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Against Neoconservatism (It's the new Jacobinism, says Claes G. Ryn.)
Lew Rockwell.com ^ | 5 May 04 | Claes G. Ryn

Posted on 05/05/2004 9:55:43 AM PDT by u-89

Which American?

by Claes G. Ryn
by Claes G. Ryn

The just-concluded 40th anniversary meeting of the Philadelphia Society, held in Chicago, featured a panel on US foreign policy. Midge Decter, the controversial new president of the society, praised the United States as embodying universally applicable principles, and endorsed the aggressive foreign policy that is the hallmark of the Bush administration. On the same panel, Claes Ryn, the 2001–2002 president of the Society and the author of the recently released America the Virtuous, criticized this kind of universalism as "neo-Jacobin" and as incompatible with traditional American views on government, not to mention peace in the world. Professor Ryn's remarks follow:

Quite often I have lunch at a McDonald’s in one of the most affluent and pretentious suburbs in America just outside of Washington, D.C. The residents are ambivalent about having a McDonald’s in their community – it undermines their self-image – so the restaurant is tucked away inside a little mall and almost impossible for outsiders to find.

I like to arrive just after 10:30. I am up very early, and before 11:00 my McDonald’s is still quiet. I eat and read in peace. Later, mothers drive up in their luxury SUVs with their preschool children, and, if schools are closed, older children too. Some high-schoolers show up. On Saturdays many fathers do McDonald’s duty and older children come as well. My French café is transformed into bedlam. Near the playpen especially the noise rises dramatically. I have learnt when late to shut out the din, but sometimes I watch the scene in fascination. At the counter toddlers in strollers scream when parents do not give them French fries fast enough. Older children crawl on chairs and tables or rush about shouting and shoving while waiting for mom or dad to bring the food. Mothers and fathers scurry around, anxiously solicitous of their princes and princesses. They comfort the crying and apologize to little Ashley and Eliot for having taken so long. By now I know well the difference between the crying of a child in distress and the importunate crying of a child who won’t wait or take no for an answer. At the playpen – the "hell-hole" – it is obvious that playing without throwing yourself about and making lots of noise would not be real playing. Sometimes the playpen emits such piercing screams that the Asian-American children look at their parents in startled surprise. Deference to grown-ups seems unknown. I used to take offense, but the children have only taken their cue from their parents, who took their cue from their parents. The adults, for their part, talk in loud, penetrating voices, some on cell phones, as if no other conversations mattered. The scene exudes self-absorption and lack of self-discipline.

Yes, this picture has everything to do with U.S. foreign policy. This is the emerging American ruling class, which is made up increasingly of persons used to having the world cater to them. If others challenge their will, they throw a temper tantrum. Call this the imperialistic personality – if "spoilt brat" sounds too crude.

But, surely, this rising elite has wonderful strengths. Are not its adults highly educated – about history, philosophy, geography, and world affairs – and masters of several languages? Do they not travel widely and have a keen understanding of other countries and regions of the world? Are they not sophisticated cosmopolitans suited to running an empire.

Pardon the sarcasm. I am well aware that a different type of American still exists. That American aspires to character traits virtually the opposite of those on display at my McDonald’s. Americans used to admire self-restraint, modesty, humility, and good manners. They were acutely aware of original sin. They feared the self-indulgent ego, in themselves and others. Americans of an earlier era stressed the need to check the darker potentialities of human nature, the unleashing of which could wreak havoc on the individual and society. They hoped that in personal life moral character would restrain the desire for self-aggrandizement, just as in national political life the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution would contain the all-too-human desire for power. Personal self-control and constitutionalism were but different aspects of the effort to subdue the voracious ego. Human beings could not be trusted with unlimited power.

The old Americans were not so foolish as to try to extinguish the will to power. Nothing good could be accomplished without power in some form. But they recognized the great danger of the will to power being diverted from its legitimate ends and breaking free of checks.

The Framers assumed that, for the Constitution to work, its institutions had to be manned by individuals who embodied its spirit. These individuals had to be predisposed to virtues like self-restraint, respect for law, and a willingness to compromise. They had to have what I call a constitutional personality. The spirit of the written Constitution stemmed from America’s unwritten constitution, that is, the religious, moral, and cultural life that had inclined Americans to constitutionalism in the first place. The Constitution could not survive without character traits that the Framers hoped would be wide-spread. All know Benjamin Franklin’s answer to the woman who asked what the Constitutional Convention had produced: "A republic, if you can keep it." The primary reason why today the U.S. Constitution is a mere shadow of its former self is that it cannot be sustained without the constitutional personality.

The new imperialistic ego is shrugging free of the old American self and corresponding constitutional restraints. The desire for self-aggrandizement has transformed limited, decentralized American government into a national Superstate, which has given the will to power a scope far beyond the worst fears of the anti-Federalists. The Tenth Amendment, that ironclad guarantee against improper expansion of central power, is a dead letter, like so much else in the Constitution. Decision-makers in Washington reach into virtually every aspect of American life. But not even power on this scale can still a desire that is insatiable. Today it contemplates dominating the entire world.

