Events in Massachusetts make Kerry’s election possible
I’ve said that no matter how bad or inadequate Bush is, Kerry is so palpably unqualified to be president that there was no realistic chance of his being elected.
How bad is Kerry? Let us count (some of) the ways:
He is an absurdly arrogant man who continually and blatantly contradicts himself and is completely unable to account for the contradictions; whose typical response to legitimate criticism from political opponents is to say, “I won’t stand for it”; who made the amazing boast that foreign leaders supported his presidential candidacy, and then, when asked by a man at a public forum who these foreign leaders were, retorted, “That’s none of your business,” and then browbeat the man into revealing what party he belonged to; who 30 years ago falsely accused the U.S. military of systematic, Nazi-like war crimes in Vietnam and has never renounced those statements; whose main contribution to U.S. foreign policy debates over the last 20 years has been to call the United States “arrogant” and “haughty”; who repeatedly suggests that the United States government is illegitimate (viz., his call for “regime change” in America, and his proposal that America go to the UN and ask to be “re-admitted to the community of nations,” from which it has supposedly removed itself by its haughty arrogance in going to war in Iraq without the support of France and Germany); and whose foreign policy is indistinguishable from that of Kofi Annan (viz., the UN is the only legitimate source of authority in the world and the answer to all international and national-security problems).
My view has been that this man, who is a quasi-traitor and anti-American as well as a vacuous, arrogant snob, could not be elected president, unless perhaps his opponent were falling apart before our eyes, and that Bush hasn’t reached that stage yet. Regardless of the polls, regardless of what’s going on in the world of politics, it would be unimaginable and unprecedented for the U.S. to elect such a man.
That’s been my position. But now it occurs to me that there is another way of seeing it: We are already living in a world in which the unimaginable and unprecedented have become the norm. At this very moment persons of the same sex are being “married” to each other in the state of Massachusetts, while the mainstream media celebrates this marvelous new development in American life. If this could happen, then anything could happen. I recently said that by allowing (or failing to prevent) the same-sex marriage abomination in Massachusetts, America has removed itself from divine protection, that it has committed the “desolating sacrilege” spoken of in the Gospels which spells the death of a society. From this point of view, the election of an open anti-American as president of the United States is entirely possible.
One of these paradigms—we have no way of knowing which—will determine who is elected president in November. In any case, I no longer believe that Kerry has no realistic chance of winning.
I add that the above analysis is impartial and has nothing to do with my own electoral preferences. No matter how bad Kerry is, I have no intention of voting for Bush. If Kerry is to be the reward for our sins, then so be it.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 19, 2004 01:10 PM | Send
I have always doubted the likelihood of Bush being reelected, and hence was badly shaken by the Democratic selection of Kerry over a more rational alternative. I agree with everything Mr. Auster says about Kerry as well as his feeling that the ground is sliding out from under our feet, but it doesn’t seem to fit very well with his own refusal to vote for Bush. I share that refusal, by the way. But to me, “vacuous, arrogant nitwit” fits Bush equally well. The real disillusionment, for me, has been the low quality not of Bush, but of Cheyney, Rumsfeld, and the rest. It is also arguable that bad as Kerry is, he is not unprecedentedly bad, and is no worse than the truly monstrous John F. Kennedy. Of course, in 1960, few people knew the truth about JFK, while we probably already know the worst about Kerry.
Alan Levine’s comment regarding JFK is interesting. I know about Kennedy’s womanizing and think that all too many Republicans have bought into the fawning hagiographies created by his sycophantic leftist followers in the media. My overall impression was that JFK was just a spoiled playboy whose Presidency was really unremarkable.
What makes JFK “truly monstrous” in your view, Mr. Levine?
Back to the topic at hand, I would not be surprised in the least if Kerry wins. There are large numbers of people in this country, probably a majority, who have no concept of why this nation was founded, of the paramount importance of preserving our own civilization, or even that there are consequences for moral failure. Alan Keyes gave a speech in Utah a couple of weeks ago that touched on many of the same points raised by Mr. Auster.
The great problem with the upcoming election lies in the fact that the Republican party has been taken over by liberals. There is no substantive difference between Bush and Kerry on important issues. If the Republican leadership actually gets nervous, Bush will come out and make a few conservative sounding remarks about issues like abortion (where he’s already completely caved), and homosexual marriage. We can also count on the Republicans not to seriously challenge the rampant vote fraud that is routine in Democratic-controlled areas. The United States is dangerously close to becoming a banana republic. John Adams was absolutely correct in his statement that the government he helped to create would work only for a moral people. Since traditional concepts of morality are now passé, the whole system is falling to pieces before our eyes. May God have mercy upon us.
Anyone else get the impression that both camps are trying hard to lose this election? Just a thought. That would explain their behavior, but beg questions of motivation.
The wild card here is Mrs Clinton’s ambition. For her to be nominated in 2008, Kerry would have to lose in 2004, or win and fail miserably in office, à la LBJ. She’d be getting up into Reaganesque senescence by 2012.
She could still be nominated for VP this year, but that would come across as an upside-down ticket, and open to the label “Arrogance Squared”.
I think Reg Caesar is mistaken in his hypothesizing about Hillary Clinton being a VP choice this election (or somehow coming out at the Convention and taking over as nominee)—or even making it in 2008. I believe her “numbers” are simply too negative, and that the country—I mean, the Reagan Democrats, the fencesitters—has/have “moved on”. Too much baggage associated with Hillary, though she would be a preferable candidate for the Left. She would certainly atrtract more money for the Party than Kerry has.
Mr. Auster said it all for me—anything is possible, nowadays. So, I wouldn’t completely count Hillary out. But, Kerry is looking stronger as Bush is looking weaker, so chances are Hillary will be a non-factor. The Demos are hoping Abu Ghraib doesn’t go away—it keeps Bush’s numbers down.
However, few posters here are talking about the real story behind this campaign/election—the huge split in Bush’s (conservative) base. The GOP hopes that news will not get out. But WE know that Bush will lose the election, NOT because the Reagan Demos will desert him for Kerry or Nader (they will stay with Bush, I predict), but because perhaps 1/3 or 1/2 of the conservative base will stay home. This in turn will hurt other GOP politicians running for re-election. Not only does Kerry look like he’s going to win, but the Senate and House may both become Demo-controlled. When this happens, who will complain? The RINOs will blame conservatives. The difference this time around? They can’t blame Pat! They should blame us here at VRF. I’ll wear that hat gladly.
I mentioned Hillary not because the Democrats would seriously consider her, but because it’s been credibly suggested, by Dick Morris and others, that she and Bill may want Kerry to lose, and have the power to mess him up. The timing of the release of Bill’s book may be this kind of tactic.
(BTW, I’m on someone else’s Windows laptop at the moment and have learned that you can’t make a ligature on them.They call that high-tech?)
Hillary wants the Presidency. If Kerry wins this election her chances for 2008 are nill. She needs Bush to make a further stew of things then he already has. Then she can ride in triumphant and “save” the day. Maybe Kerry winning this election wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Leave him with the mess in Iraq! Hopefully people will wake up to the consequences of liberalism after that nightmare.
I sympathize with Mr. Auster’s predicament. On principle he won’t vote for either of two evils. Maybe I am justifying my means, voting for Kerry if the election is close in my state, with my ends, releasing a salvageable party from the control of Bush liberals.
I agree anything is possible. Clinton taught me that. I don’t see how we could elect a worse president short of the worse imaginable leader such as Pol Pot, Caligula, Stalin, or you know who. And let’s not forget how Bush has lowered the bar. He restrains our law enforcement agencies and army form pursuing Mexican criminals and other illegals that perform horrific crimes in America to Mexico where they are given refuge by Bush’s good friend, the President of Mexico. Ever the olive branch is given to Fox but not to Tom Tancredo. If Bush is not interested in a non-Mexican country, why should this non-Mexican country be interested in anything Bush values? There is no reason but self-interest. Therefore, someone as bad as Clinton is as possible as anyone else. Strong leadership is not going to come out of the Republican Party while Bush liberals are in control.
“I recently said that by allowing …same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, America has removed itself from divine protection…” (5/19)
I think that had already happened some time ago. 9/11 was a good example of a visible lack of divine protection. Go back further for other examples.
My own very personal opinion: whenever it happened, the USA became like an elevator car with the cables cut. Inside the car, things seem pretty much the same, except for a sinking sensation in the stomach. Conservatives and traditionalists arguing politics amongst each other is like the passengers arguing about how best to decorate the car’s interior.
