid of fresh or useful ideas.
A bizarre part of Mr. Bush’s address concerned recent elections in the Middle East. “The great people of Egypt have voted in a multi-party presidential election,” he said, “and now their government should open paths of peaceful opposition that will reduce the appeal of radicalism.” The reality behind this innocuous sentence is that the Muslim Brotherhood scored a major success at a parliamentary election in Egypt last December. The Brotherhood is an officially banned movement that seeks to impose Sharia on Egypt. Even though its candidates had no run as nominal independents, it easily won 88 seats. In more than half the districts where they ran, the “Ikhwanis” triumphed over their rivals from both the ruling party and from the secular opposition and are now the main opposition to President Hosni Mubarak’s government. They would have won more seats were it not for the government crackdown on their strongholds during the final round of voting. That was a victory of democracy of sorts, but it will translate into fewer freedoms for women, into increased persecution of Egypts beleaguered and dwindling Christian minority, and a more stringent posture vis-à-vis Israel. Predictably enough the Brotherhood will refrain from promoting its Islamic political agenda for the time being, because it wants to press for broad democratic reforms of which it will be the main beneficiary. Mr. Mubarak would be crazy to follow Mr. Bush’s advice and facilitate this process because it would end in his own demise and the Brotherhood’s eventual triumph.
“The Palestinian people have voted in elections,” Mr. Bush went on, “And now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace.” That hope faces the reality that Hamas triumphed in Gaza and the West Bank and won 76 of 132 seats. It now dominates the Palestinian Authority, and has the power of veto over any eventual peace package that a weakened President Mahmoud Abbas may deliver. Its activists do not dwell on the group’s manifesto that calls for the destruction of Israel, but wisely focus on the corruption of the old Fatah establishment.
The victory of Hamas and the success of the Brotherhood present Mr. Bush with a dilemma. “Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own,” he said last Tuesday, “because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens.” Bold words, which conceal the fact that the kind of people he’d presumably like to see elected—secular reformers and technocrats America can do business with—are unelectable. The continuing American presence in Iraq and the perceived structural bias in favor of Israel makes the United States more thoroughly disliked throughout the Muslim world than at any time in living memory. Whatever Mr. Bush hopes for, the locals will want more of the opposite. Whoever its candidate or political force of American choice, the “street” will reject them the moment it suspects that there is a connection.
In his closing remarks Mr. Bush said that “we’ve been called to leadership” in a decisive period: “Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore,” he said. “Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing.” That was a new rendering of an old fallacy of Mr. Bush’s: “history” is linear, and it has a “destination” determined by human action. The President’s speechwriters reflect a post-Christian, liberal-democratic variety of millenarianism. The Citizen-Man is on the right track, and he’ll keep self-improving until an eschatological shortcut to the End of History is developed that does not require a Second Coming.
“History has called America and our allies to action,” Mr. Bush initially asserted in his first State of the Union address four years ago, and by now this claim has become an act of faith. It is one of the most dangerous delusions in history. As we commented back in February 2002, “This historicist fallacy has bred not only Gnostic ideologies that murder millions of those who are deemed to be on the “wrong” side of history—foreigners as well as their own citizens—but also results in the inevitable destruction of the over-expanded, over-extended bearer of the divinely appointed task . . . Epistemological hubris is in the heart of every utopian who wants to make the world obey. God knows; man only thinks he knows, and actually knows far less than he thinks. When he thinks he can play god, he does abominable things.”
President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union address was delivered in a less triumphalist tone than others before it. His premises, however, and the strategies derived from those premises—pursuing the enemies of freedom, controlling our destiny by our leadership, striving for the end of tyranny in the world—seem more deeply internalized, more ideologically inflexible than ever before. They are dangerous for America and should alarm the rest of the world.
Thucydides taught that States, threatened by the Imperium, should take on a balancing role as a deliberate policy designed to discourage or contain excessive power. He was right, and Russia and China are doing so as we speak. An imbalance neglected for too long can only be resolved through the disaster of war. External restraint dictated by containment is a viable route to peace. Thucydidian prudence, if properly applied, can save peace. Such prudence is eminently American in spirit, and its rebirth would re-legitimize the notion of America as a real and completed nation, a State with definable national interests as the foundation of its diplomacy. Contrary to Mr. Bush’s claims, this is neither defeatism nor escapist isolationism; it is sanity.
Where Trotsky Meets Stalin & Hitler
The neoconservatives are often depicted as former Trotskyites who have morphed into a new, closely related life form. It is pointed out that many early neocons—including The Public Interest founder Irving Kristol and coeditor Nathan Glazer, Sidney Hook, and Albert Wohlstetter—belonged to the anti-Stalinist far left in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and that their successors, including Joshua Muravchik, and Carl Gershman, came to neoconservatism through the Socialist Party at a time when it was Trotskyite in outlook and politics. As early as 1963 Richard Hofstadter commented on the progression of many ex-Communists from the paranoid left to the paranoid right, clinging all the while to the fundamentally Manichean psychology that underlies both. Four decades later the dominant strain of neoconservatism is declared to be a mixture of geopolitical militarism and “inverted socialist internationalism.”Blanket depictions of neoconservatives as redesigned Trotskyites need to be corrected in favor of a more nuanced analysis. In several important respects the neoconservative world outlook has diverged from the Trotskyite one and acquired some striking similarities with Stalinism and German National Socialism. Today’s neoconservatives share with Stalin and Hitler an ideology of nationalist socialism and internationalist imperialism. The similarities deserve closer scrutiny and may contribute to a better understanding of the most influential group in the U.S. foreign policy-making community.
Certain important differences remain, notably the neoconservatives’ hostility not only to Nazi race-theory but even to the most benign understanding of national or ethnic coherence. On the surface, there are also glaring differences in economics. However, the neoconservative glorification of the free market is more rhetoric, designed to placate the businessmen who fund them, than reality. In fact, the neoconservatives favor not free enterprise but a kind of state capitalism—within the context of the global apparatus of the World Bank and the IMF—that Hitler would have appreciated.
