February 05, 2005

Hypocrisy by hypocrites

Posted by Mary Madigan

Writing for Open Democracy, Dominic Hilton explains why anti-Americanism is "as derisorily fashionable as those ludicrous woolly boots everyone’s presently sporting".

Biggest reason - deriding evil capitalist America is profitable:

Unlike back in ‘68, "I hate America" is now "organised". Not organised in the leftist sense, I mean organised in the Ben and Jerry’s sense. Attractively-packaged, nice tasting, creamy, chocolaty, cookie-dough anti-Americanism that clogs the arteries and numbs the brain.

Fashion trumps sophistication. America’s insignia are ubiquitous – from Ralph Lauren jumpers to Primal Scream album covers to the end of a flaming match in the Arab Street, looking modish even when being burned. I’ve seen kids on TV in Osama bin Laden t-shirts and New York Yankees’ baseball caps (Hello? You don’t see the irony?). I’ve watched young British men in the nondescript north-of-London town of Luton clad in "New York" sweatshirts holding up banners of the extremist Islamic group al-Muhajiroun.

Our rebels are American. So are our anti-Americans. Michael Moore is one of America’s biggest exports. America makes anti-Americanism profitable for America. What a country!

After all, it’s hard to make a buck in a Euro-socialist paradise.

What can we do about it? More 'we’re sorry' photos? More parodies of 'we’re sorry' photos?

Hilton says it best:

America is not the panacea, nor is it the devil. Our problems are generally our problems. The world would do well to be a little more like America, a tad more insular, self-involved.
Good idea. Europe, for example, has a few problems of its own to work on. Let’s make it a new trend for the summer season; something to replace those ludicrous woolly boots.

[link thanks to Harry at Harry’s Place]

Posted by Mary Madigan at February 5, 2005 06:38 AM

Comments

Bummer, all this time and effort spent hating America and nobody told me it was a profitable enterprise.

Posted by: novakant at February 5, 2005 06:57 AM

deriding evil capitalist America is profitable

I just bought a t-shirt with the classic picture of Che Guevara on it that Libs love to wear, except in this one he's wearing mickey mouse ears. Deriding them back can be profitable too, and fun. Go to this website for one of your own:

http://bureaucrash.com/

Posted by: Carlos at February 5, 2005 07:04 AM

So maybe the world wasn't kidding when after 9/11 it said "We're all Americans now!" or is it more truthful for Americans themselves to say, "We are the world?! (given our unprecedented example as a melting pot of all the world's peoples). If that is the case, is it unreasonable to suggest that the world itself might be engaging in an orgy of self-hate? "Jean-Francois Revel suggests that we “project our faults onto America so as to absolve ourselves”". So classic Freudian projection? Right about now I'm picturing a cartoon with Uncle Sam as Freud, sitting beside "the world" reclining on a chaise longue. Uncle Sam is slowly stroking his beard and nodding...

Posted by: Caroline at February 5, 2005 08:27 AM

Now that's an interesting thought. But I'd like to know where the (supposed) self-hate comes from in all these places.

Posted by: Eric Blair at February 5, 2005 08:52 AM

Eric - of course the great thing about playing Freud is that you get to say "Ummm Hmmm - tell me what YOU think!" :-)

But seeing as how I think the Freudian model is a little mean (all that deafening silence is a bit much for people unwilling to look inside themselves) - for starters - how about the massive projection onto Uncle Sam (not to mention Israel) by Middle Eastern Muslims - for their own failures? Maybe we should stick some of those heroin addicted Iranian mullahs on the couch? It would be a rough guess that folks addicted to heroin aren't too happy with themselves. Then afterwards we could proceed to analyze Europe! This could be quite profitable - not to mention fun!

Posted by: Caroline at February 5, 2005 09:11 AM

P.S. - Self-hatred usually stems from lying to oneself. Self-deception and all that...

Posted by: Caroline at February 5, 2005 09:14 AM
Michael Moore is one of America’s biggest exports

I wonder if the writer really understood the pun involved, here.

Posted by: Bithead at February 5, 2005 09:26 AM

novakant: Bummer, all this time and effort spent hating America and nobody told me it was a profitable enterprise.

Well, there was an article about it in last month's Anti-American Profiteer magazine. Want a subscription? I also have subscriptions to the VLFWC Monthly Digest if you need one, comrade.

Seriously, what on earth is with all this self-absorbed fixation on what people think of you? If you're happy with who you are, who cares? Any nation or culture the size of the American one is going to get both fans and critics, as I think Michael eloquantly wrote about in his North Africa trip. Why fixate on the critics?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 5, 2005 09:27 AM

I've got to really think hard about moving to France within the year and I just hate the idea although most of the French I am related to or have met are more interested in Metallica or classic cars than anything political much less anti-American.

But in Marseille you can really get the flavor of Arabs who would like to kill some Jews or Americans. And they're not religious, which is why no one there calls them Muslims... the rap music talks about jihad but it means nothing, it's just an excuse to justify feelings already in place. The Arab teenagers and young men always travel in packs, drinking alcohol smoking hashish (heroin is very rare), bothering girls and generally acting "bad"... they love the idea that they're dangerous, or that everyone thinks they are, that people are afraid of them.

The only thing Islam comes in handy for these guys is to help them oppress and hassle their sisters or any other women they meet. They're total hypocrites. Ah! but if you don't like them cutting in front of everyone in the queue then you're racist, right? The Arabs know the melody to that song very well.

Poor victims! What're you gonna do in America when you get Black Muslims acting up? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. What does he think of sharia law and jihad and honor-rapes? Short skirts. Anyone dare ask?

A lot of Muslims are very reasonable until you get to modern women and bikinis and sex. That's where all the heat comes from.

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 5, 2005 09:30 AM

Merde. In my post above, "VLFWC Monthly Digest" should be "VLWC Monthly Digest" (Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy....). My anti-American European masters will be displeased with my error.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 5, 2005 09:33 AM

Miklos: "A lot of Muslims are very reasonable until you get to modern women and bikinis and sex. That's where all the heat comes from."

