Lenin to Oriana Fallaci

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The
virus of neo-conservatism is spreading all over the world. I do
not merely refer to the ideology, even if it is true that the bizarre
idea of a  "conservative welfare state" (in Irving
Kristol’s words) is gaining currency.  Indeed, the notion that
such a chimera might come into existence is becoming popular everywhere
(among English conservatives as well as among Italian right-wingers,
for example). But I'm also referring to the distinctive "flavor"
of neo-conservatism, which seems to me the typical output of a standard
human experience.

"Neo-conservatism,"
properly speaking, is supposed to be an almost completely American
phenomenon: other countries did not have an "Old Right"
to take a distance from (no necessity for the adjective "new"),
nor did they see the same expansion and growth of "conservative"
publications, think-tanks, and reviews that the U.S. has been experiencing
since the fifties. Essentially, most European countries lacked even
a "right-wing intelligentsia" until very recently.

Moreover,
there has been no mass conversion of former communist thinkers to
quasi-market ideas in the years since 1989. That came later on.
People who were quite prominent in making a case for the socialization
of private companies, abolition of property rights, free love, atheism,
and the canonization of Che Guevara, suddenly discovered that all
this was no way to make a living in the post-communist era.

They
started to shift, making some concessions towards a free-market
economy and the Catholic Church. So far so good. But they immediately
understood something more was needed to preserve their prestige
as intellectuals. The old sacred cow, planning, was easily substituted
with a newer one, democracy. And everything else followed. In particular,
the kind of imperialism once advocated in the name of the expansion
of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and world socialism
became the candid willingness to enforce democracy everywhere in
the world. In the process, what was usually regarded as the evil
empire, namely the United States of America, became a benevolent
hero and the outspoken guardian of world peace.

Once
they wanted to aid Cuba, now they would like to bomb it. At any
rate, the idea of leaving it alone never crossed their minds.

It
may sound paradoxical to an American reader, but those European
professors, journalists and scholars who discovered one night that
they had always been centre right (or, in PC parlance, “liberal
democrat”) are taking exactly these kinds of positions. Some of
them may be more stylish about it, some of them may be more aggressive
in their attempt to get rid of their ideological record. But this
is the path they are following. If Justin Raimondo once described
the way taken by people like James Burnham and his fellow neo-cons
as a road  "from Trotsky to Machiavelli," these European
neo-cons have come from Lenin to Oriana Fallaci.

Oriana
Fallaci's name may mean something to the American reader. Fallaci
is the self-proclaimed most important living Italian journalist
and author. She has been widely published and translated. Good for
her. But she is not as famous as, say, Umberto Eco (The Name of
the Rose), Giovannino Guareschi (the creator of Don Camillo), or
Vittorio Messori (the Pope's interviewer) are. Just an other proof
that the market works quite well.

And
now comes The
Rage and the Pride
,
which has been translated
into English a year after its publication in Italian, having been
released by the same publisher, Rizzoli. The book, a 160 page pamphlet,
originated from an article Fallaci published on "Il Corriere
della Sera" right after September 11th. It was, by any standard,
the most uterine and hydrophobic reaction to the Twin Towers collapse
seen in the world's press. That may be understandable: the death
of all those innocent people, of all those Jameses, Johns, Maries
and Giovannas, was such a shock for all of us.

But
Miss Fallaci pays little attention to those who were sacrificed,
though she inflates the numbers: "We will never know the number
of dead. (forty thousand? Fifty thousand?)"*.
She wants more.

I
think the American reader will be as disgusted as I was by her total
absence of respect for human life. She asks herself, and then answers:
"What do I feel for the kamikaze that died with them? No respect.
No pity. No, not even pity. I, who in every case, end up with giving
in to pity. I have always found kamikaze unlikable." Ok. But
then she goes on, saying that "I have never considered them
soldiers, and even less do I consider them martyrs or heroes, as
Mr. Arafat, hollering and spitting saliva, defined them to me in
1972." I suppose that it would make a huge difference to your
family and friends, Miss Fallaci, whether you were killed in a kamikaze
attack in Jerusalem, or under the bombs supplied by Israeli soldiers
in Gaza.