Needless to say, the will to dominate does not present itself as such to the world. It wraps itself in phrases of benevolence and selflessness. There is always another reason for government to do good. The greater the caring, the greater the need to place power in the hands of those who care. It is, of course, sheer coincidence that this benevolence invariably empowers the benevolent. So well does the will to dominate dress itself up that it almost deceives the power-seekers themselves.

The ideas of the French Jacobins provided a sweeping justification for exercising unlimited power. As followers of Rousseau, the Jacobins were not content with reforming historically evolved ways of life. "Freedom, equality and brotherhood" required the radical remaking of society. Because of the scope and glory of the task, the Jacobins had to gather all power unto themselves and deal ruthlessly with opposition. Good stood against evil, all good on one side – their side. The Jacobins called themselves "the virtuous." In the twentieth century, their communist descendants offered an even more blanket justification for wielding unlimited power.

Although the classical and Christian view of human nature has eroded, big government still has a bad name in America. Challenging the Constitution outright remains risky. Americans attracted to the Jacobin spirit have therefore sought instead to redefine American principles so as to make them more serviceable to the will to power. They have propounded a new myth – the myth of America the Virtuous – according to which America is a unique and noble country called to remake the world in its own image. The myth provides another sweeping justification for dominating others.

An effort has been long underway to transfer American patriotism to a redefined, Jacobin-style America, seen as representing a radical break with the Western tradition. According to Harry Jaffa, "The American Revolution represented the most radical break with tradition . . . that the world had seen." "To celebrate the American Founding is . . . to celebrate revolution." In Jaffa’s view, the American revolution was milder perhaps than the "subsequent revolutions in France, Russia, China, Cuba, or elsewhere," but it is, "the most radical attempt to establish a regime of liberty that the world has yet seen." America thus reinvented is founded on ahistorical, allegedly universal principles summed up in such words as "freedom," "equality," and "democracy." These principles, the new Jacobins assert, are not just for Americans; they are, as Allan Bloom insisted, "everywhere applicable" – a theme echoed today by George W Bush.

The French Jacobins appointed France as the Savior Nation. The new Jacobins have appointed America. Its great, benevolent cause is to rid the world of evil. This cause gives the appetite for power the moral cover it likes to have. One kind of universalist ideology, communism, has been replaced by the ideology of American empire, and the stage is set for another cycle of crusading. With neo-Jacobins shaping U.S. foreign policy, whether as Democrats or Republicans, America and the world can expect an era of chronic conflict.

Could any goal be more appealing to the will to power than ending evil? The task is not only enormous but endless. No conservative would need to be told that evil cannot be "ended"; Rousseau’s notion of the fundamental goodness of man and his vision of society transformed are pernicious figments of a childish imagination. Evil can be tamed to some extent, as the Framers knew, but even Sunday schoolers used to understand that it cannot be ended. You wonder why, if America is called to end moral evil, it should not, while at it, also do away with poverty and illness.

Do the new Jacobins ever reflect on the remarkable coincidence that they should be alive at the precise moment in human history when the one valid political model was finally discovered and that, furthermore, they should happen to live in just the country that embodies that model and is called to bestow it on the rest of the world? But such questions do not bother ideologues who are arguing toward a preconceived conclusion: that they should preside over armed American world hegemony – for humanity’s sake, of course.

The word "empire" does not yet have the right ring in American ears, so the new Jacobins try not to appear too grasping. But even when feigning modesty the will to dominate has difficulty keeping up appearances – as when Ben Wattenberg said, no, no, no, we Americans do not want to "conquer the world." We only wish to ensure that "the world is hospitable to our values."

The arguments for bold American assertiveness are familiar: We live in a dangerous world full of odious political regimes. Terrorism is a serious threat to America and its allies. America must, as the world’s only superpower, play a leading role in the world.

But why keep repeating the obvious? Yes, the world is dangerous; it always was, more or less. Like other countries, America must be prepared to defend itself and its legitimate interests – of course – and as a superpower she will indeed have to carry a heavier burden than other countries. It does not follow that America must impose its will on the rest of the world.

But 9/11 changed everything, the neo-Jacobins cry. Well, not quite everything. The human condition has not changed. Terrible events do not cancel the need for those personal qualities and social and political structures without which the will to power becomes arbitrary and tyrannical. Unfortunately, 9/11 gave the imperialistic personality another pretext for throwing off restraint.

American unilateralism represents a reversal of the old spirit of constitutionalism and checks-and-balances. Just as, domestically, particular interests need to accommodate other interests, so, internationally, states need to check and balance each other. The notion that America knows better than all other nations and has a right to dictate terms to them betrays a monumental conceit. It also guarantees that other nations will see a need to arm themselves just to have some protection against American bullying. Already the Muslim world is seething with hostility. China, which has long found Western hegemony intolerable and is already strongly prone to nationalism, can be expected to respond to American assertiveness by greatly expanding its military power. If present trends continue, the time should soon be ripe – in 50 years perhaps? – for a horrendous Sino-American confrontation.