Yup - I really appreciate your down-home assessment of the situation. It rings totally true. That's why I think the whole edifice of radical islam will come tumbling down (like Humpty Dumpty) once ME women are able to assert their rights. Like I've said before - WWIV is ultimately about women. Now - where are the American feminists when you really need them?

Posted by: Caroline at February 5, 2005 09:44 AM

Feminism in the West has been absolutely necessary and has led to a lot of great things -- such as, just as one for instance, the discovery or rediscovery or opening up of opportunity of great recent women artists like Eva Hesse or Lydia Dona or Agnes Martin, or composers like Julia Wolfe, or writers beyond Virginia Woolf... Mary Gaitskill, A.M. Homes, Jamaica Kincaid -- if some get overrated for a while that's okay!

Feminism has also I think led to multiculturalism which has also been necessary, as a correction... but now most of the initial good has been accomplished, and the activists have become bureaucrats and ossified in their roles. When Andrea Dworkin claimed all heterosexual sex was rape one knew things were going too far.

Presenting oneself as a victim became a fetish, an excuse for anything. In the movie "Thirteen" it's demonstrated pretty nakedly when the bad girl claims to have been abused, just as a means of getting her way. The audience groans. No more "recovered memory syndrome," please!

But this also applies to phony claims of racism. Feminism makes it hard to deny anyone their status as victim, and to the victim (not the victor!) go the spoils.

Thus the confusion in feminists whose impulse is to see 3rd world Muslims as victims and thus righteous, even if this means they have to ignore what they actually do! Honor-rapes! Female circumcision! Wife-beating endorsed by the local imam!

If you actually read the Koran or the hadiths, it only gets worse!

So it's very hard to get this shit straight. If only the Republicans seem to be fighting the Taliban, but the Republicans also aren't too crazy about abortion or gay marriage, what do you do? The answer has been, for many: they freeze up. Their circuits are jammed. It's too complex!

They think they can wait.

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 5, 2005 10:30 AM

Seriously, what on earth is with all this self-absorbed fixation on what people think of you?

Euros have had a love-hate relationship with America for years – a fact that the ‘we’re sorry’ doofuses still fail to get. If anyone needs to read this article, (and if anyone needs analysis) it’s those self hating Dems.

The article isn’t about the American obsession with the rest of the world – it’s about the world’s weird obsession with America. Euros are like little old ladies, constantly chattering about what a mess their neighbor’s house is as their own house falls down around them. They need a little more self-absorption.

The Arab teenagers and young men always travel in packs, drinking alcohol smoking hashish (heroin is very rare), bothering girls and generally acting "bad"... they love the idea that they're dangerous, or that everyone thinks they are, that people are afraid of them.

I traveled in France when I was a teenager, and it really has changed. One of my daughter’s friends, (about 15 yrs old) was traveling in France, and she was constantly harassed on the streets by those young Arab kids. According to her father, it was so nasty she wanted to come home. It wasn’t like that before. Things are really getting out of control there.

Bernard Lewis said that extremism surfaced in the Arab world when women started leaning towards feminism. Maybe they do hate us for our freedom.

Posted by: mary at February 5, 2005 10:33 AM

Mary --

What I've seen in France is the idea of moving to the countryside. This is the South of France, Provence, where Marseille is now considered to have too many Arabs and too much crime -- and now, just within the last two years, so too the beautiful walled city of Avignon!

And yes, women are now magnets for the worst behavior of young Arab men. Yet I've also been subject to the worst anti-American tirades coming from French women on the left, utterly enraged! (At the very idea of America, seemingly.)

It's funny. I've been reading "The Shores of Light: a literary chronicle of the 1920s and 1930s" by Edmund Wilson -- and European anti-Americanism is mentioned back then! I'm not even going to try to diagnose the root causes, which I think predated WWI, but apparently it's not absolutely new.

How stupid Americans are, how unsubtle, etc. I think this has been coming from England continuously for a long time. Virginia Woolf, as one example, despised Americans and American use of the English language. (But then she also despised James Joyce.)

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 5, 2005 10:56 AM

But many conversations with intelligent, worldly Muslims, when I spent a lot of time in Morocco... would come around, sooner or later, to the woman question, or "pornography" (sometimes broadly defined -- is Playboy still pornography to many here?). That really is where I think the hatred is generated (maybe especially among those who convert).

They seemed much more concerned about modern women than even about the Israelis (which I expected to be a sore point but was not).

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 5, 2005 11:08 AM

One last thing: in France they may say they hate McDonalds, yet McDonalds is quite popular there. Why? Oh, well... the food in the French McDonalds is much better than McDonalds anywhere else. They insist this is true.

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 5, 2005 11:13 AM

DPU: Seriously, what on earth is with all this self-absorbed fixation on what people think of you? If you're happy with who you are, who cares?

That's what I used to say, too. But 911 showed me what the bleeding edge of anti-Americanism leads to. It's a clear and present danger to our country.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 5, 2005 11:18 AM

Speaking of the kind of bleeding-edge anti-Americanism to worry about, here’s an article about a Clockwork Muslim group in Britain:

This is where we do everything - count the money, sell the drugs, hide our guns," he boasts. The picture Winston paints is of an affiliation of gangs - all "converted Muslims" - holding up banks and post offices, trading guns and "taxing" drug dealers, then returning days later to share the booty with affiliates. According to Winston, gang members fan out beyond London to towns such as Reading and Bristol.

If this is true, then Winston and his fellow Muslim Boys are responsible for a national crime wave whose significance extends way beyond south London.

Aren't you worried about the police catching up with you? "The police are f***-all - they don't bother me," he shoots back. "The people I worry about is the gangs. This t'ing of being a Muslim is a new t'ing. It used to be that being in a gang was an individual t'ing. You could come in and leave the next day. But this Muslim t'ing is for life. The only way I can get out of this is if I done a certain amount of murders, then I can get out at the last one."

Posted by: mary at February 5, 2005 11:38 AM

So Dominick Hilton (is he related to Paris and Nikki?) has discovered that corporations have figured out how to package and commodify the counter-culture? Wow, what a flaming rocket scientist this guy must be!!! I don't suppose he's read or heard about Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool, which made the same damn point almost eight years ago.

