Tag Archives: neo-conservative

#UpInSmoke: #Harper’s #CPC and #Ford’s #FordNation Ideological Subversion of #cdnpoli #senca

It seems as if “We the People” have found ourselves in quite a predicament and the implications are far reaching. Does the cost of “power” consolidation to an “individual” include servitude to foreign investment schemes that can simply “buy” that one individuals influence? Is Canada simply “closed” for “face to face” business domestically so that it may be politically “sold” to the highest faceless international bidders in a globalized fire sale? Why are the seemingly exponential and expanding connections to organized criminal activity and undue influence within the halls of Government being allowed?

PM Harper’s houses of disrepute By Paul E Kennedy — National Newswatch — Nov 19 2013
“The Prime Minister bears responsibility for having brought the two Houses of Parliament to their knees and turned them into houses of disrepute. This situation could only have come to pass because government MPs and Senators have placed narrow partisan interests and blind loyalty to the leader of the day before their responsibility to the people of Canada and the ideals of justice and democracy.”

The real problem now lies with how the various media conglomerates and social media outlets decide to continue spinning lies to divert our collective eyes from the ultimate prize. Surely another riddle or question to ponder is not the option but another perspective and direction is desperately needed. Somehow we need to force the narrative towards and away from the clown prince of the neo-conservative movement since their ultra-far-right agenda is forging ahead behind this 3 ring circus that they have spent billions of our tax dollars to create. They are collectively proving themselves to be the both sides of the “wars” they have waged in our collective names and successfully downloaded the costs to us. As a refresher, below are the fundamental “sales pitches” of the international ultra-right-wing investor to acquire our tax dollars:

  1. War on Crime
  2. War on Drugs
  3. War on Terror

Now is the time for the collective will of “We the People”, the true majority, to set aside our seemingly petty disagreements and understand our adversaries adversary and their tactics. The fact that the Harper Regime has not tossed Rob Ford under the bus is due to the fact that they desperately need the Ford Nation to pursue their mandate. This will prove to be self-defeating as they have lost all control and need the drunken buffoonery to continue and could care less of the well being of Rob Ford but certainly do NOT care about his wife, children, family or friends. They are proving themselves to be the greedy malcontents that they really are by fueling the criminal side by way of the subversion of the Constitution and Charter to their own needs.

“We the People” need to oxidize their narrative, cut off their funds and smoke ’em outta their caves by simply reviewing and investigating further, in no specific order, a few points that are glaringly missing in the media reporting these days which stifles it’s growth via social media:

  • PMO Scandal(s) – Investigations into Frauds upon the Government, Breach of Trust, Conspiracy, Blackmail, etc.
  • Aboriginal, Indigenous and First Nations – Education, health care, missing women, treaty rights, human rights, land rights, resource development rights, international investor involvement in illegal police state measures.
  • Senate Scandal(s) – In addition to attempts to prevent representative and truly transparent reform, once the Supreme Court Justices began pondering and questioning the future implications of the potential for a potentially undemocratically elected majority caucus to create the conditions for a dictatorship, everyone shut the story down.
  • National Security – Missing millions from border security and community resources, PMO compromised, Rob Ford compromised, Foreign Policy, selective investment in Human Rights at home and abroad.
  • Robocalls Scandal(s) – Puzzling, but hey, due process usually catches up with reality after the next election cycle.
  • CETA – Skimpy draft text presentation is unacceptable at best, not to mention it conflicts with NAFTA and other agreements with the US.
  • TPP – Having to wait for “Anonymous” sources and WikiLeaks for leaked drafts of secret long term “trade” agreements that affect everyone is criminal.
  • Electronic Surveillance – As other Nation and States seem to be taking proactive responses to at least pacify the citizenry, having to wait for “Anonymous” sources and Snowden for details is ridiculous.
  • Crime, Punishment, Immigration and Detention – Selective systems rife with corruption and abuse. Unconstitutional omnibus legislation, horrific conditions within the prison systems, overburdened court systems, under representation of the detained, expanded police powers, out-sourcing and privatizing detention services.
  • Currency Wars and Trade Wars – Setting the pretext and domestic conditions to assure that the “budget plan” gets interrupted by global “economic” conditions. Easily done by way of an over valued dollar that encourages quick short term, low to no interest foreign investment in the housing, financial and resource extraction bubbles at the expense of the tourism and export sectors.
  • Tax Evasion Haven – Been a while since we have explore offshore but this ties into the Economic Extraction Action Plan. More appropriately summarized as the Plan of Action to Extract as much liquidity out of the Canadian economy as possible before the inevitable bursting of the bubbles.
  • Veterans Issues – Lest we forget…