Yes, 9/11 brought it home that we had thrown away God’s protection. And we failed to realize the meaning of that. We failed to realize that we could defend ourselves from our enemies even while repenting to God for the sins that had separated us from his protection. People felt that any acknowledgement of our own sins would mean justifying the attack, which is completely wrong. The attack was able to happen because we had separated ourselves from truth, on multiple levels. Still, even though there was no formal “fasting and humiliation” as in revolutionary times and the Civil War, America showed some virtue. We were given a second chance. How have we used it? In the midst of this war with savage enemies, we’ve gone even deeper into rebellion against God than before. So, we lost the divine protection prior to 9/11, then we were given a second chance, and we’ve lost it even more now.
Regarding Mr. Raymond’s metaphor of the elevator car, where would he locate _himself_ in relation to the car? Is he inside it, with the rest of us, or is he perhaps observing it from a safe place outside it? If the latter, could he tell us how he got there?
Mr. Raymond, I really relate to comment about that sinking sensation in the stomach. I don’t really agree about your idea that our discussions here are just useless, futile talk. The American revolution came about thanks to the political arguments of a relatively small number of decent men in this land 230 years ago.
A couple of things that many conservatives I talk to have difficulty in accepting is that a) the majority of the people who are able to vote in this country are basically selfish, amoral and reject the precious Judeo-Christian culture that made this nation possible; b) there are a substantial number of highly influential people who are actively working to destroy our race and culture. As Alan Keyes stated in the article I linked to earlier: “They just don’t get it.”
Apart from praying for this nation daily, which is first and foremost, what would you suggest we do?
BTW, I really appreciated your excellent insights about Orthodox Icons, a Christian art form I have long admired, on an earlier thread.
Mr Raymond writes ‘9/11 was a good example of a visible lack of divine protection,’ and Mr Auster concurs with ‘Yes, 9/11 brought it home that we had thrown away God’s protection.’
How about a striking visual example of the latter? Examine this progression:
Those are the record-holders for the world’s tallest building from 1890 to the present. The Cathedral at Ulm had held the record for centuries before that. The structures that succeded it were purely commercial in function, yet showed some symbolic need to pay homage to the cathedrals they towered over. It’s almost as if they were asking for divine protection.
The World Trade Center is a jarring break in this tradition. For whatever reason, the normally unassertive architect insisted on flat tops, and refused to budge. Something like Gothic lancet arches were added to the lower façades, but tellingly they didn’t close, and looked incomplete. It’s almost as if the structures mocked God.
Within months, the towers were surpassed in height, first by one in Chicago designed by a Moslem, then by a pair of “minarets” in a Moslem land, and now by a giant pagoda temple. What wonderful symbolism— first we lose our faith, then we lose our leadership to those who haven’t.
Again, I don’t think that conservatives here or anywhere else need to worry about the carpetbagger, Hillary Clinton stealing the nomination from Kerry at the Convention or as his VP or in ‘08. As popular a speaker as Bill Clinton is around the socialist world, the simple truth is this country is tired of the Clintons—save for the good fortune the country had economically during most of their reign. Hillary herself has many negatives, probably more than her globetrotting husband, that it is inconceivable that she will ever go further than Senator.
Four months ago or so, Allan Levine, j.hagan, Thucydides or some other wonderful Messenger at VFR was discussing how there was “a movement among conservatives to form a third party”. There was in that same discussion the point made by someone here that “a strong conservative leader has yet to come to the fore”. I know that Mr. Peroutka is not that man (at The CP), and I am wondering if we are any closer to finding out “who” that man or woman might be…
Sapientia makes an interesting comment above, but I must take exception to one aspect of it. He suggests that a Kerry win, followed by further chaos in Iraq, might wake people up to the consequences of liberalism. Perhaps, but not I fear because of Iraq. Iraq is perceived, rightly, as Bush’s tar-baby, and whether he succeeds himself or Kerry does, Bush will bear the brunt of its reputational damage.
Our problem is that failure in Iraq will not be perceived as a failure of arrogant, over-reaching yet ultimately feckless liberalism (even though it would be exactly that). The Iraq invasion and occupation is the doing of George W. Bush, who is a Republican president, ergo is billed as, and presumed by most people to be, a “right-wing conservative.” Traditional conservatives know better; most Americans don’t. The Leftist media (with the exception of Murdoch’s empire, which will try to spin it positively) will present failure in Iraq to us as the fault of right-wing conservatism. I’m afraid most Americans will not question that, because they will not look behind the labels.
Our problem remains that President Bush, his administration and the Republican Party are thought to be conservatives. As a result, their follies and failures - which are actually consequences of their liberalism - are seen as follies and failures of conservatism. With no major media outlet consistently presenting a tradional conservative’s view of events, the presumption that Republican = conservative is very hard to rebut. Our challenge is to find such a megaphone, and use it. HRS
The analysis of Bush and the war as “liberal” falls down unless one distinguishes between the right-liberalism of Bush and his supporters, which is the belief in democratic universalism and in America as its embodiment and agent, and the left-liberalism of the Bush haters, which is anti-Americanism, victimology, UN-worship, and so on. These two liberalisms hate each other. So simply calling Bush a “liberal,” when people are aware of how much liberals hate Bush, is not going to persuade most people.
“These two liberalisms hate each other.”
Indeed. People like to think of liberalism as an ideological monolith. It is, and it is not. All of the major secular conflicts in the last century or so were over different understandings of how liberal ideology ought to be realized in practice. Even WWII - which was a just defensive war that the US had to fight, and did fight valiantly - was over differing conceptions of the free and equal new man and how he would be victorious over the oppressor.
To paraphrase Napolean, all modern secular wars are civil wars.
Also, Mr. Sutherland fails to acknowledge that the primary reasons given for the war, and the reasons most Americans supported the war, were our national defense, not promoting democracy. Or one could say that the war itself was for national defense, and thus “conservative,” but that the occupation and democratization effort, with its PC restrictions against forcible military action, has been “liberal.” A truly “conservative” war and occupation would have been run very differently.
I’m glad Matt agrees with me that different brands of liberalism are in conflict with each other. But I don’t think he helps advance people’s understanding of the idea of intra-liberal warfare when he says that America’s war against Nazi Germany is an example of it. Nazism as liberalism is an idea that makes sense to Matt alone.
Well, not to me alone actually. But I am in rather small company, that is true.
I am puzzled that people don’t see national socialism as a form of liberalism (not that it should be immediately obvious given the biases in how we are taught history mind you, but that given reflection it is quite clear). Liberalism is the ideology of the free and equal new man, self created through reason and will, in conflict with a traditional oppressor-untermensch. What could be more Nazi than that?
Mr. Auster and Matt make good points, especially about different strains of liberalism that may conflict. I agree, and I don’t believe it vitiates my analysis. In the case of the Iraq war, the democratist justifications we hear now are pure Wilsonian liberalism. As for earlier justifications on national security grounds, to me they are not particularly conservative, based as they are on a very broad-reaching national strategy of pre-emptive interventionism - something those who actually founded this country often warned against - and on claims about Iraq’s capacity to threaten the United States that were not true.
If Matt means by characterizing Nazism as liberalism that it was a new, secular, corporatist regime at war with traditional society and religion, there may be something to it, although I doubt that liberalism is the right label for the Nazis’ revolt against traditional order. I too have a hard time seeing Nazism as liberalism.
That is all off my main point, which is that even though they are not the fault of conservatism, the Bush administration’s failures and mistakes (at least to the extent they annoy liberals) will be blamed on conservatism. The challenge is to show why they are not, and how true conservatives would have played the hand dealt President Bush differently. HRS
“The challenge is to show why they are not, and how true conservatives would have played the hand dealt President Bush differently.”
Exactly. Which, by the way, is something the anti-war right utterly failed to do. Instead of offering constructive criticism and suggestions on how do we deal with this situation, they just demonized Bush and war as a neocon, pro-Israel, ploy, thus adding nothing useful to the debate but injecting endless amounts of poison into the political system.
Delete “thus adding nothing useful to the debate but injecting endless amounts of poison into the political system” and I’ll agree that Mr. Auster makes a valid criticism. Antiwar conservatives - I include myself - have tended to focus on why the Iraqscapade was the wrong thing to do, at the expense of thinking about how to extricate ourselves. Still, we should not lose sight of first principles: we should not have gone there in the first place. The prospects for conservatism, which is associated - however falsely - with this misadventure, will suffer greatly as a result. HRS
“I too have a hard time seeing Nazism as liberalism.”
I think the reason people have difficulty with this is that they don’t naturally think of the Nazis as being in favor of freedom and equality, while every form of liberalism in order to be liberalism has to be primarily about freedom and equality.
