Cal Thomas skewers Bush “democracy” speech

Cal Thomas has written an insightful critique of President Bush’s “freedom and democracy for the Moslem world” speech. As Thomas puts it, Bush assumes that the Moslems have the same basic values, the same aims and strivings for “liberty,” that we do. But they don’t. Moslems’ notion of “liberty” is to live according to Allah’s law and to impose that law on everyone else. They regard our kind of radical personal freedom as corrupting and sinful.

This brings home the stunning lack of nuance in the president’s address. Instead of speaking in more modest terms of encouraging a greater degree of rule of law and political liberalism in the Moslem countries, Bush acted as if the Moslems are exactly like us, and that any failure on our part to see that they are exactly like us, and are therefore desirous and capable of achieving exactly the same sort of freedoms that we enjoy, is a moral failure on our part—a flaw which he condescendingly described as “cultural condescension.”

It is remarkable how Bush’s liberal evangelical Protestantism on one hand, and the neoconservatives’ mindless mantra that “all-people-in-the-world-are-ready-for-American-style-democracy-because-they-all-want-good-things-for-their-children” on the other, have come together in the same illusory and arrogant ideology.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 12, 2003 12:21 PM | Send


With regard to my above comment on the neocons, Nietzsche, in one of his brilliant psychological insights, remarked that “Christianity is the sublimation of Jewish family love.” It strikes me that the neoconservatives’ uncritical belief in the universal sameness of all peoples and in their equal readiness for American-style democracy, a belief particularly expressed by Jewish neoconservatives such as Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, is also a (dangerously mistaken) expression of Jewish family love.

(Of course, the neocons’ belief in universal democracy is also, like their uncritical belief in assimilation, an expression of their family’s experience of assimilation in America. The Jewish neoconservatives’ underlying motivation is that if it turns out that not everybody is alike, if it turns out that not everybody is equally assimilable to America and American-style democracy, that would somehow mean that the Jews themselves are not assimilable.)

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 12, 2003 1:47 PM

In the same connection, see Nietzsche’s extraordinary idea on how Jewish warmth and love, via Christianity, enriched the Northern peoples:

“The principle of love derives from the little Jewish communities: it is a soul of the more passionate kind that glows here under the ashes of humility and wretchedness: this was neither Greek, nor Indian, nor Germanic. The song in praise of love that Paul composed [I Corinthians 13] is nothing Christian, but a Jewish outburst of the eternal flame that is Semitic. If Christianity has done anything essential psychologically, it is that it _raised the temperature of the soul_ among those cooler and nobler races that were then on top; it was the discovery that the most wretched life can become rich and inestimable through a rise in temperature—” The Will to Power, sect 175

Walter Kaufmann comments in a footnote: “The point Nietzsche makes here was utterly revolutionary at that time and constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of Judaism and Christianity … ”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 12, 2003 1:52 PM

In saying the above, I don’t want to leave the impression that I am endorsing Nietzsche’s psychological, reductive explanation of Christianity. Nietzsche did not believe in Christianity or divine revelation; he sought psychological, racial-cultural, and other immanent explanations for religious phenomena. Nevertheless, his insights quoted above illuminate a dimension of things which I think is also part of the truth.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 12, 2003 2:39 PM

“his insights quoted above illuminate a dimension of things which I think is also part of the truth.”

I think is what the Lord Jesus had in mind when he said “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8)

Posted by: Joel LeFevre on November 12, 2003 2:49 PM

First of all at the outset, let me say that I was born Jewish even though I do not practice the religion.

You are kind to Jews and Christians and I share most of that kindness. But in “Genealogy of Morals” we get a more comprehensive understanding of Nietzsche’s views which probably capture a deeper insight as to the history of the Jewish, and by extension, Christian thought process.

A number of observations about the great man had about Jewish thought:

1. His insight that Jewish thought created the concept of the inversion of values — the protecting of the “other” from the “powerful.”
2. The idea that a relatively few people in every group can hold back people from becoming good, capable, decent people like us (in the Western sense.) For example, reasons for problems and failure often given are colonialism, racism, corrupt dictators, capitalism, etc. That eliminating these past wrongs or corrupt leaders will solve the “problem.”

