The appeal of authoritarianism
September 18, 2007 5:37 PM Subscribe
posted by russilwvong (51 comments total)
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Ian Buruma reviews World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism
, by senior neo-conservative Norman Podhoretz
, in the New York Review of Books. The key to Podhoretz's politics seems to me to lie right there: the longing for power, for toughness, for the Shtarker [strong man] who doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything, and hatred of the contemptible, cowardly liberals with their pandering ways and their double standards. Since Podhoretz, himself a bookish man, can never be a Shtarker, his government must fill that role, and not give a damn about anyone or anything.
One comment by Buruma echoes a similar observation in Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism
: he suggests that one reason for the prominence of Jewish neo-conservatives, despite the fact that most American Jews are liberals, may be the "traditional appeal of strong, benevolent empires, from the monarchy of Franz Joseph to George W. Bush's republic, as shields against bigots, racists, and tyrants".
Buruma notes that Podhoretz is a foreign policy advisor to Giulani.
Who still supports Bush at this point? Buruma describes how they feel:
... criticism of the Bush administration has indeed become more common as the war in Iraq has degenerated into bloody chaos. Much of Podhoretz's book reads like the heartfelt cry of a lonely man who feels increasingly abandoned by pretty much everyone. For not only are the hard left anti-Americans and the hard right isolationists undermining Bush's noble mission, but as Podhoretz describes it, the cause is opposed by conservative "realists," because they are coldhearted anti-idealists, by Democrats, because they are antiwar, and by "liberal internationalists," because they trust international institutions more than American power. Only George Bush and those unconditionally loyal to him are still on board. What's more, for Podhoretz they are the only source of truth. Peter Beinart
reviews Podhoretz and Ledeen in the New York Times.
More sympathetic reviews by William Buckley Jr.
and Roger Simon