As a practical matter though liberalism is about freedom and equality for the new self-constructed man, though, not freedom and equality for everyone. Traditional oppressors are outside of the protection of liberalism. Freedom and equality are only for the new man, the ubermensch, self-created through reason and will. The oppressor-untermensch is to be hamstrung, ghettoized, and eliminated through one means or another.
The Nazis focused a great deal on the “self-created through reason and will” modality, although all liberalisms are eugenic to some degree or other in the long run because children are not self-created. I think the Nazi focus on reason and will distracts people from the modality of freedom and equal rights among the ubermensch. So maybe Naziism is just liberalism with a different face presented to the rest of the world.
To Mr. Sutherland,
If Hussein had aided and abetted a terrorist attack on America, as the Taliban in Afghanistan did, you too would have supported an invasion of Iraq. What then would happen to all your anti-war arguments?
I’ve just indicated one of the fatal flaws of the anti-war right. They waged a kind of grand philosophical attack on the war and on “empire,” and a vicious personal attack on the motives of the people advocating the war, when in reality all of those attacks would have been dropped in a second if only one fact (such as proof of WMDs, or proof of Iraqi involvement in 9/11) had been changed. So their argument rested on anti-imperialism and conspiracy theories and animus rather than on solid arguments relevant to the case at hand. The worst mistake of the anti-war right was to attack the motives and character of Bush and his supporters (such as the charge that the whole war was a trick, waged only to help Israel), rather than assuming their good faith and discussing the pros and cons of the war itself. Instead of being a loyal opposition, they were, for the most part, a disloyal opposition, repeatedly accusing the president and his advisors of virtual treason.
Mr. Auster asks Mr. Raymond where he would put himself relative to his dropping elevator car. Mr. Raymond has not offered an answer, but here is mine. Most Americans are still inside the car and, except for that vague sinking feeling, unaware of the plunge. Hard Leftists know what is happening, but believe the landing will be soft enough to survive but hard enough to undo the old order completely, allowing them to finish reordering society. Traditional conservatives have made it through the trapdoor in the ceiling, and are standing on the roof. They know about the plunge, know it will end in disaster and are trying to figure out how to slow or stop it. Some are looking for a way to get off, and let the plunging society go its way without them. HRS
My antiwar arguments were constitutional (the President and the Congress were side-stepping the requirement of a congressional declaration of war before invading a foreign country) and prudential (the new doctrine of pre-emptive intervention was over-reaching and rash, and in the case of Iraq the threat that required an American invasion was not demonstrated). Had it been proved that Saddam Hussein’s regime had aided and abetted the September 11th attacks, the threat would have been demonstrated, and the pre-emptive doctrine with which I disagree would not apply. My views about the need to declare war constitutionally would be unchanged.
One can oppose the war without questioning the motives of the warmongers, although I think their motives are worth examining and, to the extent that they conflict with America’s national interest, condemning. With respect to Iraq, I think that remains an open question. HRS
Right. If that one fact had changed, you would have supported the war (leaving aside the issue of a formal declaration of war). And having supported the war, you would then have been on the same side as me and all those awful neocon imperialists in supporting the war; you would have been responsible, like other war supporters, for the deaths and other harms resulting from the war and for the whole horrible mess that the war has become. Even now you still call war supporters “war mongers.” Yet under our hypothetical scenario, you yourself would have been a “war monger.” But of course, had you been a war supporter, you would not call war suppoters “war mongers” but patriotic Americans doing their duty.
I am pointing to the insubstantial, ad hominem, situational basis of the anti-war right’s arguments.
I’m one of the few people around who agrees with Matt on the fundamentally liberal nature of National Socialism. According to one school of thought, Nazism and Fascism represent the “third way” to the leftist utopia. The basic untermenschen - übermenschen model is very much in place. The unique feature was in co-opting nationalist sentiment so that Jews and others outside of the nationality became the oppressors. The Nazis and Fascists were also the first leftist regimes to apply the Gramscian model of co-opting large corporations.
This idea of co-opting nationalist sentiment was also adopted to a limited extent by the Stalin regime during the “Great Patriotic War” (WW II) and afterwards.
There was another reason to criticize GWB’s approach. He wanted to invade a country thousands of miles away, while leaving our own borders unprotected. Also, as I have been saying again and again, we say we are supposed to be fighting terrorists while allowing these same terrorists INTO America. How difficult is it for terrorists to get into this country disguised as “immigrants?”
Ok, since Carl agrees with Matt on the “Nazism is liberalism” idea, I take back my statement that it only makes sense to Matt. :-)
On the main topic between Mr. Auster and Mr. Sutherland, perhaps we are getting a more detailed picture of the Hegelian Mambo. Since “conservatives” are made up of an unhappy synthesis of right liberals and the sort of ‘natural conservatives’ who don’t have an articulate defense against liberalism, they are constantly agreeing to one-way compromises with the left that move the country ever leftward. Because this is a muddled and self-defeating approach that doesn’t work, things that get started as explicitly justified on conservative grounds go badly wrong. That supplies the Left with a never-ending stream of bad policy results that can be blamed on “conservatism”.
Death by compromise.
One can monger (mong?) a war for good reasons. Agreed, warmonger sounds pejorative, but then I am not very impressed by the reasons those who mongered this one gave. Any Iraq war I would have mongered would be quite different from the one we have, more along the lines of a punitive expedition. I would have wanted to break Saddam Hussein’s regime, had it been shown that it was involved in September 11th. I would not have supported going beyond that and attempting to reconstruct Iraq or give it a Western-style participatory democracy. Remove those who injured us, render them incapable of doing it again, then leave. (That would have been my approach in Afghanistan too.) Let Arabs worry about who rules Arabs, but let them do so knowing that attacks on the United States will lead to the end of any Arab government that supports them. It seems to me that if there were an Arab candidate for such treatment after September 11th, it was Saudi Arabia.
I know from experience that (unless things have changed in the last 10 years) the U.S. armed forces are pretty scrupulous about trying to avoid civilian casualties. I have the impression that our standards may be slipping a little in the very trying circumstances of Iraq. If that is happening, allowing it to happen is a great mistake, no matter how barbaric our enemy is. It is important that Iraqis (or anyone else we invade) be somewhat able to believe that our target really is the regime, and not the whole population. Civilian casualties make that hard to believe. For that reason, and even more for reasons of simple humanity, it is worth taking great pains to prevent them. That said, if we had fought Sutherland’s War and not Bush’s War, we would be gone from Iraq and Afghanistan by now. Echoing David’s comment, under Commander-in-Chief Sutherland the Army units currently in Iraq and Afghanistan would instead be along the Mexican border - and they would have orders to engage with deadly force any Mexican military and police units crossing or firing across the border. HRS
I think it is quite legitimate to question the motives of Bush and the neocons in the context of their underying beliefs. I find it extremely difficult to believe that folks who have no problem with a) leaving our borders open - even to forays by foreign military units; b) selling sensitive military technology to China; c) making statements that pre-1965 America was an illegitimate regime (Bush in Africa a year ago); d) leaving minions of an openly treasonous previous administration at their posts; and e) supporting legislation that seriously undermines the constitution and judges who favor EU law over the constitution - are patriotic. Such people are not patriotic in any tradtional sense of the term. Their motives are therfore subject to full scrutiny.
While it is certainly true that the Buchananite agrument that the whole war was to ‘make the world safe for Israel’ is a flimsy and ridiculous one, the position that Bush and Co. are persuing this out of some ulterior, non-patriotic motive is surely not an impossibility in light of their fundamentally globalist agenda. The other view, which I still take, is that the toppling of the Taliban regime and Saddam were necessary actions for our national defense and therefore unpricipled exceptions to the underlying liberalism of Bush and the neocons. With the PC occupation and reconstrauction of Iraq, Bush’s liberalism has fully re-asserted itself. As pointed out in earlier threads, the neocons seem to be deserting Mr. Bush over his Wilsonian folly in Iraq.
With respect to Carl’s point (b) at 12:32 PM, the sale of military secrets to China happened under Clinton. Is there something more recent that happened under Bush?
Clark, the major “smart-bomb” plant, along with all the technology, was closed and relocated to China about a year ago. It was in either South Bend or Valparaiso, Indiana. From what little reporting there has been, it would appear the the Clinton policies in the Commerce Dept. regarding technology transfers have been retained by Bush.
I find it appalling that many of the same folks who were screaming bloody murder about Clinton’s treasonous behavior have suddenly developed a severe case of laryngitis.
Carl has delineated three ideological stages in the devolution of the Iraq war:
Conservative stage: The war started out, and was primarily justified as, a war for our national defense.