In my opinion, the neocons have one insight that separates them from the main intellectual thought process of many Jews. It is that the United States is good, not evil, even though it is powerful.

The intellectual superiority of Jews has made them devalue their instincts. This has brought about enormous rationalization of reality and a substitution of ideals for reality. One of Nietzsche’s most profound aphorism’s applies here—“Whatever elevates you does not have to be good in itself.”

Posted by: susie on November 12, 2003 3:48 PM

Susie is correct about Nietzsche’s idea that the slave mentality or _ressentiment_ against the strong originated largely among the Jews, and about his view that this same mentality was expanded through its embodiment in Christianity to the detriment of the world. (However, it’s important to point out that Nietzsche’s hatred, especially in his almost insane late book The Anti-Christ, was directed against Christianity, not against the Jews; Nietzsche was never an anti-Semite.) She’s also correct to point out the connection between the slave mentality and modern liberalism; and also that Jewish neoconservatives differ from liberal Jews in being determinedly pro-American.

However, this doesn’t mean that the neoconservatives are free from all forms of that resentment. In my view, the Jewish neoconservatives advance an _ideological_ vision of America, and oppose any notion of a _substantive_ American nation, precisely because they fear that they would not be seen as 100 percent full citizens in it. To this degree, they are still functioning as a self-conscious minority trying to weaken an “oppressive” majority. And the majority, by yielding to the minority’s demands, does indeed weaken itself and even puts itself on the path to extinction.

My solution to this dilemma is that the majority must re-discover itself _as_ the majority, and see the minority _as_ the minority. This doesn’t mean exclusion, persecution, or loss of rights of the minority. But it does mean that the minority, insofar as it is a minority, should not be able to speak authoritatively for the society as a whole. That indeed is the state we’re in now, with advanced liberalism and multiculturalism, in which the minorities express themselves as groups and are given importance as groups, while the members of the majority only express themselves as individuals. An ordered state of society is one in which the majority is the majority, and the minorities are minorities.

Of course, in the public realm, where we participate as citizens and individuals, these group issues do not arise. But insofar as there is group-conscious politics coming from the minorities which are not in the interests of the society as a whole, it is needful, in order for the society to maintain its proper equilibrium and even its existence, that the majority assert itself as the majority against such minority agendas. And what I specifically mean by such majority self-assertion in this context is that America must reject the neoconservative view of itself as a propositional nation and rediscover itself as a _substantive_ nation and culture—a Western, white-majority, Christian-majority nation with a Judeo-Christian morality. Of course, the neoconservative, propositionalist view of America is not promoted just by discrete minority groups such as Jews or discrete political groups such as neoconservatives; it is now the standard, mainstream view. Nevertheless, if a reconstituted majority is to assert itself against that view, it needs to oppose the idea that America is primarily defined by minority concerns.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 12, 2003 4:27 PM

The neocons are a bridge to something else; an attempt to salvage the Jewish intellectual tradition, which is in large part destructive, by overthrowing the impulse that says the powerful are always bad. They do hold resentment, but it is far less than that of the left wing Jews. In that sense, the neocons are a useful precursor for Jews like me to overthrow the falsehoods of today. In the context of resentment, they represent progress.

The majority should affirm itself before it’s too late and we become a third world majority. Before this affirmation takes place, a metamorphosis has to occur where we overthrow the guilt and bad conscience that has been placed in our being. In addition, we have to examine basic underlying assumptions that have generated a bad image for ourselves.

We must abandon the idea that all groups are genetically equal.

We have to clearly understand, with objectivity, that we are wiser, healthier and stronger based on past achievements and that we are entitled to overthrow the false morality that says we are better everytime we do something that is against our best interests.

We have to refocus our goals to make men healthier, wiser, stronger, and more noble. We must stop chasing the illusion of secular morality. Religious morality has been transformed by many into secular morality at a devastating effect for mankind.