Some form of gradual but irreversible and desirable withering away of the state is a key tenet of the Trotskyite theoretical outlook. The neoconservatives, by contrast, are statists par excellence. Their core belief—that society can be managed by the state in both its political and economic life—is equally at odds with the traditional conservative outlook and with the non-Stalinist Left. In this important respect the neoconservatives are much closer to Stalinism and National Socialism. They do not want to abolish the state; they want to control it—especially if the state they control is capable of controlling all others. They are not “patriotic” in any conventional sense of the term and do not identify themselves with the real and historic America but see the United States merely as the host organism for the exercise of their Will to Power. Whereas the American political tradition has been fixated on the dangers of centralized state power, on the desirability of limited government and non-intervention in foreign affairs, the neoconservatives exalt and worship state power, and want America to become a hyper-state in order to be an effective global hegemon. Even when they support local government it is on the grounds that it is more efficient and responsive to the demands of the Empire, not on Constitutional grounds.
The neoconservative view of America as a hybrid, “imagined” nation had an ardent supporter eight decades ago: in Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler argued for a new, tightly centralized Germany by invoking the example of the United States and the triumph of the Union over states’ rights. He concluded that “National Socialism, as a matter of principle, must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole German nation without consideration of previous federated state boundaries.” Hitler was going to make a new Germany the way he imagined it, or else destroy it. In the same vein the Weekly Standard writers are “patriots” only insofar as the America they imagine is a pliable tool of their global design. Their relentless pursuit of an American Empire overseas is coupled by their deliberate domestic transformation of the United States’ federal government into a Leviathan unbound by constitutional restraints. The lines they inserted into President Bush’s State of the Union address last January aptly summarized their Messianic obsessions: the call of history has come to the right country, we exercise power without conquest, and sacrifice for the liberty of strangers, we know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation: “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”
Such megalomania is light years away from a patriotic appreciation of one’s nation. A psychotic quest for power and dominance is the driving force, and the “nationalist” discourse its justification. The reality is visible in ultimate distress: Towards the end of the Second World War Josef Goebbels welcomed the Allied bombing for its destruction of the old bourgeois cuckoo-clock and marzipan Germany of the feudal principalities. Driven by the same impulse, Bill Kristol’s “national greatness” psychosis seeks to sweep away the old localized, decentralized America of bingo parlors and little league games.
Most heirs of the Trotskyite Left are internationalists and one-world globalists, whereas all neoconservatives are unabashed imperialists. The former advocate “multilateralism,” in the form of an emerging “international community” controlled by the United Nations or through a gradual transfer of sovereign prerogatives to regional groupings exemplified by the European Union. By contrast the neoconservative urge for uninhibited physical control of other lands and peoples bears resemblance to the New European Order of six decades ago, or to the “Socialist Community” that succeeded it in Eastern Europe. Even when they demand wars to export democracy, the term “democracy” is used as an ideological concept. It does not signify broad participation of informed citizens in the business of governance, but it denotes the desirable social and political content of ostensibly popular decisions. The process likely to produce undesirable outcomes—an Islamic government in Iraq, say—is a priori “undemocratic.”
Whereas the Trotskyite Left is predominantly anti-militarist, the neoconservatives are enthusiastically militarist in a manner reminiscent of German and Soviet totalitarianism. Their strategic doctrine, promulgated into official policy last September, calls for an indefinite and massive military build-up unconnected to any identifiable military threat to the United States. Their scribes demand ‘citizen involvement,’ in effect, militarization of the populace, but the traditional ‘citizen soldier’ concept is reversed. Their goal is to get suitably indoctrinated young Americans to go and risk their lives not for the honor and security of their own country, but for the missions that have to be misrepresented to the public (e.g. the non-existant Iraqi WMDs) in order to be made politically acceptable. As Gary North has pointed out, neoconservative foreign policy is guns before butter: “Butter always follows guns, but this is regarded as the inescapable price of American regional presence abroad.”
The neoconservatives’ deep-seated distaste for the traditional societies, regimes, and religion of the European continent, particularly Russia and East European Slavs, is positively Hitlerian. The sentiment was most glaringly manifested in the 1999 NATO war against the Serbs: William Kristol’s urge to vicariously “crush Serb skulls” went way beyond the 1914 Viennese slogan “Serbien muss sterbien.” In terms of strategic significance for the United States, however, the neocons’ visceral Russophobia is mush more significant. In the aftermath of the Cold War the neoconservatives have continued to regard Moscow as the enemy, enthusiastically supporting Chechen separatists as “freedom fighters” and advocating NATO expansion. Their atavism is comparable to Hitler’s obsession with Russia, an animosity that was equally unrelated to the nature of its regime. It is only a matter of time before some neocons start advocating a new Drang nach Osten, in the form of an American-led scramble for Siberia.
The neoconservative mindset is apocalyptic (which is a Nazi and Stalinist trait), rather than utopian (which characterizes the Trotskyite Left). The replacement of the Soviet threat with the more amorphous “terrorism” reflects the doomsday revolutionary mentality that can never rest. New missions and new wars will have to be engineered, and pretexts manufactured, with the same subtlety that characterized the “attack” on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on August 31, 1939. Even the tools for the enforcement of domestic acquiescence are not dissimilar: the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the Reichstag fire. Echoing the revolutionary dynamism and the historicist Messianism equally common to fascists and communists, Michael Ledeen wrote that “creative destruction” is America’s eternal mission, both at home and abroad, and the reason America’s “enemies” hate it: “They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence—our existence, not our politics—threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.”
The neoconservatives’ mendacity apparent in the misrepresentation of the Iraqi crisis to the American people recalls the Goebbelsian “hypodermic needle approach” to communication, in which the communicator’s objective was to “inject” his ideas into the minds of the target population. “Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering said when it was all over, in his prison cell in Nuremberg in 1946:
“Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a communist dictatorship ... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
It does indeed. Goering’s observation is echoed in our time by the Straussian dictum that perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is necessary because they need to be led, and they need to be told what is good for them. On this, at least, Trotsky, Stalin, and Hitler would all agree. (As Hitler had said, “The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble.”) In the Straussian-neoconservative mindset, those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right, the right of the superior to rule over the inferior.
That mindset is America’s enemy. It is the greatest threat to the constitutional order, identity, and way of life of the United States, in existence today. Its adherents have only modified the paradigm of dialectical materialism in order to continue pursuing the same eschatological dream, the End of History devoid of God. They are in pursuit of Power for its own sake — thus sinning against God and man — and the end of that insane quest will be the same as the end of the Soviet empire and of the Thousand-Year Reich.
