Friday, November 18, 2011

What country does David Brooks live in?

Sandy Levinson

In his NYTimes column today, "The Technocractic Nightmare," David Brooks writes, "At this moment of crisis, it is obvious how little moral solidarity undergirds the European pseudostate. Americans in Oregon are barely aware when their tax dollars go to Americans in Arizona. We are one people with one shared destiny." Really? Were people from around the country lining up to see their tax dollars go to Louisiana to help out New Orleans after Katrina? Does the modern Republican Party, save in its fascistic posturings, believe that we are "one people with one shared destiny" in a way that includes genuinely caring about those who are losing out in the "meritoricratic" society that Brooks often valoraizes? We are, after all, a country that was kept together only by the willingness of an American President (elected with 39.8% of the vote) to to to war in order to keep the Union together, just as the British went to war in 1776 in a failed attempt to maintain the existing Union. King George lost and Lincoln won, but did Reconsrtruction really establish "one people with one shared destiny" or, rather, the American version of "herrenvolk democracy," whose shared destiny was based on the wilful consignment of (at least) African Americans to the metaphorical, as well as the literal, back of the bus. We're certainly better now in that respect, but I still wonder, when hearing the vicious attacks on "blue state liberals" by many of Brooks's fellow Republicans, if he is simply whistling past a graveyard. Recall that the Republican Party was scarcely interested in passing disaster relief legislation after the most recent hurricanes hit Northeastern (blue) states. Perhaps Rick Perry believed that Vermont had earned divine retribution.

Perry, incidentally, is reasonably decent on illegal immigrants, as was George W. Bush. Compare him to the rest of the Republican candidates,who clearly don't see some twelve million residents within the US, who do lots of scut work for the rest of us, as part of our "one people" with a "shared destiny." The man would be a terrible President, but it is truly sad that what initially started wrecking his candidacy was his willingness to treat illegal immigrants as human beings (and his altogether sensible desire to prevent what turns out to be a preventable form of cancer by requiring vaccinations). I wonder what category Brooks himself places immigrants, legal or illegal, who have been here for years and are being subjected to the often Draconian policies of the Obama Administration (which is willing to hold them accountable in a way that it is uninterested in holding any torturers or architects of the financial disaster accountable).


Were people from around the country lining up to see their tax dollars go to Louisiana to help out New Orleans after Katrina?

You answer this lower down in your post. The modern Republican party is built upon racial bias. They'd have been happy to drain the blue states for money -- that's the principal raison d'etre of the Party -- if it weren't for the fact that much of the money would have benefited black people.

It's hardly even code any more.

Although I often disagree with Brooks, on this one I think he got it right. I also think you miss his point about America ... regardless of the vicious infighting, regionalism, statism, racism, and other -isms Americans harbor, at the end of the day all of the -ists identify themselves as Americans. Not true of "Europeans." We are a nation, they are several nations. Your argument that the union was forced on its constituents is more interesting vis-a-vis Brooks post, because Brooks kinda diagnoses the problem as one in which there is a flaw in the construction of the EU, the flaw having something to do with the economic determinism that drives it. In the end, as you seem to suggest, a federation is inevitable, or in any event foreseeable, but not necessarily because it is desired by the technocrats of oligarchy, but because of migration/population and other political pressures. Economic pressures too, but they are necessary, not sufficient.

Brooks is essentially correct that the differences between the nation states of the EU are rather more fundamental than the occasional squabbling between Red and Blue states. Sandy, the divisions of the Revolution and Civil War are long past history. We all generally think of ourselves as Americans. Both sides of our ideological divide want to run the country, not break it up.

Brooks does raise an excellent point about the hubris of the EU socialist technocrats in thinking they can run a diverse continental economy that applies equally to the United States, especially during the current Administration.

I disagree with the idea that all of us consider each other to be Americans first. In fact, we're lucky to be human, let alone red-blooded Americans. Eliminationism is so pervasive amongst the politically charged, especially on the right where charges of socialism are meant to mark the left as distinctly un-American. It's a short step to "kill the liberals" bumper stickers--an index of the left's non-human status among some groups.

On the European nation idea, Habermas gave an interesting lecture at the U of Chicago Law School a few years back that covered the same ground: without a sense of Europeanness that replaced more local identities, he felt the EU was going to have a great deal of difficulty.

What's it mean to not treat illegal immigrants as human beings? Is there somebody out there advocating shooting them with tranquilizer darts from helicopters, or anything of the sort?

The problem with people like Perry is that they don't want to treat illegal immigrants as human beings who have entered our country illegally, and engaged in ongoing violations of our laws. Not that they refuse to treat them like animals.

Well, no tranquilizer darts...

Perry to my knowledge doesn't want to treat undocumented immigrants (the immigration system and criminal justice system, two different things, with different procedures) the same as authorized residents.

The problem is that some want him to treat them much worse, including denying certain things that now are seen as basic human rights. For instance, basic emergency services or various benefits for children.

Cain "kidded on the square" about an electric fence. Laws have been put in to penalize those who leave water for undocumented aliens so they don't die of thirst crossing the border. Churches have been targeted for providing basic human needs of emigrants here for various reasons, including running away from cruel regimes.

Also, yes, there are some who support let's say the people's militia, armed if necessary, to "protect our borders." Use of darts would be too mild for such individuals. PMS cites but one.

Concerning Brooks' main point about the hubris of the EU socialist technocracy, the Germans appear to be planning the creation of an unelected central authority to run EU economies which will be established without a vote of the people.


Eliminationism? One can properly consider socialism to be contrary to the proposition of the American republic without considering the socialists to be something other than Americans or human beings. Likewise, there is no Tea Party plan for a "final solution." We will be quite satisfied with firing our current socialist government in the next elections.

I cannot say the same thing, however, for the various Marxist, fascist and anarchist elements of the Occupiers. These folks are predictably resorting to violence. Occupy Oakland is currently attempting to organize coordinated attacks to shut down the major west coast ports.


There are far too many examples to list here. Once people have been labeled un-American, it's easy shift from traitor (a crime punishable by death) to animal (worthy of slaughter without remorse). Certainly both sides of the current political spectrum engage in these ideas, but for the last couple of decades, the right has been much more willing to voice such views in public fora.

When discussing actual non-Americans, of course, the comparisons to animals run rampant. This behavior isn't an official Final Solution, perhaps, but it is the line of thinking that leads to such things.

I notice our yodeler now has a more flattering (aka less menacing) photo to accompany his comments, especially with the color blue that contrasts with his "idiotology." His profile includes this about his new work of friction:

"'Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste - Barack Obama and the Evolution of American Socialism' is scheduled to be released during December 2011."

I note that several of our yodeler's comments on this post refer to socialism. Is this our yodeler's subtle way of promotion?

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