New World (Dis-) Order =
The Post-Cold War, Post-Soviet Era
A Narrative Extension of SAC
© Alan Kimball, KFiles
Table of Contents =
Chronology, sources and texts =
*1991: Kuttner, End of Laissez-Faire
*2007oc12: Robert Coalson on pro-Putin and anti-Putin demonstrations
*2013my19: Lobe on "Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception"
*2010fa: Russian political commentator Boris Mezhuev on USA presidential adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski
Some Central Issues arranged in taxonomic order [ID] =
I. Mentalities =
The plot [of Barfield's novel] amounts to a dialogue between a physicist, a biologist, a psychiatrist, a linguist, a theologian and others. [The plot] is set in motion by the reflection that the various reviews in each issue of the TLS never form a cohesive whole, but rather an incongruous series of sealed compartments. The narrator observes that "a new book on any subject -- history, philosophy, science, religion -- is always dealt with by a specialist in that subject [...]. It conveys a disagreeable impression of watertight compartments". Behind each review, "there lay a whole network of unspoken assumptions about the nature of life and the universe which were completely incompatible with the corresponding network behind the review on the next page".
II. Institutions =
III. Society =
IV. Economy =
V. Geography =
In phase three of the European revolution [ID], Europe was globalized far beyond the uni-directional limits set in the earlier imperialistic era. Globalization was no longer a one-way street, from "The West" to The Rest. Now globalization came from all directions.
In three decades between 1914 and 1945, European civilization was transformed in the heat of catastrophic total war. European world dominance diminished, yet European civilization was picked up around the world, turned to local purposes, and then aimed back against "The West". The rise of the Japanese empire was the first unexpected and powerful expression of this phenomenon [LOOP on Japan in the era of Meiji Restoration]. The rise of China and India followed the same trend. In certain ways the rise of Islamic militancy fits this pattern [EG = "Taliban" LOOP].
Managerial state-capitalism was the characteristic pattern of powerful nation-states that rose on the periphery of west Europe = The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, to name only two. The revolutionary European concept "equality", stripped of its sister concept "liberty", dominated a form of command democracy which has become the characteristic ideology of global nation-states. In the early 21st century, the world's most populous nation-state, China, was ruled (managed, administered, employed) by a Communist Party that took its initial inspiration from an 1848 German-language manifesto written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
The newer forms of globalization emphasized both positive and negative features of the earlier European revolution of "Westernization". This process of enforced and voluntary, natural and unnatural "Westernization" continued through the epoch of Cold War after WW2 [ID] and even in its aftermath, into the "New World Order" of the 21st century. "Westernization" has not been in all regards a positive process wherever it has been experienced, whether in "The West" or other areas around the globe.
We do not need to adopt the pessimism of Max Weber [ID], but we cannot afford to be naive or complacent. We do not need to accept mendacious appeals to "traditional values" uttered by cynical zealots [ID]. We must cease to be children. We must resist the infantilized versions of our shared heritage. When we grow to adulthood and lose contact with the naiveté and complacency of conventional historical lullabies about "The West", we are compensated for the loss. We are empowered together via education to find or create our own grownup tunes. These authentically adult tunes are not likely those found on early iPod commercials, wrapped around dark silhouettes dancing like spiritless dervishes while tin-pan alley pumps sound into ecstatic but otherwise empty heads [VIEW] ).
Could it be that some sort of revival of the first and second phases of the European Revolution might offer a way out of Weber-style pessimism and contemporary cynicism? For example =
Here is my essay on the contemporary utility of Madisonian political ideas, especially as they relate to the question of the possibility of democracy in post-Soviet Russia, but also in other areas of the world where democracy has not set down roots or where it is languishing here in the era of the third phase of the European and world revolution [ID].
