June 2, 2005


Western liberalism proving to be only idea left standing (Victor Davis Hanson, 6/02/05, Jewish World Review)

[2]005 is a culmination of dying ideas. Despite the boasts and threats, almost every political alternative to Western liberalism over the last quarter-century is crashing or already in flames.

China's red-hot economy — something like America's of 1870, before unionization, environmentalism and federal regulation — shows just how dead communism is. Will Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba go out with a bang or a whimper? If North Korea's nutty communiqués, Hugo Chavez's shouting about oil boycotts and Castro's harangues sound desperate, it's because they all are.

Fascism has long vacated its birthplace in Europe. The fragments of the former Soviet autocracy are democratizing. The caudillos are gone from Latin America. The last enclave of dictators is the Middle East. Yet after Saddam's capture in a cesspool, their hold is slipping, too. There will probably not be an Assad III or a second Mubarak.

The real suspense is whether the Gulf royals can make good on their promises of reform and elections. Will they end up like pampered Windsors or go the ignominious way of the Shah? In desperation, the apparatchik journalists in the state-controlled Arab press are damming the United States, the avatar of change. Syria breaks all relations with America, even as it leaves Lebanon and is terrified of the Iraqi experiment.

Then there is bankrupt Islamic fundamentalism. The zealots can always tape a beheading or turn out a few thousand to burn an American flag. But the Taliban are gone from power. Iran is facing popular disgust at home, while its desperate nuclear plots are waking up even a comatose Europe. And the promise of a return to the 8th century has always had an appeal limited to a few thousand pampered elites, like bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri or Zarqawi. These losers figured they might become Saladins if they convinced an Arab populace that the Jews and America, not their own corrupt regimes, kept them poor. Now they are reduced to ranting about the evils of freedom and democracy.

Oil, terror, anti-Semitism and hating America gave the fundamentalists some resonance, but there were never any ideas. The Islamicists offered nothing to galvanize the Arab masses other than nihilism. That doctrine feeds or employs no one. Instead, we witness the creepy threats and the pyrotechnics of a lunatic ideology going the way of bushido and the kamikazes.

Why all these upheavals?

Global communications now reveal hourly to people abroad how much better life is in Europe than in the Middle East and Asia — and how in America, Australia and Britain the standard of living is even better than in most of Europe.

Of course, we knew all this two centuries ago, but it takes a lot of proving.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 2, 2005 11:00 AM

Global communications now reveal hourly to people abroad....

OK, but global communications are also able to spread lies, fan hatred and foment insane rage at a pace and to a degree not seen at any time in the past.

And while sunlight may indeed be the best disinfectant, one wonders how many will have to be sacrificed to feed the beast?

(On the other hand, if it accelerates Armageddon....)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 2, 2005 11:40 AM

There are millions of new global communicators who will expose the lies, defuse hatred with reason and expose the insanity of those who rage. It won't be easy, but it will happen.

How many will be sacrificed to feed the beast? We can't know the number, but whatever it is, it'll be far less than if we continue to allow the beast to grow and flourish as the anti-Bush, anti-U.S., anti-war appeaseniks want to do.

Posted by: erp at June 2, 2005 2:38 PM