Now, getting back to the familiar and failing narrative, the diversion that is Rob Ford, who actually defines the neo-conservative caucus by way of accurate representation. Just take a peek Stateside and look into the crowds that comprise Koch Nation by way of the ultra-right-wing elements of the neo-conservative Tea Party movement. You’ll notice the same divide between “traditional” conservative values and “ideological” values cloaked within the conservative context.

One may wonder what, or why, or how, any of these issues could converge and/or be interconnected and why the thought is never allowed to cross their minds that “Stephen Harper” may not have the best long term interests in “his” mind for Canada. Now how many times “he” get’s caught up in “his” own lies, his caucus seems blinded to what is occurring before their collective eyes. But then again any good conman, crook or criminal knows that for the most part, the most obvious is always the least obvious. This is where the msm narrative needs to be injected with some facts that they are careful to mention in passing but not fully explore. No matter how hard they try, proper chronological documentation elsewhere will assure that facts will not die.

The fact remains that a small minority of ideological internationalist ultra-neo-conservative loyalists have convinced the majority of  persons with “conservative values” that in order to “win” an election they need the ultra-right-wing Reform/Alliance members led by Stephen Harper. To this end to “win” an election and an eventual majority to govern with authority, they became willingly subservient to the whims of a “leader” without having to admit they have enslaved themselves to a “master” that is controlled by international investors that do not have a vested interest in Canada.

 


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The Death of Neoconservatism: Six Questions for C. Bradley Thompson

The Death of Neoconservatism: Six Questions for C. Bradley Thompson

By Scott Horton
December 6, 6:06 PM, 2010

 

C. Bradley Thompson, a political science professor at Clemson University, has recently teamed up with Yaron Brook to write Neoconservatism: An Obiturary for an Idea, a classical-liberal critique of the neoconservative movement. The book systematically examines the economic, political, and cultural underpinnings of neoconservatism, exploring its relationship to the philosophy of Leo Strauss and its influential and menacing ideas about warfare. I put six questions to Thompson about the book:

1. At the core of your book is the notion that neoconservatism is dead. But consider that Politico recently published an analysis of Obama’s Middle East policies in which ten of eleven persons quoted were neocons (the eleventh was a Palestinian). The Washington Post’s editorial page is rapidly becoming a neocon fortress. Is it really time to talk about the “death” of neoconservatism?

[Image]
C. Bradley Thompson

The short answer is both “no” and “yes.” The neocons still dominate the conservative think-tank world, and they are a major presence in the media. They play a major role in defining the ideas of the conservative intellectual movement and the policies of the Republican Party. On one level, they are far from irrelevant and must be taken seriously.

Why then an obituary? The title plays off the title of one of Irving Kristol’s most important essays, “Socialism: An Obituary for an Idea,” which was as much prognostic as it was diagnostic. Professional obituarists also often write the biographical parts of a death notice long before their subjects die. Our book, then, should be read as prolegomena to any future obituary. We also hope our obituary for neoconservatism serves, paradoxically, as the murder weapon as well. Readers might imagine Charlotte Corday writing and publishing Marat’s obituary as she traveled to Paris.

2. What do the neocons mean by “governing philosophy,” and how does this affect the way they engage in politics in America?

The neoconservative vision of a good America is one in which ordinary people work hard, read the Bible, go to church on Sunday, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, practice homespun virtues, sacrifice themselves to the “common good,” obey the commands of the government, fight wars, and die for the State. . . . In summary, the neoconservatives are the advocates of a new managerial State—a State controlled and regulated by a new mandarin class of conservative virtucrats who think the American people are incapable of governing themselves without the help of the neocons’ special, a priori wisdom.