Here is my essay on pre-Soviet Russian concepts of "civil society"
And here is a dual advertisement sent me promoting two publications by Basic Books and St.Martin's
Press, motivated by the laudable pedagogical desire to counter the contemporary
forces that cause youthful cynicism =
THE IMPOSSIBLE WILL TAKE A LITTLE WHILE: Perseverance and Hope in Troubled Times (Basic Books) =
What keeps us going when times get tough? How have the leaders and unsung heroes of world-changing political movements persevered in the face of cynicism, fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds? In The Impossible Will Take a Little While, they tell us in their own words. And in 2014, after 22 printings and adoption at hundreds of colleges, in every discipline and from first-year common readings to graduate seminars, editor Paul Rogat Loeb comprehensively updated this classic work.
Along with 55 contributors, Loeb explores what it's like to go up against Goliath -- whether South African apartheid, the dictatorships of Mubarak's Egypt or Communist Eastern Europe, racial or sexual prejudice in America, or the corporations driving escalating climate change. These stories don't sugarcoat the obstacles, but they inspire hope by showing what keeps us keeping on.
The Impossible creates a conversation among some of the most visionary and eloquent voices of our times, or any time, including: Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Vaclav Havel, Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, Alice Walker, Mary Pipher, Jonathan Kozol, Diane Ackerman, Tony Kushner, Bill McKibben, Paul Hawken, Marian Wright Edelman, Cornel West, Terry Tempest Williams, Pablo Neruda, Audre Lorde, and Desmond Tutu. Loeb has added powerful new essays, worked with existing authors to update their contributions, and updated his own introductions (and online classroom study questions) to speak to a time when students need models for hope more than ever.
SOUL OF A CITIZEN: Living With Conviction in Challenging Times (St.Martin's Press) =
With 150,000 copies in print, Loeb's Soul of a Citizen was comprehensively updated in 2010 with smaller subsequent revisions. This book examines how ordinary citizens can make their voices heard and how actions count in a time when we're told neither matter. It looks at how people get involved in larger community issues and what stops them from getting involved; how they burn out in exhaustion or maintain their commitment for the long haul; how involvement can give them a powerful sense of connection and purpose, even when the road is difficult. Assigned on hundreds of campuses and in every discipline, Soul of a Citizen has helped students of all backgrounds and political perspectives learn to make a difference-and begin journeys of involvement that may last their entire lives.
Some Chronology, sources and texts
End of Laissez-Faire: National Purpose and the Global Economy After the Cold War
((*1991ap07:MGW| Review by Robert Skidelsky [ID] observed that Kuttner, like Paul Kennedy [ID], argues that USA economic decline in the late cold-war years was caused by imperialistic overstretch. The economic capacity of the USA has been eroded by its geopolitical commitments. In other words, the USA "sacrificed its real economic interests to Cold War imperatives". Skidelsky wraps it up thusly =
It boils down to this: Successful economies follow the
precepts of Friedrich List [LOOP] and not Adam Smith
[ID]. They do not leave their economic
future to the market: They plan it, and protect themselves against external
disruption. [...] With the Cold War supposedly at an end, America must start
preparing itself for life in a plural, neo-mercantilist world.
The thesis is compelling, but the question remains: Can a national ideology and government institutions fashioned for [global cold-war] hegemony adapt to a non-hegemonic world? Or must the United State, like Great Britain, inexorably tread the path of decline -- even if it is to the sound of gunfire?))
<>2003my19:Jim Lobe [ID], "Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception". Jim Lobe writes on foreign policy for AlterNet. His work has also appeared on "Foreign Policy In Focus" and TomPaine.com.
Many neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz [ID] are disciples of a philosopher who believed that the elite should use deception, religious fervor and perpetual war to control the ignorant masses.
What would you do if you wanted to topple Saddam Hussein, but your intelligence agencies couldn't find the evidence to justify a war?
A follower of Leo Strauss may just hire the "right" kind of men to get the job done – people with the intellect, acuity, and, if necessary, the political commitment, polemical skills, and, above all, the imagination to find the evidence that career intelligence officers could not detect.
The "right" man for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, suggests Seymour Hersh in his recent New Yorker article entitled 'Selective Intelligence,' was Abram Shulsky, director of the Office of Special Plans (OSP) – an agency created specifically to find the evidence of WMDs and/or links with Al Qaeda, piece it together, and clinch the case for the invasion of Iraq [ID].