For Christians, the cardinal sin is pride. Before them, the Greeks warned similarly of the great dangers of conceit and arrogance. Hubris, they said, violates the order of the cosmos, and inflicts great suffering on human beings. It invites Nemesis. On the Apollonian temple at Delphi two inscriptions summed up the proper attitude to life. One was "Everything in moderation," the other "Know Thyself." To know yourself meant most importantly to recognize that you are not one of the gods but a mere mortal. As for the old Hebrews, in Proverbs (16:18) we read: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

To the new Jacobins, such calls for humility have the quaint sound of something long outdated. Why should those who know how humanity should live question their own ideas or right to dominate? The world needs "moral clarity," not obfuscation. Many of those who shape the destiny of America and the world today are just such "terrible simplifiers" with absurdly swollen egos.

How very different the personality that defined the old America and conceived the Constitution! In 1789, George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for all the good bestowed by Almighty God on the American people. He asked his fellow Americans to unite "in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions." This is the voice of the America that is passing. Today, increasingly, the imperialistic personality of Ashley and Eliot is being unleashed upon the world.

May 5, 2004

Claes G. Ryn [send him mail] is professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, chairman of the National Humanities Institute, and author, most recently, of America the Virtuous.



TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Foreign Affairs; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: conservative; jacobins; libertarian; midgedecter; neocon; neoconservative; war
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1 posted on 05/05/2004 9:55:43 AM PDT by u-89
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To: SquirrelKing
You are a Jacobin, or is that just one of Cosmo Goldberg's lies?
2 posted on 05/05/2004 10:01:24 AM PDT by dangus
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To: dangus
Can I send somebody to the guillotine.

Please, just one.
3 posted on 05/05/2004 10:13:49 AM PDT by dinasour
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To: u-89
Intersting post.
4 posted on 05/05/2004 10:16:12 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: dinasour
Can I send somebody to the guillotine.a

Have at it. I'm hoping to capture the guillotine market, but the word should be changed to something less French.

Paleo-chopper?

5 posted on 05/05/2004 10:18:11 AM PDT by DonaldDuke
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To: u-89
Good grief! America is not sending innocents to the guillotine. Anywhere. And if we have committed abuses, they are being corrected. We care more about life, liberty and justice than any nation before us in history. I would not care to have us compared to the French revolutionaries for whom revenge became a means of transforming the world. America has always sought to transform the world through the belief of liberty anchored in law.
6 posted on 05/05/2004 10:18:32 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: u-89
Another article of a confused puppy, written as a stream of consciousness. Why are you interested in this? Why waste the bandwidth? If you are against "neocons" --- yes, all 15 of them --- at least post something that constitutes a thought rather than an outburst of emotion.
7 posted on 05/05/2004 10:18:53 AM PDT by TopQuark
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To: u-89
Great article. Nobody cares.
8 posted on 05/05/2004 10:24:26 AM PDT by Romulus ("Behold, I make all things new")
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To: TopQuark
America, Love it or leave it, for overseas duty.
9 posted on 05/05/2004 10:25:47 AM PDT by meenie
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To: dangus
Darn its JacoBIN.

Through half the article I though Bonnie Prince Charlie was coming back to rescue us.

Oh well, back to my haggis.
10 posted on 05/05/2004 10:25:48 AM PDT by rod1 (On the front line)
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To: KC Burke; Zack Nguyen; quidnunc; Bonaparte; epigone73; Ronzo; RightWhale; Aquinasfan; marron; ...
"everywhere applicable" alert

Politics is obliged behave and sit one step lower than the "everywhere applicable." How on earth is it possible? Especially when one pious extreme has already crowned the State divine, and the other the Ego (so appealing in the sweet certitudes of reason or will).
11 posted on 05/05/2004 10:28:47 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: u-89
Author should have stayed on topic, McDonalds.
12 posted on 05/05/2004 10:29:13 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: u-89
I'm waiting for the usual imbeciles that come on these threads accusing everyone of anti-semitism being that neocon is a codeword for Jew.
13 posted on 05/05/2004 10:32:41 AM PDT by AAABEST (<a href="http://www.angelqueen.org/forum">Traditional Catholic News Forum</a>)
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According to them anyway.
14 posted on 05/05/2004 10:33:32 AM PDT by AAABEST (<a href="http://www.angelqueen.org/forum">Traditional Catholic News Forum</a>)
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To: u-89
"Holy Illuminati, Batman !"
15 posted on 05/05/2004 10:34:42 AM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: u-89
"This is the emerging American ruling class, which is made up increasingly of persons used to having the world cater to them. If others challenge their will, they throw a temper tantrum. Call this the imperialistic personality..."

I wish they only threw a "temper tantrum" as their all growed-up version results in real world cruelties and tarnishes our great country with it's vulgarity and mercilessness.
16 posted on 05/05/2004 10:35:55 AM PDT by mr.pink
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To: u-89
So now the paleoconservative line is neoconservatives = Jacobins?

I thought it was neoconservatives = trotskyites.

Make up your minds.

17 posted on 05/05/2004 10:36:53 AM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: u-89
Thanks for posting this. I tried to pick up Ryn's latest book at the library, but some professor or grad student had checked it out until July.

