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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Andrew Bolt: One of a kind « Previous | |Next »
April 10, 2003

I thought that scenes of wild celebrations would bring out the worst in the pro-war journalists. No suprise then when this little bit surfaced:

"And written in the blood of this war is a moral lesson some will find as grotesque as it is true: the West has won because it is free. In fact, that's the secret of the West's supremacy for so much of the 2500 years since the rise of the Greeks -- even the most ruthless dictatorship is little match for free men fighting a just war....this war is even so a triumph of our civilisation."

It's from Andrew Bolt.

The West is superior to Islam. What does the West include? Germany? Italy? Or is it just the Anglo-Americans? Or does the West mean a liberal civilization? He means "a free, inquiring and self-critical democracy" and that would exclude France and Germany because they didn't go to war with "a closed, dissent-murdering tyranny."

And Andrew pushes the superiority theme:

...."It's far more likely that Saddam's humiliation will make many Arabs confront a truth that has too long been suppressed -- that their abject weakness is born of their own flawed societies.They are ruled by bomb-waving dictators, ayatollahs, generals and playboy kings, yet remain impotent. Their terrorists may kill Westerners, but their armies cannot defeat them. Just ask Israel. Four times Arab armies have joined to try to wipe out this democratic nation of just six million people, and each time they have been slaughtered.

Now Iraq, once the scourge of Iran and Kuwait, has collapsed in mere days before another Western army, half the size of its own. Hiding from the truth is no longer possible. Many Arabs will grudgingly realise after this that only Western ways now can make them strong -- not nuclear bombs, but freedom; not conscripted soldiers, but elected politicians."

This is the ugly side of liberalism. Triumphant, cold war reflexes, hostile to what is different; unwilling to accept that Arab civilization has liberal tendencies; relishing the slaughter bench of history. It is supremacy that is being pushed here.

Even Anne Coulter does not go so far. She only uses the war celebrations to twist the knife into the traitorous liberals:

"Liberals are no longer a threat to the nation. The new media have defeated them with free speech the very freedom these fifth columnists hide behind whenever their speech gets them in hot water with the American people."

It is even worse than Charles Krauthammer who content to talk in terms of "the surgical removal of a one-party police state while trying to leave the civilians and the infrastructure as untouched as possible."

But it is difficult for a leftie to engage in critique as we are entrapped in self-contradiction and incoherence?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:04 PM | | Comments (2)


Oh man!

Your whole argument depends on the assumption that Western Civilisation and Islam are mutually exclusive.

Andrew Bolt makes no such assumption. From my reading of his stuff, he believes that the corrupt Arabic regimes are not a function of the religion but of human failings that are common to all peoples. 'Western Civilisation' is the mechanisms by which those failings in check - property rights, rule of law, democracy, separation of powers etc. In that sense Western Civilisation has clearly had more success.

Thanks for the insights. I rarely read Bolt. He writes for a regional newspaper that does not appear in Adelaide.

I should have written 'Islamic civilization' to capture my perspective of a clash of civilizations.

I don't accept the universal human nature stuff (I read it in Hobbesian terms of self interest). But I do accept that a free society is better in an ethical sense than a freedom. Why? because it enables rather than stunts human flourishing.

Hence our institutions are part of why I love my country (the landscape is another one).

But I read Bolt as saying more--as expressing his neo-con political unconscious. That unconscious?

It sees Arab nation states as the enemy and it has a sense of satisfaction at their slaughter by Israel as the representative of the liberal west.

The other consideration was that Bolt's liberal triumphalism has little self-reflection in it about the sort of society that Israel is when that state is engaged in the transfer of the Palestinians and bases citizenship on ethnicity(Jewishnesss).