(On Screen): Writing for National Review Online, Rich Lowry talks about the way that the current herd of Democratic presidential hopefuls, through their debates and their efforts to pander to what some have called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party", have begun to codify the basic philosophy and program advocated by the most leftwing portion of this nation.
He comments that "This credo is often nonsensical and hypocritical, but it is clearly discernible." And he then lists a series of bullet points which seem to make no sense. On one level he's trying to be humorous (and succeeds) but like all great humor there's a strong element of truth in what he says.
But I'm not so sure that many of them actually are nonsensical or internally contradictory. What's rather going on is that they flow quite naturally from a combination of Transnational Progressivism and the mean green meme. In essence, the deep ideology is a combination of neo-Marxism, idealism, elitism (i.e. anti-populism), post-nationalism and, it turns out, a form of compassionate neo-racism. Competition is bad, cooperation is good. Greed is bad, altruism is good. Inequality (of results) is bad, equality (of results) is good. Motives are important, and good acts induced by bad motives are worse than bad acts induced by good motives.
Nationalism is the source of most of the evil in the world because it leads to greed and heartless cruelty. If everyone abandons commitment to their nations and instead thinks of themselves as being citizens of the world, then they would care more about the plight of their fellow citizens in the poor nations instead of ruthlessly exploiting them. And so on.
The "neo-racism" is a result of the corruption of multiculturalism by the mean green meme; it leads to identity politics, moral relativism, and a dogmatic conviction that the rich and powerful are always evil and the weak and poor are always virtuous, which is to say the cult of the victim. In paleo-racism as perceived, Protestant White Men thought they were better than anyone else. In neo-racism, they're at the bottom of the heap.
Transnational Progressivism is an international movement, with adherents all over the world, but most of its power is concentrated in Europe and North America. In the US, its adherents are the most influential part of the activist left wing of the Democratic party (when they're not abandoning it outright to support Nader and the Greens) and it is they who the Democratic presidential candidates are trying to convince. So the emerging consensus among those candidates is something of a codification of Tranzi hot-buttons.
Sometimes you have to accept the existence of terrible things in the short run in order to make possible better things in the future. Sometimes you even have to actively commit terrible acts. I certainly accept that idea, which is why I thought that we had to accept the moral burden of waging war in Iraq. Though it caused death and pain and suffering, in the long run I think it will lead to far better results than if we had not done so. I think the long term results will be better for my nation, and I think it will be better for the Iraqis, and I think it will be better for the region and the world. In the long run, that won't bring back to life those we killed, or regenerate the arms of orphans who lost theirs in the war, but it will prevent other evils and more than make up for that.
So I accept that sometimes one must do evil, or tolerate evil, if the long term results seem to justify it.
The Tranzis (as many of us refer to those who support Transnational Progressivism) accept that necessity, too. They don't really approve of the kind of thing that Saddam was doing to the Iraqi people, but are willing to tolerate it because from their point of view the long term consequences of our interference in Iraq will be even worse. Saddam's brutality was bad, but it was a lesser evil.
Their long term program at the highest level diplomatically is post-nationalism. When nationalism is strong it can be pathological, leading the people of many nations to think of ausländers as somehow sub-human, intrinsically less valuable, and perhaps worth nothing at all. That makes it easy to consider waging war or committing commercial exploitation or genocide, leading to misery and suffering, since ethnocentric nationalists won't feel guilt about causing such misery to others they don't really think of as being human. They may even see themselves as being noble, "bringing civilization to the savages." (There can be no better demonstration of this self-deception than Kipling's "White Man's Burden".)
If nations can be deemphasized, then the newly-enlightened citizens of the world will no longer be willing to accept such things, and this will necessarily mean there will be no more wars, no more exploitation, no more misery. By deemphasizing nations and nationalism, a world utopia becomes possible.
Anything which reinforces nationalism postpones that end, possibly forever. Thus anything which makes people proud of their own nation, and makes them identify with their nation, is in the long term bad even if it involves objectively good short term results.