Right-liberal stage: After the war, the democratic-universalist justification, which prior to the war had been secondary to the national-defense justification, became the primary justification.
Left-liberal stage: The right-liberal agenda has been at least somewhat stymied as a result of the increasing PC nature of the occupation, the fear of offending Moslems and so on. For the left-liberals, the purpose of the war consists of such things as enhancing the “international community,” using Iraq as an object lesson in American evil, and so on.
The final word, summing all this up, goes to Matt:
“[As a result of things moving ever leftward,] things that get started as explicitly justified on conservative grounds go badly wrong. That supplies the Left with a never-ending stream of bad policy results that can be blamed on ‘conservatism’.”
Based on Mr. Auster’s three-step, the right title for the first (honest) history of the Iraq invasion and occupation will have to be Mambo in Mesopotamia. HRS
Matt and Carl are in very good company— Thomas Sowell can back them up:
“The systemic processes at the core of the constrained vision were negated by a totalitarianism directed against every independent social process, from religion to political or economic freedom. Fascism appropriated some of the symbolic aspects of the constrained vision, without the systemic processes which gave them meaning.. It was an unconstrained vision of governance which attributed to its leaders a scope of knowledge and dedication to the common good wholly incompatible with the constrained vision whose symbols it invoked.” — A Conflict of Visions, p. 114.
So let us put National Socialism in its proper place in the spectrum— square in the center!
Ronald Reagan famously compared the New Deal to Fascism. Matt and Carl follow his lead, albeit in the other direction.
Re the first paragraph of Carl’s post of 12:32, it’s not a matter of discussing the neoconservatives’ “motivations,” since the neoconservatives have been completely articulate about all the positions that Carl is criticizing them for. Therefore, attacking their “patriotism” was besides the point, as well as being wrong in itself and counter-productive to any responsible conservative politics. The neocons’ ideas, their ideology are out there for the world to see and can be opposed as such, just like anyone else’s. Therefore the ugly personalizaton that characterizes so much of the anti-neocon critique must have other roots.
This of course is not to say that a consideration of the motivating impulses of an ideology is inappropriate. But that’s not the same as calling people unpatriotic sneaks and traitors. For example, at the end of my commentary on Irving Kristol’s “The Neoconservative Persuasion,” I concluded that the neoconservatives have given up their belief in universal democracy and were now just seeking the expansion of American power for its own sake. But this wasn’t in the form of an ad hominem slur. I was deriving this from Kristol’s own statements about what neoconservatives themselves believe, combined with my own observations about their recent surrender to group rights following the Grutter decision. That is very different from the name-calling and resentment-mongering that comprises much of the anti-neocon literature.
In reply to Carl’s question: JFK was a pathological liar who got into the White House with the help of the Mafia. He was a drug addict, a bribe taker and a bully. His foreign policy was one disaster after another up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the handling of which, at best adequate, was later glorified out of recognition,and swathed in layer after layer of out and out lies. His womanizing, by itself, was not all that important, but it is not unconnected with his other misdeeds. I suggest anybody who doubts this take a look at Reeve’s “A Question of Character” and Hersh’s “The Dark Side of Camelot.” I might add Michael Beschloss’ The Crisis Years, which, though its evaluation of Kennedy is insanely favorable, reports episode after episode that would make any normal person sick.
Caesar is mistaken in his use of the Sowell quote to back up Matt’s idiosyncratic idea that Nazism is a form of liberalism. First, Sowell is talking about Fascism, not Nazism. Second, Sowell is describing how Fascism took _one aspect_ of liberalism, its unconstrained aspect, and took it much further, to the point of leader worship.
Caesar’s fallacy is similar to Matt’s own. Matt takes an aspect of liberalism, and an aspect of Nazism, finds they are similar, and on that basis says that Nazism is a form of liberalism. It would be like saying that Islam and Judaism both believe in a creator God, therefore Islam is a form of Judaism. The basic error here is to reason by the form of words, rather than by the whole reality of which those words represent just a part.
I would adjust the “three-stage” picture of official justifications for the war a bit. It seems to me that the shift toward presenting the war as the liberation of the poor Iraqis actually started some time before the actual attack, motivated, it seems to me, by the desire to win friendly foreign opinion and assure everybody that our troops would be welcomed and there would be no untoward Iraqi reactions toward the occupation. Famous last words…..
It is difficult to take seriously arguments that present Nazism as leftwing, much less liberal (especially if anything even slightly resembling nineteenth-century liberalism is meant.) The Nazis do borrow some items and even more methods from the far left, yet the fundamental pattern of Nazi ideas is unquestionably “right wing” BUT NOT conservative or even reactionary. Both “reactionary” and “liberal” were insults to Nazis. Nazism is in the center in only one respect, in that it aimed, primarily, at appealing to the middle class or what was left it.
Re the neocons and Bush’s motives: Carl is free to question both. It seems to me, however, that the neocons’ motives and beliefs are fairly transparent. Those of the Bushites, however, seem to me to be more mystifying.
I do not claim that National Socialism or its Fascist parent are “liberal”, just that they are by no means “rightist”. European reaction(ism) has always been primarily Christian and monarchic. The Nazis were neither.
There are two ways to land in the center. One is to take middle-of-the-road views on most issues. The other is to combine left- and right-wing views into a mish-mash which balances out. The Nazis are one example of the latter. So are many in Congress, e.g., pro-life or pro-gun Democrats.
This back and forth about “facism” and whether Nazism “is a right wing or left wing thing” is very confusing. I looked up “facism” and The Am. Heritage Dictionary defines it as:
“…a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of beligerent nationalism.”
I also looked up “Nazism” in the same good book:
“…the policy of state control of the economy, racist nationalism and national expansion.”
What seems interesting is there is no mention in either definition of the major role of the military in the facist or Nazi leadership—like the SS and the Brown Shirt police.
Anyway, this outdated dictionary (‘69) states that facism and Nazism “are right wing”. Who should I believe?
Going back to JFK—Let me recommend Paul Johnson’s ‘History of the American People’. It’s rather a large book but the section on JFK is only about 50 pages and has a good introduction to what type of person and President he really was (although I must take issue with the fact that he pooh-poohs any hint of conspiracy in JFK’s death). The same author wrote another history called ‘Modern Times’ which would deal more extensively with the subject. I haven’t read it yet but plan to this summer. If ‘History of the American People’ was any indicator of ‘Modern Times’, it is definitely worth reading.
I appreciated Mr. Southerland’s and Mr. Auster’s comments on the war in Iraq. In my first post I want to clarify that I do not hold up Bush as any alternative to Kerry and liberalism. Mr. Southerland’s point about needing to distinguish true conservatives from Republicans was very lucid. Therein is the problem. By the way, Mr. Southerland it is “she” not “he”. My fault of course. Mr Auster is absolutely right about using real names. However, I just don’t like giving out my name online.
It is difficult to reconcile Hitler’s insistence on perfect equality of rights among the herrenvolk with the notion that he was “right wing”, it seems to me, if “right wing” is taken in its more traditional sense as sitting at the right hand of the King: that is, as supportive of monarchy specifically and traditionalist heirarchy in general. Hitler despised monarchy, and his eventual disdian for democracy was a result of its failure to protect the free and equal ubermensch from the oppressor-untermensch; that as an implementation democracy became a mockery of its ideals rather than achieving them.
Also I think that what matters is what is true about the categories, not whether or not someone would find the labels insulting. George W. Bush is clearly a liberal, despite the fact that he might find the label insulting (especially if he even suspected that “liberal” shares a top-level category with naziism!).
People do seem to freak out a bit at the notion that nazis, liberals, and communists are all categorically the same sort of creature; that their disagreements are mainly as to political tactics and as to who is viewed as the oppressor, rather than in fundamental intellectual commitments. What matters to me isn’t whether the ideas I employ are viewed as quackery, though; what matters to me is whether or not they are true.
Somehow the idea of a radical centrist seems oxymoronic. I think part of the problem lies in how we define the term “liberal.” I tend to go along with Matt’s view of liberalism being rooted in the obsessive desire for equality. Since the created world we’ve been given is manifestly unequal in most respects, liberalism represents a fundamental rebellion against created order - and ultimately against the one who created that order.
That’s why liberals, whether they be right-liberals (neocons), Trotskyites, Jacobins, Fascists, Nazis, left-liberals (Bush and some Democrats), leftists (Kerry and most Democrats), or Marxists all see it as being imperative that the natural created order (races, genders, nations, families) should be destroyed in order for the free and equal supermen to emerge and take their rightful place in utopia. Liberals (in the broad sense used here) differ over who exactly qualifies as the übermensch so they often fight each other over ideological differences. In addition, they (and Right-liberals in particular) will employ the unprincipled exception in order to simply survive on a practical level. (e.g. Bush attacks the Taliban and Saddam after 9/11 because if he does’t, the goverment could fall).
