Emails and articles by various authors. Posted by John Ray..
See also HERE and HERE.. 



Emails and articles of interest are posted here by John Ray to make them more widely available

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

















Of Interest 3

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here

Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
China Mirror for "Dissecting Leftism"
Alt archives
Longer Academic Papers
Johnray links
Academic home page
Academic Backup Page
General Backup
General Backup 2

Selected reading



Rightism defined
Leftist Churches
Leftist Racism
Fascism is Leftist
Hitler a socialist
What are Leftists
Psychology of Left
Status Quo?
Leftism is authoritarian
James on Leftism
Irbe on Leftism
Beltt on Leftism

Van Hiel
Pyszczynski et al.

Cautionary blogs about big Australian companies:

St. George bank
Bank of Qld.

(My frequent reads are starred)

10 o'clock scholar
11 Day Empire
50th Star
Aaron rants
Abercrombie Chick
About Politics
Across Atlantic
Albion's Seedling*
Also Canadian
Always Right
American Indian Movement
American Mind
American Outlook
American Thinker
American Realpolitik
Anal Philosopher*
Anthropology & Econ
Baby Troll
Bad Eagle
Beautiful Atrocities
Belmont Club*
Betsy's Page
Between Coasts
Bill Keezer
Bill Quick
Bits blog
Bleeding Brain
Blissful Knowledge
Blogs against Hillary
Blood & Guts
Bob McCarty
Booker Rising
Brian Leiter scrutinized
Brothers Judd*
Camp Katrina
Campus Newspaper Confab
Canadian Comment
Candle in dark
Chez Joel
Chomsky demolished
Civilian Gun Self defense
Classical Values
Clayton Cramer*
Climate audit
Climate science
Colby Cosh
Cold Fury
The Commons
Common-sense & Wonder*
Conservative Eyes
Conservative Grapevine
Conservative Philosopher
Conservative Pleasure
Conservative Voice
Conservatives Anonymous
Country Store
Critical Mass
Culture Battles
Daly Thoughts
Damian Penny
Dancing Dogs
Dean's World
Deinonychus antirrhopus
Dhimmi Watch
Dick List
Dick McDonald*
Discover the networks
Dodge Blog
Drink This
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Dr Sanity
Ed Driscoll
Eddy Rants
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Elephants in Academia
Enter Stage Right
Eugene Undergound
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Everything I Know
Fighting in the Shade
Fourth Rail
Free Patriot
Free Rain
Free Speech
Frizzen Sparks
Galvin Opinion
Gates of Vienna
Gay and Right
Gay Patriot
Gene Expression*
Ghost of Flea
Global warming & Climate
GM's Corner
One Good Turn
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GOP & The City
Grumpy Old Sod
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R. Hide MP
Hitler's Leftism
Hoosier Review
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Infinitely Prolonged
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Interested Participant
Jackson's Junction
Jim Kalb
Junk Food science
Junk Science
Just One Minute
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Kim Du Toit
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Little Green footballs
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R. Mandel
Market Center
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OC Register blog
On the Right Side
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Ron Hebron
Sayet Right
SCSU Scholars*
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Should Know
Silflay Hraka
Silent Running
Sine Qua Non
Smallest Minority
Spelled Sideways
Squander 2
Stephen Frank
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Stuart Buck
Talk Climate Change
Talking Head
Tim Worstall
Townhall C-log
Truth Laid Bear
Two-Four Net
Unca Dave
Urban Conservative
Vdare blog
Verbum Ipsum
Viking Pundit
Vodka Pundit
Voices in Head
Watt's up with that
Western Standard
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What If
Whym Rhymer
Winds of Change
World of Reason
Write Wing Warrior
You Big Mouth
Zero Intelligence

Education Blogs

Early Childhood Education
Education Wonks
Homeschool Blogger
Joanne Jacobs*
Marc Miyake*
No 2 Pencil
Weary Teacher

Economics Blogs

Adam Smith
Arnold Kling
Chicago Boyz
Cafe Hayek
Environmental Economics
Environmental Economics & Sust. Devel.
Innocents Abroad
Jane Galt
S. Karlson
D. Luskin
Marginal Revolution
Mises Inst.
Robert Musil
Truck & Barter

Australian Blogs

Aussie Political Report
Tim Blair
A E Brain
Brookes news
The Bunyip
Currency lad
Daily Constitutional
Emotional Rex
Evil Pundit
Fortress Australia
Kev Gillett
Hissink File
L. Hissink's Crazy World
Little Tin Soldier
M4 Monologues
M Jennings
Mangled Thoughts
Media Dragon
Oz Conservative
Rational Thoughts
Tao of Defiance
Voice of Pacific
Wog Blog
The Yobbo
Bastards Inc
Paul & Carl
It's A Matter of Opinion
Cyclone's Sketchblog
Niner Charlie
The Dog Blog
Welcome to the Asylum
Chris Berg


