Wretchard observes in a brilliant post:
...you can kill more people with a well intentioned peace than with a well intentioned war
and, that in the case of both Zimbabwe and Iraq:
...simply because we don't hear the tree fall in the forest doesn't mean it doesn't fall. And the question is why it should be any different with a problem like Iraq. The challenge of terrorism forming within the chaos of the Third World will remain with us until we learn to meet it. We haven't learned how to yet. And it's not clear that solving this problem is optional.
Rather, solving the problem is absolutely essential for all of Western civilization. But the solution may not lie in simply discovering the correct military response to assymetrical warfare (though that may be a part of the solution). It seems to me that the solution to the problem posed by the "death by benign neglect" that is going on in Zimbabwe, Rwanda and numerous other places around the globe; as well as the international hysteria that surrounds the desire to run away, ignore, and/or pretend that real problems don't exist. can only be solved with good ideas that counter the bad and destructive ideas that have sapped the will of the West and plunged it into nihilistic despair.
The problem is countering the source of this pervasive nihilism, promulgated and promoted by the West's own intellectual elites under the pseudonym of postmodernism.
And the only intellectual remedy brought forth in the last five decades to nullify postmodern philosophy and rhetoric is neoconservatism.
If you listen at all to the MSM, you might begin to think that neoconservativesm is either in dissaray, dead and abandoned by all its former adherents.
Since (particularly recently) I take everything the MSM says with the proverbial grain of salt, I suspect that the truth is something very different entirely. Neoconservatism has been pronounced dead by its opponents many times in the decades since its ideas were first formulated; primarily because the philosophy that underlies neocon policies is extremely threatening to the methodology of today's postmodern political left.
Today's left is a nothing more than the hallow shell of what was once known as "liberalism"; and it is held together by the empty and meaningless rhetoric of postmodern intellectual nonsense, otherwise known as political correctness and multiculturalism (or, cultural relativity).
Neoconservatism as an intellectual theory actually arose from the observation in the 1960's that classical liberalism had been hijacked by the left and its essence literally reconstructed to suit the needs of socialists and communists who were beginning to realize that the jig was up for them.
All over the world it was becoming apparent that political and social collectivism was an abject failure. Where implemented, such policies led to intractable poverty and misery economically; and unbelievable oppression and the crushing of the human spirt politically and morally.
I have discussed elsewhere how the recent revival of socialism and its collectivist/totalitarian agenda in the late 20th and early 21st century was made possible by the adoption of postmodern epistemology, rhetoric and politics by western intellectual elites:
Multiculturalism and political correctness are two of the fundamental pseudo-intellectual, quasi-religious tenets-- along with a third: radical environmentalism--that have been widely disseminated by intellectuals unable to abandon socialism even after its crushing failures in the 20th century. These tenets have been slowly, but relentlessly absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last decade or so--but primarily since the end of the Cold War.
All three have been incorporated into most K-12 curricula and all other learning environments. They have been at the forefront of attempts by leading academics and academic institutions to rewrite most of history and undo thousands of years of Western cultural advancement. And further, as the culture has been completely saturated with this toxic brew, any attempt to question the tenets' validity or to contest their value is met with hysterical accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, imperialism, bigotry, or--worse of all --intolerance or insensitivity.
It just so happens, that these tenets represent three of the four pillars that are the foundation of an evolving epistemological, ethical and political strategy that the socialist remnants in the world have developed and are using to prevent their ideology from entering the dustbin of history.
For more on postmodernism and its implications, see here, here, here here and, of course, here.
The rise of neoconservatism represents the only modern intellectual counter and the only known antidote to the infection of postmodernism and its resultant toxic effects on philosophy, rehtoric, and politics.
In order to succeed in undoing and undermining the clear and unambiguous evidence of socialism's and communism's utter human toxicity, the totalitarians of the political left had to undermine nothing less than reality, reason, and truth. Furthermore, they had to deconstruct and invalidate human consciousness, making sure that the everyone understood that the only apparatus available to humans for perceiving reality--the mind--was completely unreliable, and that the evidence of the senses must therefore be discounted. This intellectual strategy resulted in a pervasive cultural relativism and intellectual nihilism that permeated all aspects of society and intellectual thought. Words and language were redefined to mean whatever one wanted; history was deconstructed--ostensibly to expose it's lies, but really to render it meaningless; and the ideas and values that were the foundation of Western civilization were mocked and shown by postmodern "logic" to be no better than any other random ideas.
