Trotskyite frozen vodka nagant recrudesces
July 16, 2004 12:42 AM   Subscribe

Paul Wolfowitz is the greatest Trotskyite of our times. He believes in permanent revolution....and in the Middle East, to begin with, needless to say." thus spoke Seymour Hersh, at a seminal conference during which the National Rifle Association and the ACLU searched for common ground - "Kenneth Starr.....will join a panel session with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, Jr., Americans United for the Separation of Church and State Executive Director Barry Lynn and ACLU President Nadine Strossen....". Strange bedfellows, indeed (Metafilter 21918). Whassup? Trotskyite ghosts prowl the the White House amidst a power struggle of historic proportions.
posted by troutfishing (23 comments total)
First link, I got this:

Object not found!

The requested URL was not found on this server. The link on the referring page seems to be wrong or outdated. Please inform the author of that page about the error.

If you think this is a server error, please contact the webmaster

posted by interrobang at 1:06 AM on July 16, 2004

(The link is a mashup of two URLs, but neither of them seems to be what you meant to link.)
posted by interrobang at 1:07 AM on July 16, 2004

Noam Chomsky has noted parallels between the ideology of the 'action intellectuals' who made foreign policy during the Kennedy administration and the ideology of Leninism, which could equally apply to today's neo-conservatives.

Some links :-

'However, there's a problem that's becoming more endemic in our society; namely, it is the explosion of specialization in the fields of learning. This has led to a society of experts, or what I'd call "expertism" -- that is, where these intellectual mandarins, the "best and the brightest", decide for the rest of society what's good for it
-- aided and abetted by government and the corporations. Noam Chomsky calls these folks action intellectuals, and points out many similarities between them and Leninist commissars, which I think is an interesting observation...'

'One of the leading American intellectuals was Charles Francis Adams, who in 1880 described the rise of what is now called the "post-industrial society" by Daniel Bell and Robert Reich and John Kenneth Galbraith and others. This is 1880, remember. A society in which, Adams says, "the future is in the hands of our universities, our schools, our specialists, our scientific men and our
writers and those who do the actual work of management in the ideological and economic institutions." Nowadays they're called the "technocratic elite" and the "action intellectuals" or the new class or some other similar term. Adams, back in 1880, concluded that "the first object of thinking citizens, therefore, should be not to keep one or another political party in power, but to insist on order and submission to law." Meaning that the elites should be permitted to function in what's called "technocratic isolation," by the World Bank -- I'm being a little anachronistic here, that's modern lingo -- or, as the London Economist puts the idea today, "policy should be insulated from politics." ... '

The original 'action intellectuals' in the Kennedy administration. 'To assist him in this new frontier of excellence, Kennedy brought the some of the "best and brightest" minds into his cabinet and White House staff, a
team of can-do "action intellectuals" who believed in personal involvement rather than "ivory tower" detachment from life's needs. The most glamorous was Bobby Kennedy, the new attorney general. Governor Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut took over as secretary of health, education, and welfare, while labor lawyer Arthur Goldberg took over as secretary of labor. Yet one Harvard economist who could have lent academic weight and leftward bias to the new administration, John Kenneth Galbraith, was shipped off as ambassador to India. The other choices were mostly ideological centrists. Ford Motor
Corporation contributed Robert MacNamara, secretary of defense, who wanted to bring effective micromanagement to the Pentagon ... Cartoonists found it easy to draw the new secretary of state, Dean Rusk, as Charlie Brown (from "Peanuts").'

Chomsky on Robert McNamara and Lenin: 'I compared some passages of articles of his in the late 1960s, speeches, on management and the necessity of management, how a well-managed society controlled from above was the ultimate in freedom. The reason is if you have really good management and everything's under control and people are told what to do, under those conditions, he said, man can maximize his potential. I just compared that with standard Leninist views on vanguard parties, which are about the same.
About the only difference is that McNamara brought God in, and I suppose Lenin didn't bring God in. He brought Marx in. '
posted by plep at 2:23 AM on July 16, 2004


Wassup is that these groups share a common belief that individuals matter. Compare that to the typical "progressive"

...(we know better than you how your money should be spent, and we don't want you to have a choice)...

or "conservative"

...(we know better than you what constitutes acceptable behavior even when you're minding you own business, and we don't want you to have a choice)...

nanny-statist rhetoric that passes for mainstream politics these days.

The lesser of two evils is still evil; if you vote Democrat or Republican you're part of the problem.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:29 AM on July 16, 2004

The transformation of the Old Left into the New Right, starting in the 1970s, is the best kept secret in recent history — possibly because of the volume of tortuous mumbo-jumbo emitted by the theorists of the cabal to justify themselves, like a squid emitting ink.

I prefer to think of the current cabal not so much as anachronistic Trotskyites as inept followers of Gramsci: . The neocons constantly cite Gramsci's explanation of "how one class could establish its leadership and authority over others through ideological dominance ... [and] how, once ideological authority — or 'cultural hegemony' — is established, the need for revolution or the use of violence to impose change can become superfluous. "

The problem is that these people are nothing like the class of "organic intellectuals" whom Gramsci thought could effect social change in this way. Organic intellectuals are formed by and emerge from the experience of the class whose values they seek to articulate and direct. The neocons have sought to coopt such figures without committing to their values or worldview.