Anglo Austrian
Blithering Bunny
BNP and Me
Britain & America
British Interest
Burning our Money
Campaign Against Political Correctness
Campaign for English Parliament
Conservative Comment
Cynical Libertarian
Daily Ablution
England Project
EU Serf
Norm Geras
House of Dumb
Liberty Cadre
Limbic Nutrition
Majority Rights*
Melanie Phillips
NHS Doctor
Oliver Kamm
Mike Power
Right to be Free
Sean Gabb
Natalie Solent
Sterling Times
Walking the Streets
Wayne Smallman
Rich Webster
Englishman's Castle


Freedom & Whisky
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Friday, May 07, 2004

BOOK REVIEW: How Democracies Lose Small Wars : State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam

by Gil Merom

Reviewed by Wayne Lusvardi

How Democracy Loses Small Wars is one of the most-timely, but unrecognized books dealing with the so-called “quagmire” and “war prisoner abuse” situations the U.S. has encountered in Iraq in early 2004. Gil Merom addresses how modern democracies lose small wars against weaker forces. Merom writes that small wars are lost mostly at home, not on the battlefield, when a highly media-visible minority of the educated upper middle class selectively views with moral revulsion the brutality and casualties necessary to win war. In response, government war leaders resort to repress the ugly realities of war by deceit, censure, and crackdowns, resulting in more negative public opinion.

Merom cites three case studies of the outcomes of small wars: the French Algerian War, the Israeli Lebanon War, and the U.S. Vietnam War. It is the French war against Algerian independence from 1954-60 that may offer the best history lesson for the U.S.-Iraq war. France sought to hold onto its empire and oil and gas resources in a mostly Muslim country. The French had overwhelming military power. There were low casualties. The public supported the war despite concerns about the economy. The conflict entailed mostly urban guerilla warfare where one third of the casualties were due to ambushes. And the war was portrayed as a struggle between “forces of light and those of darkness.” Sound familiar? France won the battles but lost the war and had to eventually pull out. Its citizens would no longer tolerate the suppression of war atrocities by criminalizing the press, the seizing of antiwar literature, and invoking the military draft.

So look for the Iraq war to be lost not in Fallujah or Kandahar, but in Berkeley, Paris, or more lately, in Madrid and in the media events swirling around the Abu Graib Prison abuse incidents. Look for the war to be lost if U.S. forces resort to war atrocities, cover-ups, abuses of the Patriot Act, and succumbing to provocations of anti-war activists. Thus far, the Bush administration has court-martialed its military personnel who have committed atrocities, has reluctantly admitted to no WMD’s rather than attempting a cover up, and have avoided anything like the opinion galvanizing incident of the 1970 Kent State University National Guard killings of student anti-war protesters after they burned down the ROTC building.

Merom offers good analysis of the interaction between the military and civilian battlefields. However, his book could have been enhanced by an analysis of how, what sociologists Alvin Gouldner and Peter Berger call the “new class,” are able to media construct the anti-war movement as comprising the moral high ground. As to the quest for capturing the moral high ground in the Iraq War, perhaps the often self-indulgent anti-war activists could be reminded of the tragic moral consequences of the aftermath of abandoning Vietnam – the Killing Fields, the Boat People émigrés, and the atrocities of Pol Pot in Cambodia.

Amazon link here

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Grand Designs

How 9/11 Unified Conservatives in Pursuit of Empire

By Corey Robin

In 2000 I spent the tail end of the summer interviewing conservative patriarchs William F. Buckley and Irving Kristol. I was writing about the defections to the left of several younger right-wing intellectuals and wondered what the conservative movement's founding fathers thought of their wayward sons. But Buckley and Kristol were less interested in these ex-conservatives than they were in the sorry state of the movement and the uncertain fate of the United States as a global imperial power.

The end of communism and the triumph of capitalism, they suggested, were mixed blessings. Americans now possessed the most powerful empire in history. At the same time, they were possessed by one of the most anti-political ideologies in history: belief in the free market as a harmonious international order of voluntary exchange requiring little more from the state than the enforcement of laws and contracts. This ideology promoted self-interest over the national interest -- too bloodless a notion, Buckley and Kristol argued, upon which to found a national order, much less a global empire.

"The trouble with the emphasis in conservatism on the market," Buckley told me, "is that it becomes rather boring. You hear it once, you master the idea. The notion of devoting your life to it is horrifying if only because it's so repetitious. It's like sex." Kristol confessed to a yearning for an American empire: "What's the point of being the greatest, most powerful nation in the world and not having an imperial role?"

