Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Left, or, waiting for Katrinas

Bernard-Henry Levy lambasts the American Left for being in a "semi-comatose" state. While not hiding his own lefty opinions, he is shocked, simply shocked, that there is a "cosmic ideological void" on the Left. Worth a quick read.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Good article. As a bemused European looking on from afar ... I just don’t know.


It is a mystery that a party so blatantly corrupt can muddle on, with only the merest whispers of dissent from within.


The theory I have found most compelling to date, was supplied by my wife. It goes like this.


Given that a majority of these people subscribe to a faith which requires them to suspend rational thought, the ongoing logical disconnect required to sustain the fiction has fatally corroded their critical faculties.


The same kind of mental gymnastics required for belief in a merciful yet simultaneously all powerful deity, supply the mechanism to rework reality.


Thus Abu Graib becomes hazing, the war a success and Katarina someone elses fault.

On the evidence of this piece, the pot is calling the kettle black.

Mr. Coughlan, you do not understand the Republican party. Bracket for the minute your allegation that it is "blatantly corrupt." That is too subjective to discuss with someone who clearly detests the party anyway. I’m speaking of your observation that it has "only the merest whispers of dissent from within."

This has never been the case in the Republican party in the 35 years in which I have been politically sentient. There has always been open dissatisfaction with the party, often accompanied by searing critiques. While dissent in the GOP was at a low ebb in the early and middle years of the Reagan presidency, there is certainly enormous dissatisfaction now.

Problem is, most of it comes from the right, including the dreaded religious right. Since you seem to hold such people in contempt, you may not think their view qualify as dissent.

If so, your qualifications as a political commentator are about on a level with Bryant Gumbel or Molly Ivins.

Interesting reading. However, it falls apart when the author asks the American left to subscribe to an ideology which holds to myths (e.g. Bush committed gross lies about WMD, or the so-called outrageous poverty that blights American cities) as its cornerstones.

The problem IMHO is rather that the American left has held to these empty foundations for so long that their ideology has little to stand upon.

Just my $.02

DRK

David, you are right, I don’t know that much about the republican party.


That said, I read extensivley, and since the Iraq war have been become increasingly occupied (maybe even obsessed, ok I admit it!!!) with the machinations of american politics.


Now I’m not so naive that I don’t recognise that a certain degree of corruption is inevitable.


However, for sheer "in your face I do what I likeisim" this president, this administration and the republican party stand (among democracies) in a global league of their own.


So sure my observations, are somewhat external. However, let me put it to you that when I step in a turd, I don’t need a degree in biology to know what I’ve stepped in, or to see the pedigree of the animal that produced it. It’s a turd! It stinks like a turd!


What will it take for the american people to turf these louts out?

Well, from the perspective of many American’s the Europeans are in a post-modern funk and can’t grasp the realpolitik decisions we make on a daily basis as the only superpower (or hyperpower, as you will) in the world. My observations are, of course, somewhat external.

Europeans are in a post-modern funk and can’t grasp the realpolitik decisions we make on a daily basis as the only superpower (or hyperpower, as you will) in the world


Realpolitik? This is just code for blowing stuff (and often people) up. As you like, when you like and how you like.


Now, many of us, not just Europeans mind, think that you are wrong to do that. We can’t stop you, because lets face it, american troops will invade anywhere they are told to, and shoot anyone they are told to. However, that doesn’t make it right, just or even sane.


On the contrary, our powerlessness simply underscores how injust and lopsided this whole arrangement is.


Mind you, on balance, the democrats are almost as bad as the republicans in this regard, but Bush has totally lost the plot.

Bernard-Henri Lévy’s advice is for the left to throw more gasoline on its own bonfire. Meanwhile, a very large segement of the population is in favor of better fire protection services.

I find particularly interesting his astoundingly simplistic passing off of the intelligent design debate as a trashing of the Enlightenment, or the French version of it, in any case. Even the French version, however, would show a bit more respect for discussion than this. I am a total agnostic (yes, its possible) on the ID debate, but can see perfectly well that both its main practitioners and opponents are equally children of the Enlightenment.

In any case, I say go for it readers of the Nation. Consign yourselves and as many others on the left as you can find to that lower rung of hell where European public intellectuals praise the likes of Norman Mailer as one of the few Americans who "enunciated what was right and good and true?"


Brian,

Bush has tended to communicate poorly, and there has been significant incompetence from his administration.
However, I would offer this thought from the management guru Peter Drucker, made in some other context: "It’s more important to do the right thing than to do things right."

A bare majority of the American people, myself among them, decided in 2004 that in general, Bush had "done the right thing" in regard to our national defense, which is also the defense of the free world. The Democrats are heavily inclined not to do the right thing. Most Americans do not see them quite so clearly as that. But they sense at least a significant incapacity among the Democrats to defend America, and they’re entirely right.

There are very few non americans that would share that assessment.