Like Wolfowitz, Shulsky is a student of [...] Leo Strauss [ID]. Strauss taught at several major universities, including Wolfowitz and Shulsky's alma mater, the University of Chicago, before his death in 1973.
Strauss is a popular figure among the neoconservatives. Adherents of his ideas include prominent figures both within and outside the administration. They include 'Weekly Standard' editor William Kristol; his father and indeed the godfather of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol [ID]; the new Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone, a number of senior fellows at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI [ID]) (home to former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle [ID] and Lynne Cheney), and Gary Schmitt, the director of the influential Project for the New American Century (PNAC [ID]), which is chaired by Kristol the Younger.
Strauss' philosophy is hardly incidental to the strategy and mindset adopted by these men – as is obvious in Shulsky's 1999 essay titled "Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous)" (in Greek philosophy the term nous denotes the highest form of rationality). As Hersh notes in his article, Shulsky and his co-author Schmitt "criticize America's intelligence community for its failure to appreciate the duplicitous nature of the regimes it deals with, its susceptibility to social-science notions of proof, and its inability to cope with deliberate concealment." They argued that Strauss's idea of hidden meaning, "alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception."
Rule One: Deception
It's hardly surprising then why Strauss is so popular in an
administration obsessed with secrecy, especially when it comes to matters of
foreign policy. Not only did Strauss have few qualms about using deception in
politics, he saw it as a necessity. While professing deep respect for American
democracy, Strauss believed that societies should be hierarchical – divided
between an elite who should lead, and the masses who should follow. But unlike
fellow elitists like Plato, he was less concerned with the moral character of
these leaders. According to Shadia Drury, who teaches politics at the University
of Calgary, Strauss believed that "those who are fit to rule are those who
realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right – the
right of the superior to rule over the inferior."
This dichotomy requires "perpetual deception" between the rulers and the ruled, according to Drury. Robert Locke, another Strauss analyst says,"The people are told what they need to know and no more." While the elite few are capable of absorbing the absence of any moral truth, Strauss thought, the masses could not cope. If exposed to the absence of absolute truth, they would quickly fall into nihilism or anarchy, according to Drury, author of 'Leo Strauss and the American Right' (St. Martin's 1999).
Second Principle: Power of Religion
According to Drury, Strauss had a "huge contempt" for secular
democracy. Nazism, he believed, was a nihilistic reaction to the irreligious and
liberal nature of the Weimar Republic. Among other neoconservatives, Irving
Kristol has long argued for a much greater role for religion in the public
sphere, even suggesting that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic made
a major mistake by insisting on the separation of church and state. And why?
Because Strauss viewed religion as absolutely essential in order to impose moral
law on the masses who otherwise would be out of control.
At the same time, he stressed that religion was for the masses alone; the rulers need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion were "a pious fraud." As Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason magazine points out, "Neoconservatives are pro-religion even though they themselves may not be believers."
"Secular society in their view is the worst possible thing,'' Drury says, because it leads to individualism, liberalism, and relativism, precisely those traits that may promote dissent that in turn could dangerously weaken society's ability to cope with external threats. Bailey argues that it is this firm belief in the political utility of religion as an "opiate of the masses" that helps explain why secular Jews like Kristol in 'Commentary' magazine and other neoconservative journals have allied themselves with the Christian Right and even taken on Darwin's theory of evolution.
Third Principle: Aggressive Nationalism
Like Thomas Hobbes, Strauss believed that the inherently
aggressive nature of human beings could only be restrained by a powerful
nationalistic state. "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be
governed," he once wrote. "Such governance can only be established, however,
when men are united – and they can only be united against other people."
Not surprisingly, Strauss' attitude toward foreign policy was distinctly Machiavellian. "Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat," Drury wrote in her book. "Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured (emphases added)."
"Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in," says Drury. The idea easily translates into, in her words, an "aggressive, belligerent foreign policy," of the kind that has been advocated by neocon groups like PNAC and AEI scholars – not to mention Wolfowitz and other administration hawks who have called for a world order dominated by U.S. military power. Strauss' neoconservative students see foreign policy as a means to fulfill a "national destiny" – as Irving Kristol defined it already in 1983 – that goes far beyond the narrow confines of a " myopic national security."
As to what a Straussian world order might look like, the analogy was best captured by the philosopher himself in one of his – and student Allen Bloom's – many allusions to Gulliver's Travels. In Drury's words, "When Lilliput was on fire, Gulliver urinated over the city, including the palace. In so doing, he saved all of Lilliput from catastrophe, but the Lilliputians were outraged and appalled by such a show of disrespect."
The image encapsulates the neoconservative vision of the United States' relationship with the rest of the world – as well as the relationship between their relationship as a ruling elite with the masses. "They really have no use for liberalism and democracy, but they're conquering the world in the name of liberalism and democracy," Drury says.
<>2007oc12:RFE/RL| Robert Coalson, "Russia: Demonstrations, But No Protests"| -- Early last month, 13 participants in a Moscow demonstration to mark the third anniversary of the Beslan tragedy were detained and taken to court. Earlier this month, more than 10,000 pro-Kremlin youth activists gathered in the center of Moscow to celebrate President Vladimir Putin's 55th birthday.
The two incidents are clear illustrations of the Russian state's two-pronged policy on demonstrations as the country's election season moves into high gear.
The clampdown on non-Kremlin-friendly demonstrations has been going on for over a year now, an important part of the administration's strategy for marginalizing all opposition. On September 30, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Legal Team issued a statement decrying the government's restriction of the right to demonstrate. Legal Team said that almost all opposition demonstrations in 2007 were either banned or dispersed and that the government had succeeded in associating protest in the public mind with violence and arrests. In late September, state-owned Rossiia television aired a prime-time "special report" in which it was claimed that opposition demonstrators routinely provoke the police into attacking them.
Increasingly Isolated Protests
Moreover, Legal Team noted that penalties for participating in
demonstrations have become more severe. While in the past it was normal to
receive an administrative fine, now detainees are often sentenced to 15 days
in jail following summary legal proceedings that do not ensure their rights.
The statement said detainees are rarely given access to counsel or allowed to call witnesses and that sentencing is often based exclusively on police reports. Activists with the NGO told "Kommersant" that Moscow had adopted a policy of granting permission for opposition demonstrations only in areas far from the center of town and noted that provincial cities have followed suit.
According to the activists, Moscow authorities have not given permission for a single opposition-organized march all year, authorizing only rallies in remote locations. Aleksei Kozlov, an activist with the Groza movement, told "Gazeta" that Aeroflot, Russian Railways, and other state-controlled transport companies routinely provide information about the movements of activists around the country to the police."
At stations and airports, people who are on these lists are detained by police and questioned," Kozlov said. Legal Team expert Natalia Zvyagina told "Kommersant" that pro-Kremlin groups routinely ask for and are granted permission to hold multiple demonstrations at high-visibility locations, and that the authorities use these permissions as an excuse to deny permission to opposition groups.
Driving Opposition Underground
As traditional rallies and demonstrations become increasingly problematic,
opposition figures have been forced to adopt guerrilla tactics that, while
often clever, give the impression of frivolousness. "Since demonstrations
and pickets have been banned, the [Union of Rightist Forces, or SPS] has
developed a new technology of civic protest," SPS campaign chief Anton Bakov
told gazeta.ru on October 11. "We are moving to actions in stores and on
A few hundred SPS supporters today converged on a Moscow supermarket that is part of a chain owned by Unified Russia supporter and State Duma Deputy Vladimir Gruzdev as part of an action intended to draw attention to rising prices for foodstuffs. Of course, it is even more easily justified for the authorities to crack down on actions of this sort staged in private businesses and public-transport locations.