A few more essays by Professor Ryn:

Imaginative Origins of Modernity: Life as Daydream and Nightmare , touching upon the more delusionary aspects of modernity

The Ideology of American Empire(PDF Format)

18 posted on 05/05/2004 10:41:43 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox
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To: rod1
Through half the article I thought Bonnie Prince Charlie was coming back to rescue us. posted on 05/05/2004 10:25:48 AM PDT by rod1

He is. Tally ho!

nemo me impune lacessit

19 posted on 05/05/2004 10:45:03 AM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: All
The author is yet another Lew Rockwell moral relativist.

Boy, those neocons are starting to sound as powerful as the freemasons.

Already the Muslim world is seething with hostility ..Based on the laughable assertion alone, this article is pure bunk. Did the author just emerge from a time capsule buried in the 15th century? The Muslim world has been pretty much seething with hostility since the fall of Grenada.
9/11 did change everything. And some folks are willing to name evil for what it is. Meanwhile, some kook from Lewland wants us to travel back to our foreign policy of the 1970s. Or the 1930s.
20 posted on 05/05/2004 10:48:50 AM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: u-89
That darn neocon Thomas Jefferson!

That darn neocon James Madison!


OOOHHH they make me so mad!!!!!!!!!!!!!

21 posted on 05/05/2004 10:50:15 AM PDT by mrsmith ("Oyez, oyez! All rise for the Honorable Chief Justice... Hillary Rodham Clinton ")
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To: All
Abraham Lincoln, neocon?
22 posted on 05/05/2004 10:53:19 AM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: goldstategop
We care more about life, liberty and justice than any nation before us in history.

Don't you see that statement is dripping in pride? Where's the humble self-restraint on which true greatness and good government rests?

America has always sought to transform the world through the belief of liberty anchored in law.

Like in World War II, when we made the world free for our democratic ally, Joseph Stalin. No human endeavour is an absolute good.

23 posted on 05/05/2004 10:53:48 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox (Ares does not spare the good, but the bad.)
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To: quidnunc
Jacobians, Trotskyites, Neocons - it doesn't seem confusing, it seems like a line of succession.

Playing God, the desire to remake the world in their own image, some people think big -"national greatness," "benevolent global hegemony" and "Pax Americana," " moral clarity" and "spreading democracy." Such big ideas.

Here's Irving Kristol in his own words:

" a great power, the "national interest" is not a geographical term..... A smaller nation might appropriately feel that its national interest begins and ends at its borders, so that its foreign policy is almost always in a defensive mode. A larger nation has more extensive interests. And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests "

- "What's the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role? It's unheard of in human history. The most powerful nation always had an imperial role."

- "I think it would be natural for the United States . . . to play a far more dominant role in world affairs. Not what we're doing now but to command and to give orders as to what is to be done. People need that."

24 posted on 05/05/2004 10:57:13 AM PDT by u-89
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To: u-89
Bump for later - I would like to respond to the essay.
25 posted on 05/05/2004 11:05:05 AM PDT by NutCrackerBoy
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To: All
Don't you see that statement is dripping in pride? Where's the humble self-restraint on which true greatness and good government rests?
It's on display every day in Iraq and Afganistan, if you are paying any attention. You ask where the self-restraint is? We've been fighting some of the worst people on the face of the earth for two years and the worst transgression on our part has been some REMFs taking naughty pictures of prisoners.
Like in World War II, when we made the world free for our democratic ally, Joseph Stalin. No human endeavour is an absolute good.
True, but some human endeavors are an absolute evil. Like totalitarianism. Or terrorism. So, the not absolutely good United States must do what it can, while most of the rest of world sucks their thumbs...and while puds from Lew Rockwell impugn the motives of people whose overriding desire and life mission is a strong United States.
26 posted on 05/05/2004 11:08:23 AM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: u-89; Dumb_Ox
The analogical dimensions of the metaphorical use of "Jacobin" seem to have thrown some off from the wider argument. The issue really should not be whether the excesses of neocons are comparable to those of the French Revolution, as some seem to have wandered off. It's not a question of "higher" or "lower" orders of society or whether some are more or less worthy of rights of liberty or access to the benefits of a free society based on constitutional republic models of liberty. And it's certainly not a question of returning to a pre-18th-century "divine right of kings" form of statism.

The main issue should be focused on the historical dimensions of developments in British and Anglo-American culture which rendered the kind of society in the 13 British colonies possible. Now, that doesn't exist in Iraq. If nominal "conservatives" are confused by the arguments between theoretical neocons and scholarly paleocons, between the Jaffaites and Kirkians, concerning the cultural and historical dimensions of political orders, they should contemplate more ponderously what is actually happening in Iraq. A good example of the differences in culture recently was exhibited in these photos of the abuse of prisoners. It may have seemed "funny" and just "fine" for the U.S. soldiers to apply some Porky's-style locker-room hazing of the Iraqis, with masturbatory and homoerotic taunting as one might find in a U.S. public school or surely in the adolescent experience of, say, Bill Clinton. Iraqis, as historic Muslims have a DIFFERENT cultural understanding of nudity and the sadomasochistic nature of Iraqi culture is DIFFERENT from the sadomasochistic nature of American neo-Puritan culture. Cultures are DIFFERENT and have different HISTORIES. The question is whether a society with a VERY DIFFERENT "culture" and "history" might also have a DIFFERENT kind of political and social order. The historical experience is that they do.