Thus, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose; and not significantly different from slavery; democracy is just as much a fraud as tyranny; that which was always considered the good, is really just as evil as evil; and so on. Twentieth century postmodernists thus set themselves up as culturally and morally superior to all other humans in history, and with the postmodern relativistic advantage, they could pass judgement on everyone and everything. Thus from the superior postmodern perspective, there was nothing of value to learn from a slave-holding Thomas Jefferson; there is no moral superiority in a system that strives toward increasing individual human freedom and dignity compared to a system that doesn't even recognize the rights of the individual. There is no difference between right and wrong; good and evil--all are suspect, all are hypcritical, all are imperfect; and thus all such concepts are rendered irrelevant.
The key to this undoing of that which is good and conflating it with that which is evil; of deconstructing the reality and reason upon which more than 5000 years of civilization is founded; is through the nihilistic process of deconstructing and reinterpreting the historical past and redefining and undermining its meaning.
You are probably familiar with the leftist drill, since it is now frequently applied to anything valued in the West (in the last week it has even been used to "demythologize" Thanksgiving so as to invalidate what that quintessential American holiday even means). By using the now-common relativistic formula, all individuals and thinkers in the past are ridiculed, demeaned, and scorned because they fail to live up to postmodern and politically correct standards of conduct. Thus, their ideas are considered meaningless and described as "hypocritical"--the absolutely worse possible sin from the leftist perspective.
Thomas Jefferson, George Washington--all the Founding Fathers for the most part--did not have the consciousness of the postmodern intellectual: they were slaveholders! Yet they dared to consider the problem of human freedom, bound as they were to the cultural norms of their time. That they could not entirely break out of the culture of their time, but still could push the envelope of civilization forward is irrelevant to the postmodern left. From the left's perch of moral superiority they blithely dismiss these "white males" as hypocrites with no moral standing. Thus are the foundations and the generationally built constructs of civilization invalidated and destroyed. Is it any wonder that all that is left is the nihilistic garbage that postmodernism deems as "reality"?
But consider, if we do not understand the past; if we abandon the ideas that underlie our values and our morality-- how can we appreciate who we are today? If we are only allowed to think of Thomas Jefferson as a hypocritical colonial slaveholder, then we are forced to pronounce his ideas on the struggle for human freedom as no better and no worse than Hitler's Kampf.
And so, Jefferson's mind-blowing, paradigm-shattering declaration, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" has no more meaning or worth than Yasser Arafat's statement that, "Since we cannot defeat Israel in war; we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel." Both are either completely meaningless; or both are examples of freedom-fighters--who cares which? Bush = Hitler; Good = Evil; Freedom = Slavery; there is no way to judge because the nihilistic relativism we subscribe to has taken away our ability to morally distinguish and discriminate between right and wrong.
By disgarding reason and reality; by abandoning the past and embracing moral and cultural relativism, the left has brought us to this place where we are morally and physically paralyzed and cannot distinguish between the deliberate targeting and killing of innocents and the accidental killing of innocents despite herculean efforts to avoid it; between waging war to give people a chance at freedom and democracy; and waging war for domination and imperialism; between standing up for what is right and accepting the consequences, and abandoning one's values and surrendering with "honor" to the scum of the earth.
By mocking intellectual giants like Thomas Jefferson and dragging him through the postmodern mud; by equating Bush with Hitler; or the behavior of the Palestinians with the behavior of the Israelis; the actions of the U.S. military with the actions of the Islamofanatic terrorist thugs-- the left is desperately trying to numb the mind of the West. Who are we to judge? they scream, desperately trying to prevent history from judging their own unbelievable and pathological destructiveness, their own morally repugnant behavior and ideology.
This is their quest. To establish themselves as the arbiters of moral behavior by behaving immorally; of being "reality-based" without the necessity of having to acknowledge reality; of speaking "truth" to power, without being capable of recognizing truth (isn't all truth relative, after all?).
