Worth Reading

February 21st, 2006  |  Published in old and busted

I’m not going to endorse this article (reg req) in its entirety, but I wanted to point to it quickly anyhow because it reinforces a few points I think are worth noting:

“Neoconservatism” is not a blanket term for “a conservative who has prominently entered politics since Clinton was in office.” Neoconservatives are not, by and large, particularly concerned about turning you into a fundamentalist, taking away your vibrator, forcing you to marry outside your own gender or any of the numerous and lamentable agenda points found among social conservatives. When you hear a story about Pat Robertson predicting hurricanes headed for Dover and spit “stupid neocons!” you’re barking up the wrong tree. You might want to try “rightist evangelicals,” “talibangelists” or “theocons.” Leave the neocons out of it, though, because the primary connection between neocons and social conservatives is one of figuring out just who is going to end up going down as the useful idiot when the history books render a verdict.

Additionally, there’s a useful distinction made in this piece between the process of poor nations becoming affluent and the potential to evolve into a liberal democracy:

> What is initially universal is not the desire for liberal democracy but rather the desire to live in a modern — that is, technologically advanced and prosperous — society, which, if satisfied, tends to drive demands for political participation. Liberal democracy is one of the byproducts of this modernization process, something that becomes a universal aspiration only in the course of historical time.

This cuts to the heart of Bush’s alleged optimism, which is expressed in a shorthand of aphorisms about everybody wanting freedom, and it’s a point I agree with: Wanting material security is not the same as wanting liberal democracy. Leave it to the wing of the Republican party that gave us the ravings of people like Richard DeVos and other market cultists to get this so wrong. It’s like living in a political culture whose most cherished and sacred political text is “The Music Man.”

Anyhow, if our shitty voter turnout is any indication, liberal democracy sort of stops being “a universal aspiration” in the course of a few more decades of “historical time” and starts being a thing you don’t worry about as much provided your neighbors (in the strictly local sense) aren’t disappearing into a gulag and as long as e-z credit ensures suitably distracting leisure time into your dotage. Any sense of neighborliness in the context of Luke 10 is, of course, right the fuck out.

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