Whether a group of intellectuals from Columbia University or Harvard could sit around in a thinktank with a bunch of social studies textbooks and maps and redesign the entire world to fit the lifestyle expectations of surbanites from Westchester, Montgomery, and Fairfax County is a legitimate issue for conservative theorists to debate. Granted, Ryn may not be the most articulate or diplomatic proponent of the debate. He's certainly not one of the kinder and gentler "puppies" of the race to take Chicago esoteric neo-Platonism lying down.

The issue of how to handle Islamo-fascist terrorism really ought to be removed from the Bell Curve mafia. And just for diplomatic purposes, it would be better for European Christians to take an interest in the subject.

27 posted on 05/05/2004 11:26:31 AM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Unfortunately, the European Christians are too busy trying to prop up their duct tape and chickenwire version of state socialism to worry much about the Middle East, unless it's a matter of a lucrative contract for an aeronautical or petrochemical firm.
The 'excesses' of the neoconservatives jolted us out of 1970s post-Vietnam posture of detente and accomodation. There's something to be said for that.
That Porky's-style photo-op has nothing to do with neoconservatives or American culture. It has everything to do with the propensity for bored rear-echelon troops, especially security-types, to behave badly. That this is the worst act documented, given two years of constant conflict, says more about the basic decency of the US soldier then it does about homoeroticism in Western civilization. Or how it applies to Islam.
All those (I mean the Lew Rockwell types) who argue against neoconservatism have failed to propose their own policy for defeating Islamic fundamentalism. They know what they are against, but don't seem to know what their for, except perhaps a return to Jefferson's mythical republic of the yeoman farmer.
Neoconservatism as it exists today means the will to employ US power to defeat those who wish to destroy us, and to dissuade those who wish to rival us from attempting to do so. That's not imperialism, and it's not jacobinism either.
It is in our national interest to defeat evil where we can. To paraphrase an old saw, American hegenomy is the worst kind, except for all the others.
28 posted on 05/05/2004 11:59:50 AM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: Belisaurius
It would be nice if things worked out like in a Frank Capra movie. But for the people who dedicated themselves to emasculating European aristocratic culture and Catholicism to now whine about why Europe, now secularized, socialist, and population controlled (like good Kinseyite illuminoids), will not join in an American anti-Islam crusade is so ridiculously absurd as to defy further comment.

"Woodrow Wilson, call your office..."

29 posted on 05/05/2004 12:04:31 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Belisaurius
Porky's style is modern American culture last time I checked.
30 posted on 05/05/2004 12:05:29 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
I don't recall the neoconservatives emasculating Europe.
Porky's is hardly the sum total of American culture.
31 posted on 05/05/2004 12:10:09 PM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
You're the one wishing for Christian Europe to lead the fight against radical Islam.
Woodrow Wilson was hardly a prophet of the use of American military and economic might to advance our national interest. He was the founding father of the use of soft power. Not an apt comparison to today's neoconservatives.
32 posted on 05/05/2004 12:14:40 PM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: Poohbah; dighton; section9; Dog; Pukin Dog; Long Cut; PhiKapMom; Howlin; Catspaw; Miss Marple; ...
LEWSER Rockwell alert...

Seriously, these guys have NO concept of how things changed. The oceans and distance do not protect us any longer...
33 posted on 05/05/2004 12:22:04 PM PDT by hchutch (Tommy Thompson's ephedra ban STINKS.)
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To: u-89
Lew Crockwell.

Nest of the loony PaleoCONS.

34 posted on 05/05/2004 12:31:42 PM PDT by veronica ("Kicking butt is mandatory - taking names is optional." - US Navy)
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To: Belisaurius
Wilson is a key figure in the history of Leftism in foreign policy.Read some Churchill. He had a few things to say on that.

It would be NICE for European Christians to take the lead on a great many things. They are no longer in power. That didn't happen by accident. At least, back when we used to study history, that is...

The neocon/paleocon debate is valid as a theoretical exercise. But given the departure of Republican and American politics from Christian culture, it is relatively meaningless to the future of civilization.

The Porky's-ization of modern American culture is rather relevant, as John Kerry keeps reminding us.

35 posted on 05/05/2004 12:38:11 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Since neoconservatism is the principle behind our foreign policy, I'd say it was rather meaningful to any current debate on our civilization.
Neoconservatism and Wilson have almost nothing in common except the belief that there should be a moral component to foreign policy decisions.
That ongoing moral decline of civilization (Porky's-ization) bromide has been around since Augustine of Hippo. Given our thirty year love affair with the disposal of unwanted babies, I'm hesitant to argue strenuously against the idea. Still, there are alot of people fighting tooth-and-nail, and I'd say your assertion that Republican and American politics has jettisoned Christianity (and Judaism too) is rather premature.
John Kerry? We've always had John Kerrys.

There's more Christianity in China today then in Europe.
36 posted on 05/05/2004 12:53:55 PM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: Belisaurius
Neoconservatism and Wilson have almost nothing in common except the belief that there should be a moral component to foreign policy decisions.