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/259919.html

Posted by: markus rose at February 5, 2005 11:41 AM

And Michael and Mary -- you're both sound like you're turning from purported liberal hawks into log-cabin Republicans when you bash Europeans for trying to create a economic system and a way of life in which moving up at the firm and having a good portfolio are not the sole purposes of one's life. You should read Tony Judt's review in the New York Review of three new books on Europe, in which he (and Timothy Garton Ash, the conservative author whose current book is one of the books a reviewed) gives a balanced view of the economic health of the western Europe nations, pointing out among other things, that they are generally more productive than U.S. workers, on an hourly basis (not overall though, they don't work as many hours per year, due to generous vacation policies)
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17726

Posted by: at February 5, 2005 11:55 AM

That was me again. Used to be that you couldn't post unless you wrote your name and email first, your new system is different, Michael.

Posted by: markus rose at February 5, 2005 11:56 AM

Markus,

I know the system is different. I was asked to take out the email address requirement, and I thought it was a reasonable request. There's no way I can require a name, though.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 5, 2005 12:10 PM

Markus,

Just click the "Remember personal info" box in the comment window and you'll never accidentally post anonymously again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 5, 2005 12:11 PM

You should read Tony Judt's review in the New York Review of three new books on Europe

Tony Judt? Mr.-one-state-solution in the Middle East? The Nation writer? I'll pass. He’s made some money from his books, but has he released his line of t-shirts yet? That's where the real money is.

I don’t criticize socialism because I dislike it – I criticize it because it’s failing. European nations like Holland and Britain have Islamist paramilitary groups camped out in their communities, and they have no plans or means to defend themselves. Unemployment is out of control. I’ve lived in Europe and I’ve lived here and here is better. Socialism doesn’t work. If being pragmatic makes me not-a-liberal, then I’m not a liberal.

If you want to read some genuine Euro socialism-bashing, read French author Corinne Maier’s book “Hello Laziness”. She mentions the fact that the problem with French society is that they prefer standardized equality over freedom of opportunity. Which may be the problem with socialism in general

Posted by: mary at February 5, 2005 01:19 PM

Oh c'mon Mary, I still check out what Natan Sharansky has to say about democracy for Arabs, even though he is a Jewish chauvanist when it comes to supporting the settlers. Why can't you do the same when it comes to Mr. Judt, and other Jews like him, as well as non-jews like hitchens, who support to one degree or another the idea of binationalism?

If you read the damn article you would find it paints a balanced picture of the pros and cons of the European welfare state. But of course, after 9/11, nuance and balance are just another form of treason, right?

Europeans aren't living in socialist states. Don't argue with me, argue with the CEO's of Ikea, or Nokia, or with Richard Branson, the Donald Trump of England. And their moderately serious immigration and assimilation problems would exist no matter what kind of welfare state they had.

Posted by: markus rose at February 5, 2005 01:48 PM

Mary, you have no idea what you're talking about.

The GDR was a socialist state, the member states of the EU all embrace capitalism in one form or the other.
The Netherlands had a conservative government for a while now, Labour in Britain and the Social Democrats in Germany might nominally belong to the Socialist International, but a quick tour of of London might convince you that capitalism is doing just fine there and Schroeder has just implemented free-market reforms and welfare cuts, which the preceeding conservative government has endlessly put off during its 16-year reign. And should you want to bring up Sweden as a socialist bogeyman, let me inform you that the citizens of this country simply made a deal to pay higher taxes in return for extended government services and seem to be living just fine with this model, while Saab and Ikea are ever expanding capitalist ventures.
If you want to call everything to the right of Milton Friedman socialism, feel free to do so, but it sure won't help further your understanding of economic matters.

Posted by: novakant at February 5, 2005 02:24 PM

um, that should read:

"everything to the left of Milton Friedman"

lol

Posted by: novakant at February 5, 2005 02:26 PM

Actually, markus rose, the CEO of Nokia, Jorma Ollila, has told the Finnish government that if the welfare state doesn't rein in its practices, then Nokia will have no choice but to move to a country that is more business-friendly.

As to Tony Judt, he is just another left-wing American enamored of the European welfare state, but refusing to see that the welfare states of Europe are completely dependent on export markets to an American worker-consumer, who remains flush with cash to spend because he doesn't get taxed to support a welfare state.

Should Americans be taxed at the same level as Europeans... then the European welfare states would collapse.

In other words, Judt refuses to see how Europe exploits the American worker-consumer. And that's what it is: exploitation.

Posted by: Finnpundit at February 5, 2005 04:02 PM

The Grand Ayatollah Speaks Out in Najaf !!!

This is a must read report.Might have been written by the neo-cons in the DOD.Could not be better!!

Posted by: dougf at February 5, 2005 04:35 PM

Well given that less than 10% ($298B) of European exports end up in the U.S. the scenario laid out by FinnPundit is ridiculous. In fact the U.S. is more dependent on Europeans buying their products -Europe receives 18% of U.S. exports. Europe may be a political midget (by design really) but its also a trade behemoth. Western Europe's share of world exports is 43% and its share of
world imports is 42% and it exports 3 times as much as N. American (US + Canada) (roughly $3,000B vs. $1,000B) but W. European nations are also more self-sufficient since 67% of exports from W. European countries end up in Europe.

So when Europeans turn on their TVs at night and hear George W. Bush lecture them about how America is the greatest country on the face of planet earth and how Americans are the greatest assembly of humans ever to have congregated since the beginning of recorded time how its destiny is guided by God and how Americans are the most generous people in the history of humankind and how non-Americans are freedom-hating commie pondscum they just roll their eyes, tuck their kids in bed and get ready for another day at work.

Anti-americanism is detestable but in the end its not very important because its skin-deep and because Europe is politically impotent. The real threat is American nationalism, a bleief system which estranges Americans from the world and distorts their view of reality and makes them believe that, say, Saddam is a threat. For a brilliant analysis see Anatol Lieven's compelling book, "America Right or Wrong".