That Bush has "done the right thing" flies in the face of decades of accumulated wisdom vis a vis terrorism.


The democrats failed to highlight how profoundly dangerous and reckless the course embarked upon by Bush. I suspect this is because the democrats too are in thrall to the idea that war is a universal hammer for all the "nails" in the world.


Ironically, all this talk of the US being attacked (and even destroyed) will, in the long term, simply become a self fullfilling prophecy. No one loves or respects a bully. Sure, there will always be sycophants and toadies to fawn on the bully, but even they will hate and despise him, and secretly plot his demise.


I don’t articulate this in anyway as a threat, but merely an observation of how humans have tended to behave in the past.


Any small group that seeks to dominate another much larger group by force and violence is always deposed. Eventually. On the other hand Co-operative ventures tend to last longer. I offer you, as exhibit A, your own tremendous constitution and federal institutions.


Like the Romans, your hypocrisy in dealing with those abroad is hollowing out respect for the republic at home.


It’s a crying shame that americans have begun to mortgage the most long lived and successful example of "rule by the people for the people" on the altar of safety. A safety that is in any event unattainable by the means you seek to secure it:-(

Brian, all this angst over toppling a dictator like Saddam Hussein? The facts as I see them are simple: The Left isn’t comfortable with any extension of American power because America is less than perfect.

As for bullying, were we the ones who told women to turn themselves into walking tents in Afghanistan? Did we slaughter hundreds of thousands of Shiites in Iraq? Are we facing a real civil war as the mullahs are in Iran? Of course, you will say that this isn’t any of our business, but I’m afraid Bid Laden MADE it our business.

The Pax Americana has been a real phenomenon, and our "bullying" has improved the world. What to argue about this Brian? Any time.

The Pax Americana has been a real phenomenon, and our "bullying" has improved the world. What to argue about this Brian? Any time.


I’m not disagreeing that a robust stance has to be taken by free nations against totalitarianism. Up to and including regretably, war. Or that the US has not made positive contributions. I’m talking about NOW.


To use the police analogy (again!!). Sometimes policemen have to restrain the public, sometimes they have to arrest criminals. Sometimes they have to sorround a building and yell over a bull horn "come out with your hands up!". Sometimes, as a last resort they have to shoot criminals, and occasionaly they make mistakes.


However, what they can’t do, is beat, kick and club a person (not even a criminal) repeatedly while on the ground.


They can’t blow up an entire building killing tens of innocent people, to kill or flush out a single bad guy. Arguing that their "casualties" would have been too high if they had tried to save the inncocent, and besides it was the responsibility of the hostages to apprehend the guilty party? That shit happens and sometimes the public get caught in the crossfire?


Any police force that behaved like that would be reviled by the general public, and would eventually have a revolution on their hands.


WWII qualifies as a positive example of US influence. Obviously a disaster, but largely unavoidable once the Europeans had let things get out of hand. No argument there.


However after that, it gets fuzzy.


Korea? Don’t know enough about it, but think it was UN sanctioned, so will give you a pass.


Vietnam. With 2 million dead vietnamese and millions more in the sorrounding region .... I mean come on. The US lost what, 60K troops? And the movies and books and trauma is never ending. The vietnamese lost 2 MILLION people. Mostly killed by you guys, how do you think that makes people feel about america?


US involvement in South America has been uniformly negative, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and rampant poverty.


Hardly a sterling result, and now we have Iraq.


Dearie, Dearie me.

US involvement in South America has been uniformly negative, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and rampant poverty.

Our record in Latin America has been mixed, but your characterization is one-sided. You are blaming us for societies that were pre-f...ed up by Spanish/Portuguese colonial history/policies. Whatever we have done is clearly secondary to that.

To use the police analogy (again!!). Sometimes policemen have to restrain the public, sometimes they have to arrest criminals. Sometimes they have to sorround a building and yell over a bull horn "come out with your hands up!". Sometimes, as a last resort they have to shoot criminals, and occasionaly they make mistakes.

I’m not even sure what you are referring to here, but "surrounding the building" etc. is exactly what we did with both the Taliban and Saddam. This was no Blitzkrieg...in Saddam’s case, months wasted on waiting for Europe to sign off on force (little did we know that he had paid them off).

What you are sir is a whiner. If we hadn’t taken action you’d whine about that. If we take action, you whine about that. Pull your head out of the sand...can’t you see these riots over cartoons! What do you think that means? It means that THEY see this as a civilizational conflict, even if we don’t. It’s time we fought it that way.


Brian, if you think it is "bullying" to oust Saddam Hussein, then I really cannot respect your opinion about anything.

As for your view that very few non-Americans would agree with me, I don’t believe that’s the case. Decadent Western Europe and Canada, plus the Muslim world, aren’t the whole world.
Both are victims of even worse propaganda than we have in the U.S. liberal media. In addition, the rightness of a course of action is not determined by the number of people who recognize its rightness.

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