What??? Good grief... What planet are you on? Read Churchill. Ever heard of the Versailles Treaty?

If Bush's policy wonks were inspired by reading Leo Strauss at Harvard, yes, it's relevant to their thinking and ideology. Whether Neocon American Republicans are likely to determine the future of "civilization" is an open question. Whether the lifestyle expectations of middle-class, social Darwinist people in Westchester, Fairfield, Montgomery, and Fairfax County ought to determine the future of world civilization is also an open question. [Irony Alert]

They might want to solve the violence in their own cities before dumping funds abroad. [SARCASM]

37 posted on 05/05/2004 1:04:39 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
The Versailles treaty vs. Neoconservatism's desire to use US military and economic hegenomy. Wilson tried to ensure peace by establishing the League of Nations while the Neoconservatives are trying to ensure peace by intimidation through overwhelming might...and you're asking me what planet I'm on. The two don't compare, not a wit.

The only thing they have in common is opposition from little america isolationists.
38 posted on 05/05/2004 1:13:17 PM PDT by Belisaurius ("Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Ted" - Joseph Kennedy 1958)
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To: Belisaurius
Thanks for revealing your cards. No need to spank shadows. The original points of debate are as have been previously outlined in #27. Whether the abstruse theoretical twister of the neo-con debate has helped the conservative movement remains to be seen. Christian conservatism is fine as it always has been.

Let's hope it holds the fort off from four years of Kerryosophy.

39 posted on 05/05/2004 1:19:58 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Belisaurius
> Neoconservatism and Wilson have almost nothing in common except the belief that there should be a moral component to foreign policy decisions

-------------------------------------

Like this "moral componnent" from President Bush's press conference a couple of weeks ago:

"And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. I think the American people find it interesting that we're providing food for the North Korea people who starve.

"We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned.

"And my job as the president is to lead this nation and to making the world a better place. And that's exactly what we're doing."

----------------------------------------

This moralism sounds more like global socialism than conservatism. Perhaps that's what they mean by "new" conservatism.

40 posted on 05/05/2004 1:23:53 PM PDT by u-89
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To: cornelis; Dumb_Ox
The author is making the same points that R. Kirk was making when he cited that the our Constitution "was not for export." Hayek discussed the Gallacian distinction in detail:
1. Though freedom is not a state of nature but an artifact of civilization, it did not arise from design. The institutions of freedom, like everything freedom has created, were not established because people foresaw the benefits they would bring. But, once its advantages were recognized, men began to perfect and extend the reign of freedom and, for that purpose, to inquire how a free society worked. This development of a theory of liberty took place mainly in the eighteenth century. It began in two countries, England and France. The first of these knew liberty; the second did not.

As a result, we have had to the present day two different traditions in the theory of liberty: one empirical and unsystematic, the other speculative and rationalistic –the first based on an interpretation of traditions and institutions which had spontaneously grown up and were but imperfectly understood, the second aiming at the construction of a utopia, which has often been tried but never successfully. Nevertheless, it has been the rationalistic, plausible, and apparently logical argument of the French tradition, with its flattering assumptions about the unlimited powers of human reason, that has progressively gained influence, while the less articulate and less explicit tradition of English freedom has been on the decline.

This distinction is obscured by the fact that what we have called the “French tradition” of liberty arose largely from an attempt to interpret British institutions and that the conceptions which other countries formed of British institutions were based mainly on their descriptions by French writers. The two traditions became finally confused when they merged in the liberal movement of the nineteenth century and when even leading British liberals drew as much on the French as on the British tradition. It was, in the end, the victory of the Benthamite Philosophical Radicals over the Whigs in England that concealed the fundamental difference which in more recent years has reappeared as the conflict between liberal democracy and “social” or totalitarian democracy.

This difference was better understood a hundred years ago than it is today. In the year of the European revolutions in which the two traditions merged, the contract between “Anglican” and “Gallican” liberty was still clearly described by an eminent German-American political philosopher. “Gallican Liberty,” wrote Francis Lieber in 1848, “is sought in the government, and according to an Anglican point of view, it is looked for in the wrong place, where it cannot be found. Necessary consequences of the Gallican view are, that the French look for the highest degree of political civilization in organization, that is, in the highest degree of interference by public power. The question whether this interference be despotism or liberty is decided solely by the fact who interferes, and for the benefit of which class the interference takes place, while according to the Anglican view this interference would always be either absolutism or aristocracy, and the present dictatorship of the ouvriers would appear to us an uncompromising aristocracy of the ouvriers.”

Since this was written, the French tradition has everywhere progressively displaced the English.

And, of course, Burke began this understanding by pointing out that metaphysical constructs meaning to replace whole settled bodies of law and custom were the dangerous path of the unsettled.
41 posted on 05/05/2004 1:30:24 PM PDT by KC Burke (Men of intemperate minds can never be free....)
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To: KC Burke; Romulus; u-89; HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity; Zack Nguyen; quidnunc; Bonaparte; ...
It began in two countries, England and France. The first of these knew liberty; the second did not.