It is the most powerful nations where nationalism represents the most profound danger to this idealistic new world order. When there is a single superpower whose people strongly identify with their nation and are proud of its achievements, then they represent a profound threat to the process of creating a post-nationalist one-world utopia.
Of course, if everyone in the world embraced the Tranzi vision, the process of establishing that utopia would be very straightforward. But it's not to be expected that this take place, and the Tranzis understand that the majority of the human race will resist it to the end, for a wide variety of reasons all of which are fundamentally wrong. Those who would oppose it are unwise, unenlightened, indoctrinated, deceived, dogmatic; but they cannot be reached intellectually, so it's necessary to force it onto them. Once it's in place, they'll come to realize that they were wrong and will accept it and even support it, but there's no way to convince them of that before the fact.
The new utopia is clearly right, but it cannot be brought into being by honest participation in democracy. The enlightened Tranzi elite will have to work on establishing this new utopia subtly, surreptitiously, in small steps, without ever admitting how each such step supports their true goal. They cannot let the incorrect but unavoidable opposition of the majority prevent it.
I suppose I need to make clear that I don't agree with what they believe. Moreover, I think that it contains deep contradictions, deep presumptions which are empirically false, and deep calculations of results which run counter to much of what we know about economics and human psychology. But I'm trying to explain their point of view. And necessarily I'm speaking in broad generalizations.
Seen in this light, many of the points Lowry articulates are not really as nonsensical as he implies. For instance, double standards make more sense if you don't truly accept democracy or populism. The Tranzis have to operate within the realm of democracy now, and so they have to make arguments for candidates and policies they favor which are calculated to influence the masses. But those public arguments are rhetorical weapons which have nothing to do with the real program. It doesn't matter to the Tranzis whether they're hypocritical; the only thing that matters is whether they might be effective at deceiving the masses into voting the way the Tranzis want them to vote.
That it is absolutely necessary for the cause of clean government for candidates to abide by the limits set by the presidential public-financing system, unless they — like Kerry and Howard Dean — have enough money not to.
That big money corrupts politics, unless it is big money raised by California Gov. Gray Davis.
That punch-card ballots are a travesty of justice, unless they elect a Democrat.
That groping is a minor offense of no interest to feminists, unless a Republican candidate is the groper.
The Tranzis don't believe in democracy, and see no problem with trying to subvert it to achieve their ends. It's a barrier but not an insurmountable one, as long as they're crafty and patient. They will use whatever means are available within it to defeat their opponents and elect their allies. This isn't inconsistent, it's just good tactics. (And if you lose the election, you take to the courts and complain about hanging chad.)
There are few viable candidates in the US now for high office who are fully committed to the Tranzi cause, but some are more sympathetic to it than others. "Groping" is a bad thing, of course, but it's a minor peccadillo in elected officials who otherwise support the right policies. Which is why the leftists were rather muted in their condemnations of Senator Bob Packwood when he was exposed as a "groper". He was one of the most liberal Republican Senators, and had worked to restrain the most negative influences in the Republican party, and had enough seniority to really make a difference. That made him an asset the leftists didn't want to lose, and was more important than a bit of groping.
On the other hand, it makes a good way to tar an opposition "conservative" candidate. Feigned outrage about groping and an ongoing attempt to keep it on the front page may discredit him without having to reference real policy issues, which must be avoided at all cost.
Until the Tranzis wield enough power to implement their system directly, and to abolish democracy or to change the system enough so that elections are still held for show but no longer really matter, then they are forced to work within the electoral system, and to try to manipulate it to bring about their goals, despite knowing that the majority of Americans (and the majority of voters in many other nations) would oppose that goal if they knew what it was. That's only possible through misdirection and deception, because for the moment the Tranzis have made little progress in subverting the American electoral system.