The only truly rightist regime to hold power in the past century was Franco’s Phalangist movement in Spain from ca. 1940-70. I’ll admit that Nazism is indeed a unique case within liberalism because it grafts and twists a profoudly illiberal concept - nationalism - onto the liberal model. The Nazis held that it was the Germans who represented the oppressed übermenschen, instead of the more common proletariat, women, minorites, non-whites, etc,. etc. I hold that it is liberal at the core in that it still was in rebellion against created order and sought to remake the world according to its own rules. Even so, I can see how some would take the position that it was a bizarre and eveil amalgam - a political Frankenstein.
It is a calumny against all rightists; to say that national socialism was not a leftist movement. They were far to the left of our political parties. They wanted freedom for aggression, but no freedom from it. They hailed Marx as one of the founders of their socialism. They nationalized every business in the country, without compensation. Loyal businessmen were allowed to stay on as managers; but only as franchise-holders from the state. They enacted a massive land reform, of communist dimensions. They wanted a network of communes to house the people in a leftist dystopia. They wanted to establish paganism as state-religion. They were anti-family; they turned children into informers against their older relatives, and established lebensborn’s, and kidnapped large numbers of children to be given to childless Germans. They were the National Socialist German Workers Party, engaged in class warfare against the capitalist conspiracy (which they believed in). They clinched this with alliances with the communists in peacetime, and then again in wartime. There is not much in history more leftist.
“I’ll admit that Nazism is indeed a unique case within liberalism because it grafts and twists a profoudly illiberal concept - nationalism - onto the liberal model.”
Communism does something a bit like this too, swiping the very illiberal notion of community loyalty as an attempt at making up for what were viewed as the failures of radically individualized liberal capitalism. I agree that Nazi nationalism is the most glaring of these illiberal grafts that were put onto what was viewed as a failed earlier liberalism in an effort to save its basic objectives. If the unprincipled exception is a minor crutch employed by liberals in order to avoid immediate self-destruction then Nazi nationalism and Communist communalism were major crutches.
But that doesn’t change the most basic intellectual committment of all liberals - in the broad sense - to the emergence of the free and equal ubermensch emancipated from the traditional oppressor-untermensch. The reason those crutches were employed in the first place was *because of* the failure of industrial capitalism - the “end of history” for classical liberalism — to eliminate oppression by the untermensch, let alone to produce utopia.
Scorecard at the end of the first day of competition:
National socialism lies at the
— Extreme right— Mr Auster
- Near right———- Mr Levine
+ Near left————Matt, Carl
++ Extreme left—- Mr Bolton
undecided———— Mr Levin
“Near Left” leads by a head, in a tight field. Mr Levin, or late entries, hold the key.
Comments (not that I’m trying to influence the results)—
There are two good reasons to reject the “Nazis are rightist” paradigm. It worked to the benifit of the Nazis. It works to the benefit of the Marxists. Why give either of them a hand.
As to Carl’s trouble imagining a “radical centrist”, i.e., an extremist in the middle, I offer this list of bona fide centrists who were or are in no way moderate fellows:
Harry Truman, Joseph McCarthy, Nelson Rockefeller, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, George Wallace, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Ted Turner, George Steinbrenner, Donald Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, Jacques Chirac, Margaret Thatcher, Boris Yeltsin… this could go on forever!
Gee, maybe I should take some kick-backs and take advantage of my “undecided” status!
Well, I was brought up to believe that Nazis were “right-wingers gone haywire” to be feared more than Stalin, Pol Pot et al. What the Nazis and the Soviets had in common, was the nationalization of industry, the goose step and a military that was at the center of the power base. Wrong? Certainly, Hitler was no longer in the Army, and thus one cannot state that the Nazis were “a junta” government—there was bureaucracy and the state was run by a dictator, not a military dictator. I am assuming Stalin too was not a military premier, and thus the Soviet Union was not run by “a junta”. Franco, however, was a general, wasn’t he? A “generalissimo”.
Anyway, I am not convinced that National Socialism is necessarily right-wing. I am leaning towards siding with Mr. Bolton, not that it matters.
Thanks for keeping score, Mr. Cæsar! My take on your short list of “radical centrists”:
Harry Truman - right liberal
Joseph McCarthy - right liberal, possibly conservative (I don’t know much about him except that he was anti-Communist. It turns out most of his assertions about Communist infiltration of the government were true.)
Nelson Rockefeller - left liberal
Lyndon Johnson - left liberal
Richard Nixon - originally a right liberal, but he ended up doing the Hegelian Mambo too long and morphed into a left-liberal.
Spiro Agnew - right liberal
George Wallace - mostly right liberal, some conservative ideas mixed in.
Henry Jackson - right liberal (almost a textbook example)
Ted Turner - leftist
George Steinbrenner - I’m not aware of his political views.
Donald Trump - left liberal
Rudolph Giuliani - left liberal
John McCain - left liberal
Chirac - left liberal (they call left-liberals “conservatives” or “rightists” in Europe)
Margaret Thatcher - right liberal
Boris Yeltsin - incoherent. (Too drunk and corrupt to know what he stood for.)
Nearly all flavors of liberal will employ the famous ‘unpricipled exception’ to a greater (right-liberals) or lesser (leftists) degree so that the liberal schema, which never actually functions in its pure form, can limp along so as to fool many into thinking that utopia will finally arrive if we just….
The greater challenge would be to indentfy real conservatives. After all, there are libera;s on every street corner.
Put me in the column that considers Nazism a malign (not that any aren’t) strain of Leftist socialism.
A number of posters in this thread have mentioned the military nature of fascist regimes and the Nazis, and suggested that as a point of similarity with Soviet Communism. I think matters are not quite so simple.
In the Soviet Union, everything was subject to the Communist Party, including the Red Army. The Red Army was a creation of the Party (largely of Trotsky), the old imperial armed forces having been utterly destroyed in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War. Indeed, in the Civil War, the Red Army fought the remnants of the imperial forces. The Red Army was not a successor of the old Russian Army - it displaced it. There was no continuity of hierarchy; with rare exceptions, soldiers with imperial service who rose to high rank in the Red Army had been enlisted under the tsar - the old officer corps was mostly killed or exiled. Under the Soviet system, the Red Army was part and parcel of the party apparat that ran the country. Even when Stalin purged its officer corps in 1937, murdering tens of thousands including the most senior, party loyalty never wavered. The party structure was strong enough to withstand the devastating defeats of 1941, which in the imperial Russian army would probably have led to wholesale mutiny and desertion.
In Fascist Italy, there was of course no displacement of the royal armed forces - they were among the victors of 1918. When Mussolini marched on Rome and seized power, he needed a para-military counterweight to legitimate armed forces that could be expected to remain loyal to the House of Savoy and to legitimate government. The Brown Shirts were that counterweight. While it is true that the Italian armed forces served the fascist government, they were never part of the party apparat in the way that the Red Army was in the Soviet Union. Indeed, when the Allies invaded the Italian mainland at Salerno in September 1943, Marshal Badoglio seized Mussolini and made a separate peace with the Allies (the Germans promptly occupied as much of Italy as they could and plucked Mussolini from his Appennine captivity, so the fight in Italy went all the way to V-E Day). Most uniformed Italians who kept fighting then fought against the Germans. The Italian military was not a great hotbed of fascist sentiment.
In Germany, the Versailles Treaty reduced the German Army to a force of 100,000 (the Reichswehr), but did not break the Army’s continuity with the German imperial army and its Prussian and Bavarian predecessors. As in Italy, as Hitler and the Nazis were rising to power they built a para-military counterweight to the armed forces of the Weimar republic: the SA and later the SS. The SS was purely a Nazi party creation - and grew to the point that it could field SS panzer armies late in the war - but was never integrated with the regular Army. While much of the Army was sympathetic to the Nazis’ stated program - rapid expansion of the Army had obvious professional appeal and the idea of resisting the Bolsheviks also appealed to many; many professional soldiers like to fight; and there were no doubt those who liked the party’s racial program - the regular Army was never a party creature, and many of its generals and other officers cordially detested Hitler and the Nazis, even as they served him. The Luftwaffe, in particular, was a more “Nazi” service than the Army. The only serious plot to kill Hitler - too bad it failed, and by so little - was an Army officers’ plot and went quite high up the chain of command.