For exampele, while they have fought mercilessly with 'traditional intellectuals" (see also "old Europe") in the guise of "tenured leftists" and "cultural relativists" for "cultural hegemony" in academia, the neocons have no credibility with the common people into whose discourse they have attempted to inject their second-order semes and memes. The crudity of this administration's demagoguery reflects an utter contempt for the people it seeks to mobilize, with whom it shares no life experience or moral instinct, and for whom it feels no solidarity or compassion. They see themselves, in the Straussian tradition, as philospher-kings.

But their cynicism about the values from which they draw the emotive vocabulary of their rhetoric is the worst-kept secret in the Republic. Sincerity, integrity, authenticity, and a passionate commitment to principles is the mark of the "organic intellectual." The attempts we have seen to cloak the naked opportunism of this revolutionary vanguard in a Manichaean fairy tale of good and evil, tyranny and democracy, is so fragile now that a single voice has the power to break the spell of "groupthink" — that last refuge of the scoundrels whose social policy makes suich generous use of the phrase "personal responsibility."

The traditional role of the post-Reconstruction black clergy, as Eugene Genovese described it, as well as such apparently dissonant social forces as the exploding viral worldview of gangster rappers and the apocalyptic egalitarianism of evangelical Christianity. are examples of "organic intellectual movements" in action, spinning new ideology out of the old in order to cope with the contradictions of new experience, while maintaining a sense of the continuity of the new with old — the narrative continuity of a common experience in which virtues are illustrated by the actions and suffering of our heroes.

The invisible hand of frictionless free markets, guided by the hidden hand of naked power, in which these people have placed their faith, has none of these qualities, any more than dialetical materialism did, or does. Jesus, Mohammed, Ali, Elvis, and Lance Armstrong do, however. Fireman running into burning towers without hesitation also fit these narratives.

And the whole point is that these are sacred narratives at the heart of our social cohesion. This explains how the actions of a misguided few come to be writ large as the collapse of a holy crusade for democracy and peace into barbarity and sin.

As Allen Ginsberg liked to sing, "Hypocrisy is the key to self-fulfilling prophecy." The credo of the 'organic intellectual' is "no faith but in works," or "put your money where your mouth is." The failure of the necons, who occupy a higher moral sphere than the rest of us, has been their failure to heed an important corollary of that maxim: "Don't shit where you eat."
posted by hairyeyeball at 4:46 AM on July 16, 2004

interesting followup to this post, too bad the first link goes nowhere
posted by Outlawyr at 4:47 AM on July 16, 2004

if you vote Democrat or Republican you're part of the problem.

If your vote contributes to the triumph of the greater evil, you're also part of the problem.
posted by lodurr at 5:38 AM on July 16, 2004

HERE'S the proper link

Late night posting indeed.
posted by troutfishing at 7:10 AM on July 16, 2004

There's no problem per-se with knowledge specialization. Many societies that have remained stable over time and value knowledge for material gain end up with experts. I think it is inherent in those conditions. One can look at China and the library of Alexandria for examples. I'm sure more exist.

The problem is people succumbing to expert opinion without thinking the issue through.

As for the ACLU/NRA link, is there transcripts available? This already happened, but all I see is a link to a keynote speech video excerpt.

FWIW, I think the Second Amendment is what keeps the others possible (as a last resort). I don't see how one can support the ACLU and not the NRA. Civil Rights aren't a left/right issue, they are a human issue and it is great to see strong organizations from a variety of political stripes striving to overlook their political differences to see the danger to civil rights in the US today.
posted by infowar at 7:10 AM on July 16, 2004

Noam Chomsky has noted parallels between the ideology of the 'action intellectuals' who made foreign policy during the Kennedy administration and the ideology of Leninism, which could equally apply to today's neo-conservatives.

*Plep* quoting Chomsky? This is a truly black day.
posted by hama7 at 7:16 AM on July 16, 2004

hairyeyeball - great comment. Like a squid emitting ink, indeed.

In fact, that's possibly the best thing I've read on Metafilter all year.

Once again :

Corrected Link!

Here's a good, short overview of the Neocons which suggests several different pedigrees - as Straussians, ex-Trotskyites, and as devotees of the "Noble Lie" .

[ InfoWar - unfortunately I couldn't dig it up through the ACLU website. There seems to be nothing as of yet (see Google, "Hersh,trotskyite") ]

Here's Michael Lind's original piece which kicked up all the shit and brought the NeoCon/Troskyite connection more to the fore - The Weird Men Behind George W Bush's War

Here's one scholar's dismissal of Lind's claims ( by Alan Wald, a Professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, on the History News Network) :

"As a scholar researching for several decades the migration of United States intellectuals from Left to Right, I have been startled by the large number of journalistic articles making exaggerated claims about ex-Trotskyist influence on the Bush administration that have been circulating on the internet and appearing in a range of publications. I first noticed these in March 2003, around the time that the collapse of Partsian Review magazine was announced, although some may have appeared earlier.

