July 29, 2006

Green Lantern?

I saw this quote on a friend's blog:

...The adventurist Right holds two simultaneous attitudes in uneasy conjunction. One is “The Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics” - a boundless belief in the power of military might, will and “resolve” to remake the world. The other is a complete lack of faith in the durability of the social institutions and cultural capital of America and the West. The latter attitude leads to “How Democracies Perish” and stabs in the back and the general conviction that the West - still soft, still decadent - isn’t up to the task of outlasting its enemies...
--Jim Henley.

These are (in distorted form) things people on the Right believe, but there is nothing "uneasy" about the conjunction. We can SEE both things in the world around us, and it is perfectly reasonable that both can be true.

First, conservatives do NOT believe that military might can "remake" the world--this is a straw-man argument. What it can do is to remove certain obstacles, such as totalitarian regimes, or warlords, or terrorists, that keep parts of the world from remaking themselves. After that, people have to do it on their own. (And they may fail, as all human hopes may fail.) We can, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, make elections possible, but we can't force people to vote, or make them wise, or force elected governments to act wisely. Our use of military force is analogous to the way a shot of antibiotics does not kill all the germs. Rather, it kills enough so the body's natural defenses can accomplish the work of healing.

But, with that correction, you can SEE the effectiveness of Anglosphere military force staring you in the face whenever you look at a world map. All over the globe are places that English-speaking forces have liberated or protected from invasion, and, mysteriously, most of them seem to flourish afterwards. It's a kind of "green thumb." For instance we saved a backwater called South Korea from socialist conquest, and planted a few seeds of free enterprise at the same time. Who'd have expected that the result would be a democracy and an economic powerhouse? Similarly with Japan, Germany, Italy...plus of course those many countries which they had conquered, and we liberated. And the places we did not protect or liberate often ended up as socialist hell-holes.

The way lefties keep exclaiming, "You can't impose democracy by force" is SO pathetic and sniveling, like someone who can't keep Kudzu alive sneering at the guy with the green thumb.

But the second half of Mr Henley's statement is also true, and also something we can SEE all around us. Western Europe is the obvious example, though there are plenty of others, including various "Blue State" trends here. Europe suffers from economic stagnation, political sclerosis, and looming demographic collapse. And from the loss of belief in its own civilization, and unwillingness to defend it against enemies. And it is suffering from an obvious spiritual collapse, seen not just in the loss of religious faith, but in the blatant lack of new ideas, new hopes and dreams and schemes. And lack of joy.

Think! LOOK! It's right in front of you. Does anyone now learn German to keep up with the latest philosophy? Or French to be part of the avant-garde? Are any of you moving to Sweden to study their social organization? Are you worried about your job because of competition from fast-growing European companies? (It is to laugh.) These are not just right-wing fantasies, you can see this stuff all around you. The EU is roughly comparable in size and wealth to the US. SO, is anybody thinking that, if things get tough in the world, we can rely on European strength and resolve? In anything?

It is obvious that the "durability of the social institutions and cultural capital of America and the West" are NOT things we can take for granted. It is obvious that certain trends we can see may make us incapable of outlasting our enemies. ("complete lack of faith" is another straw-man. But anyone who isn't worried is a fool.)

Extra thoughts...

1. Henley's paragraph is not only logically deficient, it is also, I'd say, projection. It is the Left that has always believed in "re-making the world." Think: 5-Year-Plans, "Great Leap Forward," "Final Solution," "re-education" camps, "War on Poverty," and of course the current war on human nature, in the form of the differences between the sexes.

2. Also, while conservatives have great faith in the prowess of our military, it is incorrect to call that faith "boundless." Conservatives believe that ALL human institutions are flawed, including our own. The Christian term for this is "Original Sin." In secular or political form you can see the same idea in the Federalist Papers and The Constitution.

3. I suspect we see here reason #498 why leftists are hostile to the teaching of history. At any time before about WWII, it was common for Americans to travel to Europe to get a proper education or grounding in many fields. Art, music, science. philosophy, military science. You need to have a feel for that to appreciate how shockingly Europe has declined.

Posted by John Weidner at July 29, 2006 3:20 PM
Weblog by John Weidner