“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

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

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Why LI Hates the Left (echo echo)

LI has very simple reasons for hating the Left (there should be an echo effect every time that nasty little term is uttered): whenever the Left (echo echo) is part of the title of some essay, the alleged Leftist is surely going to use the occasion to support the war in Iraq, or support stuffing the Washington Consensus down the throat of Latin American, or denounce Chavez, or do variations on the power elite dance that are indistinguishable, in the end, from policies advocated by the Cato Institute (which is, actually, more antiwar than the Left (echo echo)) or the Heritage foundation.

Take a gander at a magazine like Dissent (or, if you have a stronger stomach, Democratiya – which by the way, what fucking dick came up with that title? do those people entirely lack a sense of humor?). The current online issue offers for your entertainment and progressive reading pleasure an article analyzing the Mexican elections (you guessed it – Lopez Obrador is an authoritarian, the future is in markets, there was no election fraud, blah blah blah) by Angel Jaramillo – a New School student specializing in (o Lord, take me now!) Leo Strauss.

There is also the editor’s intro to Dissent, which begins by pointing out, through the wisdom of a poll conducted by CNN, that the elections (ritual expression of gratitude for the Dems win) don’t represent some leftward tending by the electorate. Heaven forbid. The Left (echo echo) stands firmly committed to a third way that triangulates from the really conservative feelings of the vast majority of the population – and if the vast majority starts expressing a yen for lefty-liberal programs, it will certainly mess up the triangulation.

And then the editor (one Mitchell Cohen) proceeds to shovel this poop:

“Some of the toughest questions will concern foreign policy. Consider Iran’s aggressive ambitions. Here is a militant theocracy pursuing nuclear weapons, calling for genocide against a member of the UN, and seeking hegemony in a rattled region. It’s rattled, in part, thanks to disheartening U.S. policy. The United States has a long record of stumbling when it comes to Iran. Think of Washington’s support for the 1953 coup. Remember the utter incompetence of Jimmy Carter’s policies. In this issue we publish a remarkable speech made in Tehran by Joschka Fischer, Germany’s ex–foreign minister. He presents the stakes with candor. In addition, we feature a symposium on Iran and the West. The problems raised in the symposium have frightening implications. People on the left need to be thoughtful and not clichéd in approaching them. See Fred Halliday’s critical article on the romance of some leftists with Islamic extremists—the jihadism of fools. Not that there are wise holy wars.”

Then there is Halliday’s article. I hope he did a twofer with this one - it would fit so well with our comrades over at Telos! I'd go into it, but how much stupidity do I have to suffer for the sake of my readers? Okay, begin with muttering about widespread approval on the Left (hiss hiss – this is the bad left that cheers for the wolf instead of Red Riding Hood, the one that is being rescued by the good left, the Halliday-Cohen-Hitchens left, calling out to all comrades at sea) of the 9/11 attacks. Then the usual humanitarian intervention, Halliday fighting, of course, the fourth world war from an ultra Marxy perspective! It will be a killing field, boys, but fifty years from now, women will be freed from the veil. Mention Iran as a theocracy. That's a good one. That will show em. A dictatorship no less. And so, in the manner of the beloved Soviet Union before him, Halliday and his ilk temporarily form a popular front with the Cheney daughters.

Your average radio talkshow bigneck can do a better job with these threads and pieces than Halliday, but such is the sum of that thing called Dissent. Irving Howe, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you... oo oo oo.

My suggestion is: the LEFT (echo echo) should slit its throat with a big rusty razor. Basta! I know just how Robespierre felt. But have no fear, fearless Leftyites, you will be propped up for decades for your usefulness in creating a counterfeit ideology to flood the market. Case in point: look at, or weep over, the tender Saturday profile of the insufferable Kenan Makiya, the man who who wrote that the the bombs being dropped by American aircraft on Baghdad was "music to his ears" in 2003, as he wrestles with the demons of Iraq in the dangerous precincts of Cambridge, Mass. He is ... doing an analysis! I shiver and shake, thinking of the radical things that might come out of that! But let's see, I'll look in my crystal ball for a moment and find - everything he believed before the invasion was right! he was let down by the people. That's what I'd bet. Hitchens just reviewed his own support for the war and found it was right, too. I was so nervous - I thought he might think he screwed the pooch. So reassuring.

And so it goes, Leftyism serving the war culture in every way.

