Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Foundering on the fathers: someone put Jonah Goldberg out of my misery

The lead sentence of this Jonah Goldberg opinion piece in the LA Times reads thus:

Promoting democracy throughout the world has been a driving force in U.S. politics since the country's earliest days.

Whether the other things Goldberg dismisses as thoughtless slurs against necons are true or not, one thing is clear, and Goldberg is the poster boy for it: Neocons are ignorant imperialists. The clearest guidance from the most respected leader of the early days of the republic would arguably be George Washington's farewell address. In that parting advice he warned against the temptations of an overdeveloped military
Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.
and [are you paying attention, Jonah?] he strongly advised us to butt out of other country's political lives:
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.
Nor, by the way, would Washington be pleased with the Bush administration's neoconservative disdain for the constitution:
It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another.
and he would be horrified at borrowing to raise expeditionary armies:
As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.
I would urge the pathetic babbling Goldberg to read a few words of those of whom he claims to speak. In fact now is a good season for all of us to consider George Washington's words, particularly on the hazards of party politics. And I will enjoy your arguments to me if you question the paragraph in which Washington offers
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.
There is much admonition in that address that could underpin right action two centuries later. I particularly like this succinct expression of the American version of the social contract:
To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.
In the current administration, by the hands of Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney and John Yoo to name a few, we find scribbled onto the end of that paragraph the neoconservatives exeception to all social contracts: "unless you are the government".

I also did negative searching of the farewell address. The term democracy is absent. The word promote was used once: for institutions of education. I feel like I am unlocking the old guy from a musty dungeon where conservatives held him lest we see how broadminded and radical he really was. If some other document of that era differs with GW and agrees with JG, well, my reference is a pretty heavy contender.

I am not the only one who notices that neoconservatives abuse the memory of the nation's founders. Skipping forward to the Monroe doctrine, the point of that is not so much the liberty of South Americans as enlarging the security perimeter of the fledgling republic against the predations of colonial Europe. I think Goldberg dreamed his contention up and it is as fictional as the principles and the rest of the history and class structure he pretends to represent.

Admit where your ideas really come from Jonah, and open your eyes to see where they have gotten you...or just go on screwing the pooch in front of everyone. I for one will stand by the charge that "neocons are open imperialists". But to be strictly correct make only this modification: you never use the words imperialism or fascism...you just exemplify them, thus making yourselves crypto imperialists. Except you are only hiding from yourselves...the rest of us can see you.

[I need a puppy to kick but a cretin will do]

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