—From Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea

Reprinted by permission of Paradigm Publishers—© 2010 Paradigm Publishers

Identifying and deciphering what the neocons mean by this notion of a “governing philosophy” is, I think, one of the most important and original contributions of our book, and it’s the key to understanding their public-policy advice to the Republican Party.

The neocons explicitly reject the suggestion that neoconservatism is a systematic political philosophy grounded in absolute and certain moral principles. Instead, they describe it euphemistically as a “mood,” a “style,” or a “mode of thinking.” They don’t want the broader conservative movement limited by the straightjacket of permanent first principles. Not surprisingly, then, neoconservatism is an amalgam of several different ideologies. Daniel Bell once described himself as “a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture,” which sums up rather nicely the content of their philosophy of governance.

But there’s more. The neocons’ “philosophy of governance” means three things. First, it’s a technique that teaches rulers or potential rulers how to think about politics rather than what to think. It’s about developing pragmatic tactics for getting, keeping, and using power in certain ways. It’s about knowing how to improvise, modify, and adapt one’s principles to changing circumstances. Machiavellian prudence must always trump principle.

Second, the neocons’ idea of a “governing philosophy” is also a conceit, which says that properly educated statesmen will have the necessary practical wisdom to balance competing social claims and to establish a golden mean for all public policy questions. The neocons place a great deal of emphasis on the “art” of statecraft, which assumes that wise statesmen can channel human action in certain socially-desired directions by tinkering with the incentive mechanisms of America’s political, economic, and social institutions. In defending the welfare state, for instance, Norman Podhoretz once wrote that wise neoconservative statesmen could identify “the precise point at which the incentive to work” would be “undermined by the availability of welfare benefits.”

Finally, connected to the neocons’ notion of a governing philosophy is their advice to Republicans to “think politically,” which means learning how to dissimulate and compromise their principles in order to acquire and keep power. It means compromising with the secular Left when necessary (particularly when liberals make moral arguments in defense of the welfare state) and with the religious Right when necessary (particularly when religious conservatives can be rallied to challenge the cultural hegemony of the nihilistic Left).

How far will Prime Minister Stephen Harper go with separatists to hang onto power?

by david on June 26, 2012 in Canadian Constitution, Canadian Politics, Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair, Wedge Politics


Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, with Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois … or something very much like that. The politicians pictured above may not be exactly as illustrated in real life. Below: Thomas Mulcair, Jack Layton.

Now that our sullen neo-conservative prime minister is on speaking terms once again with former PM Brian Mulroney – in desperate hopes of staving off an eventual electoral disaster in Quebec at the hands of the federalist NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair – one wonders how long it will be before the Harper Government sits down to sup with separatists.

Sure enough, it was only a few hours after Mr. Harper’s meeting with Mr. Mulroney that Industry Minister Christian Paradis, the PM’s “Quebec lieutenant,” had proclaimed a rapprochement between the Harper Conservatives and the separatist Parti Quebecois. Details, it is reported, will follow.

What a catastrophe from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s perspective that he must eventually face an opponent who is both immensely popular in Quebec and a demonstrably a committed federalist!

Indeed, it can be persuasively argued that Mr. Mulcair is a much better federalist than Mr. Harper. Mr. Mulcair, after all, took a chance on the federal NDP at time when being anything but a sovereignist in Quebec looked like a recipe for electoral suicide. Mr. Harper is well known as a signatory to a sovereignist screed in Alberta that refuses to go peaceably down the Memory Hole, despite the best efforts of the Conservative media establishment here and elsewhere.

So now Mr. Harper, after long rejecting Mr. Mulroney as a political embarrassment over the Airbus Affair, has come hat in hand to his elder for some tips on how to make Quebec behave itself.

And one of the key secrets to Mr. Mulroney’s electoral success, as is well known, was his willingness to welcome Quebec nationalists into the federal Conservative fold.