In Europe, they have done far better. In many nations in Europe, voters have far less influence than in the US, and the proposed Constitution for the EU actually creates a system where the Tranzis will have enough power to force implementation of their program in Europe while concentrating enough political and diplomatic power to directly oppose the US. Even in Europe the Tranzis are a minority, but they are and have been disproportionately represented amongst the political elite in most nations and especially among those working to create the EU and to write a constitution for it. The proposed constitution and the structure it creates is sufficiently baroque and complicated, and ambiguous, as to make it possible for some to read it without seeing the implications, which is part of how the Tranzis are trying to sneak it through. But by including a laundry-list of Tranzi objectives in the constitution itself as citizen rights, and by giving the EU both the power and obligation to fulfill those things, and by including covert references to how some kinds of positions may only be held by those who are committed to the European way (or words to that effect) they have engineered a system where it will become legally possible for them to force their program on the majority, even if the majority oppose it. Unfortunately, it still remains to be ratified.
But in the US the Tranzis have been far less successful, and on the political level it's only during the primary process for the Democratic party that they have a dominating voice. Lowry lists several related points that they effectively are saying:
That wars should be authorized, but never fought.
That the United Nations is the world's last, best hope, and every jot of its writ should always be respected, unless it inconveniences Saddam Hussein.That nation-building is always a humanitarian and just cause, unless it is undertaken in Iraq.
That French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin is always right.
That the U.S. military is overextended — and should be smaller.
That [fill in blank with latest conflict here] is another Vietnam.
That wars should be authorized, but never fought. In this one, Lowry mixes an end and a means, apparently not recognizing that the means serves that end. The goal is that there be no wars. To that end, the idea is to convince all nations that they cannot fight wars without authorization from the UN which the UN will never grant, or almost never. Thus there are no authorized wars, and no unauthorized wars, and thus no war at all.
With respect to the UN and Iraq, they faced a situation where they had to make a tradeoff. They didn't like Saddam's continued defiance of the UN but believed that it could be dealt with non-violently by yet more inspections etc. or so they claimed. But even if that failed, having Saddam be deposed by America represented an even greater danger in the long run. True, it eliminated an international scofflaw and released the Iraqis from the terror and brutality of his rule, but it represented a major, even catastrophic, setback in the long-term process of trying to get the US government to accept the bonds of international supervision and authority. It eliminated a small scofflaw but created a larger and far more powerful one. They would rather have Saddam be scofflaw than Bush.
It freed the Iraqis (which was good) but seriously reinforced American nationalism, which was very, very bad. The US government broke with the UN, ignored what seemed to be nearly universal international condemnation, and acted alone to further its narrow self-interest. That was catastrophe.
Never mind the rest of the "coalition of the willing"; From the Tranzi point of view all but one of them became part of the coalition because they'd been bribed by the US or had been blackmailed or had been deceived. As to Australia, it suffers from the same kind of atavistic nationalism as the US, but it's a lot smaller and less powerful so it's not as much of a threat to post-nationalism as the US, and doesn't have the same ability internationally to impede the Tranzi program. If the US can somehow be tamed, Australia will eventually be forced to fall into line, too.
That President Bush isn't devoting enough resources to the reconstruction of Iraq, and that — in light of his $87 billion aid proposal — he is devoting far too many resources to the reconstruction of Iraq.
They think more is needed, but it should not all be coming from the US. If most of it comes from us, it gives us too much ability to influence the outcome. They don't see Bush's $87 billion as aid. It's an investment. It's money he proposes to spend because it will bring about results which are in America's interests.
Which, by the way, is more or less true. He's proposing that kind of money for Iraq because we hope that establishment of a successful democracy in Iraq will cause broad reform in the entire region, which in the long run will alleviate the threat we face. Equivalent sums spent in Zimbabwe or North Korea would not do the same.
That $87 billion would be most welcome if it was administered by the UN because that way it would actually be "aid" and would be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people. After all, the UN is a shining white light of an institution which is totally efficient and altruistic, doing only good in the world. Perhaps not; I don't think many Tranzis really believe that. But whatever it might do, it wouldn't be anything specifically tailored to satisfy American interests.