But because of its devotion to prosperity, he added, the United States lacked the fortitude and vision to wield imperial power. "It's too bad," Kristol lamented. "I think it would be natural for the United States . . . to play a far more dominant role in world affairs. . . to command and to give orders as to what is to be done. People need that. There are many parts of the world -- Africa in particular -- where an authority willing to use troops can make . . . a healthy difference." But not with public discussion dominated by accountants. "There's the Republican Party tying itself into knots. Over what?" he said. "I think it's disgusting that . . . presidential politics of the most important country in the world should revolve around prescriptions for elderly people."

Since 9/11, I've had many opportunities to recall these conversations. Sept. 11, we have been told, has restored to America's woozy civic culture a sense of depth and seriousness, of things "larger than ourselves." It has forced Americans to look beyond their borders, to understand at last the dangers that confront a world power. It has given the United States a coherent national purpose and a focus for imperial rule. A country that for a time seemed unwilling to face up to its international responsibilities is now prepared once again to bear any burden, pay any price, for freedom. This changed attitude, the argument goes, is good for the world. It is also good, spiritually, for the United States. It reminds us that freedom is a fighting faith rather than a cushy perch.

To understand this reaction to 9/11, we must examine the state of mind of American conservatives after the end of the Cold War. For neoconservatives, who had thrilled to the crusade against communism, all that was left of Ronald Reagan's legacy after the Cold War was a sunny entrepreneurialism, which found a welcome home in Bill Clinton's America. While neocons favor capitalism, they do not believe it is the highest achievement of civilization. Like their predecessors -- from Edmund Burke, Samuel Coleridge and Henry Adams to T.S. Eliot, Martin Heidegger and Michael Oakeshott -- today's conservatives prize mystery and vitality over calculation and technology. Such romantic sensibilities are inspired by questions of politics and, especially, of war. It is only natural, then, that the neocons would take up the call of empire, seeking a world that is about something more than money and markets.

Immediately following 9/11, intellectuals, politicians and pundits seized upon the terrorist strikes as a deliverance from the miasma Buckley and Kristol had been criticizing. Even commentators on the left saw the attacks as stirring a sleeping nation; Frank Rich announced in the New York Times that "this week's nightmare, it's now clear, has awakened us from a frivolous if not decadent decade-long dream."

What was that dream? The dream of prosperity. During the 1990s, conversative David Brooks wrote in Newsweek, we "renovated our kitchens, refurbished our home entertainment systems, invested in patio furniture, Jacuzzis and gas grills." This ethos had terrible consequences. It encouraged a "preoccupation with one's own petty affairs," Francis Fukuyama wrote in the Financial Times. It also had international repercussions. According to Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, the cult of peace and prosperity found expression in President Clinton's weak and distracted foreign policy, which made it "easier for someone like Osama bin Laden to rise up and say credibly, 'The Americans don't have the stomach to defend themselves. They won't take casualties to defend their interests. They are morally weak.' "

But after that day in September, the domestic scene was transformed. America was now "more mobilized, more conscious and therefore more alive," wrote Andrew Sullivan in the New York Times Magazine. Writers welcomed the moral electricity coursing through the body politic, restoring patriotism and bipartisan consensus.

Internationally, 9/11 forced the United States to reengage with the world, to assume the burden of empire without embarrassment or confusion. The mission of the United States was now clear to conservatives: to defend civilization and freedom against barbarism and terror. As Condoleezza Rice told Nicholas Lemann of the New Yorker, "I think the difficulty has passed in defining a role. I think September 11 was one of those great earthquakes that clarify and sharpen." An America thought to be lulled by the charms of the market was now willing to sustain casualties on behalf of a U.S.-led global order.

The end of the Cold War unleashed a wave of triumphalism, but it also provoked among American elites an anxious uncertainty about U.S. foreign policy. How should the United States now define its world role? When should it intervene in foreign conflicts? How big a military should it field? The United States seemed to be suffering from a surfeit of power, which made it difficult to formulate principles for its use. As Cheney acknowledged in February 1992, when he was serving as the first President Bush's secretary of defense, "We've gained so much strategic depth that the threats to our security, now relatively distant, are harder to define."

When Clinton assumed office, he and his advisers concluded that the primary concerns of U.S. foreign policy were no longer military but economic. The great imperative was to organize a global economy where people could trade across borders. Clinton's vision reflected a conviction, common in the 1990s, that globalization had undermined the efficacy of military power and traditional empires. "Soft power" -- the cultural capital that made the United States so admired around the world -- was as important to national preeminence as military power.

For some conservatives, Clinton's promotion of free trade and free markets was anathema. Though conservatives reputedly favor wealth and prosperity, law and order, stability and routine -- all the comforts of bourgeois life -- they disdained Clinton for his pursuit of these very virtues. His quest for affluence, they argued, produced a society that lost its sense of depth and political meaning. "In that age of peace and prosperity," Brooks would write, "the top sitcom was 'Seinfeld,' a show about nothing."