However, in Russia today not all demonstrations are equal. Pro-Kremlin groups -- especially the youth groups Nashi, Youth Guard, and Mestnye (Locals) -- carry out demonstrations without hindrance all over the country. Opposition leader Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Kasyanov routinely face disruptive pickets and demonstrations when they attempt to make public appearances.
Last month, Nashi picketers blockaded the entrance to a resort outside Moscow where Kasyanov was scheduled to give a speech. On October 11, Nashi activists in Rostov-na-Donu staged a demonstration at a book presentation by SPS Political Council member Boris Nemtsov, handing out "dollars" from Nemtsov's "overseas protectors."
The crackdown on public demonstrations is just one of the most visible and blatantly unconstitutional ways in which the authorities are strictly controlling the political environment in Russia in order to manufacture a false consensus in the upcoming elections. Moreover, it shows how thoroughly the police and courts have been subordinated to the task of achieving the political ends of the Putin administration.
The latest Levada Center opinion poll shows Unified Russia with some 68 percent support. On October 11, Putin held a closed-door meeting with the heads of all of Russia's regions. The process of generating a landslide is under full steam.
<>2010fa:Russian political "philosopher" and Moscow State University lecturer, Boris Mezhuev, offered the following views on USA President Obama’s adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski [source] =
Brzezinski is back on political stage. In his recent book he writes,
America urgently needs to fashion a truly post-Cold War globalist foreign policy. It still can do so if the next president, aware that the strength of a great power is diminished if it ceases to serve an idea, tangibly relates American power to the aspirations of politically awakened humanity.
Thus, the former US Security Council clearly outlines a personality capable to promote US leadership under
global shift of the world policy. Brzezinski sees Obama as a sole “savior” bringing change not only to
the United States country but to the whole world.
The Obama-Brzezinski duo arouses suspicion in many countries. Brzezinski's backing of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer (authors of The Israel Lobby) has been harshly criticized by rightist Israelis. Meanwhile, Obama counters allegations that he would sacrifice Israel in return for a settlement with the Muslim world. Though that’s probably what Brzezinski wants him to do.
Brzezinski updates his political vocabulary with a new phrase: “the global political awakening”. Brzezinski asserts that, "the worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening." He perceives the global political awakening as fundamental reality and driving force of history, incapable of being overcome through conservative approach and even suicidal for those who dare. He writes that only by identifying itself with the idea of universal human dignity can America overcome the risk that the global political awakening will turn against it that is to say instead of scrambling to retain existing balance America should lead the revolutionary change.
Being perfectly aware of anti-Western sentiment as a central fact of global political awakening he writes that
global political awakening is historically anti-imperial, politically anti-Western, and emotionally increasingly anti-American. In the process, it is setting in motion a major shift in the global center of gravity. That in turn is altering the global distribution of power, with major implications for America’s role in the world.
Obviously, the foremost geopolitical effect of global political awakening -- let’s name it world revolution -- is the demise of America as a global empire, decline of a “New Pax Americana” and beginning of post-imperial age.
Anti-Westernism is thus more than a populist attitude. It is an integral part of the shifting global demographic, economic and political balance. Not only does the non-Western population already far outnumber the Euro-Atlantic world (by 2020, Europe and North America are likely to account for only 15 percent of the world population), but the non-West’s awakened political aspirations generate significant momentum for the ongoing redistribution of power. The resentments, emotions, and quest for status of billions are a qualitative new factor of power.
Brzezinski’s speculations on US leading a “world revolution” are not really brand new. After the Second
World War the USA was all busy with “interception and rerouting” of revolutionary activities towards
their rivals – British Empire and later Soviet Union.
However, Brzezinski goes beyond. He considers Islamism as a legitimate and most powerful emanation of global political awakening. This is kind of political protest to counter Western imperial domination. He assumes that ongoing complex processes depend in many respects on US ability to deal with Islamic world. Otherwise it will be China’s gain.
Then he comes up with a clear statement that the US has to be in the forefront of Islam’s revival if it wants to lead world change. He sees US – Islamic link as a key success factor and consequent China’s joining would eventually turn this alliance to triumphant trio reestablishing America as a global leader.