Friday, October 7, 2011

Left, Right and the Edges

Imagine a group of politically-minded Americans with the following characteristics:
- Critical of American support for Israel.
- Generally anti-war and in favour of withdrawing American troops from foreign bases.
- Worried about incompetent, over-zealous and repressive behaviour by the FBI.
- Pessemistic about the future of the US and eager for radical reform of the economy.
- Bitterly opposed to government's support for big business.
- Contemptuous of some super-rich investors like Warren Buffet. 'He is a money-manipulator like George Soros.... Take all their money, I say', writes one.
To me they sound like stereotypes of the left: bitter, disappointed and craving change. Yet these are actually the characteristics of America's 'paleoconservative' right, a Christian conservative movement that wants to return the US to a Golden Age of polite industry and Christian brotherhood.

The paleoconservatives rally around an intriguing magazine called Chronicles, where people like Thomas Fleming make clear their rage against the modern American machine:
Now, I’d be ticked pink if all the Warren Buffets of America could be taxed out of their dirty business. What has Mr. Buffet ever manufactured, what has he ever done worth doing? He is a money-manipulator like George Soros, the sort of person our ancestors despised. Take all their money, I say, and leave real businessmen–who make, distribute, and sell things–alone....

Justice demands that the guilty, not the innocent pay, and the guilty parties to the national debt are the congressmen and officials of both parties who took bribes and pandered to the lobbyists and ward heelers....

If every member of Congress and White House flunkey who got us into this mess were held responsible, we’d have about 500 people to pay back the trillions of debt they–not we–owe.
This emphasis on blaming a narrow elite, instead of a wider population who ran up high personal debts, is one I see Irish left-wingers often embrace too.

And here is Justin Raimondo complaining that the FBI describe him as a threat to National Security simply because he printed an article some years ago that, he says, had information already publicly available:
My alleged “crime” is to have written in too much detail about the possibility that agents of a foreign power (Israel) had some degree of foreknowledge of what happened on September 11, 2001....

I suppose I should be flattered by all of this: The mighty American Empire has turned its Evil Eye on me and reckons me a “threat.” Yet I can’t muster the least bit of self-satisfaction, and indeed find this more than a little depressing. As much as one might expect a self-professed libertarian to be contemptuous of his own government, I find it monumentally disheartening. For all the denunciations of American imperialism and incipient authoritarianism I’ve written over the years, I actually thought my government was better than this. That it turns out they’re no better than the rulers of some pathetic little banana republic strips me of the very last of my youthful illusions.
Those at the political fringe of any extreme can begin to sound alike. They hold in common a contempt for the status quo and an urgent desire for change.

1 comment:

  1. Thomas Fleming adds this comment to another article:

    "The rich and powerful always set the policies to benefit themselves. So long as the rich and powerful belong to one nation, that nation tends to benefit, but when the ruling class becomes transnational, then policies are set–as they are in the USA–exclusively for the transnationals who are happy to move their money–and if necessary themselves–offshore."

    So he is no socialist, but he shares the belief that modern democracies will still be dominated by the rich, and a scepticism towards global capitalism.


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