Clinton's vision of a benign international order, conservatives argued, betrayed an unwillingness to take on a world of power and violence, of mysterious evil and unfathomable hatred. Coping with such a world requires pagan courage and barbaric virtu, qualities many conservatives embrace over the more prosaic goods of peace and prosperity. But there was another reason for the neocons' dissatisfaction. Clinton, they claimed, was reactive and haphazard rather than proactive and forceful.

Sept. 11 has given the neocons an opportunity to articulate, without embarrassment, the vision of imperial American power that they have been harboring for years. Unlike empires past, this one will be guided by a benevolent goal -- worldwide improvement -- and therefore will not generate the backlash previous empires have generated. As Rice told the New Yorker's Lemann, "Theoretically . . . when you have a great power like the United States it would not be long before you had other great powers rising to challenge it. And I think what you're seeing is that there's at least a predilection this time to move to productive and cooperative relations with the United States, rather than to try to balance the United States." Thus, imperial America will no longer have to "wait on events while dangers gather," as Bush put it in his 2002 State of the Union address. It will now "shape the environment." The goal is one Cheney outlined in the early 1990s: that no other power ever arise to challenge American preeminence.

For the Kristol-Buckley model conservatives, this is a heady moment, when their ambivalence -- not about capitalism per se, but about the culture of capitalism, the elevation of buying and selling above political virtues such as heroism and struggle -- may finally be resolved. No longer hamstrung by the numbing politics of affluence, they believe they can count on the public to respond to calls of sacrifice and destiny. With danger and security the watchwords of the day, the country will be newly sanctified. The American empire, they hope, will allow America to have its market without being deadened by it.

Though it is still too soon to make any definitive assessment, mounting evidence suggests that the American empire is encountering obstacles at home and abroad. Violence against the United States might not prove to be a problem, at least not in the short term; after all, other empires have weathered it for a time.

But the administration's vision is compelling only so long as it is successful. Because the neoconservatives' premise is that the United States can govern events -- and determine the outcome of history -- their vision cannot sustain the suggestion that events lie beyond their control. Ironically, insofar as the Bush administration avoids conflicts in which it might fail, say between the Israelis and the Palestinians, it forgoes the very logic of imperialism that it seeks to avow. As former secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger has observed about the Middle East, Bush realizes "that simply to insert himself into this mess without any possibility of achieving any success is, in and of itself, dangerous because it would demonstrate that, in fact, we don't have any ability right now to control or affect events." This Catch-22 is no mere problem of logic or consistency; it betrays the essential fragility of the imperial position.

On the domestic front, there is little evidence that the political and cultural renewal imagined by many commentators is taking place. Even the slightest imposition is rejected in Congress even in this time of war. In March 2002, for example, 62 senators, including 19 Democrats, rejected higher fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, which would have reduced dependence upon Persian Gulf oil. Missouri Sen. Christopher Bond (R) declared, "I don't want to tell a mom in my home state that she should not get an SUV because Congress decided that would be a bad choice."

The fact that the war against terrorism has not yet imposed the sacrifices on the population that normally accompany national crusades has provoked occasional bouts of concern among politicians and cultural elites. "The danger, over the long term," wrote the New York Times's R. W. Apple, "is loss of interest. With much of the war to be conducted out of plain sight by commandos, diplomats and intelligence agents, will a nation that has spent decades in easy self-indulgence stay focused?"

The Bush administration initially looked for things for people to do -- not because there was much to be done, but because it feared that the ardor of ordinary Americans would grow cold. The best the administration came up with were Web sites and toll-free numbers that enterprising citizens could contact if they wanted to help the war effort. But the numbers were for groups such as Freedom Corps, enabling volunteers to become rural health workers, or Citizen Corps, which bolstered household emergency preparedness and expanded Neighborhood Watch groups. Now, with the war in Iraq going awry, the administration talks less about active involvement from ordinary Americans, happy to settle for their tacit support instead.

We thus face a dangerous situation. On the one hand we have neoconservative elites whose vision of American power is recklessly utopian. On the other hand we have a domestic population that shows little interest in any far-flung empire. The political order projected by Bush and his supporters in the media and academia is just that: a projection, which can only last so long as the United States is able to put down, with minimum casualties, challenges to its power. We may well be entering one of those Machiavellian moments discussed by historian J. G. A. Pocock a quarter-century ago, when a republic opts for the frisson of empire, and is forced to confront the fragility and finitude of all political forms, including its own.

(Corey Robin is an assistant professor of political science at Brooklyn College at the City University of New York. This is a shorter version of an essay published in the Boston Review and in the forthcoming anthology "Cold War Triumphalism". Source)

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