Monday, September 27, 2004

The Hari-Hitchens Dilemma

After reading Johann Hari’s interview with Christopher Hitchens I started thinking about the future of antitotalitarian and progressive politics.

Hitchens is right in a way. These are early days yet, but the Neocons are proof that there is today a radical-democratic, internationalist and universalist Right promoting Enlightenment values. People like Wolfowitz and Perle are actually preaching the spreading of these values worldwide. A fairly idealist and radical approach.

Now, Hari also has a point. What Hari is saying is, what about social democracy? Shouldn’t we be promoting economic justice and welfare policies? Today democratization on a global scale seems to mean more or less free-market economics.

Hailing the Market alone as the be all and end all of things, is about as stupid and dangerous as hailing the all-powerful State. There needs to be a balance, and more precisely a system of checks-and-balances, for both the state AND the market.

So the role of the market seems to me to somehow still be the defining issue when it comes to the Left-Right divide.

However, the Neocons have proved to be more willing to use the state to promote democratic rights, which is something that cannot be said of the Libertarians and Neo-Liberals.

Then there is also the issue of factions within the Right and the Left. The far-Right Anarcho-Capitalists (i. e. extreme Libertarians/Neo-Liberals) often side up with the anti-war Left. So the isolationist Right and Left go hand in hand here. The Neocons and the Liberal and pro-war Left see eye to eye when it comes to toppling a fascist dictatorship in order to promote democracy and spreading Enlightenment values. They are in fact both UNIVERSALIST and INTERNATIONALIST.

So we should perhaps not be too eager to judge the Neocon faction just yet. I’ve said it before: perhaps we need something new. Something different. A Democratic Rejuvination. And perhaps this something doesn’t have to come from the Left, as it has done in the past. In our time, it might just be the Right that will take on this rejuvination of democracy. But like I said, it’s early days yet. We’ll have to wait and see.

From a Swedish point of view (for those of you who don’t know, I live in Sweden), the Left here is pretty much anti-war, “anti-globalization”, anti-American and nationalist. There hardly is a coherent Liberal Left or anything you could call a movement. Only disparate voices of dissent. And there aren’t too many, let me tell you.

The Swedish Right has been more ardent and vociferous in defending human rights and seeing the necessity of toppling dictatorship. It was in favour of the Iraq War and has been supportive of the struggle against terrorism.

So, for my part I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. And it’s beginning to give me a cramp.


At October 3, 2004 at 7:27 AM, Blogger Patton said...

As I catch up on my required reading, nearly a week late, I see this piece from you.

Thought-provoking stuff, Frederick. I agree - we need something else, a rejuvenation, and I damned sure don't know from whence it will come. But it surely doesn't look likely to come from the far left side of the spectrum.

Thanks for the thoughts.

At October 4, 2004 at 1:22 AM, Blogger Frederick said...


Yes, there really is the need for a change. Guess we'll just have to wait and see...

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