The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'neoconservatism'
In one of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks Putin and Medvedev are compared to Batman and Robin. It’s a useful analogy: isn’t Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’s organiser, a real-life counterpart to the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight? In the film, the district attorney, Harvey Dent, an obsessive vigilante who is corrupted and himself commits murders, is killed by Batman. Batman and his friend police commissioner Gordon realise that the city’s morale would suffer if Dent’s murders were made public, so plot to preserve his image by holding Batman responsible for the killings. The film’s take-home message is that lying is necessary to sustain public morale: only a lie can redeem us.
Consider too the renewed popularity of Leo Strauss: the aspect of his political thought that is so relevant today is his elitist notion of democracy, the idea of the ‘necessary lie’. Elites should rule, aware of the actual state of things (the materialist logic of power), and feed the people fables to keep them happy in their blessed ignorance. For Strauss, Socrates was guilty as charged: philosophy is a threat to society. Questioning the gods and the ethos of the city undermines the citizens’ loyalty, and thus the basis of normal social life. Yet philosophy is also the highest, the worthiest, of human endeavours. The solution proposed was that philosophers keep their teachings secret, as in fact they did, passing them on by writing ‘between the lines’. The true, hidden message contained in the ‘great tradition’ of philosophy from Plato to Hobbes and Locke is that there are no gods, that morality is merely prejudice, and that society is not grounded in nature.
Comb-licking neoconservative architect of the Iraq war Paul Wolfowitz has been shortlisted to head the World Bank. Presumably someone in a position of power decided that the World Bank's image had become too soft and friendly or something.
An interesting interview with leftist/neoconservative Christopher Hitchens, by Johann Hari:
Hitchens was on a TV debate with the leader of a small socialist party in the Irish dail. "He said these Islamic fascists are doing this because they have deep-seated grievances. And I said, 'Ah yes, they have many grievances. They are aggrieved when they see unveiled women. And they are aggrieved that we tolerate homosexuals and Jews and free speech and the reading of literature.' And this man - who had presumably never met a jihadist in his life - said, 'No, it's about their economic grievances.' Well, of course, because the Taliban provided great healthcare and redistribution of wealth, didn't they? After the debate was over, I said, 'If James Connolly [the Irish socialist leader of the Easter Risings] could hear you defending these theocratic fascist barbarians, you would know you had been in a fight. Do you know what you are saying? Do you know who you are pissing on?"
He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy. "It's explicitly anti-Kissingerian. Kissinger hates this stuff. He opposed intervening in the Balkans. Kissinger Associates were dead against [the war in] Iraq. He can't understand the idea of backing democracy - it's totally alien to him."
I feel simultaneously roused by Hitch's arguments and strangely disconcerted. Why did Hitch so enthusiastically back the administration's bogus WMD arguments - arguments he still stands by? I think of the Bush administration's denial of global warming, the hideous 'structural adjustment' programmes it rams down the throats of the world's poor (including Iraq's), its description of Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace"? Why intellectually compromise on all these issues and back Bush?
An interesting look at the ideology of neoconservatism, by a former neoconservative. One thesis he posits is that neoconservatism is an American equivalent of Marxism/Trotskyism, with "capitalist democracy" replacing communism as the goal of the ideological crusade.
Nevertheless, the origins of their ideology on the left are still apparent. The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant; they are the intellectual (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal) heirs of older ex-leftists. The idea that the United States and similar societies are dominated by a decadent, postbourgeois "new class" was developed by thinkers in the Trotskyist tradition like James Burnham and Max Schachtman, who influenced an older generation of neocons. The concept of the "global democratic revolution" has its origins in the Trotskyist Fourth International's vision of permanent revolution. The economic determinist idea that liberal democracy is an epiphenomenon of capitalism, promoted by neocons like Michael Novak, is simply Marxism with entrepreneurs substituted for proletarians as the heroic subjects of history.
Much has been said about the recent trend of libertarians turning into (neo-)conservatives as a result of (the collapse of socialism/the collapse of libertarianism/September 11/the aging process in general). I was wondering whether there was a sexual dimension to this trend, with libertarian/progressive kinks giving way to more conservative/reactionary alternative lifestyles without passing through the mainstream. I.e., are we likely to see Heinleinian polyamorists and hot-tubbers becoming Goreans or old-sk00l-Mormon-style polygamists en masse?
After 9/11, gun-toting libertarian and rampaging egomaniac hacker Eric S. Raymond, who maintains the Jargon File fell in with the neo-conservative warbloggers; and now, he's taking the Jargon File along for the ride. The latest edition has entries for bullethead coinages such as "anti-idiotarianism" and "fisking"; and the definition of "hacker politics" has been revised to "Formerly vaguely liberal-moderate, more recently moderate-to-neoconservative", with the proviso that "hackers too were affected by the collapse of socialism".
blogosphere (n): The totality of all blogs. A culture heavily overlapping with but not coincident with hackerdom; a few of its key coinages (blogrolling, fisking, anti-idiotarianism) are recorded in this lexicon for flavor. Bloggers often divide themselves into warbloggers and techbloggers. The techbloggers write about technology and technology policy, while the warbloggers are more politically focused and tend to be preoccupied with U.S. and world response to the post-9/11 war against terrorism.
Ah yes, the "blogging was born on 9/11" myth. (via NtK)
After regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, it was only a matter of time before Blair and Bush turned their attention to France. The detested Jacques Chirac, a past friend of Saddam Hussein, refused to disband his force de frappe weapons of mass destruction; the coalition acted in preemptive self-defence; though it was a pity about the Louvre.
The toppling of the Chirac regime was the inevitable application of this ideology. It was not imperialism. Washington had no desire to stick around when the cameras had already been directed to a new rogue. It was rather adventurism. American foreign policy did mergers and acquisitions, not management. They could topple but, as they found in Kabul and Baghdad, they had no clue about rebuilding. They just wanted to make a point. Upset Uncle Sam and you will lose your power, your palace, your art treasures and bring death and destruction to your cities.
Tony Blair cheered the fall of France. He, too, had his reasons. He had longed to see M Chirac with a bloody nose. Since 2002 he had supported Americas new coercive diplomacy and grown hugely popular as a result. Not since Palmerston had nations quaked when a British leader said he had no plans to attack them. Now Mr Blair might be Americas chosen candidate for president of Europe. Anyway, Britain was in bed with America and could hardly climb out now. Washington would not like that. Mr Blair would not want a nasty hole at the end of The Mall, would he?