Posted by: Aletheuia at February 5, 2005 05:24 PM

Seriously, what on earth is with all this self-absorbed fixation on what people think of you?--DPU

A h h h h h h !!!
The most satisfying DPU post ever .First the Evil Empire is castigated for not paying proper attention to the burnt-out used-to-be something powers in Europe.Too cowboy!!
Simply too 'gauche'dont' you think.
Now it's 'Hey,mellow out guts.Why are you paying any attention to these 'natering nabobs of negativism' anyway?'
And I say again---- A h h h h h h!!!

Posted by: dougf at February 5, 2005 05:36 PM

Europeans aren’t living in entirely socialist states and Europe isn’t doomed. Their states lean more towards socialism than the US, though, which may be why they’re having these problems. Fortunately, they have enough capitalism in the mix to give hope that they’ll stay afloat.

It is in everyone’s interest for the European economy to improve. When it comes to trade and the economy, cooperation is the best policy. Schadenfreude doesn't help anyone.

And yes, the American taxpayers have been subsidizing Europe for decades. We’re fully aware that we’ve been exploited. That may explain why we’re not too happy when Euros call us pigs.

Aletheuia – you say “Anti-americanism is detestable but in the end its not very important because its skin-deep and because Europe is politically impotent. The real threat is American nationalism”

Maybe European political impotence is the problem - and maybe Europeans should try to fix that problem.

Posted by: mary at February 5, 2005 08:30 PM

One thing both sides of the asile need to do is quit referring to "Europe" as if it's one great monolithic block, with symetrical human beings who all think and live the same way. People who lvie in portugal, live, behave and run their country differently than people in Austria.

And as far as I know, unless you want to speak in Friedmanian terms about what percentage a country is socialist (a system by which even the U.S. is socialist) there are no 'socialist' countries in Western Europe. Even the most strongly centrally powered social democratic country in Europe, especially since the neo-liberal reforms of the 1990s, ultimately has much much more in common economically with The United States than it does with any country with actual existing socialism, like North Korea, Cuba or Libya. That includes Sweden.

Posted by: Eptiome at February 5, 2005 10:29 PM

Aletheuia -- I'll second Mary's comments and add a few of my own.

American "nationalism" is a response to 9/11. Nothing more. Remember that Bush came into office with a rather isolationist agenda, his big foreign policy initiative was expanded trade and immigration reform with Mexico. He specifically rejected "nation building" and foreign military adventure such as Bosnia/Kosovo, Somalia, Haiti, and other Clinton/Bush 41 actions.

That changed after 9/11; Europeans view terror in their countries as something just to be managed, pay the bad men and they go away, the worst that can happen is a few people you don't know die. Perhaps that might have been the reaction had the attack been smaller, we'll never know. The massive scale and death toll of the attack pretty much guaranteed a galvanized America determined to "fix" the problem and go home, eventually.

American "nationalism" is the determination to never again get hit like we did from Afghanistan. Europeans have avoided this problem with appeasement, but even in Spain this has only increased their demands (now including Al-Andulus) and aborted terror plots (World Cup, their courts, etc).

Europe's problems are a system that makes having Children very costly (and penalizes folks for having them); stifling regulations/monopolies that discourage investment and innovation; a massive dependency on low-wage immigrant labor; this immigrant labor pool being largely unassimilated; and being right next door to very poor nations with large populations and unstable governments.

Europe has effectively ZERO military capability and depends ENTIRELY on the US military umbrella. NATO could not even stop mighty Serbia from killing people in Bosnia or Kosovo. Europe has a lot of wealth that could be carted off in raids. This is not a good situation.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at February 5, 2005 10:47 PM

Epitome: Even the most strongly centrally powered social democratic country in Europe, especially since the neo-liberal reforms of the 1990s, ultimately has much much more in common economically with The United States than it does with any country with actual existing socialism, like North Korea, Cuba or Libya. That includes Sweden.

Having just travelled to Libya and France on the same trip, I have to agree with this. Libya has real live Socialism, and it's obvious just by looking at the place. Paris, by comparison, looked to my sore eyes like the mothership of Capitalism after Tripoli. The difference is indescribably enormous. The difference between the US and France is only in the details, however.

Western Europe isn't really socialist. Eastern Europe was, and no longer is. Europe has a lot more regulation than the US does. And while regulation and socialism are both statist, that's where the similarity ends.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 6, 2005 12:37 AM

"Western Europe isn't really socialist."

This is false. I strongly suggest that you spend more time visiting Megan McArdle’s blog---and ignore Christopher Hitchens when he speaks on economic matters. Megan has got her act together. Hitchens doesn’t have a clue. Arnold Kling is also a superb economic analyst.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 6, 2005 08:34 AM

Although most European countries are, to varying degrees, influenced by capitalism, most define themselves as social democrats, members of the Socialist International.

European politics do confuse me (Jacques Chirac is center-right?). Defining ‘socialist’ is about as difficult as defining liberal or neo-con. Social democrats appear to be the moderates, since the Right, the Left and most everyone else disagrees with them.

Posted by: mary at February 6, 2005 09:02 AM

"Western Europe isn't really socialist."

"This is false."

Explain or clarify.

Posted by: Epitome at February 6, 2005 09:34 AM

“Defining ‘socialist’ is about as difficult as defining liberal or neo-con.”

There is no such thing as a completely laissez faire economy. It’s merely a matter of where the line is drawn. Americans are significantly uneasy with the government’s intervention in the economic sphere. Old Europeans are far more receptive in the belief that their politicians can make everything “fairer.” Our citizens are less risk adverse. We take significantly more chances---and this is the only way of creating a viable and growing economy.

I will make it short and sweet: do you thoroughly understand Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” concept? If you don’t---you need to think twice before ever again commenting on economic matters. I’m trying to be polite, but such a lack of knowledge is inexcusable.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 6, 2005 09:39 AM

Some people here might sure benefit from a subscription to the Economist. While I happen to disagree with them on many issues, they tend to be pretty good at providing objective information about Europe and other foreign places.

Posted by: novakant at February 6, 2005 10:02 AM

While I don't often agree with novakent, he's absolutely correct that The Economist is a great source for quality reporting on international politics and economics.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 6, 2005 10:17 AM

“Some people here might sure benefit from a subscription to the Economist.”