Nation building is a good thing as long as it is undertaken for altruistic reasons. They don't object to nation-building in Iraq as such; it's having the US be in control of it which is the problem. It's their worst nightmare; it's active American imperialism. They fear that the US is now engaged in a program to make Iraq democratic, independent, capitalist and nationalistic, and by so doing to induce similar changes in other nations in the mid-East. The governments which exist there now are far from being allies of the Tranzis, but they also don't represent threats to the Tranzi cause and sometimes work with the Tranzis. But if the US is successful, many or most of them will become ideological allies of the US, and therefore ideological enemies of the Tranzis. That would be a terrible setback.
The US is militarily overextended — and should be smaller. Absolutely! Because war is the wrong way to solve these kinds of problems. They need to convince us all that our current war is wrong, and that it's a failure, because they want to convince us to cease even considering war as a way of dealing with these kinds of things. They advocate military reductions in part because nations with weak militaries are less inclined to consider using them, and because it would free up money which could be used for other, better purposes.
As to de Villepin, he's one of the few influential world leaders who is fully on board the Tranzi cause. France is the only major nation where the Tranzis have actually taken control and implemented their policies, and from that base of actual power the Tranzis in France and the rest of Europe have been trying to co-opt the EU to make it an instrument of Tranzi policy. In international diplomacy in the last two years, de Villepin has been a lone voice of sanity, as the Tranzis see it. He and his political allies in France recognize that it is the US which is the true enemy, and has had the courage to oppose America.
Arab terrorism is a problem in the short term, but doesn't represent a long-term threat to the Tranzi program. Corrupt and brutal regimes in the third world cause incredible misery for the people of their nations, but are politically unimportant in the long run and will be dealt with in due course. However, if Americans continue to be committed to their nation instead of beginning to view themselves as citizens of the world, and if the government of the US begins to act "unilaterally" on a routine basis, ignoring world opinion and refusing to participate in the nascent seeds of world government and refusing to be bound by international opinion, then the Tranzi program is deeply threatened.
The UN as currently constructed is far from ideal for the Tranzis, because the majority of its true power is vested in the Security Council where the US has a veto. Because of that, it isn't really possible for the UN to actively force the US to do anything. So about the only thing the UN can be used for in trying to influence American policy is as a forum where the US can be shamed or embarrassed, such as by forcing it to use its veto in ways which make it look bad.
Tranzi-controlled France also has a veto. That's the result of what, from the Tranzi point of view, is a fortuitous historical accident but it means that the UNSC can refuse to support America when the Americans try to co-opt the UN for their own purposes. That doesn't really have quite the power to influence American action that the Tranzis wish it did, but when the US ignores the UNSC and acts without formal authorization there are at last some diplomatic consequences for doing so, which it is hoped will cause the US to think twice about doing it again.
When the nations of the world refuse to support the American post-war reconstruction of Iraq either financially or with troops, the Tranzis know that on one level this may result in short term problems for the Iraqis (though not really, because they also know that the Americans will not let it get too bad). And the long term benefit far outweighs that, for the pain of going it alone may convince Americans and the US government to not do such a thing again. The Tranzis actually want to rebuild Iraq, but they want the UN to be in charge of doing so. (Really "in charge" rather than the token unimportant "important" roles the US has tried to assign it.) The UN would then take care of it altruistically, for the benefit of the Iraqis, instead of having the rebuilding process be politically exploited by the Americans who will set up a system which serves American interests. Even if that system also benefited the Iraqis, it won't do so as well, but the real point is that the Americans must not be permitted to benefit.
As long as the US refuses to give up control and let the UN run things, support must be denied. The people of Iraq will suffer as a result, but they'll suffer more in the long run if the US isn't forced to give up that power, and more important is that the people of the entire world will suffer in the long run if the US isn't forced. And if the UN can somehow take control, it can make sure that the Americans don't gain anything.
That's because they know that we're not really failing. They talk about failure because they fear the terrible possibility of success, and know that it's becoming more and more likely. The Tranzis are weak now; they have no power to directly force us to give up. They can only prevail by persuasion; they can only defeat us by convincing us to give up. But persuasion is itself perilous because they can't actually be frank about their real motives for fear of hardening our resolve. So they can only get us to yield control in Iraq by lying to us, to break our will.
