Voyou Désœuvré

There was an exciting blogosphere controversy a little while ago, when John Edwards let himself be forced by some right-wingers into sacking some people from his campaign team because of stuff they’d said on their blogs. As Adam rightly says, this is a depressing but predictable example of the willingness (one might even say eagerness) of the supposed American left to capitulate to pressure from the right, even when the complaint being made is one that only makes sense in right-wing terms (see also Barak Obama, passim).

The situation may, in fact, be even worse than Adam suggests. There was a piece on Democracy Now about the vilification suffered by the none-less-offensive Dixie Chicks when they announced that, like 60% of the American people, they don’t like George Bush. What was interesting was that apparently much of this outrage was coordinated by posters to Free Republic. Now, Free Republic is a conservative message board, basically a 4chan for crypto-fascists rather than pedophiles. This, apparently, is the slick right-wing media machine that has the moderate left in the US running scared: a group of fucking message board trolls. American politics: bringing the lolz since 1776.

The lolz also apply to the ideology of the American right, I think. The focus on the influence of Leo Strauss on the neo-cons elides somebody who I suspect is a much more important figure—Tom Clancy. One of the more minor ill effects of the collapse of the USSR was the deleterious effect on Clancy’s books. His two cold-war stories are moderately charming; but by 1989, he had to introduce a new villain. What’s interesting is the way the enemies in these books get characterized. This is particularly apparent in Clear and Present Danger, where the drug lords who are the book’s main enemies are explicitly contrasted with a KGB-trained Cuban ex-spy who works for them. The CIA goodies and the Cuban baddy both agree—the Colombians are not the sort of enemies one had in the good old days, who one could respect and treat as something like equals; they’re just gangsters, scum, who only understand force. This makes Clancy’s books less interesting, as espionage gives way to ordinance porn; but it also, I think, shows the attitude that underpins contemporary US foreign policy. This kind of nostalgia for an enemy one could respect and, of course, the concomitant construal of the contemporary enemy as beneath contempt, is not something one could get easily from Strauss. American foreign policy is, regrettably, more idiotic than that.

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