A very sententious excerpt and quite fitting. Thanks for posting it. It's about having a constitution that ensures attunement to normal human liberty. The opening chapter in Belloc's Danton also gives a summary. For Belloc, if there is any state of nature, it is one that demands perpetual reform, a homogeneity (not abolition) of the classes, and the recognition that no principle is so certain that it can resolve politics from the tension of historical existence. Why did England have the experience liberty? Because of a respectful continuity with the past? One that doesn't deny history? Ryn's depiction of our nascent national character, where "deference to grown-ups seems unknown," is typical of our own revolutionary glee at dispensing with others who have known better.

Again, thanks for the portion from Hayek. And tell Romulus is not entirely correct at post #8.

42 posted on 05/05/2004 10:09:05 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Trust me, reading leo strauss is one of the best cures for political ambition in the modern world. his students and he himself had no interest in politics, notwithstanding that some of their students went on to prominence.

Strauss was concerned with philosophy and hermeneutics, not so much with exporting revolution, etc.

This Strauss-bashing crap has got to stop. first the lefties blame him for Newt and Clarence thomas, now the Right blame him for a crusading policy with Machiavellian intentions.

Make up your minds, people. was he an evil rightist, a hidden leftist, or maybe, just maybe, a brilliant scholar who had some students who also went on into politics?
43 posted on 05/05/2004 11:07:18 PM PDT by epigone73
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To: AAABEST
neocon is a codeword for Jew.

Yep, after a long-winded theorizing, it usually boils down to a recitation of Jewish names. Jews are damned when they vote Democratic, and they are damned when they join the conservative ranks.

44 posted on 05/06/2004 8:39:23 AM PDT by TopQuark
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To: dangus
You are a Jacobin, or is that just one of Cosmo Goldberg's lies?

Why did you ping me on this?

45 posted on 05/09/2004 9:43:43 AM PDT by SquirrelKing ("...US Marines have done more for world peace than all the Ben & Jerry's ever made." - PJ O'Rourke)
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To: SquirrelKing
Oh, it was a joke... I made reference to Cosmo before and you seemed to get the joke, so I thought I'd see how far I could stretch it... The mascot of National Review is Jonah Goldber's dog, Cosmo... The running joke is that Cosmo hates "Jacobin squirrels."
46 posted on 05/09/2004 2:19:48 PM PDT by dangus
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To: u-89
Midge Decter, the controversial new president of the society, praised the United States as embodying universally applicable principles, and endorsed the aggressive foreign policy that is the hallmark of the Bush administration.

Well, I'm no advocate of democracy (as you will know if you've ever read any of my other posts), but this hatred of universals evinced by the "palaeos" is nothing but paganism. It is a rehash of the old lie that "indigenous" (if you're leftwing) or "autochthonous" (if you're rightwing) peoples "evolve" their cultures and their values slowly over the eons and that each "evolves" what is best for it. This is simply polytheism/henotheism. A different "gxd" for each culture perhaps? Hmmm?

They have propounded a new myth – the myth of America the Virtuous – according to which America is a unique and noble country called to remake the world in its own image. The myth provides another sweeping justification for dominating others.

Right. Every true conservative knows this is a lousy country that exterminated Indians, enslaved Blacks, stole the southwest from "indigenous/authochthonous" Mexicans, obliterated the quaint Japanese emperor-worship (just because our ships got in the way of their bombs) etc., etc., etc.

One kind of universalist ideology, communism, has been replaced by the ideology of American empire, and the stage is set for another cycle of crusading. With neo-Jacobins shaping U.S. foreign policy, whether as Democrats or Republicans, America and the world can expect an era of chronic conflict.

Once upon a time "chr*stendom" believed it had the one true religion which the rest of the world had to accept (in fact, they sort of invented "crusading"). It's amazing how many anti-universalist "palaeos" embrace this allegedly "universal" religion. Maybe they don't think it takes its universalism so seriously, huh? Maybe they think of it as merely the evolved religion of "the west."

Could any goal be more appealing to the will to power than ending evil? The task is not only enormous but endless. No conservative would need to be told that evil cannot be "ended"

Nope, no "true conservative" believes that evil is anything less than eternal. There's no ultimate victory of good in an apocalyptic, messianic, eschatological Kingdom of G-d, is there (that there'd be liberal commie do-goodism!)? I suppose Communism is ultimately the fault of orthodox religious messianism. So "palaeos" advocate heterodoxy in religion?

Already the Muslim world is seething with hostility.

Yep! It was only a matter of time!

China, which has long found Western hegemony intolerable and is already strongly prone to nationalism, can be expected to respond to American assertiveness by greatly expanding its military power. If present trends continue, the time should soon be ripe – in 50 years perhaps? – for a horrendous Sino-American confrontation.

But I thought that "palaeos" wanted to invade China and Cuba and was just against fighting their Arab darlings! Don't some "palaeos" insist that Israel secretly runs China and Cuba and that therefore it's all right to impose an American imperium on them?

For Christians, the cardinal sin is pride. Before them, the Greeks warned similarly of the great dangers of conceit and arrogance. Hubris, they said, violates the order of the cosmos, and inflicts great suffering on human beings. It invites Nemesis. On the Apollonian temple at Delphi two inscriptions summed up the proper attitude to life. One was "Everything in moderation," the other "Know Thyself." To know yourself meant most importantly to recognize that you are not one of the gods but a mere mortal.

