USEFUL IDEAS FOR DEFENSE OF CONSERVATIVE IDEAS
On [online magazine] Counterpunch today, Paul Craig Roberts asks Is Western Democracy Real or a Facade?
He starts with:
The United States government and its NATO puppets have been killing Muslim men, women and children for a decade in the name of bringing them democracy. But is the West itself a bastion of democracy?
He then goes on to list a number of American sins that broadcast to the world our hypocrisy.
It’s a straw man argument that seeks to reframe historical American strategic policy into current populist jargon for what must be purely political reasons. I have only met Paul once, quite a few years ago, and only for a few minutes of discusion at a conference, but he appears to be an honest man, and I can only attribute this article to the effects of accumulated frustration. Which I can understand. But a questionable portrayal of events hinging upon a specious moral argument does nothing to improve matters at all. It’s much more helpful to deal with the facts and determine where we go from there:
GEOPOLITICAL STRATEGY REGARDING THE MUSLIM WORLD
1) The United states government has been attempting to contain the Muslim world since the fall of the British Empire for the following reasons:
a) To prevent the spread of world Marxism and Communism to the Islamic world. This effort was largely successful. We can take credit for saving millions of lives by preventing the Soviet and Chinese deaths, as well as preventing Hindu suffering. Containment has worked for us. And the world has adopted Consumer Capitalism. And in doing so, lifted billions out of permanent poverty.
b) To prevent ideologically and commercially competing countries from gaining control over middle eastern oil, and therefore endangering American (and Western) economies by using oil as a strategic and military threat.
c) To contain militant expansionist Islam that is exporting terror, and that is able to spread under the support and funding of local governments.
d) To allow popular commercial capitalist revolutions to take place when the society had matured enough that they could no longer tolerate their poverty, in the hope that like many other countries we can encourage them to join the modern world of consumer capitalism.
e) To disallow the development of a militant ‘core state’ such as iran or iraq, that is able to unite a block such as syria, lebanon, iraq, iran, and pakistan, which would be both nuclear and would create the basis for a third world war funded by our dependence upon oil.
f) To assuage our Christian guilt over the extermination of jews by protecting Israel and Israelis despite the constant irritation cause by a successful and prosperous middle eastern country that daily demonstrates the failure of Islamic civilization causes to Muslims and confirms their feelings of inadequacy and failure.
Americans are pragmatic. They ally with successful states and not with failed or failing states. The determine failed or failing by the level of internal conflict. As the world’s policemen Americans see conflict as requiring their involvement, and at great cost. So they are simply pragmatic in seeking to support ‘successful’ states: those without violent conflict.
THE WORLD’S POLICEMEN
America has assumed the role of the world’s policemen for two reasons:
a) The assumption of the international system of finance, law, shipping and trade after the fall of the british empire. An assumption that was necessary for the preservation of the american economy, and second only to the Louisiana Purchase (land at 42 cents an acre in today’s terms). The assumption of that trade allowed us to replace the pound with the dollar as the reserve currency and to force oil to be traded in dollars – thereby giving us an invaluable economic advantage that persists to this day.
b) The necessity of providing an alternative to World Communism that was more attractive and more supportive of ‘the people’ of the world.
Both the assumption of the system of trade, and the the desire to provide an alternative to world communism, are pragmatic choices, not ideological choices. For some reason americans are comfortable criticizing a political ideology like communism that is little more than a religion wrapped in pseudo economic dogma, than they are in criticizing a religion that is little more than a political movement. If americans would correct this error in their ‘talking points’ the battle against Islam would be much easier. Islam is not a religion. It is a political system, and a religion in name only.
AMERICAN STRATEGIC ERRORS
American errors over the past decades have been the following:
a) A naive belief that it is possible to transform paternal, tribal, consanguineous, anti-rational, illiterate, pre-modern societies into modern consumer capitalist republics. The interior social and political structure of these societies will not tolerate the dramatic change for a single reason: the near total disruption of their status-signaling economy. The concept of ‘common good’ does not exist as we understand it outside of the familial and tribal order. (The same is true for the Mediterranean cultures.) Extra-familial trust is almost impossible to build and is effectively unique to the germanic northern european and international anglo germanic cultures. We call these ‘high trust societies’ without understanding just WHY they are high trust societies. Nor understanding that the germanized christian west we have been building a high trust society arguably for thousands of years, and only succeeded a thousand years ago. (I’ll tell you a very valuable secret that has eluded philosophers, historians and economists: it’s because of corporatism. The manorial system, the aristocratic church, as well as the modern corporate system encourage commercial corporeal loyalty not familial, consanguineous, or tribal loyalties.)
b) We are still ‘talking democracy’ not ‘talking consumer capitalism’ as if we’re fighting World Communism. Democracy is a luxury available to a small homogenous high trust society. It is a means of peacefully transitioning power. It is a means of limiting corruption. (The greeks used Lottocracy, which is clearly superior to Democracy in preventing corruption.) Democracy is not a means of enacting good economic policy. It is not a means of raising people out of illiteracy, ignorance and poverty. Paul is right in criticizing us for ‘talking democracy’. We should be talking consumer capitalism. The world has abandoned communism. What we do not understand yet, is that from academics to politicians worldwide, the world began abandoning democracy in academica in the 1990′s, and in the world political elite by 2000. Our failure to transform our ‘talking points’ from democracy to ‘consumer capitalism – regardless of political system’ — is what has caused the problems Paul refers to in his article.