FDR and Mussolini:
A Tale of Two Fascists
Many Americans would be horrified at the thought of discussing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Benito Mussolini as anything but moral and political antipodes: democrat versus dictator, peacemaker versus aggressive bully, good versus bad. Fifty-five years of bipartisan hagiography have placed FDR in the pantheon of American saints, roughly at number two between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and way ahead of the slaveholding Founding Fathers. It is not surprising that he is a role model to a liberal establishment that also reveres “Dr.” King and John Brown. But the fact that Republicans such as Newt Gingrich also invoke Roosevelt as a role model indicates the extent to which his legacy is unthinkingly accepted across the political spectrum.
Genuine conservatives, on the other hand, may argue that FDR and Mussolini were in fact rather similar. They will point out both men’s obsessive focus on strong, centralized government structures, their demagoguery, and especially their attempt to overcome the dynamics of social and economic conflict through the institutions of the corporate state.
For all their apparent similarities, however, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a more deleterious figure than Benito Mussolini, and his legacy proved to be more damaging to America than Il Duce’s was to Italy. This is not a case of good versus bad, or of two equal evils, but of bad versus even worse: Roosevelt was a more efficient, and certainly more successful, fascist than Mussolini.
Although he seemed to be a prime candidate for Bolshevism, and in fact became a leading socialist agitator and journalist in the years prior to the Great War, there was no hard ideological core to Mussolini—except, ultimately, his nationalism. This core loyalty prompted him to reject the socialists’ internationalism, pacifism, and neutrality at the beginning of the war in 1914 and to join other nationalists in demanding Italy’s entry into the war. About to be expelled from the Socialist Party for belligerence, he defiantly declared: “My cry is a word that I would never have pronounced in normal times, and that today I raise loudly, with my full voice, with no attempt at simulation, with a firm faith, a fearful and fascinating word: WAR!"
It was all there: the passion, the theater, the martial bravado, the burning heart. His parting shot, before being drafted, was the birth cry of fascism: “Now that steel has met steel, one single cry comes from our hearts: Viva l’Italia!” By early 1918, as a wounded veteran and the influential editor of the anti-socialist Popolo d’Italia, Mussolini exclaimed: “We, the survivors, we who have returned, demand the right of governing Italy!” As a wave of revolutionary aftershocks swept across Europe following the Bolshevik coup in Russia, Mussolini was increasingly seen as a Man of Destiny who could fit his own demand for a dictator “ruthless and energetic enough to make a clean sweep.”
A “clean sweep” against what? Against the establishment, the mediocre middle-class, middle-of-the-road liberals and democrats, the political heirs to the Risorgimento, long devoid of moral fiber and convictions, who allowed Italy’s “victory” against Austria to be “mutilated” when Dalmatia went to the newly created Yugoslavia at Versailles. But also against the left, whose instincts and whose frame of mind none understand so intimately, and none can hate so passionately, as its former initiates.
In early 1919, Mussolini started turning his rhetoric into political action by creating the nucleus of a party in Milan. It consisted of disillusioned war veterans, republicans, and former socialists and anarchists. Mussolini called his force Fasci di Combattimento, invoking a symbol of ancient Roman togetherness and authority. At rallies, surrounded by fascist supporters wearing the black shirts that had been adopted originally by anarchists, Mussolini caught the Italians’ collective imagination. His physique was impressive, his style of oratory superb, his attitudes highly theatrical. His ideas were contradictory, his facts often wrong, but his words were dramatic and his metaphors so apt and striking that he captivated the crowds.
Fascism grew and provided an antidote to the looming threat of Bolshevism, but by its abandonment of traditional codes of behavior in the struggle against socialism it came close to its red opponent, using not only its ideas of social justice and its vocabulary of simplified clichÈs but also its social base. The ecstatic Naples crowd that responded to Mussolini’s threat to march on Rome in 1922 with the chant of “Roma, Roma, Roma” was largely proletarian.
The die was cast a week later when fascist militias advanced upon the Eternal City. The biggest gamble of Mussolini’s career paid off when the liberal-democratic government collapsed and King Victor Emmanuel III sent the longed-for telegram. But the ease with which Mussolini took power reflected the weakness of the liberal system rather than his own strength. There was no real “march on Rome”: The city was there for the taking.
The rise of Mussolini was welcomed by many Italians not because of the ideological appeal of fascism—still vaguely defined at the time—but because it seemed to offer practical solutions to two specific problems: the “red menace” at home and the “mutilated victory” abroad. From the outset, Italy’s international status was perceived as the criterion by which the fascist experiment would stand or fall. Mussolini freely acknowledged this, but his activist foreign policy reflected a faulty grasp of foreign affairs that went beyond impatience with the old diplomacy. He confused strategy and policy. His emphasis on “action” conflated ends and means in semantic imprecision until the means, the acquisition of strength, became an end in itself. When the rhetoric of the regime became identified with a statement of ends, Italian policy became the prisoner of that rhetoric.
This became obvious in 1935 with the stupid and unnecessary Ethiopian adventure, which reflected Mussolini’s vanity and his lack of true statesmanship. Italy’s alliance with Germany was made possible, and in a sense unavoidable, by the Abyssinian war. This affair preoccupied the Western powers and Italy for more than a year, and it helped conceal the nature of the real threat to peace in Europe. Unwittingly, Mussolini did a favor to Hitler by drawing attention away from him. In the end, the split between Italy and her former allies could not be repaired—and Hitler was the beneficiary. The withdrawal of Germany and Italy from the League of Nations marked the final abandonment of the Europe of Versailles. Not only was the style of Italian foreign policy changed, but its substance as well, which was reflected in Mussolini’s (not Hitler’s) coining of the term “Rome-Berlin Axis.” The Spanish civil war infused an ideological element into the picture. By pitting Germany and Italy against the left and against the Western democracies, it created an impression of ideological solidarity.
The presumed strategic community of interests between Italy and Germany remained unclarified, and this ambiguity had sweeping consequences in later years. Mussolini was prepared to fight to secure a resurrected Mediterranean Roman Empire and gain access to the oceans; Hitler ultimately strove for nothing short of Weltmacht. Italy’s aims were “rational” and limited, but in their pursuit Mussolini was erratic and inconsistent. He eventually limited his options to the point where he had to make an alliance with the infinitely stronger German dictator, whose goals were unlimited—and therefore irrational—but who displayed great skill and “rationality” in their execution.
This was Italy’s calamity and Mussolini’s personal doom. He did not trust Hitler (as his frequent outbursts to his foreign minister and son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano amply testify), but he allowed himself to be bullied and cajoled into obedience time and again. Mussolini’s greatest failure as a statesman and as an Italian was his abandonment of autonomy to Hitler. He entered a war he could never win, and he did so for eminently unfascist reasons, afraid that the spoils would be Germany’s alone. Even if Hitler had been successful, Italy would have existed on Germany’s sufferance, not on its own strength.
