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That Sound You Hear Is My Teeth Grinding

“The war we fight today is more than a military conflict,” Bush told thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention. “It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.” ~MSNBC

The ideological struggle waged by revolutionary Marxism against revisionism at the end of the nineteenth century is but the prelude to the great revolutionary battles of the proletariat, which is marching forward to the complete victory of its cause despite all the waverings and weaknesses of the petty bourgeoisie. ~V.I. Lenin

And to us the ideological struggle is not a private affair, but the affair of the whole Party, of the whole proletariat. ~V.I. Lenin

The military defeat has been completed. It will be the ideological struggle that will be the most important. ~Janos Kadar

Who talks like this?  “Decisive ideological struggle”?  It sounds very much like the sort of thing a preacher of an “armed doctrine” would say; it sounds very much like something a revolutionary propagandist would say.  It obviously is not a conservative thing to say.  It is the language of Marxists that Mr. Bush is using quite freely.  Of course, those of us who have been familiar with neoconservatism as a revolutionary, basically leftist doctrine with historic roots on the Left will not find it surprising that an adherent of the same doctrine would eventually use the same language and mentality.  But I will say more. 

If we are in the “decisive ideological struggle” of the century, that will probably mean that from time to time there will have to be “corrections” made on the home front as well–no sense winning the ideological struggle elsewhere and letting it slip at home–and casting this as the “decisive ideological struggle” will allow whoever is responsible for defining the content of “our” side in this ideological struggle to write off dissenters against policy as deviationists and thought criminals for opposing the struggle with their dissident views.  There is something deeply, deeply wrong with all this “ideology” talk that seems more than a little totalitarian in its own right and certainly more than a little creepy.  This is part of the reason why I am viscerally and intellectually opposed to the free and ignorant use of the word fascist in connection with any current foreign policy questions, because it seems to partake of the same style of rhetoric and the same eerily leftist views of who the enemy is.  This is the view of the enemy as the eternal fascist, who is everyone and no one, because the propagandists decide who a fascist is and can redefine the term as and when it suits them.

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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