This is not to suggest that Mr. Mulroney was making common cause with the separatist movement in Quebec for cynical reasons. On the contrary, the Conservative apologist Robert Fulford likely had it right when he stated that Mr. Mulroney “set out to bring permanent internal peace to Canada by dissolving the arguments for separatism.”

This is what drove the genuinely patriotic Mr. Mulroney’s efforts to recognize the reality that Quebec constitutes a “distinct society” within Canada, which culminated in the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords that had failed so irrevocably by 1992.

It was English Canada’s deep discomfort with recognizing that reality – with Mr. Mulroney’s vision of Canada as two nations in one country – that provided the wedge for the Reform Party under Preston Manning not only to defeat Mr. Mulroney’s constitutional proposals in a national referendum, but to set up the takeover by the Reform Party of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003.

There is no little irony in the reality these were the circumstances that allowed the rise of the American-influenced and ideologically fundamentalist wing of Canada’s conservative movement – eventually led by the steely eyed Mr. Harper after Mr. Manning and Stockwell Day proved insufficiently hard edged – to form the government.

And now the grip on the country by Mr. Harper and his fellow ideologues is weakening, in no small part because their neoconservative nostrums are so unconvincing to the people of Quebec.

But if Mr. Mulroney only welcomed Quebec nationalists to get them to become Canadian nationalists, can we trust Mr. Harper to be motivated by the same thing?

This seems unlikely. Mr. Harper’s (neo) Conservative Party, after all, is the one that has been willing to slap Quebec at every turn and on every issue – whether it’s support for the arts, the long-gun registry or military adventures abroad – the better to drive effective electoral wedges within English Canada.

This was the party that was prepared, for example, to scream that former Liberal leader Stephane Dion and the late NDP leader Jack Layton were “selling out to separatists” when they dared in 2008 to talk of a democratic coalition that would depend on votes from the sovereignist Bloc Quebecois, a story that has now been mostly purged from the Internet.

And this was the party whose MPs shouted down Quebec MP Gilles Duceppe, then the leader of the BQ, by singing O Canada when he tried to speak about the coalition in Parliament – a crude riposte that, quite literally, must have been music to the ears of Quebec’s die-hard separatists.

“This deal that the leader of the Liberal Party has made with the separatists is a betrayal of the voters of this country, a betrayal of the best interests of our economy, a betrayal of the best interests of our country, and we will fight it with every means that we have,” said Mr. Harper at the time. …But that was then.

Do you seriously think that facing a popular national NDP leader from Quebec with impeccable federalist credentials, Mr. Harper won’t take greater risks, drive deeper wedges, make more dangerous promises, make deals with anyone, in his efforts to keep his increasingly unpopular government afloat?

Yesterday’s grainy attack ad on Mr. Mulcair – almost a parody of itself – was one part of Mr. Harper’s strategy. Seeking out strange bedfellows is obviously another.

So will Mr. Harper sup with the separatists? It is said here he is bound to. And don’t count on him using a long spoon!

source: http://albertadiary.ca/2012/06/how-far-will-prime-minister-harper-go-with-separatists-to-hang-onto-power.html

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

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continue reading source: http://albertadiary.ca/2012/06/how-far-will-prime-minister-harper-go-with-separatists-to-hang-onto-power.html

David Climenhaga is an award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at the Toronto Globe and Mail and Calgary Herald. Read More


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SA@TheDC – Does Attacking Neoconservatism Reflect Racism or Reality?

Uploaded by on Aug 29, 2011 https://youtu.be/fp2Tksg1O0M

Why many conservatives are really afraid of this debate.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp2Tksg1O0M

Category: News & Politics

License: Standard YouTube License

continue to source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fp2Tksg1O0M


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INDEPTH: EVANGELISM Canada’s Evangelical movement: political awakening

INDEPTH: EVANGELISM
Canada’s Evangelical movement: political awakening
CBC News Online | June 14, 2005

From The National, June 13, 2005
Reporter: Keith Boag
Producer: Leiane Cooke

Thousands of people attend an anti-same-sex marriage march on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 9, 2005. (CP Photo/Jonathan Hayward)
Thousands of people attend an anti-same-sex marriage march on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 9, 2005. (CP Photo/Jonathan Hayward)

It wasn’t that long ago that Canada’s Supreme Court said it’s up to Ottawa to decide who gets married in this country.