Surely some budding Sartre should somewhere should write a Naissance d'un guachiste as a matching set with Naissance d'un chef. The first phase would be the ultra phase. Capitalism must be overthrown. The rhetoric in this phase is all ruddy and bloody, the demands, oh, how they pile up! Our lefty is in full imperative mode. He knows that the people united will never be defeated. Phase two, of course, is the upward trajectory. The invites to write articles. Here, our lefty is mr. strategist. Ah, how he casts his sharp eye upon the field of forces! phase three is the NGO or the Academic post. Now comes the era of taking the temperature of the Left. He is continually sticking a thermometer in its, or his, ass, and reporting on the important numbers. By this time, of course, Left is his brand. But it turns out that not overthrowing capitalism right away has had advantages. The credit card, the tenure track, the kids' schooling. So time for phase four, which is democracy - or democratiya, for by this time the Leftist has lost any sense of humor, and finds the least hint of irony to be a bad sign - cynicism afoot and like that. Now he can bring his immense credentials, the threat he once posed to the whole capitalist system, to the crying need for human rights in some place that has to be at least two thousand miles from where he lives - and the rhetoric swells with the accustomed absolutes! But the battle now is against comrades who are allied with fascists - say it ain't so! but sadly, it is. All those comrades with the poster up of Mohammad Atta - oh, they may seem invisible, they may seem non-existent, but comrades, they swarm in the night!

And so on. As a career track move, I highly recommend Leftyism to the budding student out there. It pays richly, both in the moral butter one can swim in in the twenties, and the fat of the land one gets to enjoy later on.

But me? This is why I hate the Left (echo echo).


Dick Durata said...

I'm going to tell norbizness on you, you're stealing his schtick!

roger said...

Mr. Durata, thanks for that link - although I just learned, from the Norbiz site, that my fave hamburger site is going. PokeyJoes. And this is truly a bummer. History is obviously condemning me to consume Waterloo burgers, and dude, it just isn't the same!

What did I ever do to history, anyway?
I'm weeping big patty tears.

Scruggs said...

Sociobiology, Roger, with a bit of ev psych, that's where the future lies for the youngsters. It doesn't matter what flavor of ideology is fashionable if you've got sociobiology working for you. Every vicious crank with a fistful of solutions needs a "non-partisan" expert who can diagnose his detractors as mad, inherently incapable, and come up with semi-plausible justifications for why he and his ilk are rich. The hangers-on love that stuff too, mainly because it's offensively stupid.

roger said...

You may be right, Mr. Scruggs. My own sense, however, is that evopsy peaked in the late nineties. Everything at that point seemed to be aligned to the progress of history anointing sturdy, studly thirdway men and women to be evolution's crown. This was the non-zero decade.

But in a way, evopsy is being undone by Darwinism itself. Those models that give us competing pathways in the neurospace open us up to dreaded "nurture" one more time. Evopsy has always had this strange view of evolution to begin with, making humans into sealed packs of savannah evolved impulses. That is a pretty odd picture. Hell, even squirrels have evolved at this point - I hear they are getting good at electricity! The evopsy notion of humans subtly mirrors the space of the research - it is as if civilization were an elaborate zoo in which the human product can be poked and prodded. Uh, but who built the zoo?

It is interesting - re my post before this one - to see the changes in nuance in ethology. In the years immediately after the war, the environment, i.e. food is the big driver of evolutionary change. But as food prices drop (and they have dropped by quite a bit when you look at them as the percentage of the average income) and WWII style rationing receded, slowly sex took its place. So that now sexual selection has marched to the head of the Darwinian class, which is considerably more status than Darwin gave it.

But I can't see the heirs of the Dissenters moving to Darwin. Much more likely is the move to Leo Strauss or some such oddjob combination that can vaguely signal that the embattled comrades have come through at last, holding aloft the proud flag of democracy, feminism, and secularism -and the perpetually increased military budget.

Scruggs said...

They could join Jagdish Bhagwati and promote that silly "technology is to blame for rising inequality" thing he's been flogging. A little neoluddite determinism -- in service to the factory owners this time! what daring! -- washes down the neoliberal poison pretty nicely.

Anonymous said...

Roger: There is an interesting debate over at Crooked Timber that seems to touch on these topics. Would be interested in yr take on it.


Just want to say I'm a long-time lurker and admirer. Keep on keepin' on.

roger said...

Anonymous, I saw that and contributed my sure to be ignored comment!
But thanks for lurking. Such a strange word. Thanks for reading - the word is battered, old fashioned, smells vaguely of crayons and baby poop, but there it is.

Anonymous said...
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