I thought I had disposed
of Max ("Slapsy Maxie") Lerner once and for all. But the guy simply
doesn't know when he's licked. His syndicated column is called
"Civilization Watch," and I guess it figures, because as the neocon's
2000-year-old man, he's seen every human civilization come and
go. Now (Feb. 28) he's back at the old stand, trumpeting about
how he, Max, stood side-by-side with FDR in their heroic battle
against the "menacing isolationism" of the 1930s, against Lindbergh,
Father Coughlin, the German-American Bund (as if all these had
about equal weight!), and, especially against the "original sinister
"America First" movement out of which Patrick Buchanan's new one
has arisen. Max and FDR, shoulder to shoulder, were fighting,
Max says, for Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy, and for "collective
security." Then, after the war, Megalomaniacal Max "joined with"
Dean Acheson to battle against the equally sinister "opponents
of the Marshall Plan."
I'll tell you, Max. All those battles that you and the other lesser
guys, like FDR and Acheson, fought together, I was there too,
every time, on the other side, trying my best to kick you in the
shoulder. (Max's shoulders are about on a level with other people's
the basis of his 2,000-year perspective, Max has some sage advice
for all of us American youngsters. What is it? Surprise: that
we should once again follow this path of what he calls "the fusion
of Wilsonian idealist ends with realistic Hamiltonian means."
Sure: as someone who has never been able to make up his mind about
who is the single most evil politician in American history: Hamilton,
or Wilson, that's a real appealing combination. Myself, I prefer
a counter-fusion: isolationist ends (Borah? Nye? Lindbergh?) joined
to Jeffersonian means. Now how does that grab you, Max?
comes the concrete applications of Max's fusion for today's world.
First, Max urges both parties to embrace his fusion: "Only
thus can they show they are 'presidential'." That's it, Max: above
all, the dice must be loaded in this wonderful "democratic" game
you're always prating about: make sure that the dumb American
masses get no choice. Right?
what does this fusion entail? First, "heroic alliance measures"
(English translation: massive subsidy and control) "to shore up
the new Russian republics" (well, only one republic is
"Russian," but Max can't allow petty details to disturb the grand
sweep of his strategic vision). "Shore up" against what,
exactly? Here it comes: "against plunging into a 'Russia first'
ethnic and anti-Semitic nationalism." Ahh. I guess, in his own
heavy-footed way, Max Lerner has outlined for us with great clarity
the neocon version of the New World Order: an order where not
only any America First trend is stamped out, but also any "Russia
first" or anyone else first movement everywhere in the world,
in order to eradicate all nationalisms and "anti-Semitism." Does
this mean that the United States is supposed to run the world
in order to crush all nationalism and anti-Semitism throughout
the globe? Can this foreign policy doctrine be sold, in all its
candor and clarity, to the American public? Is Max willing to
take a democratic vote on this issue?
nationalisms must be stamped out, it seems, but one. For Israel
must be supported to the hilt and beyond. Of course, bipartisan
all-out support for Israel would mean, in Max's words, "a rejection
of Patrick Buchanan and America's most dangerous isolationist
movement since the dark days on the eve of World War II." But
Max admits he's got a tough row to hoe. For President Bush is
persisting in terrible anti-Israel policies, "his petty personal
grudge against Yitzhak Shamir" (who, knowing Shamir, could possibly
have a personal grudge against this lovable character?); his "false
realism" in courting "terrorist" Arab countries (Hey, Max, your
pal Shamir has no mean terrorist record himself); and Bush's "indifference"
to the "plight" of new immigrants to Israel (English translation:
Shamir's urge to settle these immigrants in Arab areas). And behind
Bush, says Max, is the even more terrible "James Baker and his
media claque" (Go ahead, say it, Max: his "amen corner"). Well,
how about the Democrats? No, because none of the Democratic candidates
are denouncing Bush and Baker for their "betrayal of the American-Israeli
alliance" (alliance against whom exactly, Max?).
methinks the chances for Max's bipartisan fusion are dwindling
every day. The glory days of you and those other guys battling
the German-American Bund are long gone, Max. Face it, and come
on, for Heaven's sake. Max, shut up already.
I prefer the wisdom of Mel Brooks's 2000-year-old man. Any day
in the week.
N. Rothbard (19261995) was the author of Man,
Economy, and State, Conceived
in Liberty, What
Has Government Done to Our Money, For
a New Liberty, The
Case Against the Fed, and many
other books and articles. He
was also the editor with Lew Rockwell of The