Friday, March 09, 2007

Well, he said it ...

Some time ago, I wrote this:
What I was referring to was basically the argument that the entire US political system is so depraved and/or rigged that political activism does no good whatsoever - the United States has already lost all real legitimacy and is hardly worth defending, a claim that at best argues for moral equivalence with regard to the current conflict that I would argue is already present in Mark's Rome vs. Carthage model. Given that the Magisterium has yet to give up on Europe, a continent that is far more post-Christian than anything one wants to say about America, you'll forgive me about ceding the battlefield to post-Christianity before all is said and done.

Advocating a revival of Western and Christian (the two go hand in hand, how could they not when so much of Western history is defined by the term Christendom?) principles at home is not, as Mark sometimes seems as though he believes depending on the time of day, inconsistent with external defense. Nor for that matter is the promotion of democracy abroad that if successful would certainly provide a far more open environment for missionary activity than would the current dictatorships that Mark is so eager to preserve in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, et al. that at best are willing to slightly curtail persecution in order to preserve their surviving Christian populations as museum showcases. Claims that democracy cannot be exported to Islamic societies because of Islam's view of God to man is master-slave (Mark's favored talking point on this one) is a sweeping generalization because there isn't an "Islamic view of God" anymore than there is a Christian view of God (see Protestantism, to say nothing of heresies). Islam is fairly diverse on this score and anyone who tells you otherwise is likely using an American fundamentalist reading of the Qu'ran that is as Western as baseball and apple pie. Whatever Mohammed may or may not have believed on the matter is irrelevant (at least to non-Muslims) because Islam for all practical current purposes is what it's followers believe it to be and there are quite a wide range of views on the subject. And democracy appears to have been successfully exported to pantheist/polytheist society that formerly maintained (and still does informally) a race-based caste system (India) to say nothing of the multitude of non-Christian societies in Southeast Asia. Democracy is also not synonymous with utopia, as anyone who has ever read the Melian Dialogues could tell you and as serious neocons recognize, as Mark Shea also might if he ever bothered to sit down and actually read Irving Kristol or Michael Novak."I'd be more than happy to send him both Neoconservatism and Universal Hunger completely free of charge for no other reason than that if he is going to continue to rail against neocons he might actually find out what it is they actually believe." (last sentence edited by author).

You find this among a lot of fringe groups with all manner of nutty beliefs and given that Mark has already basically claimed that there is nothing resembling a serious, legitimate pro-life constituency within the leadership of the Republican Party (to which he would do well to inform all of the lefties who are currently so terrified of an imminent theocracy), his completely warped caricature of neoconservative thought based on his apparent illiteracy of reading beyond the title of An End to Evil and wholehearted embrace of the paleocon view with regard to neoconservatism in general (actually I think this is being too charitable - Buchanan and Raimondo at least have to claim some understanding of what terms like creative destruction actually mean in order to attack them, whereas I suspect that Mark would be extremely hard-pressed to explain what the term actually means), his crazed derangement when discussing all matters concerning Michael Ledeen (whom Mark, judging from the combox remarks he once made and never retracted, apparently believes projects "evil influences" from his person, which I gather is something like the Dominate Mind Dark Side power; somewhat interestingly enough of all Ledeen's enemies on the right and the left, and he has a great many both in and outside of Washington, Mark appears to be the only one who ascribes that particular characteristic to him), and now his full-blown embrace of Bush Derangement Syndrome where he is now appears openly contemptuous of anyone even remotely inclined to defend the administration and its policies from his wild and increasingly unhinged hyperbolic attacks.

And here we see it forming today:
Not that it matters. It's pretty clear that the party bosses are aiming their dollars at the Re-Rockefellerfication of the Party (with the added component of Endless Fear of Terror For Endless Votes). It's gonna come down to Giuliani, McCain, or Romney(all reliably pro-war and all reliably uninterested in social conservative issues): none of whom I am particularly eager to touch with a barge pole. We live in the illusion of a democracy, where every four years people are given a choice between alternatives chosen for them by oligarchs.

If he seriously believes that American democracy is now a rigged affair, I don't think that this bodes well for the future. Perhaps I am being uncharitable in my reading of him here, but between this and his "conspiracy of millionaires" earlier this week his conspiracies are really starting to get out of hand. I have been deliberately trying to avoid blogging about Mark during Lent, but I think that I owe it to him to say that he really needs to calm down with his anger towards Bush and the GOP. This kind of bizarre conspiracism goes way, way beyond his stated "bare minimum" of criticism.