The point of all this is that I would consider Communist regimes militarist in that the armed forces are not merely arms of the state but also creations of the ruling party. Communists are more thorough-going than fascists (with whom, imprecisely, I’ll lump Nazis for this purpose) in destroying and replacing the institutions of the societies they take over. Fascist regimes I would consider para-military in that fascist parties typically have para-military arms that are not part of the state’s armed forces, and that do not replace them when the fascists take power. I think it is a significant distinction, and of a piece with the fascist tendency to co-opt (and pervert) the existing society’s institutions. Fascist corporatism is another example of the same phenomenon. HRS
Mr. Sutherland’s excellent post reminded me of a Hitler quote that I have seen several times. Hitler once said: “I have a reactionary army, an imperialist navy, and a national socialist luftwaffe.” Hitler considered “reactionary” a derogatory term.
The Nazis did not glorify equality “among the herrenvolk” (except possibly equality of opportunity) but hierarchy — not a traditional hierarchy but a new one. The glorification of the state, nation, and war puts them clearly on the far right.(Not the near right!) Lebensborn and their other quirks do show that they were not conservatives or reactionaries. It is absurd to say they hailed Marx(among other things they regarded him as Jewish) and they rejected class war — among the herrenvolk at least. Hitler never had anything but contempt for democracy.
Franco, and even to some exctent Mussolini, belong to a different class of phenomena.
I’d have to disagree with Howard Sutherland on one thing, which does not affect the main point he was trying to make. Neither the Red nor the White armies in the Russian Civil War were remnants of the Imperial army; both were separately built from the ground up. The Reds successfully incorporated many old officers into their army. By no means were all of these men purged in the 1930s, while many old Bolshevik military men were. He is right that the Nazis did much more to coopt old personnel and institutions than a leftist regime would.
Mr. Levine wrote:
‘The Nazis did not glorify equality “among the herrenvolk” […] ‘
Adolf Hitler begs to differ:
“The National Socialist State recognizes no ‘classes’. But, under the political aspect, it recognizes only citizens with absolutely equal rights and equal obligations corresponding thereto. “
— Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, Vol. 2 Chap. 12
Mr. Levine wrote:
“Hitler never had anything but contempt for democracy.”
Here is what Hitler said about that:
“I had always hated the Parliament, but not as an institution in itself. Quite the contrary. As one who cherished ideals of political freedom I could not even imagine any other form of government. In the light of my attitude towards the House of Habsburg I should then have considered it a crime against liberty and reason to think of any kind of dictatorship as a possible form of government.”
— Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, Vol. I Chap. 3
The Nazis frequently denigrated democracy as “Jewish.” The concept of rights was identified with the French Revolution and equally rejected. Hitler’s expressed prewar preference for the Austrian parliament over the hated Habsburgs tells us nothing about his general political principles; he preferred the parliament because it was a forum for German nationalism, while the Emperor opposed all nationalisms.
I’ve told Matt in the past that even though I think he’s completely wrong on his Nazism-as-liberalism thesis, I conceded that he may be seeing something I don’t see and that maybe one day my eyes would open and I would see that he had been right all along.
But after his post of 3:36 p.m., I can’t say that anymore. Matt’s construction of Hitler’s transparently insincere rhetoric in favor of Parliaments (written at a time when Hitler wanted to advance his cause without again incurring the wrath of the governing authoritities) as a fundamental expression of actual Nazi support for liberalism, is so off-base that it becomes impossible to take Matt seriously on this issue anymore.
Matt, as we all know, is a brilliant man whose insights we have profited from many times. But on this subject, with respect for Matt, I think he is pursuing an idée fixe.
Mr Levine is mistaken to assume that “The glorification of the state, nation, and war puts them clearly on the far right.” Are the IRA, ETA and FALN also “far right”? They glorify the state, nation and war more than most conservatives!
Nationalism is to be found all across the poitical spectrum (as are our own border-restrictionist views). It’s a “perpendicular” issue. The 19th-century romantic nationalists were certainly to the left of the “multicultural” imperialists.
The equality rhetoric spouted by Hitler in “Mein Kampf” is something that is quite pro-forma for all leftists. The freedom and equality are always part of the utopia, which somehow never quite arrives. (Surprise, surprise.) The communists were also masters at spewing this kind of lie. The “dicatorship of the proletariat” was supposedly a temporary arrangement needed to stamp out the remnants of “bourgeoise corruption.”
Surely we are all aware that the “proletariat” was in fact the Communist Party heirachy. It was in fact an oligarchy - basically a new aristocracy. No leftist will ever admit this, of course. When confronted with the inequality of their own hierarchical scheme, they invariably explain it as a temporary necessity in getting rid of oppresion. With liberalism, “freedom and equality” is merely a vehicle to achieve the true goal: the destruction of all existing order. That’s why I was so struck by Fr. Seraphim Rose’s insight into liberalism as a step into nihilism.
I am always puzzled when this discussion, which we have had several times, takes this turn. I quote the most widely published book by the Nazis ever as an authority on what Nazis believe; the book that the fervent Nazi carried in his back pocket and read religiously as the Nazi bible, written by the Fuehrer himself; and the reaction to the quotes I provide is incoherent incredulity.
It is as if two atheists were discussing what Christians believe. One asserts that Christians believe in the resurrection of Christ, quoting the gospels as an authority — not on what is true, mind you, but on what Christians believe. The other atheist replies that Christians believed no such thing because the gospel writers were charlatans making up propoganda as a way of oppressing the weak-minded. The criticism doesn’t understand, let alone match up to, what it purports to criticize.
Perhaps Mein Kampf is transparently insincere from a contemporary perspective, especially given that Naziism is dead. But it was the ideological Bible for Nazis, and whether Hitler was personally sincere — or even sane — is quite beside the point. Tens of millions of fervent German Nazis didn’t suffer from simultaneous mass mental illness, or tell lies to themselves so hermetic that what they really thought never escaped into the light. I have Shirer on my bookshelf too; but if you want to understand what inflamed German Naziism then _Mein Kampf_ is essential - if distasteful and difficult - reading.
I know little about Hitler and Nazi Germany, unfortunately. However, I recall that Hayek, in The Road to Serfdom, spent considerable time establishing that National Socialism was a form of socialism, meaning that it was leftist at least in terms of economic policy. Perhaps that book is on enough bookshelves of the posters of this thread to form a basis for common discussion.
There is no absurdity in saying that the national socialist movement did give a place of honor to Marx, even though he came from a Jewish family. Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question”, probably shouldn’t even be quoted here, it sounds so much like Hitler’s own tirades aginst the Jews. Marx was, and is, very generally acknowledged as a founder of socialism, and the Nazis defined themselves as socialist workers (NSDAP), so why wouldn’t they exalt him, especially when he was so exceedingly anti-jewish? The “Table Talk” of Hitler was not intended for general distribution or use as propaganda in a democratic setting, and it contains many choice anti-christian quotations.
Here is the relevant quotation for some claims given above: “The whole of national socialism is based on Marx.”, as reported by Von Rauschning in ‘Hitler Speaks’(1939).This biography is also called’Voice of Destruction’, if I’m not mistaken, and is the official one.
Mr Coleman cites Hayek as an intellectual who locates the NSDAP on the left, at least in some spheres. I’ll add another: Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in his very title “Leftism Revisited: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot”. (His portrait is also strikingly similar to Mr Auster’s in an early American Renaissance issue; has anyone ever seen these two men in the same place? :>) )
Footnote #552 compares 1932 and 1972 West German electoral maps, and NDSAP and SDP strength coïncide to a remarkable degree.
Let’s turn to another volume in the “joy of statecraft” series, R. J. Rummel’s “Death By Government”, to see if centrists can indeed be as bloody as leftists and rightists.
The great majority of Rummel’s régimes are leftist. A few can be called rightist, such as Imperial Russia and Imperial Japan, and perhaps pre-Kemalist Turkey. But in the center will be found Chiang’s Kuomintang (4th from the top), Kemal Atatürk’s Turkey, the Indonesia of Suharto and Sukarno, and Salazar’s Portugal. (Yes, Salazar and Franco belong in the center.) Neither Hitler’s nationalism nor his bloodthirst would disqualify him from a place in the middle with these fellows.
My copy of Leftism is in storage so I can’t consult it to see the resemblance, which I hadn’t noticed before. Leddihn grew up as a subject of the Austrian empire. My paternal grandparents came from Galicia, a part of Poland which was then under the Austrian empire. That’s the only point of contact I can think of. :-)
However, now that I think of it, Leddihn does bare a vague resemblance to my maternal grandfather, who also came from Galicia, as a small boy.