With his senseless, infantile dream of imperial glory—on which he finally parted company with his hitherto supportive subjects—Mussolini painted himself into a corner. The only exit was into German captivity—in Otto Skorzeny’s plane in the summer of 1943, and into that retreating Wehrmacht column in the spring of 1945, from which he was taken to a communist firing squad and the Milanese meat hook. But for his dreams of imperial expansion, Il Duce, Italy’s man of destiny, could have remained a hero at home and abroad until his death.
Until Abyssinia, Mussolini was hailed as a genius and a superman on both sides of the Atlantic, primarily because of his economic and social policies. When FDR was inaugurated in March 1933, the world was praising Mussolini’s success in avoiding the Great Depression. Roosevelt and his “Brain Trust,” the architects of the New Deal, were fascinated by Italy’s fascism—a term which was not perjorative at the time. In America, it was seen as a form of economic nationalism built around consensus planning by the established elites in government, business, and labor.
American leaders were not very concerned with the undemocratic character of Mussolini’s regime. Fascism had “effectively stifled hostile elements in restricting the right of free assembly, in abolishing freedom of the press and in having at its command a large military organization,” the U.S. Embassy in Rome reported in 1925. But Mussolini remained a “moderate,” confronting the Bolsheviks while fending off extremists on the right. Ambassador Henry Fletcher saw only a choice between Mussolini and socialism, and the Italian people preferred fascist “peace and prosperity” to the “free speech and loose administration” that risked bringing Bolshevism to power. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg joined Fletcher in labeling all opposition groups as “communists, socialists, and anarchists.” The chief of the State Department’s Western European Division, William Castle, declared in 1926 that “the methods of the Duce are not by any means American methods,” but “methods which would certainly not appeal to this country might easily appeal to a people so differently constituted as are the Italians.”
As the political and social effects of the Great Depression hit Europe, Italy received mounting praise as a bastion of order and stability. “The wops are unwopping themselves,” Fortune magazine noted with awe in 1934. State Department roving Ambassador Norman Davis praised the successes of Italy in remarks before the Council on Foreign Relations in 1933, speaking after the Italian ambassador had drawn applause from his distinguished audience for his description of how Italy had put its “own house in order . . . A class war was put down.” Roosevelt’s ambassador to Italy, Breckenridge Long, was also full of enthusiasm for the “new experiment in government” which “works most successfully.” Henry Stimson (secretary of state under Hoover, secretary of war under Roosevelt) recalled that he and Hoover had found Mussolini to be “a sound and useful leader.” Roosevelt shared many of these positive views of “that admirable Italian gentleman,” as he termed Mussolini in 1933.
The most radical aspect of the New Deal was the National Industrial Recovery Act, passed in June 1933, which set up the National Recovery Administration. Most industries were forced into cartels. Codes that regulated prices and terms of sale transformed much of the American economy. The industrial and agricultural life of the country was to be organized by government into vast farm and industrial cartels. This was corporatism, the essence of fascism.
It may be argued that Roosevelt simply did what seemed politically expedient. But contemporaries knew what was in the making. Some liked it: Charles Beard freely admitted that “FDR accepts the inexorable collectivism of the American economy . . . national planning in industry, business, agriculture and government.” But detractors existed even within his own party. Democratic Sen. Carter Glass of Virginia denounced the NRA as “the utterly dangerous effort of the federal government at Washington to transplant Hitlerism to every corner of this nation.”
FDR’s New Deal united communists and fascists. Union leader Sidney Hillman praised Lenin as “one of the few great men that the human race has produced, one of the greatest statesmen of our age and perhaps of all ages.” Big-business partisan Gen. Hugh Johnson wanted America to imitate the “dynamic pragmatism” of Mussolini. Together, Hillman and Johnson developed the National Labor Relations Board. They shared a collectivist and authoritarian aversion for historical American principles of liberty.
Like fascist and communist dictators, Roosevelt relied on his own charisma, carefully and deceitfully developed, and the executive power of his office to stroke the electorate into compliance and to bludgeon his critics. His welfare projects went far beyond aid to the poor and wound up bribing whole sectors of American society—farmers, businessmen, banks, intellectuals—into dependence on him and the state he created. Through subsidies, wrote Richard Hofstadter, “a generation of artists and intellectuals became wedded to the New Deal and devoted to Rooseveltian liberalism.” Their corrupted descendants still thrive through federal endowments for the arts and humanities and in politically correct, federally funded academia. The only practical difference between FDR and fascist dictators was that he was far less successful in resolving the economic crisis. He made the Depression worse and even prolonged it. When he was elected, there were 11.6 million unemployed; seven years later, there were still 11.3 million out of work. In 1932, there were 16.6 million on relief; in 1939, there were 19.6 million. Only the war eventually ended the depression.
Ah, the war. During the campaign of 1940, FDR repeatedly promised to keep the country out of war and then did everything in his power to push America into the mayhem. In March 1941, he rammed the Lend-Lease Act through Congress, although selling munitions to belligerents and conveying them were acts of war and contrary to international law. During the Atlantic conference, FDR entered into an illegal and unconstitutional agreement with Churchill that America would go to war if Japan attacked British territory in the Far East. He said, “I may never declare war; I may make war. If I were to ask Congress to declare war they might argue about it for three months.” This was an impeachable offense. He allowed undercover British agents to operate freely and illegally within the United States. His unprovoked belligerency toward the Japanese as well as the Germans helped cause the attack on Pearl Harbor — which he may well have been fully aware of in advance — even as he vilified and persecuted the critics of his policies as “Nazis” and “traitors.”
World War II nevertheless remains “the holy war of the American establishment,” as Joe Sobran has called it. It legitimized the emergence of the United States as a global superpower, contrary to the Constitution and to the American tradition. Between 1941 and 1945, Washington became the command-and-control center of the ultra-centralized, unitary state that today seeks “benevolent global hegemony.” Just as the New Deal created the bureaucratic Leviathan and destroyed those vestiges of the Old Republic that had survived Lincoln, FDR’s war turned America into a “superpower” obliged to carry the burdens of democracy and human rights forever—first to Seoul and Saigon, then to Bosnia and Kosovo, and on to missions yet unimagined, to new Hitlers and “victims of genocide” still unknown, until it destroys itself.