Yeppers. Different ways of putting it in different (all equally valid, "autochthonous" cultures). But doesn't that make it sound like a--gasp!--universal truth??? Oh well. Mustn't give in to the commie one-world notion of there being but One G-d and One True Religion which must eventually triumph over all others. That's Jacobinism, unless it's done by "palaeos" praying to "our lady of Fatima."

As for the old Hebrews, in Proverbs (16:18) we read: "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

What's this??? The Talmudic Khazars who are the source of all the eeee-vil in the world (that is to say, if evil is defined as the "Jacobin" belief that good and evil exist) being invoked by a righteous anti-universal "palaeo???" It is these very Hebrews (whose ancestors turned ancient Egypt into a COMMIE STATE under SOVIET DICTATOR JOSEPH and who were finally expelled by those fine upstanding autochthonous Egyptians when Moses fluoridated their drinking water!!! [/sarcasm]

The world needs "moral clarity," not obfuscation.

True conservatives of course despise moral clarity as much as they do the notion that a religion can be translated from the culture in which it "evolved" to another.

Many of those who shape the destiny of America and the world today are just such "terrible simplifiers" with absurdly swollen egos.

And of course true conservatives look with disdain on those with simplistic, good vs. evil worldviews. Maybe Revilo P. Oliver (y'sh"v) was right and the very concept of "good and evil" is so "alien" to the "aryan" mind that we should expunge it.

In 1789, George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for all the good bestowed by Almighty God on the American people.

The American "gxd," right? I mean, unless each nation "evolves" its own "gxd" and its own autochthonous worldview, crusading Wilsonianism is just around the corner, right?

He asked his fellow Americans to unite "in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions."

What??? "'The Ruler of nations???'" Treason! This is unadulterated Judaeophilia!!! One G-d implies one religion and the eventual accessions of all mankind to it, and that's the death knell of autochthony/indigenousness! And you know what that causes??? RACE MIXING!!! And not the good kind (Arabs), but the bad kind, with all those other people!

And the author teaches at Catholic University of America? So rightwing Catholics now officially believe chr*stianity is the religion of "western man" alone and that the other autochthonous cultures of the world should be left alone??? It's utterly amazing how many "catholics" are opposed to any sort of universal truth as being a radical "jacobin" concept.

And as a signature, I am not an advocate of democracy, Wilsonianism, American empire, or even foreign aid, but I am disgusted by the concept of subjective, utilitarian, national/cultural religion. If there is no One G-d Whose rule will eventually be recognized by all mankind then not only do "right and wrong" not exist, but all other ideologies (including "true conservative" ones that oppose the concept of "right and wrong") have no reason to exist either. Either reality is defined by the One G-d or it is made up of random chaos in which all ideological positions/goals are futile and illogical. The sin of Communism was that it was a non-Theistically based moral system. And apparently many "palaeos" subscribe to one as well. And there isn't a dime worthof difference between one non-Theisticall based moral system and another.

How odd that traditional morality (adhered to by some as Divinely revealed and by others as a product of eons of cultural evolution) should join on the same side of the political spectruem the True Believers (this writer) and the disciples of H. L. Mencken (y'sh"v) and the hoarde of professional Puritan-bashers. And I think people who chant "spiritual messiah" while advocating Caesaro-papism are hypocrites.

Either "conservatism" is what G-d says it is or it is merely another false system that must be rejected.

Click here if you dare!

47 posted on 05/09/2004 3:20:50 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Are the Ten Commandments an appropriate "multicultural" decoration for Shavu`ot?)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
this hatred of universals evinced by the "palaeos" is nothing but paganism

If and when there is such a hatred. However, they recognize that politics sits one step lower, if you get my drift (see reply #11). And that's where Ryn and others come from. They would espouse a constitution for liberty whose order is between the chaos of anarchy and the tyranny of universalized democracy or any other such millenial Reichs. Politics as such is historical existence--as long as that may be--without the consummation of the ages implied by the annihilation of evil. And politics as such does not espouse human mortality for the sake of embracing an all equally valid, "autochthonous" cultures. It admits that human empire and universals are not coeval and will never share the same destiny.

Hopefully these clarifications are not already made pointless by the usual polemicist's grandstanding. I can always trust they don't need to be.

48 posted on 05/09/2004 5:36:53 PM PDT by cornelis
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One postscript: Ryn appears on the Rockwell site. But it will take a lot to convince me "they" are all the same.
49 posted on 05/09/2004 5:39:55 PM PDT by cornelis
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To: u-89
There is something about the characterization, though the paleos are so alienated from contemporary American life that just about everything here would look "Jacobin" to them. Today's world is very different from that of Ryn's hero Irving Babbitt (who was himself quite alienated from the rest of the country during his own lifetime), so there's little hope than anything about today's America would satisfy Ryn. We can change or at least examine what we do much more easily than what we are, and that's probably where the appeal ought to be directed.
50 posted on 05/09/2004 6:11:54 PM PDT by x
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