“With liberalism, “freedom and equality” is merely a vehicle to achieve the true goal: the destruction of all existing order.”
That is, I think, the true view from the outside looking in. From the inside looking out I think that freedom and equality are literally equivalent to the destruction of preexisting traditional authority, rather than a means or a pretext toward that end.
In Naziism there is a great deal of energy spent identifying the traditional oppressors and destroying them to make way for the new man. Thus the militancy, racialist nationalism as a way of clearly defining who is oppressor-untermensch and who is oppressed-ubermensch, etc. In times when liberalism stands unopposed (other than nominally by the natural conservatism upon which it is parasitic) it is less militantly focused on eradicating the oppressor and is more internally focused on constructing the utopia of the free and equal new man.
So liberalism and naziism are the same essential thing viewed from different perspectives: the former from the inside looking out in time of peace and the latter from the outside looking in in time of war. Naziism is just liberalism viewed from the eyes of the untermensch that liberalism has decided must be exterminated to make way for the new man. We see them as fundamentally distinct because Naziism defined us as the outside, whereas we live within our own liberal system. But they are really not categorically different. They both entail the privatization (that is, removal from politics as an overt authority) of the transcendent order, the extermination of the oppressor-untermensch, and the establishment of the political end of history for the free and equal new man.
The fact that liberal goals are rationally incoherent never crosses the liberal mind.
But, if I am right and Naziism is just militant liberalism viewed from the outside, then the way to see it _as liberal_ is to get a view of it from the inside. That means, among other things, taking _Mein Kampf_ seriously; not as something true but as something that truly exposits the Nazi perspective.
I sort of see a resemblance, but only in a very general way, in the sense that men with mustaches and long faces and high foreheads would look alike.
…and somber expressions. That jacket photo was uncharacteristically jolly for K-L. He was certainly jolly inside, but carried himself with a serious, European demeanor.
In print, as well. Much like VFR, which has a very serious, Continental feel to it. That only adds to the illusion of similarity.
But I’m smiling in that photo, or at least what is for me a smile.
In any case, it’s funny (odd) that you would mention VFR’s seriousness, since just the other day one of the persons who is no longer posting at this site, by way of backing up his contention that I am a pompous, tyrannical, thin-skinned host, quoted a comment John Derbyshire had made about me in an interview. Derbyshire, with whom I’ve had friendly e-mail exchanges over a period of years, was asked by the interviewer whether he reads blogs, to which he said, among other things:
“Larry Auster often says interesting things, though his site is a humor-free zone unfortunately. I have great trouble understanding how people get through life with no sense of humor, but a surprising number do.”
I told Derbyshire that seriousness is not the same as humorlessness, but I’m afraid the distinction may be beyond him. After all, this is the conservative who says he prefers the company of liberals to the company of conservatives:
Again, as I have in previous posts on other VFR threads, I must show my ignorance of writers and movement shapers like Mr. Keuhnelt-Leddihn. Reg Caesar’s acton.org link to the R&L interview of Mr. K-L is very informative and enlightening. I have not seen the history of liberalism broken down so precisely.
Mr. K-L bears an uncanny resemblance to actor/singer Werner Klemperer of the former tv show, Hogan’s Heroes. I will never forget meeting the one of three famous screen actors with the longest of faces—John Carradine (the othes being Fred Astair and Arthur Treacher).
On the original topic, conservatives should do what they can to advance conservative ideals. Among other things, that means seeking influence in the Republican party. Such influence, when achieved, will be useless if the country has passed the point of no return—assuming it has not already done so. To slow the Leftward descent, you should seek George Bush’s re-election, even if he is a Right liberal. With Kerry, you will only have an accelerated descent into the destruction of good order, which is the true Leftist goal. At worst, then, support Bush to buy time and as the lesser of two evils. Not to support the lesser of two evils carries the responsibility for the victory of the greater evil. Badger the Right liberals, by all means, but vote for Bush.
The Republican party may not be the ultimate home for conservatives, but organizing within it may bring closer the formation of a true conservative party—as when the Republicans left the Whigs en masse.
On the Leftism of Nazism, it seems too obvious to require explanation, as long as Leftism is viewed for its essential aim of destroying the transcendentally based order. Only if you quibble about the window-dressing of (fraudulent) Communist egalitarianism vs. (fraudulent) Nazi nationalism are they meaningfully distinguishable. Both developed epistemologies in which reality was determined by the leadership, and politics in which the Party elite exercised total authority over the rest. Both were protean in their appeals to various values, desiderata, and causes, as time and circumstance demanded.
The chart Mr. LeFebvre linked to is intelligent in its distribution of atheistis totalitarianism on the Left and sacred order on the Right. However, the website which advertises itself as the “most conservative site on the net” is really liberal/libertarian in its opposition between individualism and collectivism as the conservative view of the perennial struggle. Conservatism has a collectivist side too, in that it recognizes that man is a communal animal who lives and develops in communities, and seeks his fulfillment in family, church, city, state, and nation. What conservatives abhor is not collectivism per se, but the phony, abstract, contentless, coercive collectivism of the Leftists, which is merely a fraud to permit gangsters to rob and murder you in the name of a bigger gang.
“To slow the Leftward descent, you should seek George Bush’s re-election, even if he is a Right liberal. With Kerry, you will only have an accelerated descent into the destruction of good order, which is the true Leftist goal. At worst, then, support Bush to buy time and as the lesser of two evils. Not to support the lesser of two evils carries the responsibility for the victory of the greater evil.”
That’s a heavy responsibility Bill lays on those of us who do not intend to vote for Bush. I take seriously his logic about slowing the descent. Yet the opposite argument could also be made, and has been made many times here, that the defeat of Bush is the only way that there can be any chance of stopping the descent, since it’s the only way to stop Bush’s liberalization of the Republican party.
Also, let’s remember that at some point in the not distant future a Democrat _will_ be elected president, whether in 2008 or 2012 or 2116. So it’s not as if, if Bush wins in 2004, that saves the Republic from Democratic rule. At the same time, Republicans under a Democratic president, freed from the leadership of Bush, would become more conservative.
If our civilization is to be saved from itself, it will not be because of the latest compromise over whether we call the latest social abomination a “civil union” or a “gay marriage”. If the self-destruction of our civilization is to be halted (if it is indeed not too late to do so) it will be because a sufficient mass of Christian Westerners will have had quite enough of liberalism, and will repent of it.
I am a bit baffled by constant exhortation to choose the lesser of two evils. If we are to constantly, deliberately choose evil - whether lesser or greater - then why should we expect to end up with anything but evil?
In response to Bill’s post, I think that sometimes conservatives focus too much on Bush as the source of the Republican drift to the left. In fact, this drift has been under way for quite a long time and Bush has plenty of accomplices.
I think that Bush has been trerribly destructive and have no intention of enabling his ongoing campaign to purge conservatives. A left-liberal in most respects, Bush is dedicated to the destruction of the remnant of traditional America just a surely as John Kerry is - despite his recital of conservative sounding phrases from time to time. His betrayal of the pro-life movement in the Pennsylvania primary was specatular, and received very little commentary. Many pro-lifers are apparently still in shock. Conservatives in Pennsylvania should vote for a third party or the Democrat. If the Democrat wins, at least he will not be head of the Senate Judiciary committee and less harmful in the short term than the horrible Specter.
Senators like Collins, Snowe, Specter, Chaffee, Frist, Hatch - liberals all - show no stomach for opposing leftists. They have no basis for opposing the left’s agenda apart from the unpricipled exception, which inevitably crumbles. Bush, Rove and the gang in charge have been fighting a very successful campaign to drive conservatives out of the picture entirely. Looking over the fallout from the outrageous “campaign finance reform” legislation and the subsequent Supreme Court decision, I can only conclude that this law was part of Bush’s war on conservative grassroots groups, the only ones seriously affected by it.
Limbaugh and others in the “rah-rah” crowd love to bring up Reagan’s comment about not speaking ill of fellow Republicans when any of the myriad betrayals from the RINO gang is mentioned. This principle no longer applies. Bush and the Republicans he represents are the real betrayers of the party’s principles - not those who have the courage to bring their betrayals to light.
I have long believed that this country as we know it is doomed beyond saving. I have believed that irresponsible self-indulgent Liberalism (as though there is any other kind) has debased the country and its institutions to such an extent that no one can reverse its progress toward oblivion. However, I have consoled myself with the belief that I would be dead and gone when the final cataclysm ocurred. Now, in the face of an electorate that actually believes John Kerry to be a viable, even favorable candidate for president, I have been forced to accept the fact that were he to actually become President of the United States, it is possible, even likely, that I will be forced to witness the implosion (like Alaric’s sacking of Rome)which will certainly follow a Kerry presidency. If George Bush is tantamount to a case of pneumonia, John Kerry most assuredly is a rapidly metastasizing malignancy.
