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Laughland on Bush’s Revolutionary Mentality

Indeed, it is a striking indication of the dominance of left-wing modes of thought in the West that the supreme political insult in the new world order is “authoritarian.” Authority is, by definition, a conservative notion – and that is why it is universally reviled in the West today. Without exception, every single political leader whom the West has removed, or tried to remove, in the last decade and a half, has been labelled “authoritarian” or “nationalist,” as if these right-wing vices were the only political sin. This malediction is bandied about, even when the leaders so attacked are in fact old lefties like Slobodan Milosevic, Alexander Lukashenko or Saddam Hussein.

In short, any state which pursues a policy of national independence will soon find itself in the West’s cross-hairs. The Clintonite doctrine that there are such things as “rogue states,” which has been effortlessly adopted by George W. Bush, means precisely this. There is an international and a domestic aspect to this hostility to the state: internationally, George Bush’s “forward strategy of freedom,” predicated as it is on the assumption that states have a right to enjoy their national sovereignty only under certain conditions, entails support for the anti-sovereignist dictates of punitive supranational law. In internal politics, the anti-state Marxist-Hegelian doctrine of “civil society” has become a central plank of Western thinking, at least for states it wishes to control. In Eastern Europe, for instance, supposed “non-governmental organisations” are invariably presented as being more authentic and objective representatives of popular opinion than the established, public, law-based structures of the state. This applies even when the so-called NGOs are in fact front organisations funded by Western governments, as is often the case. Indeed, the mere activity of “opposition” is, by itself, often elevated to a sort of political sainthood, as if the exercise of authority and power were intrinsically sinful. In one egregious case, in Georgia, the task of counting the votes in the January 2004 presidential election was given to just such a private NGO, with the established state authorities simply sidelined.

Like Marxists, indeed, and like many of his European friends, George Bush appears to believe both that freedom is an ineluctable “force of history” and also that it requires constant struggle to achieve it. He argues, like Hegel, Marx’s precursor, that humanity is one, and that a free state like the USA is not really free if other states live under tyranny. In his mind, old-fashioned American Puritan millenarianism marries easily with the missionary mentality of world revolutionists: “The survival of liberty in our land,” he said in January, “increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.” A true conservative, by contrast, would say that there is much evil in the outside world – and that the duty of a statesman is to hold it at bay. ~John Laughland, LewRockwell.com

Hat tip to The Ambler.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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