Posted by: susie on November 12, 2003 6:49 PM

Paul Gottfried’s column currently on the front page of I think is relevent to much of what susie and Mr. Auster are discussing. It is entitled, “For Zionists, Time to Choose.”

Posted by: Joel LeFevre on November 12, 2003 7:22 PM

As Mr. Auster indicates, Nietzsche’s analysis of ressentiment as the property of Judeo-Christian slave-mass morality results from his own impassioned ressentiment of Christianity. The Christian view, however, is that ressentiment is the natural condition of man in rebellion against God’s will. Ressentiment is sin. In the Christian view, the masters are afflicted at least as badly as the slaves.

Eric Gans’s analyses of resentment in Originary Thinking and in his on-line Chronicles of Love and Resentment are superior to Nietzsche’s. In Gans’s “generative anthropology,” resentment is inherent to the human position at the periphery of the “originary scene,” the center of which is occupied by (minimally) the sign or (maximally) the sacred being. Resentment is part of the relationship to the center because the center repels the humans from the center, and part of the relationship between humans on the periphery because they jealously and warily gauge each other’s obedience to sacred prohibitions.

I mention Gans’s theory of universal resentment in response to suggestions above that we can overcome liberalism and neoconservatism by rejecting minoritarian resentment. Rather than trying to be resentment-free, which was apparently Nietzsche’s fantasy for the “blonde Bestie,” we should recognize resentment as inherent to our humanity, and turn it to benefit the divine order and against resenters of the divine order.

Thus, one may justly resent those who unjustly resent the legitimate desire of Americans to preserve their historical national identity. Nations are part of the divine order. They are families writ large. Human beings are obligated to protect their nations. Subverters of nations are enemies. Nations, further, are not all equal. One is not entitled to step outside his own nationality and adopt the God’s eye view, as if one had no nationality of one’s own. That is not the human role.

Posted by: Bill on November 12, 2003 7:48 PM

Re the Gottfried article, people on our side have been pointing out for years the double standard of neoconservative Jews who argue for Jewish ethnic nationalism for Israel but utterly deny even an attenuated ethnic component in the American and other Western nations. Meanwhile, the anti-Zionist Jewish leftists, like Judt, have at least been consistent in their suicidal liberalism. The Judt article, by its explicitness, has drawn the lines of this argument and brought out the neocons’ double standard even more clearly than before, which is helpful. However, Gottfried remains one of the very few paleocons who takes a correct position on this, being in favor of Jewish nationalism AND American nationalism. Most paleocons have taken a position of resentment, denying Israel’s national legitimacy while insisting on our own. As usual, neocons and paleocons are mirror images of each other’s wrongheadedness.

Bill writes: “Thus, one may justly resent those who unjustly resent the legitimate desire of Americans to preserve their historical national identity.”

May I suggest to Bill that I don’t think the point is to have “justified resentment” toward anyone, but justly to stand up in a principled way against an unjust and harmful position.

Let us also remember that Plato didn’t say that the Guardians should have resentment those who endanger the state; he said they should have _indignation_ against them.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 12, 2003 8:22 PM

Purely through my fault, this thread about Cal Thomas’s criticism of Bush’s Democracy speech turned into a discussion about Jews. I hope we can bring it back to the main subject, since, as one of our participants wrote to me, “I’m afraid the original point has been lost … and I think it is an extremely important one because it is so foundational and clearly shows why U.S. policy, as presently constituted, CANNOT ultimately work in Iraq, no matter how much objective good the toppling of Saddam and the occupation may have done for the material welfare of the people living in Iraq.”

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on November 13, 2003 12:43 AM

Bill has misinterpreted Nietzsche on resentment. He never had a fantasy for the “blonde bestie” to eliminate resentment. Resentment is part of the human condition. His thought was that resentment had an inevitable place in the human condition. The noble have resentment also. His goal try to control resentment by putting it on a conscious level so that people are aware of it.

Posted by: susie on November 13, 2003 9:28 AM
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