Canada might not make as big a deal of it as some in other countries do, but this country is founded on principles that recognize both the rule of law and the supremacy of God.

If that last part is news, check your Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The reference to the supremacy of God is right off the top.

An Ipsos-Reid poll in May 2005 found more than 60 per cent of Canadians say they believe in God and that religion is an important part of their lives.

Naturally, some of those people have strong feelings about the traditional definition of marriage and are upset with plans to change it. And nowhere more so than in Southwestern Ontario, the heart of what some call the Bible Belt.

Tristan Emmanuel
Tristan Emmanuel

Now Tristan Emmanuel has an audience and a goal. The Ontario minister is deeply opposed to same-sex marriage, and he’s organizing those who share his convictions. He is reminding those he talks to that they decide who goes to Ottawa.

Cambridge, Ont., is very churchy in its public square and somewhat wistful in its recollections of simpler times.

It’s difficult to overstate the impact on the Christian communities in a place like Cambridge of an issue like same-sex marriage legislation. To some, it’s as though their federal government were now operating in a different solar system, one so far away they couldn’t reach it in a million years, even travelling at the speed of light.

So they wonder, whatever happened to the influence they believed they once had on the direction of this country, and how do they get that influence back?

Church Sign

In churches such as this, the Orthodox Christian Reform Church of Cambridge, there is a kind of political awakening happening encouraged by the Reverend Tristan Emmanuel.

Among his firm beliefs is that the time has come for Christians to speak with a louder voice in the world of politics.

Emmanuel says: “I stand here and [a] newspaper headlines says, ‘Gay bill fast tracked,’ and it goes on to say the federal government told Liberal MPs yesterday it will push same-sex marriage legislation through Parliament before a summer recess prompting critics to charge the Liberals that they are ignoring public complaints about the controversial bill. That is an understatement!”

Emmanuel says Christians have been too timid in their approach to politics. He believes that homosexuality is a choice people make and a bad one, and he wants the same-sex marriage issue to shake up his fellow Christians and bring him into what he calls the public square.

Emmanuel

“I believe it so much that I think we need to vote for members of Parliament who will defend that institution and will not allow for the re-altering, the redefinition, the reconfiguration of it, and to me, that is essential to who I am as a Christian and as a Canadian. It’s a Canadian virtue, it’s a Canadian institution.” Emmanuel says.

“I don’t know why that’s scary. Why is that scary? It wasn’t 10 years ago, in fact, it wasn’t five years ago, when the federal government including the federal Liberals agreed that we will not change the definition.”

Reverend Tristan Emmanuel is not a household name nor an important player in the evangelical community, not yet. But it was Emmanuel who put together an anti-same-sex rally in Ottawa this spring. The turnout was surprisingly strong, somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people. That raised the question whether the marriage issue has the power to draw people into active politics who would not previously have considered it.

Stephen Harper at an anti-same-sex rally
Stephen Harper at an anti-same-sex rally

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper told the rally, “We can win this fight!”

Then suddenly a national newspaper headline alerted readers that Christian activists have been getting behind candidates at Tory nominating meetings near Halifax and elsewhere. In the middle of the story, there was Tristan Emmanuel’s name.

And what was he doing in Halifax?

“Motivating, motivating the evangelical community out there and the Roman Catholic community, too. I want to be clear here that while I’m evangelical, I’ve been involved with Roman Catholics, and I love so many of them. They’re in there as well,” Emmanuel says.

continue reading: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/evangelical/


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The Imperial Bluster of Tom Delay – Dreams and Delusions

by Edward Said
August 20, 2003

During the last days of July, Representative Tom Delay (Republican) of Texas, the House majority leader and described routinely as one of the three or four most powerful men in Washington, delivered himself of his opinions regarding the roadmap and the future of peace in the Middle East. What he had to say was meant as an announcement for a trip he subsequently took to Israel and several Arab countries where, it is reported, he articulated the same message. In no uncertain terms, Delay declared himself opposed to the Bush Administration’s support for the roadmap, especially the provision in it for a Palestinian state. “It would be a terrorist state” he said emphatically, using the word “terrorist” as has become habitual in official American discourse without regard for circumstance, definition, or concrete characteristics. He went on to add that he came by his ideas concerning Israel by virtue of what he described as his convictions as a “Christian Zionist,” a phrase synonymous not only with support for everything Israel does, but also for the Jewish state’s theological right to go on doing what it does regardless whether or not a few million “terrorist” Palestinians get hurt in the process.

