September 19, 2007

I can't call those "principles"

I found this piece by David Gerlernter, Defeat at Any Price, thought-provoking, but I don't agree with him here...

....The issue isn't tactics--doesn't concern the draw-down that the administration has forecast and General Petraeus has now discussed, or how this draw-down should work, or how specific such talk ought to be. The issue is deeper. It's time for Americans to ask some big questions. Do leading Democrats want America to win this war? Have they ever?

Of course not--and not because they are traitors. To leading Democrats such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Edwards, America would be better off if she lost. And this has been true from the start.

To rephrase the question: Why did Harry Reid announce months ago that the war was lost when it wasn't, and everyone knew it wasn't? The wish is father to the deed. He was envisioning the world of his dreams.
[I agree to this point.]

The Democrats' embrace of defeat is inspired by no base desire to see Americans killed or American resources wasted. But let's be honest about it, and invite the Democrats to be honest too.

Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left. Each one has been defended by serious people; all are philosophically plausible, or at least arguable. But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain. We must infer their ideas from their (usually) guarded public statements.

Globalism and Euro-envy are explicit, sometimes, in Democratic pronouncements--about the sanctity of the United Nations, the importance of global conferences and "multilateralism" (except in cases like North Korea, where the president already is moving multilaterally), the superiority of the Canadian or German health care system, and so forth. The Democrats are not unpatriotic, but their patriotism is directed at a large abstract entity called The International Community or even (aping Bronze Age paganism) the Earth, not at America.
[whatever term you may apply to such sentiments, this is NOT patriotism.] Benjamin Disraeli anticipated this worldview long ago when he called Liberals the "Philosophical" and Conservatives the "National" party. Liberals are loyal to philosophical abstractions--and seek harmony with the French and Germans. Conservatives are loyal to their own nation, and seek harmony with its Founders and heroes and guiding principles.

The Democrats don't conceal their globalist ideas, but their appeasement and pacifism are positions they can only hint at....

"Liberals are loyal to philosophical abstractions." I would say, NO. No doubt there are a few left who are like that, but I think the really significant fact now is that most "liberals" have been hollowed-out, and they no longer have any philosophy. They have no core principles. It is actually very obviously so, because if they did there would be at least a few examples of them acting according to principle even when it hurts them politically. But we don't ever see that. We have become so accustomed to current "liberal" behavior that we don't notice this obvious thing.

An example is Bush's dealings with North Korea. He has been adamantly multilateral, and in fact has obviously profited by the experiences of the Clinton Administration, whose unilateral initiatives failed. Where are the liberals who openly back up our president in this important work?

Gerlernter writes: "Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left." So, my first question is, what happened to those other things we grew up thinking were liberal principles? Anti-fascism? Democracy? Humanitarian interventionism? Hmmm? If something is a principle, you can't just quietly drop it out of the boat when nobody's looking. Right?

And if pacifism and appeasement are principles, then where were the principled protests against military intervention in Bosnia? Or against the enforcement of the no-fly zone in Iraq?

If a group of people have core principles, then those will now and then poke out from the necessarily unprincipled muddle of practical politics. Sort of like sticks in a plastic bag full of trash. For instance, Conservatives like me don't have much of a problem with Bill Clinton stealing the credit for the successes of NAFTA and Welfare Reform. Those were conservative ideas, but if a Democrat wants to push them, then he should have our support. I would harshly criticize any Republican who voted against them just because they would help Democrats.

"But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain..." Well, there's a limit to how much you can conceal your views and still call them principles. How far can you stretch this? And even if political leaders must keep their views under their hats, where are the others making principled arguments? That is, arguments that start from the core principle and extend it to practical issues?

That's what's been really odd about the various on-line arguments I've been in since I started blogging in 2001. None of my leftish opponents has ever started by expressing and defending core principles. No one, for instance, has stated "I'm a pacifist, and here are my arguments for the pacifistic policy I'm defending." It never happens. Nor, for instance, does anyone defend big government in principle, even when they support every policy that would enlarge government.

I think a better explanation for what we see is that many "liberals," especially the activist types, are really nihilists. They have no ideas that are bigger than they are. And to the nihilist, belief is a reproach and an irritant. So they just hate belief when they see it. And also, they want desperately to avoid being exposed in their inner emptiness. So they wrap themselves in fake liberalism. And loath any situations or institutions that demand a higher allegiance. They just hate anything that says "This cause is worth dying for." Examples are, first of all, The Church and Christianity, then the USA and also Israel, then our military and the residual nationalist loyalties still found in other developed nations.

And most especially, they hate the Iraq Campaign, because it is just the sort of thing a liberal of the past would be for. So it totally puts their fake liberalism in the hot seat...

Posted by John Weidner at September 19, 2007 7:33 AM
Weblog by John Weidner