Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I dream Far Right Wing dreams

Politics politics, my sometimes obsession, my ex-lover, my occasional friend with whom I no longer converse...

Finding where I fall on the political spectrum is a bit like guessing what motif David Bowie will be using on his next CD. Will it be the Androgenous Ziggy Stardust? The depressingly somber 'Low' Bowie? Or will it be the happy tights-wearing Goblin King wanting to bust some peppy 80's beats? Or the Diamond Dog overseeing Big Brother?

There's no question that as I've gotten older I've gotten more conservative. Many might ask why this is. Don't most people naturally liberalize in college? How can I possibly support conservatives in this political climate?

Well let me quash the rumors - I am no Neocon.

In fact, I find the Neocons revolting, inconsistent, war starting, hate mongers... as a general thing. But, moreover, I find them to not really be conservatives in the classical sense.

As my areas of expertise in undergrad were Middle Eastern politics and Political Theory, I have little tolerance for the American tendency towards label-bending. "Conservative" classically refers to those political systems that wish to support large portions of the status quo, or at least support agendas that protect vital institutions of the status quo. Thus, a Conservative in a Communist system is, by definition, a devout Communist, whilst a Conservative in a capitalist system is the same mentality the other way. As a good example, Far right wingers in Netherlands are often profiled as extremely pro-gay, pro-socialist, pro-racially white, anti-immigrationists. Because, those are the status quos... that is the existant society which the political parties labeled Conservative wish to "conserve". Make sense?

Liberalism is a political theory founded on the principles of the inherent goodness of human beings and thus one that leans towards supporting the fewest possible restrictions on individual liberties. By extension, the economic system that inevitably springs from such a mindset is based on free-trade, often in the past based on the gold standard, and generally laissez-faire economics.

In the US our Far Right Wing is some combination of these two principles, as is our Far Left Wing, both of which I find much more internally consistent than either the Democrats or Neocons currently running our two-pronged Tour De Idiocy. One of the most interesting pieces I've read in politics for quite some time is the interview Pat Buchanan did with Ralph Nader some two or three years ago for the American Conservative magazine. It showed two men with radically different views and yet who have a bond in that they are from a civic-minded generation that has not had numerically proportional impact on the political scene of our country (they're both from the 'Silent Generation', that appropriately named group between the GI's and Boomers who never produced a president).

What struck me is how much they agreed with each other. Despite their very different answers, each agreed on the fundamental problems of both parties, and saw the existing two-part hegemony as a flippable coin, with the head and the tail equally unable to claim a good mint.

What also strikes me at these fringes, and what makes them worth reading, is that they propose far-reaching programs and ideals behind which society can rally. They do not bother as much with the temporal agendas. There's something of a meta-narrative underlying Buchananite Classical American Conservatism and Naderite Classical American Populism. Both see the country as more of a society, and less a collection of individuals each making autonomous choices that largely don't affect those around them.

We are, to my mind, far to quick to believe that if something doesn't effect our society, then it doesn't affect our society. Put another way, neither Nader or Buchanan sees what the government does in this or that decision to be autonomously good or bad. Rather, there is a sort of gradual movement of soceity - a slow moving mass of popular sensibility - which is gradually pushed this way or that by each decision we make. For instance, increasing tax burdens might not seem to be an anti-family issue, but Buchanan and company give us pause - don't be so sure they're not related. Gay marriage might not seem to be the lynchpin of successful heterosexual families, but is there a link?

I'm not asking for answers, but we should allow these voices to speak. We've got to hear them out because honestly these people are thinking clearly. You might not agree with them, and indeed you can't agree with both of them, but you've got to say that they ask the hard question. They truly are a fair and balanced report of both ruling parties since their relationships are doubly ambivalent.

An excellent instance of the use of these semi-fringe-ideologies is the issue of what's happening in the Middle EAst. The Neocons want 9 simultaneous wars and a septupling of our military budget (fought of course by poor people). An increase in tariffs in Guatemala is more than liscence for national regime change. Liberals want peace at all cost and cannot stomach any amount of interventionist American violence... but if Israel wants to beat the piss and feces out of the Lebanese, they sort of wink and nudge... Israel needs to "defend itself".

But the Buchanans and Nader's of the world see it differently. They question the roots of the problem. Perhaps we should rethink interventionist policies period? Perhaps we should radically revisit the issue of general Arab hostility by reviewing our relationship with Israel? Perhaps a look at our policies for the first 100 years of this country should give us an idea what the framers meant by things like "Separation of Church and State"... and of course we should also review the legality and feasibility of income taxes.

Of the two, I'm even more inclined to support the Classic Conservatives. Of course, they're really more rightish-reactionaries at this point; the system they wish to 'conserve' has been dying for half a century and functionally dead for at least four decades. Nevertheless, I think if I were going to give in to certain right-wing tendencies I would just skip the niceties of 'compassionate conservatism' and its logical conclusion of Neoconism, and just go neo-Fascist. A strong but small government with few laws, but one where the laws which do exist are rigorously enforced.

Buchana/Taki magazine The American Conservative:


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