The sheer number of people in the southwestern United States who think like Delay is an imposing 60-70 million and, it should be noted, included among them is none other than George W. Bush, who is also an inspired born-again Christian for whom everything in the Bible is meant to be taken literally. Bush is their leader and surely depends on their votes for the 2004 election which, in my opinion, he will not win. And because his presidency is threatened by his ruinous policies at home and abroad, he and his campaign strategists are trying to attract more Christian right-wingers from other parts of the country, the Middle West especially. Altogether then, the views of the Christian Right (allied with the ideas and lobbying power of the rabidly pro-Israeli neo-conservative movement) constitute a formidable force in domestic American politics, which is the domain where, alas, the debate about the Middle East takes place in America. One must always remember that in America, Palestine and Israel are regarded as local, not foreign policy, matters.

Thus, were Delay’s pronouncements simply to have been either the personal opinions of a religious enthusiast or the dreamlike ramblings of an inconsequential visionary, one could dismiss them quickly as nonsense. But in fact, they represent a language of power that is not easily opposed in America, where so many citizens believe themselves to be guided directly by God in what they see and believe, and sometimes do. John Ashcroft, the Attorney General, is reported to begin each working day in his office with a collective prayer meeting. Fine, people want to pray, they are constitutionally allowed total religious liberty. But in Delay’s case, by saying what he has said against an entire race of people, the Palestinians, that they would constitute a whole country of “terrorists,” that is, enemies of humankind in the current Washington definition of the word, he has seriously hampered their progress toward self-determination, and gone some way in imposing further punishment and suffering on them, all on religious grounds. By what right?

Consider the sheer inhumanity and imperialist arrogance of Delay’s position: from a powerful eminence ten thousand miles away, people like him, who are as ignorant about the actual life of Arab Palestinians as the man in the moon, can actually rule against and delay Palestinian freedom, and assure years more of oppression and suffering, just because he thinks they are all terrorists and because his own Christian Zionism–where neither proof nor reason counts for very much–tells him so. So, in addition to the Israeli lobby here, to say nothing of the Israeli government there, Palestinian men, women and children have to endure more obstacles and more roadblocks placed in their way in the US Congress. Just like that.

What also struck me about the Delay comments wasn’t only their irresponsibility and their easy, uncivilized (a word very much in use concerning the war against terrorism) dismissal of thousands of people who have done him no wrong whatever, but also the unreality, the delusional unreality his statements share with so much of official Washington so far as discussions of (and policy toward) the Middle East, the Arabs and Islam are concerned. This has reached new levels of intense, and even inane abstraction in the period since the events of September 11. Hyperbole, the technique of finding more and more excessive statements to describe and over-describe a situation, has ruled the public realm, beginning of course with Bush himself, whose metaphysical statements about good and evil, the axis of evil, the light of the almighty and his endless, dare I call them sickening effusions about the evils of terrorism, have taken language about human history and society to new, dysfunctional levels of pure, ungrounded polemic. All of this laced with solemn sermons and declarations to the rest of the world to be pragmatic, to avoid extremism, to be civilized and rational, even as US policy makers with untrammeled executive power can legislate the change of regime here, an invasion there, a “re-construction” of a country there, all from within the confines of their plush air-conditioned Washington offices. Is this a way of setting standards for civilized discussion and advancing democratic values, including the very idea of democracy itself?

