would like to juxtapose two quotations and then tell you where they
the first one (the bracketed reference to Liberalism is to the classical
liberalism of the 19th century kind, not to the corrupt,
collectivist, pseudo-liberalism that prevails in America today):
believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual
peace. . . . War alone brings up to its highest tension all human
energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have
the courage to meet it. . . . It may be expected that this will
be a century of authority, a century of the Left, a century of
Fascism. For the nineteenth century was a century of individualism.
. . . [Liberalism always signifying individualism], it may be
expected that this will be a century of collectivism, and hence
the century of the State. . . . For Fascism, the growth of Empire,
that is to say the expansion of the nation, is the essential manifestation
of vitality, and its opposite is a sign of decay and death.
now the second one, which is a bit long, but please bear with me.
It, too, will be broken by ellipses but the elements are in the
original order and come from one speech:
are those demands [of the "one thing needful" for the
success of the present war against terrorism]? . . .
need, after dwelling for so long on what may be wrong with us,
to remember, and to celebrate, how much more is right and good
and noble. We need to realize that the answer to the plaintively
asked question, "Why do they hate us? is not for whatever
crimes we may have committed, but for our accomplishments and
our virtues. . . .
for one pray that our victory in this war — World War Four — will
result in the creation of conditions under which the same blessings
can be heaped on as many countries as possible. And I pray that
it will set Islam onto a path of reformation from within. Both
Judaism and Christianity began undergoing such a process centuries
ago. Why should Islam alone remain forever exempt?
America!" — sang Katherine Lee Bates in 1893 — "God
shed his grace on thee." Appealing to God to shed the same
grace on the rest of the World can no doubt be taken as a call
for American imperialism. I confess that the word imperialism
does not frighten me, but since a term like "leadership"
would be less incendiary, I will resort to it.
advocating such leadership by America, I do not make light of
the widespread doubts that this country, by its very nature, is
endowed either with the will of the skill to play even a benevolently
imperial role in the world. . . .
author then closes with a paraphrase that updates a quite famous
remark made in 1947 by George F. Kennan concerning World War Three,
the Cold War]: The thoughtful observer of Islamic terrorism will
experience a certain gratitude for a Providence which, by providing
the American people with this implacable challenge has made their
entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves
together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political
leadership that history plainly intended them to bear.
author of the first quotation was Benito Mussolini. I took it from
John V. Denson's "A
Century of War," posted on this site March 9. (Denson gives
the source in Mussolini's writings). Even translated, Il Duce's
style is pretty crisp; he was rather clear-headed in expressing
the bad ideas he entertained.
second, longer quote is from a speech, "The One Thing Needful,"
given February 13, 2002 by Norman Podhoretz in his Francis Boyer
Lecture at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy in
Washington, D.C. Stylistically, Podhoretz has a tendency to wander
and loop around quite a bit; he's not entirely confusing, only somewhat,
but also alternately enlightening and infuriating.
expect you picked up on the fact that "Poddy" (to use
a nickname that is easier to keyboard than his full name and is
often employed by his friends or enemies or both) has formally announced
what our present hostilities amount to. We are in World War Four.
I'm glad to know that. I thought what we had done was to send out
a posse to get Osama, but I recognize now that I was not perceiving
the real challenge we had been given.
have been sunk in sloth and disregard of the plight of so many peoples
plagued by (to coin a word) undemocracy. We were as nation being
hopelessly unimperialistic, that is, woefully lacking in "leadership"
of a kind that would get us off our duffs, the way the Duce got
the lay-about Italians off theirs back in the 20s and 30s. The one
thing needful is, precisely, warrior pundits of the type of Poddy,
wielding pen and keyboard fearlessly against all those unenlightened
Muslims and threatening them with F-16s, B-52s, blockbuster bombs,
and fearsome Special Forces.
read on the Net a few weeks ago that Salmon Rushdie is hoping Islam
will get the message of secular, that is, atheist materialism, join
the civilized nations, and quit its terrorist jihad. I take it that
is what Poddy also sees as needful, because that is indeed what
it has taken across the last couple of centuries to "reform,"
if that is the correct word, Judaism and Christianity. And if the
ragtops don't "reform," well, whammo, there goes a blockbuster
over Baghdad. Enormous inducement to get on with reformation.
Fascism, the growth of Empire, that is to say the expansion of the
nation, is the essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite
is a sign of decay and death." Substitute "America: for
"Fascism" in Il Duce's line and you have the "Podhoretz
Program" in a lapidary sentence.
Duce was a man of the Left, and he described Fascism as a collectivist
program of the Left triumphant. Hitler was of the Left. The effort
has been made to say they were of the Right, which is nonsense.
All collectivism and all statism are of the Left, the party of Marx
and Hitler and Pol Pot. The neoconservatives, of whom Poddy is a
major prophet, have made it a principal business to describe themselves
as of the Right, but they are not, as Poddy makes very clear. They
are of the Left; they are Fascists, collectivists, imperialists,
good friend who is a patriot and in the oil business in Texas emailed
Poddy's piece to me; he evidently got it from Andrew Sullivan's
web site. He liked it because of its flag-waving and "up-America"
message. I suggested to him that Poddy tends to be less than open
about his motivations; and that perhaps we should all back up and
review our national interests and vital principles before rushing
off to lop off heads in all Islam.
don't quote here the part of Poddy's speech where he credits the
American Founders with the "wonderful" freedoms we enjoy
today. A man who can be simultaneously that simplistic and that
inaccurate is perhaps to be admired for skill but not trusted as
a political guide.
we have such freedoms as we have left today because of the Founders,
but the many freedoms we have lost and are continuing today to lose
with each passing hour, we have lost because of pundits and politicians
who quote and praise the Founders while betraying them and the marvelous
Constitution they crafted. These treacherous people care only for
power over others and ultimate victory for their collectivist, statist,
White [send him mail] writes
from Odessa, Texas.