I need to renew my subscription. They just send me another reminder. Megan McArdle apparently writes (or did write) for this publication. There are far too many people who think that warm and mushy feelings concerning economics is sufficient. They don’t feel even slightly obligated to do any studying. Sadly, Christopher Hitchens seems to be one these folks. Such an attitude must not be tolerated.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 6, 2005 10:25 AM

While I don't often agree with novakent, he's absolutely correct that The Economist is a great source for quality reporting on international politics and economics.

And while I generally don't agree with Mark, I too agree that the Economist is a valuable and well-written periodical. Except for those cutesy captions on the photos, I could live without those.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 6, 2005 10:28 AM

"Although most European countries are, to varying degrees, influenced by capitalism, most define themselves as social democrats, members of the Socialist International."

Well yes, the same way a Jazz musician is influenced by the blues. Western European Social Democratic countries are capitalist market countries. Social Democracy is nothing more than Market capitalism with socialist band-aids (minimum wage, 35-40 hour work weeks, maternal leave, trade unionism, public welfare state, a free public education, some form of nationalized health care etc.) Many social democratic countries retain nominal membership in one of the many socialist internationals because social democracy's roots lie in a reformist rout to Democratic Socialism. Social Democrats abandoned marxism long ago and most have had obsolete commitments to controlling the means of production in their party's charters stricken or completely rewritten. Socialism is dead (duh) and the Social Democrats know this better than anyone else. The only argument now is between more libertine hands off market capitalism and more strongly business regulated (consumer, environmental protections etc) market capitalism; with SD countries leaning more and more toward the former.

"European politics do confuse me (Jacques Chirac is center-right?)."

Essentially yes. In that he's a gaulist who runs on platforms of tax cuts, tougher crime laws and privatization of nationalized industry and made his name running against a former President of France who was an actual socialist.

Not to nitpick because I consider myself a 'liberal' or 'leftist' who holds views somewhat to the right of my own American party much less a European leftist party, but whenever a difference between the political culture's of the U.S. and 'Europe' is highlighted why do we act like THEY are the strange ones? And why would the idea of Chirac being a center-right politician be strange other than for the fact that he is French and anti-war?

There are a few webites that feature a political compass that gauges where you stand left to right and libertarian to authoritarian; many of these sites feature political compassing of well known politicians (such as Chirac) and political parties for comparison. If you ever gander at one of these compasses, you'll see that Chirac (and many other allegedly socialist civic figures) have much more in common with Ronald Reagan than Fidel Castro.

Posted by: Epitome at February 6, 2005 10:40 AM
dougf: The Grand Ayatollah Speaks Out in Najaf !!!

This is a must read report.Might have been written by the neo-cons in the DOD.Could not be better!!

Strange, I don't recall any Neo-Con policy about the constitution being based on Islam:
Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and another top cleric staked out a radical demand that the constitution must state Islam is the sole source of legislation.

[...] A surprise statement released by Sheikh Ibrahim Ibrahimi, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ishaq al-Fayad, one of the five key marja religious leaders, set out the demand.

"All of the ulema (clergy) and marja, and the majority of the Iraqi people, want the national assembly to make Islam the source of legislation in the permanent constitution and to reject any law that is contrary to Islam," said the statement.

A source close to Sistani announced soon after that the spiritual leader backed the demand.

"The marja has priorities concerning the formation of the government and the constitution. It wants the source of legislation to be Islam," said the source.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 6, 2005 11:00 AM

Epitome, I would add to your list of characteristics of modern Social Democrat states the willingness to become actively involved in certain industries. The specific example I'm thinking of is Airbus. (The new A380's fuselage is constructed in England, barged across to France, hauled in sections along highways -- some of which had to be widened and modernized -- to a hanger where they'd actually assemble the pieces. There's an efficient assembly process.)Airbus' parent governments are also much more open in subsidizing development and promoting sales than would be acceptable for the United States government. (Do NOT broach the topic to a Boeing employee unless you have a lot of time and a tolerance for spittle.)

And then, of course, there's the BBC....

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 6, 2005 11:02 AM
In other news,
A leading contender to become Iraq's new prime minister has offered to welcome Moqtadr al-Sadr, the demagogic Shia cleric behind bloody uprisings against coalition forces, into a new government expanded to include those who boycotted the election.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a moderate Shia whose United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) list is certain to top last weekend's poll, told The Telegraph that Sadr, wanted for alleged involvement in the hacking to death of a fellow cleric, was "a good person" who could play a constructive role in the new Iraq.

Interesting development. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 6, 2005 11:07 AM

Socialism is dead (duh) and the Social Democrats know this better than anyone else.

A thoughful post, Epitome, but I disagree with that statement. I live in a 500-member housing co-operative, do my all my banking at a enormously successful credit union, I spend about $3,000 dollars a year on outdoor goods at this 2 million member co-operative, I enjoy a good national health plan, I buy my car insurance from a government-run insurance corporation, and so on. These are all socialist institutions that far outdate Marxism and communism, were present at the birth of utopian socialism, and have proved the most resiliant.

Also, one might say that capitalism too is dead, in that the market system as we have it today is a far cry from what Adam Smith described.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 6, 2005 11:24 AM

David Thompson - The point of my Wikipedia reference, quoted here:

"Social democracy is a political ideology emerging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from supporters of Marxism who believed that the transition to a socialist society could be achieved through democratic evolutionary rather than revolutionary means. During the early and mid-20th century, social democrats were in favor of stronger labor laws, nationalization of major industries, and a strong welfare state. Over the course of the 20th century, most social democrats gradually distanced themselves from Marxism and class struggle. As of 2004, social democrats generally do not see a conflict between a capitalist market economy and their definition of a socialist society, and support reforming capitalism in an attempt to make it more equitable through the creation and maintenance of a welfare state. Most social democratic parties are members of the Socialist International, which is a successor to the Second International."

Was to explain why I called Europeans ‘socialists’ in the above post. I call them socialists because they call themselves socialists.

Whether they actually are socialists, or whether they’re overly influenced by creative destruction, risk aversion, zero sum theories, stasism, laziness, anomie, or EU overregulation of the international cheese market is debatable.

