wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Flat but not featureless

Back in the 1990s, when the Cold War had been won and we were, seemingly, at the End of History, there were people who thought that nations such as the United States and Canada and Brazil and Belgium were destined to merge into a greater world government, where the best features of American capitalism and European socialism would produce la dolce vita around the world. I sometimes suspect that the irrational rage seen in many Democrats is due to the Republicans and hard libertarians' insistence on putting down the Islamofascist threat first instead of blithely getting on with the transnationalist stage of human evolution.

Tim Denton sounds like one of those people, except that he seems to agree that we need to do something about Islam first. He cites Thomas Friedman's recent book The World is Flat (dismissive review here) in support of his notion that nations as they exist now are becoming obsolete, being replaced by what Philip Bobbitt calls the "market-state".

It seems odd to see a Canadian (even a Tory) echoing Calvin ("The business of America is business") Coolidge, all the more so in an age that seems to bear out Mao's dictum about political power. One could in fact argue that the conflict between Islamic fascism and the Anglosphere is a subset of the larger and longer war between liberal democracy and totalitarianism, whether the latter be Red (Communist), Black (Nazi), or Green (Islamic). The failure of Islamic governments is one shared by the other totalitarian regimes: they simply cannot compete with democracies in terms of productivity and innovation, as Victor Davis Hanson details in his book Carnage and Culture. Bobbitt's notion that stateless terrorists have removed nations' monopoly on the use of force is, however, historically inaccurate and at the same time irrelevant; for an example of the former, one need only look to the hashishin of the Crusader era or the Spanish guerrillas of the Napoleonic Wars.

While Al Qaeda can and has done great and horrifying damage on the Anglosphere's home turf, it has completely failed to do any serious damage to the economic and military strength of America and its allies. Terrorists can attack, often inflicting great loss of life, but they cannot function successfully or for long without a state sponsor to provide them with the weapons, explosives and training to do more than make themselves into crude imitations of the Japanese kamikaze suicide weapons of World War II - weapons that even then were recognized as acts of desperation committed by a nation that had no other options. As with the Japanese, the Islamofascists hope to win by demoralizing the United States, a strategy that worked for the North Vietnamese thirty years ago but one that appears to be failing today. In fact, while the faction of the Democratic party most violently opposed to the war is every bit as energetic as the New Left was in Vietnam, the absence of the draft seems to have drained public support from their cause. It would seem that most of "red" America agrees with Orwell's condemnation of pacifists in World War II* and has applied it to the antiwar Left.

The world has become flat in an economic sense because American tax and education policies make it more profitable for companies to send their work to India rather than have it done by less competent/more expensive workers here, while we train Chinese, Koreans and more Indians to be programmers, engineers, and business executives. In a military sense, however, the United States is very much king of the hill - while devoting a trivial portion of our economy to defense, we maintain armed forces that no force on earth dares confront openly. Canada under the Liberals has pursued a European policy of enjoying the free ride on our defense budget while cocking a snook at us in foreign policy and taking a soft line on terrorism. If nothing else, Stephen Harper's Tories realize that the free ride is over and that Canadians need to start picking up some of the slack instead of "...makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep." The first priority of any nation-state is its own defense, for if that fails then there is nothing left.

How Canada deals with its internal problems really isn't my issue. My grandfather Trainor left Prince Edward
Island after World War I since the place produced too many people and not enough potatoes, and any cousins I may have left up there are too distant for me to even know who or where they are. Still, I'd rather have them on side than up in the stands with the French and Belgians being a noisy annoyance.

*Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively the pacifist is pro-Nazi.

Denton essay via Small Dead Animals.
Tags: culture & politics
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