One of the basic themes of all Orientalist discourse since the mid-19th century is that the Arabic language and the Arabs are afflicted with both a mentality and a language that has no use for reality. Many Arabs have come to believe this racist drivel, as if whole national languages like Arabic, Chinese, or English directly represent the minds of their users. This notion is part of the same ideological arsenal used in the 19th century to justify colonial oppression: “Negroes” can’t speak properly therefore, according to Thomas Carlyle, they must remain enslaved; “the Chinese” language is complicated and therefore, according to Ernest Renan, the Chinese man or woman is devious and should be kept down; and so on and so forth. No one takes such ideas seriously today, except for when Arabs, Arabic, and Arabists are concerned.

In a paper he wrote a few years ago, Francis Fukuyama, the right wing pontificator and philosopher who was briefly celebrated for his preposterous “end of history” idea, said that the State Department was well rid of its Arabists and Arabic speakers because by learning that language they also learned the “delusions” of the Arabs. Today, every village philosopher in the media, including pundits like Thomas Friedman, chatters on in the same vein, adding in their scientific descriptions of the Arabs that one of the many delusions of Arabic is the commonly held “myth” that the Arabs have of themselves as a people. According to such authorities as Friedman and Fouad Ajami, the Arabs are simply a loose collection of vagrants, tribes with flags, masquerading as a culture and a people. One might point out that that itself is a hallucinatory Orientalist delusion, which has the same status as the Zionist belief that Palestine was empty, and that the Palestinians were not there and certainly don’t count as a people. One scarcely needs to argue against the validity of such assumptions, so obviously do they derive from fear and ignorance.

But that is not all. Arabs are always being berated for their inability to deal with reality, to prefer rhetoric to facts, to wallow in self-pity and self-aggrandizing rather than in sober recitals of the truth. The new fashion is to refer to the UNDP Report of last year as an “objective” account of Arab self-indictment. Never mind that the Report, as I have pointed out, is a shallow and insufficiently reflective social science graduate student paper designed to prove that Arabs can tell the truth about themselves, and it is pretty far below the level of decades of Arab critical writing from the time of Ibn Khaldun to the present. All that is pushed aside, as is the imperial context which the UNDP authors blithely ignore, the better perhaps to prove that their thinking is in line with American pragmatism.

Other experts often say that, as a language, Arabic is imprecise and incapable of expressing anything with any real accuracy. In my opinions, such observations are so ideologically mischievous as not to require argument. But I think we can get an idea of what drives such opinions forward by looking for an instructive contrast at one of the great successes of American pragmatism and how it shows how our present leaders and authorities deal with reality in sober and realistic terms. I hope the irony of what I am discussing will quickly be evident. The example I have in mind is American planning for post-war Iraq. There is a chilling account of this in the August 4 issue of the Financial Times in which we are informed that Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, unelected officials who are among the most powerful of the hawkish neo-conservatives in the Bush Administration with exceptionally close ties to Israel’s Likud Party, ran a group of experts in the Pentagon “who all along felt that this [the war and its aftermath] was not just going to be a cakewalk [a slang term for something so easy to do that little effort would be needed], it [the whole thing] was going to be 60-90 days, a flip-over and hand-off to Chalabi and the Iraqi National Council. The Department of Defense could then wash its hands of the whole affair and depart quickly, smoothly, and swiftly. And there would be a democratic Iraq that was amenable to our wishes and desires left in its wake. And that’s all there was to it.”

We now know, of course, that the war was indeed fought on these premises and Iraq militarily occupied on just those totally far-fetched imperialist assumptions. Chalabi’s record as informant and banker is, after all, not of the best. And now, no one needs to be reminded of what has happened in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The terrible shambles, from the looting and pillaging of libraries and museums (which is absolutely the responsibility of the US military as occupying power), the total breakdown of the infra-structure, the hostility of Iraqis–who are not after all a homogenous single group–to Anglo-American forces, the insecurity and shortages of daily life in Iraq, and above all, the extraordinary human–I emphasize the word “human”–incompetence of Garner, Bremer and all their minions and soldiers, in adequately addressing the problems of post-war Iraq, all this testifies to the kind of ruinous sham pragmatism and realism of American thinking which is supposed to be in sharp contrast to that of lesser, pseudo- peoples like the Arabs who are full of delusions and a faulty language to boot. The truth of the matter is that reality is neither at the individual’s command (no matter how powerful) nor does it necessarily adhere more closely to some peoples and mentalities than to others. The human condition is made up of experience and interpretation, and those can never be completely dominated by power: they are also the common domain of human beings in history. The terrible mistakes made by Wolfowitz and Leith came down to their arrogant substitution of abstract and finally ignorant language for a far more complex and recalcitrant reality. The appalling results are still before us.