In any case, it’s clear that Europe is having problems lately, and they should be the ones to solve them.

Posted by: mary (madigan) at February 6, 2005 11:29 AM

That should be David Thomson (if I'm going to discuss definitions, I should check my spelling)

Posted by: mary (madigan) at February 6, 2005 11:34 AM

mary: Was to explain why I called Europeans ‘socialists’ in the above post. I call them socialists because they call themselves socialists.

How many governments in Europe are socialist?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 6, 2005 11:45 AM

I don't know about socialist governments but the current party leadership in Spain is a socialist party in name if hardly in practice.

Posted by: Epitome at February 6, 2005 11:55 AM

Co-ops are great, but they're not socialist per se, at least as I understand Socialism. Nor are Credit Unions. They're more in line with what was supposed to happen after the implementation of the Marxist state, which was that the state itself was supposed to wither away, and the proletariat would have direct control of the means of production and distribution. (True Believers, please correct me if I'm mistaken.)

Seems to me that in some areas people were just smart enough to bypass the apocolypse and go straight to the bennies. Too bad that ain't so in the area of healthcare.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 6, 2005 12:02 PM

Co-ops are great, but they're not socialist per se, at least as I understand Socialism.

The term "Socialism" was defined by followers of utopian socialist Robert Owen, the father of the co-operative movement. From the Wikipedia article on socialism:
The earliest modern socialist groups were the so-called utopian socialists, who shared characteristics such as focusing on general welfare rather than individualism, on co-operation rather than competition, and on producers of wealth rather than on political leaders and structures. They did not think in terms of class struggle, but argued that the wealthy should join with the poor in building a new society.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at February 6, 2005 12:09 PM

Then my only problem with Socialism is whether it's voluntary (co-ops, credit uniions, etc.) or mandatory (single-payer health care, state-run industry, etc.)

One is Liberal, the other Illiberal, IMHO.

But Utopians of any stripe scare me. (On the other hand, maybe it was easier to sell Utopia than "This won't suck as bad" to the masses back then.)

But seriously, thanks for the history lesson.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 6, 2005 12:36 PM

And riffing for a moment....

Maybe you Socialists should do more to sell the idea of the voluntary kind or Socialism. For instance, Health Insurance co-ops that require healthy lifestyles from participants. Periodic drug screens for nicotine, regular checkups, weight requirements, etc. It seems to me that if you get enough health nuts to organize, you should be able to negotiate a lower group rate than most get through company health plans.

(And voila, if the idea caught on, you'd have positive monetary incentives for healthier lifestyles.)

The stability of a civilization may come down to the degree to which it encourages (or at least tolerates) enlightened self interest. I'll have to think about that.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 6, 2005 12:40 PM

David Thomson: "Western Europe isn't really socialist." This is false. I strongly suggest that you spend more time visiting Megan McArdle’s blog

Megan is a personal friend of mine. I read most of what she writes whether I agree with her or not.

Anyway, I strongly suggest you visit a real socialist country like I did. Then go to Europe. Then come home. Then compare and contrast. The difference between real live actual socialism and Western Europe is, as I said, indescribably enormous. The difference between the US and Europe is ten feet, while the difference between Europe and Libya is one hundred miles. Same with Europe and Cuba, et al.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 6, 2005 12:50 PM

“Anyway, I strongly suggest you visit a real socialist country like I did.”

That actually could be a very bad idea. Rarely does one grasp the big picture in this manner. You are probably better served studying the cold economic statistics. And when you do---you will quickly realize that the United States is substantially wealthier than France. The French are not having enough children and their more ambitious citizens are leaving the country. I will, though, concede that living in France is better than doing so in either Cuba or Libya.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 6, 2005 01:54 PM

Apparently there aren’t too many Freudian experts at this site or they would have called me on my erroneous first post. Guess I'll have to correct myself. It makes no sense from a Freudian POV to suggest that the world projects self-hate onto America because that would imply a belief that America hates itself. (An example of projection is when a spouse tempted to have an affair becomes convinced that their spouse is cheating on them). Having re-read more carefully the article Mary links to, I see that Dominic Hilton himself relies on Freud but refers to the defense mechanism of “displacement” to explain anti-Americanism. I suppose projection might also play a role in some quarters – say if the French happened to detest America for its arrogance. Nevertheless, I do still think the image of Uncle Sam as Freud, with the world as the patient has some relevance but the proper Freudian concept would be “transference”, which implies that the therapist is something of a blank slate onto which the patient transfers their various unconcscious dynamics. It would encompass any number of defense mechanisms. The Freudian model is tempting simply because of what appears to be the sheer irrationality of the degree of anti-Americanism in the world (that isn’t to suggest that America is literally a blank slate but merely to point to the gap between what America really is vs how the world currently sees it) and I’m not sure where else to look for explanations of irrationality. I did try googling for connections between anti-Americanism and Freudian theory and largely came up empty, although in passing I noted one comment re the world’s “Oedipal” fixation with America, which is another dynamic that one would encounter in transference. There is obviously a great deal that is irrational on a global scale in the world today and I wish there were more psychological approaches to understanding it.

Anyway - there – I felt the need to correct my erroneous post and am feeling a bit better for doing so!

Posted by: Caroline at February 6, 2005 03:42 PM

.. and living in France is better than living in the U.S. or Britain if you believe the tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Brits who have made that choice... and as an American who has lived in France myself I see the attraction.

Posted by: Aletheuia at February 6, 2005 03:59 PM

Proceeding with my analysis :)

What allows the process of transference to take place is the unequal power relationship between the analyst and the patient. That's why the patient reclines on the couch while the analyst sits silently in the chair, I believe behind the patient in most cases, making the patient extremely vulnerable. So perhaps it isn't such a stretch that America becomes the repository of all this transference (both love and hate) precisely because it so much more powerful than the rest of the world.

Also - and this could well piss off a lot of leftists - but has anyone else personally observed any father fixation issues among lefties they know?

Ouch - sorry about that - couldn't help myself. Just trying any angle I can to try to understand the anti-Americanism of the extreme left in this country as well.