Whether
or not there are uniforms involved seems to be an essential detail,
for Fallaci. This reminds me of an episode that Herbert Spencer
recalls in his Facts and Comments:

"Some
years ago I gave expression to my own feeling – anti-patriotic
feeling, it will doubtless be called – in a somewhat startling
way. It was at the time of the second Afghan war, when, in pursuance
of what were thought to be "our interests," we were
invading Afghanistan. News had come that some of our troops were
in danger. At the Athenaeum Club a well-known military man drew
my attention to a telegram containing this news, and read it to
me in a manner implying the belief that I should share his anxiety.
I astounded him by replying: "when men hire themselves out
to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice
of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves."

Oriana
Fallaci is just another one of the people who don't care about the
justice of cause. It is of no importance if thousands of properly
dressed soldiers committed crimes as horrible as the kamikaze attack
on the World Trade Center. It is not even the old "my country,
right or wrong." It is a meaningless "an army (any army),
right or wrong"  a principle that, if taken seriously,
will bring us to say that since England had a "proper"
army, and young America didn't, King George's cause was far more
acceptable than that of the Founding Fathers.

But
Miss Fallaci wouldn't go that far, especially since she claims to
be the best fan of America abroad (though living in New York, she
can't be defined as anything other than an European intellectual).
"Which are the symbols of the strength, the richness, the power,
the modernity of America? Not certainly jazz, not rock and roll,
chewing gum and hamburgers, Broadway or Hollywood. It is its skyscrapers.
Its science, technology." Nonetheless, "its Pentagon."
I suppose that is America at its best. Down with McDonald's, up
with the Tomahawks. Is this what Patrick Henry had in mind when
he said, "give me liberty or give me death"?

Miss
Fallaci also stresses that "America’s vulnerability is born
from its strength, its riches, its might, its modernity. It is also
born from its multi-ethnic essence, its freedom, its respect for
the citizens and for its guests. Example: approximately 24 million
Americans are Arab Muslims. (This figure is overblown. The actual
number m ay be as low as 3-4 million, if we subtract Christian Arabs
from the total of 6-7 million Arabs in the US.) When a Mustafa or
a Muhammed comes let's say from Afghanistan to visit his uncle,
no one prohibits him from taking courses in a school to learn to
pilot a 757. No one stops him from taking university courses to
study chemistry and biology (I hope this will stop). No one, not
even if the government fears that that son of Allah may hijack a
757 or throw a vial of bacteria in the water reservoir and unleash
a massacre." Too bad the government's action is bound by things
like the First Amendment: let's get rid of it.

As
far as the failure of the multicultural experiment is concerned,
Miss Fallaci doesn't take a clear stand: partly she cheers American
multi-ethnic freedom ("its strength"), partly she shows,
elsewhere  in the book, an utter intolerance. But she actually
does not seem that concerned about the prospect of immigration restrictions:
like most of the neo-cons (who still favor open borders), she is
much keener to annihilate any form of Muslim civilization abroad
than to close the doors to Muslim immigrants.

A
former leftist, Miss Fallaci couldn't help making a plea for a revival
of nationalism. She spends her two cheers on Rudy Giuliani: "speaking
of heroic efficiency let me sing the praises of the Mayor of New
York. That Rudolph Giuliani, whom we Italians should thank on our
knees. Because he has an Italian last name, he is of Italian extraction,
and he makes us look good in the entire world. He is a great, in
fact a very great mayor. This is coming from someone who is never
happy about anything or anyone, starting with herself. He is a mayor
worthy of another great mayor with an Italian last name, Fiorello
La Guardia, and many of our mayors should go to be schooled by him."
Burt
Blumert sometime ago expressed a different, more articulate opinion
on Mr Giuliani.

But
Rudy Giuliani is but one example of what Miss Fallaci admires in
the US: "Besides France, I cannot imagine a more patriotic
country than America. I was so moved to see those workers with their
fists clenched waving the little American flags and roaring u2018USA!
USA! USA!' without anyone having ordered them to."

Indeed,
she feels "a kind of humiliation. Because I am incapable of
even imagining Italian workers that wave the tri-color and roaring 
u2018ITALY, ITALY'." Fallaci openly denounces her own compatriots:
"u2018I am a Lombard, I am a Lombard' is their cry. They would
bring us back to the war between Florence and Siena. The result
of all this is that the Italian flag today is only seen at the Olympics
if by chance you win a medal. Even worse, you see it only in the
stadiums when there is an international soccer game."

I
always thought that it was quite clear to anyone approaching the
study of Italian history than Italy is not a nation at all, but
instead a complex of different local communities artificially unified
by an arrogant monarchy such as the House of Savoy was. Perhaps
I was wrong. There is little doubt about whether Miss Fallaci has
an ill-conceived vision of how the world works, after one ponders
her inklings on American history.

