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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Monday, August 29, 2005

the respectable left

The new myth floating about is that the liberal hawks are in a self-questioning mood: how could they have been so wrong? The answer is that they trusted the Bush administration to do the right thing but the Bush administration let them down.

This is, of course, horseshit covered in catsup. Hitchens, Friedman, Berman, Packer, Ignatieff, Marc Cooper (post occ.) and the rest of them are well practiced in the art of emitting herbivorous platitudes about human rights to defend the infamies of American foreign policy. Their share of the war consisted of committing a double act of bad faith: demoralizing the liberal/secular side in Iraq by branding it with the name of various scoundrels (Chalabi, Allawi), while putting up a noxious smokescreen of righteousness on the home front to disguise the quite normal imperialist mechanisms by which Iraq was to be reduced to its proper place in the world system. The movement was from a tyranny run by a mass murderer to a colony run by corporate American shills. Hitchens is merely the most articulate and exemplary of the band of lefty poseurs: in the lead up to the war, his chief argument was that the antiwar side sickened and disgusted him, as though his very innards had been carved out of the Critique of Practical Reason. He now defends the war, as he does in the latest New York Observer, on grounds of honor -- a sort of mafia ethic:

Hitchens clarified what world he’s currently living in. “It’s a matter of solidarity with the Iraqi and Kurdish opposition to Saddam, and trying to turn American policy in their favor,” said Mr. Hitchens. “I’m on their side, win or lose …. I could never publish an article saying, ‘Come to think of it, we never should have done this,’ because I could never look them in the face …. So, no, I don’t have any second thoughts.”

The rest of them are going to remain with us as the unimpeachable voice of the reasonable left, of course. As with a position in the Bush cabinet, the advantage of being a public intellectual is that failure is no bar to success. That these people, none of whom could be trusted to organize a children's birthday party, could intrude into a nation about which they knew neither the language nor the culture and transform it from the top down is a subject for farce and tears. None of these people seem to have the least sense of how projects are done, how agency works in an organization, how producing a set of incompatible goals leads to failure, or even how to map the incompatibilities.

All of this matters not a jot. The Dissent eggheads have always had great success commoditizing their sensitivities in the op ed market. They will continue to do so. But I say, as a mild and moderate liberal:

Fuck em.


TallDave said...

Hitchens is the reasonable left.

And he's left you behind.

Deleted said...

Roger, as TallDave so astutely points out, the rising tide of history, even now washing Iraq clean of the sins of Saddam bin Laden, is going to swamp the low road upon which you are riding your high horse. You will soon find that the leftist Rocinante you have mounted is in fact a dustbin, which will inevitably contain the remnants of the neodialectical postmaterialism so popular amongst those of your ilk. Hitchens, it must be said, is reasonable. This is so because it is so. Just as things that are not so are not so because they false. I say this as your friend, Roger, and in the hope that you may one come to your senses. To be left behind would be appalling.