Tuesday, August 20, 2002
John Derbyshire is always worth a read, for his stylish writing but, more important, for the manifest honesty of his opinions. He's a rare bird with strong and passionate convictions but without the triumphalism or parochialism that usually accompanies them. He's always worth a read, but sometimes he hits a home run, as in his most recent column on Brent Scowcroft on National Review Online.
Kudos for that, and kudos as well for pointing us to this article by John Fonte at the Hudson Institute outlining the current and growing ideological conflict within the west, between what he calls Transnational Progressivism and liberal democracy. I think he's spot on in this analysis, and puts it better than I have. If I had to boil it down to a simple message, it's the following. The "new class" made much of in analyses of the old Eastern bloc - the intellectual-bureacratic class that ruled in the Communist world - still exists, and is fighting for control of the West and the world. As in the bad old days, their modus operandi is to articulate principles of justice and equity that only they are able to interpret and apply, and asserts that these represent "true" democracy as against the individualism and popular sovereignty that underlies liberal democratic systems. On the strength of this moral claim, and the claim of unique expertise to put their propositions into practice, they seize power. They are doing so gently today, through the institutions of the EU, the UN, the NGOs, etc. Their goal is the destruction of democracy as we understand it and its replacement by an international order which places themselves at the helm of power, unfettered by accountability to an electorate. They believe, most strongly, in meritocracy, in government by the best, so chosen primarily for their academic achievenements, as opposed to rule by the most popular (those who win elections), or those who have amassed the most wealth and power in the contest of the market.
Fonte's analysis is extremely persuasive to me, and I urge you to read it, and read many of our current conflicts - between the U.S. and Europe, between so-called conservatives and liberals at home, and even within our foreign policy establishment over the proper conduct of our current war - by its light.