A conservative believes in passing on his heritage to the next generation. If physically possible, a conservative marries and has children and attempts to pass that heritage on to those children. Thus, a conservative takes no comfort in the possibility that the civilization will not crumble until after he is dead, because he has love for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
As for Bill’s exhortation, Republicans were urged to vote for Nixon, Ford, Bush 41, Dole, and Bush 43 as being better than Democrats, even if they were not true conservatives. Only Reagan campaigned as a conservative, and he had to be an outsider in GOP terms to do it. Thus, a conservative nominee is the exception to the rule. Voting for liberal Republicans will perpetuate this pattern. The GOP establishment, including major donors, picks the nominee several months before the New Hampshire primary every four years. Unless we send a clear signal to them that they had better stop sending us Bush, Dole, Ford, etc., we will continue to get such nominees.
One of the darker implications of synthesizing the two different topics in this thread is that if traditionalists do manage to mount a serious, principled, credible opposition to liberalism then we should expect liberalism to start to look a great deal more like naziism.
Tantalizing observation. Will you elaborate? HRS
Well, if my understanding of the relation between naziism and liberalism is correct, they are at bottom the same kind of thing. Change perspective and context and the one quite literally becomes the other; or more accurately one is a different view of the other (categorically speaking: of course different particular polities are in fact different as particulars, but what interests me is *category* and what it tells us, not actual names and places).
What we see as liberalism is a view from the inside in a time of relative peace and prosperity. People who are on the inside are all members of the ubermensch: oppressed and formerly oppressed who are in fact superior supermen, because liberal, in contrast to prior generations sadly locked in premodern history. Among the free and equal superman - those who have accepted liberal first principles and are not guilty of perpetrating oppression - in times of relative prosperity liberalism looks inclusive and inviting, and the emphasis is on the equal freedom of everyone to self-create through reason and will as the old man, imprisoned within history, gives way to the new superman at the end of history.
As long as the process of reaching toward the end of history and the free and equal new superman is allowed to continue, liberals will fight amongst themselves about tactics and other particulars but it all looks very inclusive (unless you happen to be a child or a property owner who asserts claims against liberals that the liberals don’t consent to, I suppose).
What happens, though, when a particular instance of liberalism is seriously opposed? Not nominally opposed as right liberals oppose left liberals, but seriously opposed in a way that rejects the premeses and threatens the very survival of that particular liberalism? (Note that this opposition can even come from *another liberal entity* as long as it is outside of the current liberal entity under discussion).
Viewed from the outside, by one of the “oppressors”, that liberalism becomes nazi. Because it has to fight for its survival it must go through a clarifying exercise, establishing absolute and clear boundaries between who is on the inside — the oppressed who, if only left to themselves, would become the free and equal new man self-created through reason and will — and who is on the outside. The outsiders are, of course, the oppressor-untermensch and their sympathizers; and the untermensch must be exterminated in order for the free and equal new man to emerge and remake the world according to his will.
So, if liberalism starts to see itself as *actually challenged*; as *actually existentially threatened*; then I would expect it to start looking more and more nazi.
if you think kerry and his ilk are bad, how would you like to live in a western country where his thought and action patterns are the norm and all else is heresy? i do. i live in canada. it is governed by craven cowards with their eye and hand to political power for its many rewards and nothing else; never once a thought or action to the good of the country. we have now supplanted a street thug prime minister with a white-collar criminal shipping magnate who taxes the least able to pay and centres his business empire in a ‘country’ where he’ll never pay a nickel into his native land’s treasury.if there were a way to see to it these moral midgets could be made to pay without adversely affecting the few remaining real canadians, i would be on my knees praying for it now. there isn’t. they have created three generations of national security welfare recipients who adamantly retain their ‘right’ to denigrate the only country that will stand up for north american citizens… and that’s america.
praise the lord for u.s. forces and pass the ammunition to canadians who will fight. the rest can hide, like their kindred spirits, behind women and children and throw their stones.
Looked at this way naziism (or Stalinism for that matter) is a *phase* of liberalism; a phase that is triggered by a serious outside existential threat to an entrenched and powerful liberalism, in contrast to the nominal unprincipled opposition that characterizes the ordinary course of things in an established liberal polity.
So if our modern globalist liberalism is actually made to face a serious existential threat, what will it become and what abominations will it commit? The prospect is not pretty.
The way around this, it seems to me, is to take advantage of the fact that liberalism is intrinsically parasitic and suicidal. We don’t have to actively kill it; all we have to do is let it kill itself, which it will certainly do if we stop supporting it. So the path to a postliberal future that still preserves something of Western Christendom passes not through counterrevolution and opposition as much as through repentance.
I would find Matt’s interesting argument more persuasive if he substituted “socialism” for “liberalism.” Using “liberalism” as he does implies an identity between the largely negative liberalism of the early generations of our nation’s history, aimed at responsible self-government in the service of a Christian conception of human existence, with the “liberalism” of our time which is a euphemism for increasingly totalitarian socialism.
I know some like to draw a continuity from one to the other, with Hegel as the great liberal who was father to Marx, Lincoln, and Churchill, and of course Lenin and Hitler. That seems like throwing the baby out with the bath.
A watershed is visible in Hobhouse’s early 20th century essay “Liberalism” where he says the goal of liberalism is “harmony.” Since harmony is rather different from liberty, and suggests a closed system managed by the managers, I take this as indicating the socialist turn. The watershed for traditionalists is probably that between atheistic social schemes originating in Revolutionary France (leading supposedly to harmony) and politics that recognize divine authority (in which we seek salvation through obedience to divine law). We may hypothesize that a politics that does not materially rely on the divine is de facto atheistic.
I wonder if classical liberalism is atheistic (if such a generalization is possible). That would take the watershed back to the Founders’ era, and leave us with only a stump of salvageable conservative liberalism.
Socialism can look more or less benevolent depending on whether it’s viewed from the outside or the inside, in a time of wealth or a time of stress, for its deed or for its words. Matt’s argument holds very well for socialism, and Nazism is unequivocally socialist. Some of this discussion evinces the success of the Big Lie that Jean-Francois Revel has analyzed so well, that the Right is more dangerous and destructive than the Left. Thus the crimes of Stalin are still minimized so that the menace of resurging Nazism will not be discounted.
There are several problems with attempting to disconnect classical liberalism from modern liberalism with the the objective of supporting a return to the former while rejecting the latter.
The foremost problem in my mind is that they are in fact objectively the same sort of thing, not different things (even though different factions of liberals do often erroneously see other kinds of liberals as categorically different). A classical liberal is just a modern liberal with a somewhat deeper rooting in tradition and therfore more unprincipled exceptions. The emergence of Marxism and National Socialism from classical liberalism was not, in retrospect, a shocking and bizarre twist. It was simply the natural evolution of liberalism as it became ever more consistent with its ideal of equal freedom in the political sphere. Thomas Jefferson talks about the fact that holding a right also entails commanding the means to carry out that right, so it isn’t as though the putative difference between a positive right and a negative one (I think the distinction is meaningless myself) is a novelty of the 1900’s. Jefferson also argued that a decent liberal has to go out and kill the oppressor every generation or so. Alexander Hamilton argued in favor of unfettered immigration and asserted that the federal government has a plenary right to levy taxes and spend on whatever is for the general welfare.
Another problem is that the first principles of liberalism-qua-liberalism are self contradictory. Classical liberalism is no exception even though it was - I think simply because it was younger than what it later developed into, and because it had a virtually limitless frontier in which to expand - somewhat more benign.
There are those who think that we can get away with a restoration of Christendom without having to actually repent from liberalism. I don’t think that will work; in fact I think that perception just keeps natural conservatives of good will in the line to dance the Hegelian Mambo.
There is a sense in which the national socialist movement was right-wing; and that was in comparison to the Stalin regime. An enormous propaganda offensive started in the 30’s, which is echoing even today; to persuade the world that the only alternatives are fascism or communism. Scholars are peculiarly susceptible to it; and such that criticism (or even mention) of the crimes of the left is equated with covering-up for fascism. This false dilemma needs to be continually exposed as such, and especially since it often carries the prestige of academic institutions. We do have more alternatives than these. Notice the dilemma when it is being set up before you, and contradict the false premise or turn it against its liberal user. The liberals were called the social fascists on this false dilemma, it can be used against them for all of the several seconds it takes for them to deny it themselves, and make your case for you.