Posted by: Caroline at February 6, 2005 04:01 PM

It seems like what you're addressing in Libya is totalitarianism (which as defined by Jeanne Kirkpatrick was juxtaposed to authoritarian governments, as in authoritarian is capable of reform while totalitarian is generally not).

I have heard the expression "Swedish-style socialism" or "soft" socialism used to define what Mitterand wrought in France.

The Socialist candidate for president of France, Lionel Jospin, was expected to win but was defeated because he would not even mention "insecurite" (crime) -- and so the far right Jacques Le Pen came in second in the preliminary round, horrifying everyone so that Jacques Chirac then received up to 80% of the final vote (despite general distaste for him as a crook).

Call the resulting government socialist or not, the government unions are so powerful that the least discussion of pension reform bring demonstrators out into the streets. In Bordeaux as a protest the electrical workers union shut down all electricity without any warning all one evening. Some joke, huh?

And if your company loses money, try to lay anyone off. It cannot be done. This inhibits companies from hiring new workers and stunts growth.

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 6, 2005 04:06 PM

Caroline --

Yes is the answer to the question about leftists and father fixation... but doesn't the logic of this have to extend into the realm of feminist critique of patriarchy, no matter if such patriarchy is benign, malign, or an exaggerated straw man?

Posted by: miklos rosza at February 6, 2005 04:36 PM

Miklos - yes - I think it does. Many modern American leftists cut their teeth on feminism. Evidently the white American male still retains that hold on their imagination. I'm just waiting for the left to grow up and get over it. Why the utter silence in the face of a much more dangerous and oppressive patriarchy in the world today - namely Islam? Since we're talking Freud - is it fixation? This is completely irrational. Maybe we need to wait for an entire generation to die off?

Posted by: Caroline at February 6, 2005 05:07 PM

I've always seen totalitarianism as the system where everyone below the rank of dictator knows that their life is on the line when they cross the boss.

In socialism, especially the advanced parasitic manifestation in Europe, the penalty for transgression is to be returned to the holding pen.

There may be a lot of well-intentioned thought and individuals behind the EU concept. The reality is that it is as unworkable and unregulated as any dictatorship where governance is concerned; who really shows up for EU elections? You know, the one to select delegates?

Thirty percent, aggregate? Somebody will have the figure...

There is no bill of rights, nor anything more majestic than a phonebook worth of platitudes, that stands as an inviolable shield between the governed and the governors. Nothing.

There is no direct electoral control of executive power. That's the part that scares the hell out of me. As written, the charter works great for a bunch of theoreticians and a healthy component of political hacks to carve up the resources of a continent justifiably willing to go the extra mile to end centuries of war. I just think it's not going to work out the way they think it will.

Orwell spent about a half a book setting the stage for the sentiment where "all are equal, but some are more equal than others" had such impact. In the here and now, we've got an EU that france has worked hard to shape into a support system for their own economy - and its been overt all the way. It's just not talked about too much; polity, you know.

I remember when I was in high school that the European kids on student exchange rocked; especially the Germans. Yes, yes, I know they don't send their Bart Simpsons over here - but my girls are attending the seventh and ninth grades in the same school, and they both know either foreign expat or exchange students and are not all that impressed. Anecdotal, yes. Telling? Maybe. None of the ones my daughters attend with are advanced a grade or two for their age. (Oops - I tell a lie: one girl from Taiwan is in ninth grade but is my seventh-grader's age. That was a common thing for the FE students I attended with.

They aren't having kids. They aren't voting. And their schools aren't what they used to be.

If they have to deal with democracies and not dictatorships, what will that change do to their economies? If there's nobody left to sell Mirages to that we'll eventually have to shoot down... if they lose that narrow market for specialty chemicals and machine equipment... if they don't have one perfidous bastard to keep happy but instead have to win bids in a free marketplace...

... what then becomes of the EU experiment? If it was a chamber of commerce I'd not be too worried. If it was nimble enough to learn from mistakes quickly and in a practical manner, that would be good and well.

Unfortunately for the Europeans the EU lives behind about four layers of treaties, ten million dead trees worth of paperwork, and has power concentrated in the hands of a small group of politicians whose main claim to fame is that they couldn't win popular election in their own constituencies.

It's a direct descendant of the most cherished utopic dreams of Rousseau's grandkids. It will not go gently into that good night. Too much power without reasonable electoral restraint; something that we in America never really think about since we have a revolution every four years, like clockwork.

I am not hopefull where the Euroes are concerned. Not at all.

Posted by: TmjUtah at February 6, 2005 05:38 PM

On the one hand we expect Arab opinion to tell the difference between imperialism or religious holy war fought against them (everything from the crusades through Sykes-Picot Agreement) and a war for their own ostensible liberation from authoritarian regimes (as fought by America post 2000, some would have it).

Yet WE can't seem to separate a centuries old distaste and alientation between American and Europe from Islamic Jihadism. It's all just part of the same mold with the latter being on the "bleeding edge," as Michael put it.

The reason this hypocracy is not as palpably obvious to Americans as it is to Europeans, I can venture to guess, is because Europeans have generally been knowledgable about Americo-European history, whereas American's (and American media's) interest in foreign affairs was comparatively non-existant until 9/11.

Posted by: Pav at February 6, 2005 07:17 PM

Well Pav - if there's one phenomenon where I think the concept of "projection" applies - it's in the Muslim (Arab) concept of American "imperialism". Bush rather unfortunately used the term "Crusade" just once. Meanwhile, the term "jihad" has been uttered in many Arab-Islamic circles about a thousand times since 9/11. Also, it would be rather ludicrous to compare the history of American "colonialism" with that of Europe. If Europe is a bit circumspect about its own history then so be it. But I am hard pressed to understand how Europe's guilt applies to the US.

I admit that I may have misunderstood the meaning of some of your post.

Posted by: Caroline at February 6, 2005 07:33 PM

Caroline, I think you did misunderstand. So let me rephrase.

What I'm saying is that it's hypocritical to call on Arabs to see the difference between our war (an act of liberation) and most previous wars (e.g. the opportunist meddling of the European colonialism) fought on their soil.