One further thing is that I don't think that his labeling Giuliani, McCain, and Romney as "pro-war" is terribly consistent. Pro-war today means favoring a continued US presence in Iraq in order to support its reconstruction, which is duly authorized by the government, the UN, and the Vatican. I note the latter in particular because Mark keeps blasting conservatives as a whole for parting ways with the Vatican on the Iraq war. If this is in fact the case, by what right does he criticize those who supporting the same things the Vatican is now, regardless of whether or not the United States was morally correct to initiate the conflict. I add that caveat because our remaining in Iraq is a separate moral question from whether it was correct to initiate the invasion. This isn't just my position, it is also that of the Vatican, which has been steadfast in its support of Iraq's reconstruction. Of course, I suspect that Mark's real problem with all three candidates is that they might involve a conflict with Iran. That is a different issue to be discussed on its own merits (such as the fact that Iran is currently attacking us in Iraq, an important calculation in Just War Doctrine), but I doubt he'll be making much of a coherent argument to the contrary at this point in any event. The question of an invasion of Iran, incidentally, is essentially pointless given that it is neither logistically or politically viable at this point. Which is really too bad, since all of the American troops who have been killed by the Iranians as well as those who are currently being targeted deserve better. If only people cared about that as much as they did the military health care system.*

* I am not making light of the latter, which I have not followed in terribly great detail. I will, however, make light at those quite willing to raise cain over exceedingly ill-managed health care out of concern for the troops while ignoring those individuals who are actively attempting to kill them. And yes Mark, I would include you in that category.


Donald R. McClarey said...

"We live in the illusion of a democracy, where every four years people are given a choice between alternatives chosen for them by oligarchs."

This from a man who sat out last year's election and was content to have others choose for him. Mark in his political views is similar to survivalists in the 90s who looked forward in anticipation to the collapse of civilization. Mark looks forward to the Church returning to the catacombs as Caesar in Washington stages massive persecutions. This is all rubbish and shows as much insight into American politics as those on the Left who spell America with a k possess.

Christopher Fotos said...

We live in the illusion of a democracy, where every four years people are given a choice between alternatives chosen for them by oligarchs

Mark is under the illusion that the lack of prominent candidates he can personally support means democracy in this country is an illusion. All it really means is that he dislikes these candidates.

If indeed the "party bosses" (I believe top hats are involved) are gearing up to "Re-Rockefellerize" the party, this will work to the extent it is supported by most people calling themselves Republican. I hope that doesn't happen, but if it does, it doesn't mean democracy is an illusion--it means my side had fewer votes. That's kind of the point.

paul zummo said...

You know, for someone who decries the supposed "utopianism" of the neocons, Mark is essentially engaging in a little bit of utopianism himself. Unless the absolutely perfect candidate comes along, well, he's just going to give up on this little ole project called America, sit back, and then fiddle (and blog) while it burns to the ground.

BTW, does anyone think that Rockefeller would have been as tough on military and police matters as Rudy Giuliani, or as conservative on social issues as McCain or Romney? The party, despite its problems=, is still a long way from those days.

Joseph said...

If Mark lives under any illusions, those would be seem to be the following:

1. Perfect, moral politicians are the rule, rather than the exception. His anger seems based on idealism gone awry more than anything else.

2. All political candidates must be consistent on every issue of policy.

3. Perfect, moral politicians form the foundations of American government, not a tightly conceived system of laws and checks and balances that serve to protect the citizenry's inalienable rights from unreasonable government encroachment.

On another level: Mark, since you obviously read this blog, now you understand my anger at the Catholic Establishment. Not even the most dedicated "American exceptionalist" would say that the United States represents the fullness of the Gospel.

Since you are a professional Catholic apologist and not a professional political analyst (and, therefore, much more knowledgable about the Church than about secular politics), perhaps you would be using your energies better by confronting the professional hypocracy within the Church Establishment.

If you're so concerned about opposing abortion, perhaps you would be better served devoting your energies to those bishops (Mahony, for example), who give lip service to "pro-life" issues (at best) without doing anything more.

For example, where were the bishops during the Terri Schiavo travesty, huh?

For that matter, where's Rome when it comes to cracking down on bishops (that it appoints, btw) who do next to nothing on an issue that Rome considers paramount?