August 03, 2008

IP and other media drivel

Richard Spencer has furnished a detailed report of NRO?s discussion of Buchanan?s grievous errors about the Second World War. With due respect to Richard, from the standpoint of those doing the shunning, it does not seem to have been an oversight to keep Pat from participating. The author of the book at issue does not belong in any way to the new and improved version of the conservative movement as represented by the symposiasts. The question is whether the New York Times or Washington Post editorial board or other liberal friends of the movement, whose good will NR naturally values, would have wanted Buchanan in their own properly framed discussion, one that featured such approved conservative commentators as Christopher Hitchens and Victor Davis Hanson. Clearly the liberal-establishment voices of authority would not have wanted Pat juxtaposed with these nice folks, and they might even have complained during an otherwise friendly luncheon with Bill Kristol, David Brooks, David Frum or Richard Lowry about turning what should have been a pleasant NRO schmooze into an insensitive debate.  Good thing to have kept Pat from entering this friendly encounter, one that, as it turned out, would have been entirely congenial to Abe Foxman and Marty Perez.

Nor would Pat have likely understood the wisdom of Professor Hanson, who has become a latter-day Hegel, albeit a German-hating one. Hanson seems to be as confident as the onetime professor at the University of Berlin that he has grasped the laws of historical change. Like Hegel, and an earlier Hegel-vulgarizer Francis Fukuyama, Hanson believes that the end of History as a political development is already upon us. It?s all about global democracy and making the American system into the only legitimate one on the planet. According to Hanson, we?ve entered an ?integral process,? going back to anyone or anything that he fancies in the classical past and then manifesting itself in the destruction of the slaveholding South in the American Civil War and in the battering of the Central Powers in World War One. By the time we arrive at the end of WW II, the whole process has revealed itself to Victor (since I?m ten years older and since I?ve published lots more scholarship than he has, perhaps I?m allowed to be intimate). 

Richard, to his credit, does raise an obvious objection to the authorized view of an integral process, namely when the ?Good War? ended, the ?democracies? had left the murderous tyrant Stalin in charge of more than half of Europe while much of the rest of it lay in varying states of devastation. By the way, would it have been consistent with the ?integral process? if we had aided German Resistance Fighters in overthrowing Hitler? Or did the IP require that we knock Central Europe back into the Stone Age and then hand over large chunks of it to the Soviets in order to contribute to a cosmic happy ending? Only asking!  I would have to suppose that Hanson?s IP works in mysterious ways its wonders to behold. And in any case who are we to quarrel with a philosopher of history and a supposedly ?conservative? one featured in the national press and on TV? Not even Hegel could boast of such recognition—and certainly not by the American liberal-neocon media.

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