Just as the Saudis have let the wahabbi religious fundamentalism genie out of the bottle, inflicting it on Islam; so too has the political left let loose the genie of postmodern moral relativism onto Western civilization. The two genies have much in common since both work in tandem to destroy the human mind and spirit. Islamic fundamentalism is actively destroying millions by its soul-murdering ideology; while postmodern nihilists apologize and enable the barbarians at the gate , even as they destroy the very ideas that built the gate in the first place and which offers the only hope for liberating those millions from the boot of fanatical oppression.
If only these postmodern vampires, sucking the lifeblood from Western civilization, could look in the mirror! Would they see the monsters they have let themselves become--or would they see the nothingness reflected by their empty, meaningless souls?
They elevate clowns like Hugo Chavez; swoon over despots like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro; have champagne toasts with fruitcakes like Kim Jung Il. And they admire and promulgate the propaganda of the worse barbarians and murderers in history. They fail to consider the logical inconsistency of their own relativistic arguments: all truth is relative, they say; but then they would have no basis upon which to assert that their "truth" (i.e., postmodernism) is anything but rubbish also. If all cultures are good, then why is Western culture uniquely evil?
The political left refuses to look unflinchingly at the consequences of their ideology or their behavior--and, as much as they want to deny it; as much as they demand people like me retract what I am saying, it is their ideas and their precious utopian nihilism that are the problems that must be addressed before we can win the war on terror; before civilization can address the evil in Darfur, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere. The left must be held to account for their malignantly narcissistic behavior. Envy is their dominant emotion; mediocrity and dragging humanity down to the lowest common denominator is their goal; tyranny and oppression is their modus operandi; and the greatest threat to their ideology is human freedom.
And those are precisely the reasons why neoconservative philosophy can rescue the West from the quagmire of moral and cultural nihilism that paralyzes us and limits our ability to fight the enemies of civilization.
President Bush in his 2005 Inaugural Address said:
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.These words are what neoconservatism stands for in the truest sense. It acknowledges the reality of human nature, both the good and the bad; but chooses the good; it seeks truth from history and uses it to better the world now--not by imposing useless utopian fantasies, but by supporting human freedom and individuality and opposing tyranny wherever it is found; it recognizes that all men and women are entitled to life, libery and the pursuit of happiness; and it understands that freedom is often messy and chaotic, while tyranny is orderly and deadening to the human soul.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
Neoconservative philosophy represents the beginnings of a neo-rationalism that just might be able to offer new solutions for the intractable problems that have followed us into the 21st century.
By proudly reclaiming the history of Western Civilization, which has been built slowly with great idea after great idea; and which always strives for the good, but is never perfect; neoconservatism remains the only antidote for anti-reality, anti-mind, anti-truth postmodern relativism.
More neoconservatism, please, and faster.
UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson perceives the same crisis of the soul that I am talking about:
Our current crisis is not yet a catastrophe, but a real loss of confidence of the spirit. The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.
But our newest foes of Reason are not the enraged Athenian democrats who tried and executed Socrates. And they are not the Christian zealots of the medieval church who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity. Nor are they Nazis who burned books and turned Western science against its own to murder millions en masse.
No, the culprits are now more often us. In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization--never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty--we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East.
UPDATE III: Comments on this post are now terminated. Clearly some people have nothing better to do than to waste their time and mine by trying to be obnoxious in the comments when it is clear they haven't a clue what they are talking about. It doesn't happen to be my responsibility to give you chapter and verse of what constitutes neoconservative philosophy--I generally assume my readers have the intellectual capability to read books and have some knowledge about what they are ranting about. Judging by some of the people who arrived via the Daou Report, it seems clear that their brains are so infected with the postmodern virus that they prefer to argue without any knowledge of what constitutes either neoconservatism or postmodernism. It is perfectly clear that they aren't even capable of mounting a rational response of any kind. Typical. I suggest for your reading pleasure--that is if your brains have not completely rotted out from lack of use, that you refer to the books below. Who knows? You might raise that old IQ a few points. OTOH, I would not want your brain to explode, either. Too messy.