“It seems to me,” wrote H.L. Mencken in his private diary on April 13, 1945, the day after FDR’s death, “to be very likely that Roosevelt will take a high place in American popular history—maybe even alongside Washington and Lincoln . . . He had every quality that morons esteem in their heroes.” FDR built a cult of personality just as Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin did. Power depends on such a cult. His current sainthood would have appalled many of his contemporaries, even if it would not have surprised them. “He was the first American,” wrote Mencken, “to penetrate to the real depths of vulgar stupidity. He never made the mistake of overestimating the intelligence of the American mob.” For those Americans who love the Old Republic, Franklin Roosevelt — not an irrelevant Mussolini — was and remains the enemy.
When Mussolini left the stage, the Italian nation was still its old self. Over two decades of fascism had left Italian society and its key institutions — family, Church, education, arts, culture, local communities — largely intact, or even strengthened. Il Duce was, in the end, all smoke and little fire, too humane to murder people on any large scale or to re-engineer seriously the country which he did love, albeit in a flawed way.
FDR left the stage only weeks earlier, but his legacy is alive and well in the destruction of America’s families, faith, tradition, education, arts, culture, and local communities, and in the burgeoning globalist empire embodied in Dr. Albright.
FDR’s “vision thing” has become a global bane. It leaves no country unscathed, Italy included, as the rubbish on Italian TV and radio, the newly arrived alien multitudes in bad and even not-so-bad parts of Milan, and the dismally few bambini in its maternity wards attest. This bane will just as surely destroy Italy as it will destroy America unless the supporters of truth, faith, and tradition on both sides of the Atlantic organize and fight to recover their neighborhoods, their schools, and their families for the sake of themselves, their nations, and our common civilization.
Lessons for America
The civilization of Europe, of which The Old Republic is an integral part or else it is nothing, is rooted in the glory that once was Hellas. It is among Greek thinkers, scientists, and artists that our spiritual and intellectual mentors are to be found. This is reflected even in the way we repeat their political follies. Our present leaders do not know or care, that having lead a voluntary alliance of independent free polities against the mighty aggressor from the East, Athens grew rich, arrogant, and complacent in the aftermath of its victory. Its leadership degenerated into hegemony which was justified by the ideology of "exporting democracy." It was admittedly obeyed for several decades, initially out of self-interest, then out of fear rather than respect, and finally it was hated. The law of power generating countervailing power came into play, other Greek city-states united against Athens, and it fell at the end of the glorious fifth [century, B.C.], never to recover as a political or military factor of any significance in world affairs.
Historical parallels between eras and events are valid and important, because the factor of human nature remains relatively constant. It would be preposterous to assume that our jet engines or intimate search engines make us significantly different from our European ancestors. To claim that our material progress over the past century or two makes us in any way wiser or better than the Greeks of twenty-five centuries ago would be simply hilarious. Let us therefore look at the story of the Athenian rise and fall as a reminder to our present-day rulers that certain modes of political thinking and behavior will produce similar results today, just as they did in 404 B.C., or in 1815, or in 1945.
The Persian invasion of mainland Greece in 480 B.C. transformed the Greek world forever. It played a crucial role in the refinement and definition of the Hellenic identity. Admittedly, of the hundreds of Greek city-states, only a few dozen opposed the Persian King-of-Kings, and only a small minority of Greeks participated in the war. But the victorious Athenians asserted freedom from external restraint as the key ingredient of Greek consciousness. In the years that followed the Persian defeat, Athenian power grew unabated. Its rise was due, in no small part, to the geo-political genius of Themistocles, whose grasp of the need for a strong, permanent navy was eminently modern in its strategic assumptions, and in its concept of the projection of power. The withdrawal of the Spartans from the continuing war against the Persians additionally helped Athens' claim, still limited and modest at that time, to be recognized as primus inter pares.
In order to forge closer ties with the Ionians and the islands, and to prevent any further threat from the East, before it got out of hand, the Athenians established an alliance based on the island of Delos, the ancient center of Ionian worship, in 478 B.C. It became known as The League of Confederacy of Delos [The Delian League], but while it was formed as a defensive alliance against Persia, the League quickly evolved into a tool for furthering Athenian ambitions in Hellas proper. What did Hellas mean? The notion of Hellenic unity was originally based on freely evolving institutions, such as common shrines and beliefs, a common alphabet, and a shared Homeric tradition. But this spontaneous unity of culture and tradition by no means implied a necessity, let alone any widely spread desire, towards the centralizing, state-building experiments of a Bismarckian kind. The prevailing view of Hellas implied political diversity in cultural unity, somewhat reminiscent of the Southern view of the Union. Accordingly, by 468 B.C., after the Ionian cities had been liberated and the Persian fleet destroyed, many members of the League thought it unnecessary to continue the confederacy. They acted as reasonably, and therefore as naively, as those of us who felt that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] had outlived its purpose after the fall of the [Berlin] Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Empire.
In suppressing all attempts of League members to secede, the Athenians claimed, first, that the Persian danger still existed, second, that the Alliance was needed to maintain and protect the large free-trade areas so necessary for the allies' (read, Athenian) commerce, and finally, that it was needed to "promote democracy": the similarity with our own times is truly remarkable. It has been said that the Athenians created an Empire because they dared not unmake the confederation; this is giving them too much credit. Empires are not created by default, and against the wishes of allegedly reluctant hegemonists. Note how quickly, in order to keep its budding empire together, Athens started meddling in its clients' internal affairs, and ordering their lives in the name of spreading "democracy." This was the first time in history that the State sought to order the affairs of others in the name of an ideological concept. Athens aided and abetted the suppression of its local aristocratic structures, and held itself as the leader of a union of democratic States. Its self-appointed role signaled the birth of a view of international affairs that has created endless problems, both for its upholders and for its victims, ever since.
Athenian self-congratulatory rhetoric apart, to many Greeks, and primarily to the members of the traditionalist Spartan League, and the suppressed aristocrats within the "Democratic Empire," Athens was a tyrant city, and an enslaver of Greek liberties. Pericles -- part Lincoln, part Disraeli -- sought to justify Athenian imperialism in the language heralding Wilsonian millenarianism; claiming that it brought freedom from fear and want to the Greek world. " We did not gain this empire by force," he asserted, "our allies came to us of their own accord and begged us to lead them." True up to a point, but having been led, they were no longer free to thank the leaders and continue on their own way. Thucydides outlines how Athens embarked on its imperial experiment almost without pause, and without deliberation. As leaders of the League, it fully controlled the leadership: the Athenian citizens alone selected its treasurers. In 454 B.C., the Athenians moved the treasury of the League to their own city, and started collecting one-sixteenth of the allies' tribute to Athena Polis, patron of Athens, and now patron of the re-organized League itself. This was the formal admission of the changed character of the League. This money paid for the temples on the Acropolis, supported the fleet, provided work for the citizens of Athens, and accumulated a reserve fund.