So let us not accept any longer the ideological demagoguery that leaves language and reality as the sole property of American power, or of so-called Western perspectives. The core of the matter is of course imperialism, that (in the end banal) self-assumed mission to rid the world of evil figures like Saddam in the name of justice and progress. Revisionist justifications of the invasion of Iraq and the American war on terrorism that have become one of the least welcome imports from an earlier failed empire, Britain, and have coarsened discourse and distorted fact and history with alarming fluency, is proclaimed by expatriate British journalists in America who don’t have the honesty to say straight out, yes, we are superior and reserve the right to teach the natives a lesson anywhere in the world where we perceive them to be nasty and backward. And why do we have that right? Because those wooly-haired natives whom we know from having ruled our empire for 500 years and now want America to follow, have failed: they fail to understand our superior civilization, they are addicted to superstition and fanaticism, they are unregenerate tyrants who deserve punishment, and we, by god, are the ones to do the job, in the name of progress and civilization. If some of these fickle journalistic acrobats (who have served so many masters that they don’t have any moral bearings at all) can also manage to quote Marx and German scholars–despite their avowed anti-Marxism and their rank ignorance of any languages or scholarship not English–in their favor, then how much cleverer they seem. It’s just racism at bottom though, no matter how dressed up it is.

The problem is actually a deeper and more interesting one than the polemicists and publicists for American power have imagined. All over the world people are all experiencing the quandary of a revolution in thought and vocabulary in which American neo-liberalism and “pragmatism” are made on the one hand by American policy-makers to stand for a universal norm, whereas in fact–as we have seen in the Iraq example I cited above–there are all sorts of slippages and double standards in the use of words like “realism,” “pragmatism,” and other words like “secular” and “democracy” and “pragmatism” that need complete re-thinking and re-evaluation. Reality is too complex and multifarious to lend itself to jejune formulae like “a democratic Iraq amenable to us would result.” Such reasoning cannot stand the test of reality. Meanings are not imposed from one culture on to another, any more than one language and one culture alone possesses the secret of how to get things done efficiently.

As Arabs, I would submit, and as Americans we have too long allowed a few much-trumpeted slogans about “us” and “our” way to do the work of discussion, argument, and exchange. One of the major failures of most Arab and Western intellectuals today is that they have accepted without debate or rigorous scrutiny terms like secularism and democracy, as if everyone knew what those words meant. America today has the largest prison population of any country on earth; it also has the largest number of executions than any country in the world. To be elected President, you need not win the popular vote, but you must spend over 200 million dollars. How do these things pass the test of “liberal democracy?”

So rather than have the terms of debate organized without skepticism around a few sloppy terms like “democracy” and “liberalism” or around unexamined conceptions of “terrorism”, “backwardness,” and “extremism,” we should be pressing for a more exacting, a more demanding kind of discussion in which terms are defined from numerous viewpoints and are always placed in concrete historical circumstances. The great danger is that American “magical” thinking à la Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Bush is being passed off as the supreme standard for all peoples and languages to follow. In my opinion, and if Iraq is a salient example, then we must not allow that simply to occur without strenuous debate and probing analysis, and we mustn’t be cowed into believing that Washington’s power is so irresistibly awesome. And so far as the Middle East is concerned, the discussion must include Arabs and Muslims and Israelis and Jews as equal participants. I urge everyone to join in and not leave the field of values, definitions, and cultures uncontested. They are certainly not the property of a few Washington officials, any more than they are the responsibility of a few Middle Eastern rulers. There is a common field of human undertaking being created and recreated, and no amount of imperial bluster can ever conceal or negate that fact.

EDWARD SAID is a professor at Columbia University. He is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism (AK Press).

© Edward W. Said, 2003.

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