September 15, 2003

The Peace of the Dead

The Financial Times has published some pretty idiotic columns recently...and by this I mean publishing articles that don't reveal the prejudices of their author. The good thing about op-ed pieces is that you KNOW they're subjective. And the one below gets to what I think the heart of what the anti-war critique is really about, and what it's consequences are for those people who find themselves living under tyrants. The article is by Ian Buruma. You can find the whole thing here. First, there's this quote. Emphasis is mine: Anti-Americanism may indeed have grown fiercer than it was during the cold war. It is a common phenomenon that when the angels fail to deliver, the demons become more fearsome. The socialist debacle, then, contributed to the resentment of American triumphs. But something else happened at the same time. In a curious way left and right began to change places. The expansion of global capitalism, which is not without negative consequences, to be sure, turned leftists into champions of cultural and political nationalism. When Marxism was still a potent ideology, the left sought universal solutions for the ills of the world. Now globalisation has become another word for what Heidegger meant by Americanism: an assault on native culture and identity. So the old left has turned conservative. One man's free markets are now, on the far left and the far right, nothing more than modern-day economic imperialism. Buruma covers that too, though. Quoting Jose Ramos-Horta, he writes about the root of the argument against Western interventions: "...the problems of faraway peoples are for them to solve alone, and that we have no business intervening on their behalf against tyrants, and that any attempt to do so has to be, by definition, racist, or colonialist, or venal. "This belief may indeed be more pragmatic, even realistic. But those who hold it should at least have the honesty to call themselves conservatives, of the Henry Kissinger school, and stop pretending they speak for the liberal-left."


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