By 450 B.C., the Delian League was an organization of de-facto Athenian colonies, still nominally autonomous, but whose center and treasury was now in Athens. The allied leaders largely went along, because they needed political stability and commercial predictability. And because, being "democratic," they no longer felt accountable to their own people ( think of Canada's Chretien, or Britain's Blair, and you'll get the idea ). The League went beyond its initial brief into anti-terrorist operations. Syros, Karystos, and Naxos, Greek pirate nests, were cleared of criminal elements and turned into Athenian settlements. An out-of-area operation, into the non-Greek Eastern Mediterranean, was on the agenda next. While the Athenian task-force to Egypt, in 459 B.C., was a Mogadishu-like disaster, others were successful and lucrative. Athens grew heady on its own brew. Alcibiades, at Sparta, sounded truly Albrightesque, when he vowed that Athens would conquer Sicily, then the Hellenes in Italy, next Carthage itself, and then the Peloponnese, with "all the additional Hellenic forces which we will have acquired in the West, until we be the masters of the entire Hellenic world." By that time "Hellenism" meant exactly what "The International Community" means today. It was but an alibi for rampant Athenian imperialism.
After 460 B.C., the Athenians gave up all pretenses of consensual leadership, and initiated hostilities with Sparta's allies, and soon, with Sparta itself. The fighting from 459 until 445, the start of the thirty-years' peace -- with an intervening five-years' truce -- is sometimes called the first Peloponnesian War, and is less known because we didn't have Thucydides to write about it. It was but a skirmish, though, compared to the carnage initiated in 431 B.C. During that time the Athenians became the sovereign power of Hellas, realizing for themselves the dream of the Kings of the Persians. Those proud men who had only recently won over the Spartans, reassuring them that nothing could enslave the Hellenes, were now trying to justify their attitude by three of the strongest motives: fear, honor, and interest. "It has always been the law that the weaker should be subject to the stronger," they said, and added that they believed themselves worthy of their position. As a modern Greek historian, Hondrocopoulos, pointed out, "under the pressure of three of the strongest motives, here it is then: ' there are things greater than liberty, things that exceed even the gods' demands, they're honor, and fear, and interest.'" An unbelievable statement. Why then, had these people lost their principles? Had they become bereft of any ideals? And not only do they seem to have replaced the recently spilled blood with the trinkets thrown before them, they had also converted this fallacy into an inevitable law, into a great principle; an inconceivable transformation. Is it ever possible for a whole people of heroes to give up the burning torch, in order to keep the kettle? Yes, precisely, the sharp-witted Thucydides tells us. We listen to the Athenians speaking unequivocally, and being completely familiar with the language of power, the language of the Persians, which they used to think impossible for them to speak.
Born after the battle of Salamis, Thucydides could hear the Athenians speak, after the victory and their new and complete dominance, a language that only Marlowe and Shakespeare were able to revive in the Elizabethan theatre. Pericles, in their rendering, explained to those who lacked the nerve to understand that they could not decline the burdens of Empire and still expect to share its honors: " To recede is no longer possible, if indeed any of you, in the alarm of the moment, has become enamored of the honesty of such an unambitious part. For what you are called to be is, to speak plainly, a Tyranny. To take it perhaps is wrong, but to let it go is unsafe. Hatred and unpopularity of the moment have fallen to the lot of all who have aspired to rule others." This hubris is totally undisguised in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, and I quote, " We believe that heaven, and we know that men, by natural law, always rule when they are stronger. We did not make that law, nor were we the first to act upon it; we found it existing, and it will exist forever, after we are gone. And we know that you, and anyone else as strong as we, would do the same as we do."
That just about sums it up. Euripides provided the finishing touch by justifying the Athenian's claim to be sovereign over Hellas on the grounds of their supposed racial superiority. By that stage, under Pericles' inept successors, Athenian imperialism displayed its seriously ugly face. In 416 B.C., the Athenians assaulted Melos, a neutral Aegean island that had been reluctant to join the Empire. They killed all men of military age, and sold the women and children into slavery. The following year, they resumed general war with an expedition against Syracuse, the major Greek city-state in Sicily. It ended in disaster. The Athenians hoped to add Sicily to their Empire, and so become powerful enough, as they had promised, "... to rule the whole of the Greek world." But the Sicilians, supported by Sparta, routed two Athenian fleets and a large army. Hubris ended in Nemesis. The war dragged on until 404 B.C., when Athens capitulated after its last fleet was destroyed by a Spartan fleet built with Persian money. The once-great city-state was also stripped of its Empire and de-militarized, never to rise again.
I'll conclude with a few theoretical observations on the meaning of it all. Thucydides' warning that war is imminent to the human condition is grim, but true. Human nature is grasping, overreaching, and insatiable, says he, and is reflected in international affairs. Morality is not a guide, even an outraged sense of justice generates strife and injustice. Furthermore, if the urge for domination is irresistible, as the Athenians claimed, it is then value-neutral, rather than unjust. Therefore, equal respect for equal power, just or not, is the prescription for stability and peace. It can be achieved through some form of the balance of power. Failure of the system generates war that ultimately ends in the hegemonist's defeat. Europeans understood this well, at least in the three centuries between the Peace of Westphalia and the Great War. America's present overseas interlopers are forced to re-learn the lesson. The logic of Albright's " Indispensable Nation " leaves them no choice.
So the message of Thucydides is that States, threatened by the Imperium, should take on a balancing role as a deliberate policy designed to discourage or contain excessive power. Russia and China are doing so as we speak, thank goodness. A timely check is the best we can hope for America. An imbalance neglected for too long, let us repeat, can only be resolved through the disaster of war. Thucydides sees such restraint on expansion as the only viable route to peace. It is in line with his oft-repeated view that those who have the power to block expansionism, but fail to do so, are the true culprits. Containment is good, acquiescence is bad. Thucydidian prudence, if properly applied, can prolong periods of peace and shorten periods of war; none can ever be permanent. This prudence is eminently American, and our rulers need to re-discover the notion of America as a real and completed nation: a State with definable national interests as the foundation of its diplomacy. This is neither defeatism nor escapist isolationism.