Historian Oswald Spengler called western civilization Faustian: westerners keep pursuing this ideological view of human nature despite the obvious fact that we are making a deal with the devil in order to achieve the impossible. The west is exceptional. Our culture can never be universal. Criticisms of the NeoCons are correct in that they assume human consensus with western values and where they attempt nation building. Criticisms of the NeoCon’s are wrong where they seek to contain islamic civilization by military means. Islam is far worse a threat than marxism. At least marxism was subject to rational criticism. Muslims appear entirely happy to think themselves self righteous and holy as they descend into permanent ignorant illiterate abject poverty and vent their failure outward as terrorism.
THE COMMERCIAL SOCIETY
2) The US does not support Democracy. It supports success. Americans are a commercial people. Much more commercial even than Europeans (which is why they don’t understand Americans at times.) In fact, the only thing Americans have in common is their commercial sentiments.
CONSUMER CAPITALISM NOT DEMOCRACY
3) The US advances “Consumer Capitalism” not Democracy. Democracy is a code word for “Consumer Capitalism”.
a) Consumer Capitalism is apolitical – it can be enacted by a authoritarian individual or a democratic house. It is blind to race, blind to religion, blind to gender. It is unforgiving. It is a purely meritocratic system. As a purely meritocratic system it favors people with both genetic and cultural advantages: Asians and Indo-Europeans. It puts the less literate and more magian people at a distinct disadvantage — something which all of Islam understands. And this is born out by the data: Muslims are 1/10th as productive as westerners. They are uncompetitive with the rest of the world. Without oil, they are no better off than sub-saharan Africans.
b) Consumer Capitalism is a threat to the paternalistic, hierarchical, non-meritocratic, social status of almost every single male in Islamic society. And that’s something that must be understood. A male does not have to earn his position in the tribal society. He must earn it under consumer capitalism and he must compete with women under consumer capitalism. And each and every man in the society will take a dramatic ‘status discount’. Which they understandably find untenable. It is irrational to expect otherwise. Consumer Capitalism must grow organically from a slowly percolating middle class which creates new materialistic status signals that the lower classes can imitate by working hard and accumulating ‘things’ and experiences. A new ‘status economy’ must form.
POLITICAL COMPATIBILITY OF CONSUMER CAPITALISM
4) Consumer Capitalism is not incompatible with what we popularly call Social Democracy: Redistributive Social Democracy. Under Redistributive Social Democracy, profits are captured through taxation and redistributed, allowing the market system to function using both incentives and the information embodied in prices. Consumer capitalism is incompatible with Socialism and Communism, both of which destroy incentives and the information embodied in prices. Consumer capitalism is compatible with libertarianism, conservative classical liberalism, and progressive social democracy – all of which interfere in the economy to varying degrees. Consumer Capitalism is just not compatible with a managed economy. Americans are exporting social democracy and consumer capitalism. But they’ll take consumer capitalism alone if they can get it. Why? Because it decreases the cost of policing and decreases the risk to the average American (Canadian, Brit, German, Belgian, Italian, Australian.)
WE’RE A DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC NOT A DEMOCRACY
5) Technically speaking, the USA is not a democracy. It’s a representative republic. That’s why we have the Senate and the Electoral College: to inhibit the dangers of democracy. In particular, our political system is organized to prevent democratic ‘fashionability’ with a hard constitution (that the progressives have effectively ruined via the commerce clause, and through judicial activism rather than calling for a constitutional convention) a high-turnover house, and a longer turnover senate (that was originally appointed not directly elected). So technically, we’re exporting “Social Democratic Republican Consumer Capitalism.”
ECONOMIC IMPACT AND ANALYSIS
6) If America loses its military power, its control over oil, or the dollar’s status as a reserve currency, then the ‘average’ American, if there even is such a thing, will experience a drastic reduction in standard of living. We complain about our national debt and our military expense. But really, this is how it all works out: We spend a lot of money policing the world. We export debt to pay for it. The debt encourages the world to support our policing activities. We inflate the debt away. And we obtain economic advantage that directly benefits the average American raising his or her economic class by something on the order of 50%. If you travel the world, and then come back to the states,its blatantly obvious the average person can consume vastly more as an American than anyone else on earth: more living space, more heat and air conditioning, more varieties of food, more kinds of entertainment, more information, and more air travel, more car travel, more free time. More everything. So, the pure COST of our military activity is a cheap return. It costs $700B this year, and our entire interest burden is $227B. Over the next three years alone, the American government will inflate 30% of that debt away. We do not directly bill the world for our services, but we DO INDIRECTLY charge them for it, and it is our MOST PROFITABLE export. There is a difference between wasting money and putting it to good use. Our military is not a poor use of funds. BUT the cost of nation building is impossible to bear. If we must bomb a country into submission that’s one thing. In many cases — preventing communism, preventing a nuclear Iran — its the lesser of two evils. But we cannot transform its culture or its economy. We can’t. That cost is infinite. And it’s futile.