According
to her, the core principle of America is "in fact liberty wed
to equality. It is so special also because at the time, the idea
of liberty was not fashionable. Neither was equality. The only ones
who spoke of these concepts where the philosophers known as u2018illuminists'.
The only place you found these concepts were in enormous and extremely
costly serial volumes called l'Encyclopedie. Besides writers or
other intellectuals, princes and lords that had the money to buy
them, who else had ever heard of Enlightenment? It was not something
to eat, not even the French revolutionaries spoke of it. Seeing
as the French Revolution began in 1789 or rather thirteen years
after the American Revolution, which began in 1776." All the
scholars who have emphasized the importance of John Locke's writings,
of Cato's letters, of the teachings of the Glorious Revolution in
shaping the minds of American founding fathers were, well, all wrong.
America's secession war was nothing but the twin brother of the
French Revolution, shaped by the Encyclopedists' writings. Why didn't
Edmund Burke see this? Thanks, Miss Fallaci, for setting us straight.

Later
on, Fallaci slightly corrects herself. "Notwithstanding rifles
and gun powder and the cost of lives that every war exacts, they
did not do it with the rivers of blood of the future French Revolution.
They did not do it with the Guillotine and with the massacres of
Vandea." Sounds like serious thinking.

But
Fallaci comes then to praise "the ransomed masses" as
the pride of the US. "In this world there is nothing stronger,
more powerful than the ransomed masses. You always break your horns
butting heads with the ransomed masses. With America everyone has
gotten their horns broken, England, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Nazi,
Fascist, Communist. Lastly even the Vietnamese, who after the victory
had to come to terms with them so that when an ex-president of the
United States goes to visit them, they touch the heavens with a
finger. u2018Welcome, Mr. President, welcome'. The problem is that the
Vietnamese don't pray to Allah. With the sons of Allah the matter
will be difficult. Very long and very difficult. Unless the rest
of the Western world stops shitting in its pants and starts reasoning
a little and lends it a hand."

And
here we are at the climax. "I am speaking to the people who
although they are not stupid or bad, they are still rocking themselves
in prudence and doubt. To them I say: wake up, people, wake up!
Intimidated as you are by the fear of going against the mainstream,
that is to appear racist (a word inappropriate here because we are
not discussing race, but religion), you do not understand or don’t
want to understand that what is underway here is a reversed Crusade.
You don't understand or don’t want to understand that if it is not
opposed now, if we don’t defend ourselves, if we don’t fight, the
Jihad will win. Don’t you care not even about this, idiots? I am
an atheist, thank God. I don’t have any intention to let someone
kill me because of it."

Again,
"I am not afraid, as you can see. Christ! I don’t deny anyone
the right to be afraid. The one who is not afraid of war is an idiot.
However, in life and history there are cases in which it is not
permissible to be ruled by fear. Cases in which to be afraid is
immoral and uncivilized. Those who, out of weakness or lack of courage
or used to having a foot in each camp, come less in this tragedy,
in my opinion they are masochists."

Oriana
goes on and on explaining why war is the only means we have to defend
our civilization. As is typical of people who enjoy chatting about
"Western civilization," it seems she has forgotten that
Western civilization has been – yes, the Magna Charta and the
Declaration of Independence, but also the rise of Hitler and the
massacre of the kulaks. John Locke, as well as Robespierre. Perhaps
she likes the latter better. It would be no surprise. Any conscious
reader of The Rage and the Pride will understand that
Miss Fallaci perfectly represents, in Robert Nisbet's words, "the
special kind of intellectual who loves to sit at the right hand
of power" and "cannot help but love war."

The
best description of Oriana Fallaci has perhaps been supplied by
an Italian pop singer, Lorenzo Jovanotti. He defined her as "la
giornalista scrittrice che ama la guerra/ perché le ricorda
quand’era giovane e bella." The journalist  author who
loves the war, because it reminds her of the time she was young
and beautiful. It is true that she spent part of her youth together
with the Italian  communist partisans, and apparently liked
it.

So
sad. There's only one thing worse than having passed through a war.
Having passed through a war and enjoyed it.

*All
Miss Fallaci’s quotations are my translations from Italian.

October
19, 2002

Alberto
Mingardi [send him mail]
is a student in political thought in Italy.

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