And now I part company with Thucydides on his implied inevitability of imperial overreach. We should be able to learn from history, lest we remain children forever. Why should we trust others to keep America in check and risk their failure if we can make a difference here at home? Surely, this is no pre-ordained tragic role that we are doomed to play in unopposed submission to our rulers. Some wars may have to be fought, but only those that touch us personally. Yes, we should resolutely uphold and defend the security and freedom of the United States on the basis of the golden rule. But we should reject both the neo-Wilsonian one-world globalism, and the even more odious neo-conservative hegemonist interventionism, as contrary to the authentic tradition of the American Republic, to its true interests, and to the will of the American people. As Diodorus Siculus narrates, a Syracusian named Nicholas was perhaps the last of the Hellenes who tried to redeem the sacred heart of Hellenism, in spite of Athens' betrayal of its own creation. Like a Serb bemoaning the NATO bombings in the name of the image of America that generations of East Europeans had grown up with, he passionately spoke for the virtues that the Hellenes should uphold, and reminded the Athenians of their own once-proclaimed ideals. He also begged his compatriots to spare the Athenians their lives, saying: "As many of you have acquired education and have learned the art of speech, show mercy to those whose city has been school for all people." Can we hope for any such plea when the tables ultimately turn on America?
And turn they surely will. Just as the commercial aristocracy of Athens was free to indulge itself in imperialism that brought ruin to all Athenians, America's present rulers pursue their project of global hegemony to the detriment of this country's interests, and contrary to the wishes of its people. Athenian elites, driven by commercial ambitions and self- aggrandizement, and devoid of any moral self-restraint, finally embroiled their country in a self-destructive war. There is nothing, nothing at all, to indicate that America's lot will be any different if its rulers are not restrained while there is still time. America's eventual demise is inherent in its present behavior, just as the demise of Athens was inherent in its rise. The fall was well-deserved. This verdict may sound harsh today because the Academe is in the hands of those who hold that democracy is the most divine form of government known to mankind. But in earlier, better times, critiques of Athenian expansionism were not uncommon. The entire history of Athens, Burke maintained, was that of "... rationalist folly, ingratitude, injustice, violence and tyranny, and indeed of every species of wickedness that can well be imagined." Concerning the Delian League in particular, he complained that the Athenians began "...to tyrannize over their equals; with their prudence they renounced all appearance of justice." Under Pericles, whom the eighteenth century Frenchman, Barthelemy, dubs "...the most dangerous of those leaders who paid court to the multitude," the Athenians "had the insolence to avow that the only law of nations they were acquainted with was force."
But at least we still have the immortal remains of Attic drama and the ruins of those splendid public buildings with which Pericles and the Athenians adorned their city during the heyday of the Empire. That legacy tempers our verdict, even tempts us to proclaim the folly ultimately worthwhile. The legacy of our latter-day global hegemonists is limited to Mr. Blair's millennium dome, the bomb craters in Serbian cities, that stain on Ms. Lewinsky's dress, and to a library of books that have been published to exonerate a criminal president who is as similar to Pericles as Madeleine Albright is to Athena. With them there is no saving grace and no salvation.
AND THE END OF CULTURE
Presented at the tenth annual meeting of The John Randolph Club in Washington, D.C. on October 9, 1999
Normal people don't take madmen seriously enough. This works to the advantage of the politicians – an inherently insane breed – and their subjects' attitude of "they can't be serious" allows them to sneer back "yes, we can!" – usually when it is too late. And so the notions that but two generations ago would have been deemed eccentric, if not demonic, now rule the 'mainstream.'
America's foreign policy establishment proves the point. We could quote Albright in extenso, but even more chilling, because more coldly coherent, are the views of her less excitable No. 2. In a recent New York Times profile (Monday, September 21) Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott declared that the United States may not exist "in its current form" in the 21st century, because the very concept of nationhood – here and throughout the world – will have been rendered obsolete.
This must be news to those who naively assume that the purpose of foreign policy is to ensure the survival, security and prosperity of the United States within the international system, rather than its eventual absorption by the system. And please note that Talbott's was an exultant prophecy, not an impartial analyst's assessment. It came from the man who has defined, shaped and executed the Clinton administration's foreign policy since the first day of this presidency. His position within the U.S. power structure is beyond doubt: this was the second in-depth feature on Talbott to be published in the NYT in six months.
Several months before joining the administration, while his party's victory was still far from certain, Talbott wrote in Time magazine (July 20, 1992, "The Birth of the Global Nation") that he is looking forward to universal government run by "one global authority": "Here is one optimist's reason for believing unity will prevail... within the next hundred years ... nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority... A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th century – 'citizen of the world' – will have assumed real meaning by the end of the 21st."
The key ideological foundation for Talbott's beliefs was stated bluntly: "All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary." With this remarkable admission we are freed from the need to waste our time with the rhetoric of policy, and able to focus on its substance. To Talbott and his ilk, the United States, Serbia, East Timor, Ireland, Russia, Iran, China, Cuba... are all but transient, virtual-reality entities.
Owing allegiance to any one of them is "irrational," and attaching one's personal loyalty to it – let alone risking one's life for its sake – is as absurd as worshipping icons, or dressing for dinner. Atavistic sentiments may have to be invoked as communication tools for the hoi polloi from the prairies that provide the cannon fodder for any given "peacekeeping" or "humanitarian" project, but this odious task is best left to the front men, such as presidents.
Like Marx's proletarian, Talbott knows of no loyalty to a concrete country. He could serve any one or all of them if they can be turned into the tools of his Wille zur Macht. In 1792 it could have been France, in 1917 Russia.
Today the United States is the host-organism of choice for two reasons. It happens to be immensely powerful, and its political system is just as immensely susceptible to the penetration by what is a rabidly anti-traditionalist and therefore deeply anti-American world outlook and political agenda.
By treating America as an ideological concept (a "proposition nation") Talbott and his ilk are imposing a bird's-eye view of world affairs that makes the discussion of their policy possible only within their odd terms of reference. Try applying the traditional criteria of national interest and you'll be labeled a Buchananite, with all the attendant "isms" that will destroy your name and career. Put on their specs and think of their project as one great moral crusade on behalf of human rights and democracy everywhere, and you'll enter the virtual world in which all pretense to meaning is abandoned. The playful disregard for principles and order smacks of the 1960s frivolity, but comes with a big stick. The bombing of Serbian buses, hospitals, trains, and TV stations – to take a recent example – was a "humanitarian intervention." The destruction of the traditional concept of sovereignty and the rule of law is a triumph of "the international community."