It is hypocritical when we ourselves can't distinguish between the long history of European distaste for America (see link above) and the jihadist nihilism of the 9/11 plotters.

That is why I took issue with Michael "bleeding edge" comment. What is to be gained by likening a tradition going back through Orwell, Dickens and Kipling (all of wrom lengthy anti-American tracts) to islamist murderers?

Terse version: Don't count on other people's bigmindedness to understand your true intentions when your own smallmindedness can't see past the bridge of your nose.

Posted by: Pav at February 6, 2005 08:08 PM

Pav: "It is hypocritical when we ourselves can't distinguish between the long history of European distaste for America (see link above) and the jihadist nihilism of the 9/11 plotters...Terse version: Don't count on other people's bigmindedness to understand your true intentions when your own smallmindedness can't see past the bridge of your nose."

Pav - I can only speak for myself but I do in fact see a big difference between European anti-Americanism and jihadist hatred for the US. Also -I don't count on anyone's "mindedness" whether big or small. I count on people to see the truth of what is, however hard that may be or however long it takes, whether for us Americans or anyone else.

I admit that I still don't get what you're saying unless the point is to be empathetic to the others' point of view. OK. It is also possible to completely understand where the other is coming from and still reject the validity of their claim. Maybe someone else will really understand your point if I am still missing it. It is quite possible that I am.

Posted by: Caroline at February 6, 2005 08:33 PM

A lot of Muslims are very reasonable until you get to modern women and bikinis and sex. That's where all the heat comes from.

That's funny, because a lot of Protestants are very reasonable until you get to modern biology and Janet Jackson's nipples, and homosexuality. Same general approach to life, different history and context.

Anyway, I love to visit Europe. The food is better, I'm far safer wandering the streets, and if I get hurt, I know I'll be taken care of. I wouldn't mind importing some of that here. Europe is, however, uncomfortably heterogeneous in any given area, and its citizens just are not familiar with the issues the US faces in this regard. They are also profoundly ignorant of their colonialist history, and the anti-Americanism comes very much from these two facts, I think.

Some of the European parties call themselves Socialist, but the Euros have a different definition of Socialism than we do. Their mainstream Communist parties (which are different from our Communist parties) are much closer to our sense of Socialism. Their Socialist Parties look a lot like Dennis Kucinich, who for all his leftiness is not calling for state control of the machineries of production.

Also - and this could well piss off a lot of leftists - but has anyone else personally observed any father fixation issues among lefties they know?

Not so much, but I am familiar with the ongoing conservative fixation with the idea that unless we are living in interesting times, our lives are meaningless.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 6, 2005 10:29 PM

You know, whenever I start reading a post in this here comments section, and I'm required to scroll down more than once to read the whole thing, I'm never surprised to see at the end:

Posted by: TmjUtah

Whom, one might suppose, is trying to claim the Steven Den Beste Chair in Long Posting

Posted by: Dave Ruddell at February 7, 2005 12:12 PM

Dave- I enjoy reading TmjUtah's long posts.

Posted by: markus rose at February 7, 2005 12:57 PM

I enjoy reading TmjUtah’s long posts.

So do I, and Caroline’s too.

Posted by: mary at February 7, 2005 01:04 PM

Kimmit -

Every day is interesting.

If it isn't, I haven't looked hard enough. Or I haven't stopped long enough to appreciate it.

Just saying.

Posted by: TmjUtah at February 7, 2005 05:10 PM

Dave R., c'mon; sometimes I have a long (too boring to even comment upon) post, too.

Animals eat, have sex, often fight/ compete for the privilege of having sex, and sleep. That's, uh, about it for most mammals.

Except humans. Who do ALL of that, plus look for meaning. Outside of sex. And it's no surprise that every serious, large, multi-generation religion has a lot to say about sex. (Suddenly ... MARS needs women. Um, maybe Iraqi men are worried that, at some point, AMERICAN soldiers need women? And, um, the war wasn't about oil, it was about those Iraqi lovelies that Iraqi men have long been lusting over and not getting enough porno satisfaction with... nah...)

But America is both Top Dog in the world, AND claiming moral superiority. If there's anything normal folk don't like it's too much moral superiority -- the Left hates it from the Christians; and the Right is now showing how often the Left violates their own moral superiority codes: eg "free speech -- except nothing offensive to PC sensibilities"; and Truth to Power, but no Eason Jordan lies being mentioned by the powerful MSM.

And just like the Rich and Famous in the US, or the UK (the Royals... who cares that Harry thinks the Nazis can be a joke?), get the most attention -- everywhere on Earth, they think the US doesn't pay enough attention to THEM! (Just like MJT doesn't pay enough attention to moi. Hey, 4:30 am; supposed to be preparing my lectures.)

The world pays attention to the single SuperPower, and hates that THEY do not have that power, that super (duper?) power. Dems in America. Everybody else everywhere else.

And whenever (morally superior? ha!) Bush makes a mistake (not perfect, not perfect!!!), that is proof, in their eyes, that THEY should have that super duper power instead of Bush.

So God must have made a mistake, or something ...

[see, I warned you. As long as but quite different.]
[But I was commenting here earlier. I think.
Wine. Is. Red. But now gone.]

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 7, 2005 07:32 PM

Tom Grey - that was funny! (A little sympatico vino Tom?) But about your mammals scenario - you underestimate our furry friends. Domestic pets - dogs especially - display an unconditional love that puts humans to shame. I really mean that. Humans have a great deal to learn from dogs. I currently have 2 dogs and 4 cats in a fairly small space and that's just my current bunch amongst a long parade of strays.

Mary - that was a nice thing to say:). If my posts tend on the lengthy side - mea culpa! Economy of expression is something I should work on. This site is rather short on women posters for some strange reason so I always look forward to yours, especially when you are given the honor of "guest host". You do Michael proud when he leaves you in charge of the fort!

Last post on the thread?! Redheaded Dead Thread Head!

Posted by: Caroline at February 7, 2005 08:16 PM

I wasn't complaining about the length of the posts, honestly! I liked Den Beste's site!
I was just trying out that thing the Jerry Seinfeld refers to as 'observational humour'.
Guess it needs a little work.

And yes, Tom, I know you post long as well.

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