A neo-conservative celebrity recently chose an article written for the New York Times magazine to shout the neo-conservatism moment has now passed. Francis Fukuyama thinks the Bush invasion of Iraq and the resulting insurgency reveals what has gone wrong in the neo-conservative camp.
He has left the ranks but not without attributing some blame, and distributing some praise.Fukuyama understands conservatism. He sees the first mistake of the neo-conservatives as straying too far from the more classical conservatives. Drunk on power, the neo-cons neglected what had been taught by Leo Strauss: evil is so prevalent in the world that it is a mistake to expect much from politics.
Fukuyama wants to answer the question of what else went wrong. His answer relies on a sort of caricature derived not from the right but by analogy with the left.
Fukuyama reminds us that the neo-con band was formed by none other than former Trotskyites, notably Irving Kristol whose son edits the Weekly Standard, the current paper of record for the neo-con movement. The Trots had a cast of mind that led them to want to jettison past mistakes, and go on to live out the promise of greatness in whatever endeavour they found themselves.
Once leftier than thou, they become the debunkers of social engineering, wanting to correct the welfare system, for instance, because it induced dependency on recipients.
Fukuyama sees himself as more like Karl Marx. His 1989 work The End of History and the Last Man, he characterizes as laying out the evolution of history which culminates in liberal democracy as the universal model rather than the classless society predicted by Marx.
The blame for the current fiascos surrounding the Bush regime goes to what Fukuyama terms the Leninists.
Somehow the neo-conservative policy makers began to believe that power and will alone would suffice to bring liberal democracy to Iraq. In the process of waging war and occupying Iraq the neo-cons forgot Trotsky and became the Leninist social engineers of the right.
Fukuyama achieved celebrity status after the fall of the Berlin Wall. With American Republicans proclaiming they had won the Cold War, Fukuyama has a convenient explanation of what it all meant: in the long run we all become liberal democrats.
The problem Fukuyama has as an analyst of recent history is the absence of functioning liberal democracy in the United States, let alone most anywhere else you want to look. As he dragged the old dustbin up to the liberal democratic door, he seems to have lost sight of what it was that he assumed we all aspired to.
Democracy means the people who face the consequences of government action must have a say in what gets done. Because results matter to all, all should have a say. In a liberal democracy representation is based on the individual casting a ballot, but a functioning democracy has a mechanism for protecting the ballot box from tampering, and independently tallying the votes.
A conservative principle is that we accept the results of an election even if we disagree strongly with the choice.
The Bushites, as is well recognized, stole the 2000 election through electoral fraud in the jurisdiction governed by Jeb Bush, brother of the eventual office holder, and with the complicity of the Supreme Court justices named by Daddy Bush. The neo-conservatives do not apologize for winning by breaking the rules. Liberal democracy is a cover for taking power, invading Iraq, and taking control of its oil.
When the neo-conservatives pass on, as they will at some point, one can hope, but, sadly, should not expect, honesty and decency in politics. In the meantime exposing the neo-con project for what it has become will have to do as a substitute for being rid of it.
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