That war's chief advocates were old enemies of "the West." Some conservatives have chortled at the ostensible volte-face of these former peaceniks but they should have grasped that, far from being an act of conversion, their war against the Serbs represented the consummation of their globalist dreams. Old systems for the protection of national liberties, legal and economic, have now been subverted into vehicles for their destruction.
On the ruins of real nations, "universal human rights" do not provide a basis for either the rule of law or morality, and that is the point. They are by definition deracinated, antithetical to the concept of national sovereignty, and demand a single global system of civil law that cannot stop short of a world government. The Serbs were a litmus test, and their collapse – predictable, even unavoidable under Milosevic – means that the project will march on. For that reason alone it is not just about the Balkans; but there is more. We are faced with a global problem that is a synthesis of all others, and goes beyond Culture Wars. It is the looming end of culture itself. For many millennia people lived in communities in which links were direct, and emotional. Those communities eventually merged into "society," in which relations were measured in terms of objects, and were formalized; but the "real" human being nevertheless remained the subject of his own activity generated by his emotions and needs as a living, feeling, thinking creature.
But by the mid-20th century, when science and technology ushered in the information era and society became a vastly complex socio-technological system, from the subject of activity man was reduced to a mere element of it – the 'human factor.' Yes, all impulses for activity still pass through the individual, but they are dictated by the System. Having been "integrated" into the network of relations as a specific reality, the man has to act in accordance with the system's procedures. The environment, the real world outside the Beltway (or the M25, or the Boulevard Peripherique) becomes symbolic rather than substantial, the natural is squeezed out, with nature merely providing the building blocks for the artificial and relations with nature assuming a primarily functional character. Most relations between people cease to be regulated by pre- and extra-rational means – by feelings, customs, faith, love, hate, considerations of good and evil, sin and punishment, beauty and ugliness. What the ruling elite would call 'ideology,' and what would be known as spirituality until not too many decades ago, is being substituted by 'content,' by information. This is why the survival of culture is uncertain.
Society's metamorphosis into technos (or post-society, Fukuyama would call it post-history) signifies its end. With the impending revolution in genetic engineering, culture as a means for transmitting values conducive to society's cohesion will no longer be needed. Money, success (power), and health are the only "values." The soul, emotional experiences, personal opinions, are but burdens that distract from production or from the precise execution of instructions. Culture as a whole is a relic, too; if it is not already neutered and relegated to 'heritage', it is automatically designated 'traditional'. What they sometimes call 'the end of history,' the transformation of society into a sociotechnological system regulated by "the market", signifies the end of mankind's cultural history. Will that not signify the end of mankind in general?
Yes, and it is all for the best, according to one Jon Huer who teaches sociology and philosophy at the University of Maryland; and now we come back to the Balkans. In a recent article Huer noted that the bombing by Americans and human-shielding by Serbs were symbolic of two very different worlds. The high technology "of ultimate sophistication, so logical and so rational, with little human involvement," is countered by "the total disregard of logic and rationality." Huer contends that this fact contrasts "two archetype societies, one future-oriented and the other past-oriented." He claims that Americans are now entering a wholly different era of society and culture, one that the world has never seen before. It is what we might call a "Post-Human Era" where all aspects of social life are streamlined and rationalized, and all shades of human relations and nuances simplified into manageable routines and procedures.
In a Post-Human society, each individual is isolated from other individuals so that his or her self-calculation can be logically derived without distraction from other human beings. In this way, there is little energy or passion that is wasted in dealing with human relations in society, now mostly done as paperwork by paid specialists like lawyers and counselors and bureaucrats. Huer's "historical hunch" is that "Americans are the future prototype humans, and Serbs an atavistic holdover from a bygone era" and that "it would behoove the Serbs to recognize this inevitable development of history and join up with what will be, not what was or should be."
This gem of brutal honesty indicates why it's not just the Balkans. We should be aware of the price of the post-human empire, and spread the word to the peoples of "the West" that need to win their countries back for the sake of their families, their neighborhoods, their schools and their eroded liberties. Unless they are educated they will not act to stop Talbott's, Albright's and Blair's global dream.
The Balkans – humanitarian bombings, multicultural Muslims, 'rape camps' and all – was their exercise in counter-realism, which is the essence of post-modernism. Jamie Shea and Jamie Rubin – note the use of cute diminutives in lieu of real names – simply follow their peers in other genres with their exercises in unraveling meanings. On the Balkans they decisively moved beyond truth and reality, just as their more arty counterparts move beyond the limits of the aesthetic. Theirs is 'culture' of the artificial world, of post-historical, technological man. They are beyond conscience. The reversibility of the signifier and the signified, aggressor and victim, ethnic cleanser and ethnically cleansed, eventually eliminates the creator and, after that, the subject in general, with nothing but the subject's 'signature' being left, sometimes in the form of bomb craters.
This is the culture of man that has lost his bond with nature, man that is surrounded by artificial reality, creates it himself, and is permeated with it from within. In the seamless straightjacket being tailored by America's ruling elites this "culture" is manifested in foreign affairs in the obliteration of the ethnic identity of peoples, their special color and uniqueness, in the loss of diversity of social evolution that goes side by side with the diminishing diversity of nature.
The ideology of universal human values is promoted – that is to say, of a common culture identical for the whole world. As befits the post-modern world, the proponents of politically correct "diversity" are in fact promoting its exact opposite: sociotechnological monism. They are emboldened by NATO's bombing of the Serbs no less than by the lack of reaction to it in the heartland, and believe that the seemingly obvious futility of resistance in the Balkans will force the remaining atavistic humans everywhere to accept what they call the challenge of complexity, and merge with the post-humans through degeneration and loss of identity.
"Western" foreign policy elites, poorly educated, rootless, arrogant, cynically manipulative, and ultimately criminal – smell blood, and march boldly on. But as an atavistic holdover from the human past I still refuse to believe that everything influences us while we, creatures endowed with feelings, will, and reason, influence nothing. The struggle of real people for survival and continued existence is natural, and inevitable, even if the outcome is uncertain – just as the individual's knowledge of his mortality does not stop him from holding on to life, and beauty, and truth. The strategy for survival starts with understanding that, indeed, it is not just the Balkans any more.