If they can convince the majority of Americans that the occupation of Iraq and our unilateral attempt at nation building is a disastrous failure, then they'll cause us to lose confidence, to begin to doubt ourselves, to become less assertive and more willing to cooperate with others in the world, and less willing to act over their objections.
If they can convince us that our reason for attacking Iraq was wrong or illegal, they can cause us to be more cautious about such things in future.
If they can convince us that we were misled, lied to by our leaders, then it will be far harder in future for our leaders to try to make a case for similar actions.
The VietNam war was a tragedy, but there was a silver lining to that dark cloud, from the Tranzi point of view. For a few years, America's spirit seemed to have been broken. American self-confidence was shattered; Americans began to doubt. Then Reagan (the anti-Christ) was elected and reversed all that. The Tranzis hope to once again evoke that marvelous self-doubt from VietNam, which is why they refer to it as often as they can. When we contemplate any new "unilateral" military intervention, they describe it as a "new VietNam" to inspire that doubt.
Another leftist evocation not mentioned by Lowry is "Bush is Hitler", the claim that the Republicans are the new Nazis. On any objective basis that proposition is ludicrous, of course. There has been no Holocaust in the US; no Kristallnacht; no round up of dissidents. But for the Tranzis, those are minor details. Hitler and the Nazis represent the pathological case of nationalism run amok. They compare Bush to Hitler because Bush and his supporters are nationalistic. To have a nationalist serve as executive of the hyper-puissance is the worst situation imaginable. Bush is seen as being worse than Hitler because America is more powerful than Germany was.
Just as the Tranzis wish America to think that VietNam was the only war we've ever fought, they also want us to think that Hitler was the only previous nationalistic leader.
The Gulf War in 1991 was a mixed blessing for them. That war was fought with UN approval, and involved a mixed international military force, but it went too well. It was a case of good news and bad news: the US accepted the principle that the UN had to authorize war, which was good, but the US also provided the majority of the force and commanded the operation. And it was too easy to win; it would have been better if we'd won but only just barely, and at a high cost. That way Americans would believe that they could not have done it alone, and it would have reinforced the idea that we had to seek help and approval from other nations before such wars. But since it was so fast and our casualties were so low (and because few of the others actually mattered in the battle plan), it seems to have had the opposite effect of convincing Americans that we really didn't need those other forces after all.
VietNam is a better model for their purposes; and that's why every "unilateral" intervention we consider is compared to it. The goal is to convince us to give up on "unilateralism" in favor of "multilateralism", which means that we would consider ourselves bound by international opinion and various post-national organizations (e.g. the UN, the ICC) which are hoped to grow eventually into a true world government. "Coalitions of the willing" don't cut it. It isn't "multilateralism" unless we feel bound by the opinions of those who oppose us.
But they don't actually say those things. Instead of trying to tell us the truth about their program, and embracing the spirit of democracy by trying to convince the majority to support them, they engage in propaganda and deception to convince the majority to do the right things for the wrong reasons. It matters little to them if we cease supporting aggressive war because of national depression and shame or national commitment to post-nationalism; it is the result which matters.
If they can construct plausible arguments that convince us to act as they think we should, even if they are fabrics of lies, then they may be able to achieve their goals without actually telling us what their goals truly are, which is the one thing they can not risk. In that sense, they're already lying, so it doesn't matter too much of the specific arguments are themselves lies. For example, if they pound hard enough on the idea that Iraq wasn't actually the "imminent" risk which Bush claimed it was to justify war, it helps to deflate our confidence in our leaders. (It isn't really important that Bush specifically stated that the danger from Iraq was palpable but not definitely not imminent. If they emphasize "imminent" enough, they'll convince the majority that he did say that, even though he said the exact opposite.)
Does this mean that they believe that the ends justify the means? Not at all. They believe that the motives justify the means. It is not wrong for them to lie and deceive, to commit treason, or to work to keep a brutal dictator in power