Catfish and Cod
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
(Link path: King of the Blogs, The New Republic)
The piece linked above is correct, as far as it goes. The most vocal foreign policy advocates on the Left do indeed concentrate more on the injustices of U.S. influences than actual problems in the world. But the question begged by the article remains: why? Whence cometh this foreign-policy myopia?
Here are some ideas:
1) The Chomskyite belief that the United States is the Source of All Evil. Note that Chomsky didn't start as an America-basher; he began by trying to point out that America was not as lily-white as propagandists of the '50s and '60s claimed. But over the years, Chomskyism has developed into the belief that everything America touches, withers. Chomskyism is supported by
2) The Baran-Wallenstein formulation of Marxism, which holds that capitalism operates by sucking economic value away from the Third World (formerly, colonies). This concept, symbiotic with that of "U.S. imperialism", holds that capitalism only exists by having overseas markets to exploit. Under this creed, the U.S. is not only a exploiter of, but the cause of poverty in the Third World. If the U.S. causes poverty, then, is it not logical that U.S. power should be reduced, so that the world is enriched?
3) Furthermore, as capitalist nations produce most of the world's weapons, it is held that U.S. influence distributes weapons. The U.S., then, is the cause of war under the far-Left doctrine. Should the U.S. not be reduced in power, that peace may reign? (Never mind that Europe, Israel, Russia, China, and North Korea also distribute weapons).
4) The lingering sense that American culture is somehow inferior to European culture. Many rationales have been proposed for this thesis, but all have proved groundless. A common thread to these rationales: We're an older and therefore wiser culture! We were here first! The current rationale is mixed up with the three principles listed above, which have as their common base the sentiment that capitalism, or one of its corollary phenomena, is morally wrong.
5) None of these would necessarily be of harm to the mainstream Left except that the Democratic Party has for some time now considered foreign policy as an extension of domestic policy. The last President to propose substantiative, progressive foreign policy measures was John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson was too busy fighting Vietnam and pushing the Great Society to bother; Carter didn't have his head screwed on tight enough; and Clinton, well, was Clinton. Clinton was the only recent Democratic presidential candidate to even espouse an active Democratic foreign policy. But as Clinton's in the doghouse right now, and deservedly so, any policies that might be considered Clintonian go right down the drain.
6) No one in the Democratic mainstream has proposed a serious alternative policy. There are no calls for strength with morals, or pro-active leadership with an international component. Any such calls that are made start with "negotiating with France and Russia", which is seen as impugnent and faintly disgraceful at the present time. No memes have been set up that give people a sense of security while at the same time upholding moderate Democratic ideals. Until those memes are generated, and broadcast, the public will see the vocal Leftists as the only alternative to the Republican party line.
and, last but not least, 7) Unreconstructed Communists. I didn't even believe such existed until I came to Boston. But here they are, "centers for Marxist education". Some people concentrate on US policy because, long, long ago, they were programmed to do so by the Soviet hierarchy. They'll die out eventually, of course; but in the meantime, believe it or not, they form a core of organizational skill that's nucleated most of the anti-war protests to date. Of course they're going to direct protests toward America-bashing; that's all they know to do.