One of the most dismaying examples can be found in the caricatures presented in Michael Lind's "The Weird Men Behind George W. Bush's War" that appeared in the April 7, 2003 issue of the New Statesman......"

And here, in turn, is Lind's rather scathing rebuttal :

"I thank Mr. Wald for helping to prove my case. Indeed, the details he provides suggest that the existence of the influence of ex-Trotskyists, Shermanite and Schachtmannite alike, on the neoconservative faction within American conservatism was even greater than I and others have realized. It is not every day that an incompetent critic unwittingly undermines his own case in attempting to refute yours.

I stand by the observation that there is a distinct Trotskyist political culture, which shows its residual influence even on individuals who renounced Trotskyism or who were never Trotskyists but inherited this political culture from their parents or older mentors. An unusual belligerence in foreign policy combined with a desire to export "revolution""

Here's a cover of the : whole Neocon ideological-pedigree fracas, at :

"Almost more interesting than Michael Lind's piece on Trotskyism and the neocons is the responses to it by Arnold Beichman and Stephen Schwartz. Both of these men are former communists and now frequently write for the Weekly Standard and National Review. The former Stalinist Beichman accuses Lind of "McCarthyism." The former Trotskyite Schwartz accuses him of "Stalinism" and implies that his criticism of Churchill is based on Nazi sympathies.

These men clearly retain what James Burnham called the "emotional gestalt" of leftism. "

( steps on own toes going out the door )
posted by troutfishing at 7:49 AM on July 16, 2004

hama7 - Chomsky is superfluous here. It's so much more fun to just quote Lind directly : "Not only in the U.S. but in Britain and continental Europe, ex-Trots have tended to go from advocating promotion of socialist revolution to promoting liberal or democratic revolution....influences including not only the vestiges of Trotskyist foreign policy activism, but also Straussianism, Cold War liberalism, and a peculiar kind of Anglophilia based on the veneration of Winston Churchill"
posted by troutfishing at 7:54 AM on July 16, 2004

Goddamn commie bastards.

*begins pacing out fall-out shelter*
posted by johnnyboy at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2004

I've always thought the idea of 'radical conservatives' to be contradictory. It would be a laugh if they turned out to be just a bunch of old Trots, with the Trot mindset but not the old Trot ideology.
posted by carter at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2004

This is interesting btw, thanks y'all.
posted by carter at 9:35 AM on July 16, 2004

They are called "neoconservatives" because many of them started off as anti-Stalinist leftists or liberals before moving to the far right. - Lind

This is essentially an op-ed piece, about Iraq, with some acrobatic leaps and wild-eyed, white-knuckled conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure, which is very entertaining in a spooky-haunted-house type way, and leads to outrageous prison-planet type exclamations such as "the hidden hand of naked power". It's also ridiculous.

"Anti-Stalinist leftists"? "Liberals before moving to the far right"? Protocols of the Elders of Neocon, maybe?

Like an exploding owl, this brings to mind an exquisite piece of poetry by the former Poet Laureate of New Jersey:

SOMEBODY BLEW UP AMERICA Whoooooo? The Jeeeewwws?

Come on.
posted by hama7 at 9:38 AM on July 16, 2004

I don't see how one can support the ACLU and not the NRA.

That's easy enough.

The ACLU defends the rule of law.

The NRA is now the lobbying arm of the American firearm manufacturers, not the sportsman's association it once was that on occasion defended one amendment.

I support the Bill of Rights but I do not support the lobbying instruments of corporations. I support ALL (besides the repealed ones) of the amendments and the Constitution.

I often find repulsive those whom the ACLU finds themselves defending but I understand such is necessary to avoid hypocrisy in defending the law and not the person.

Interesting discussion of the foundations of neocon ideology. I thought everyone already knew this stuff. ;-)
posted by nofundy at 11:30 AM on July 16, 2004

nofundy - I'd missed the Trotskyite connection but also loved Hersh's zinger "the greatest Trotskyite of our times. He believes in permanent revolution.".

I'm irritated with myself for botching that link.
posted by troutfishing at 1:36 PM on July 16, 2004

"Anti-Stalinist leftists"? "Liberals before moving to the far right"? Protocols of the Elders of Neocon, maybe?

So your argument is that "moving from left to right is haaarrdd, they'r e on opposite sides! You can't do that!"

You've got nothing. Nothing.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2004

hama7 needs to make a desperate attempt, in any case.
posted by troutfishing at 7:09 AM on July 17, 2004

Waitaminute, does this mean hama7 is some sort of neotrotskyite?
posted by homunculus at 10:01 AM on July 17, 2004

hama7 needs to make a desperate attempt, in any case.

You've cited Buchanan, Ramondo, and Lind.

I admire and agree with Buchanan on almost every issue save one: his opinion that the Jews and Israelis are behind every American foreign policy issue, and that Israel pulls the strings of the American puppet government. That's nonsense. You seem to think you've found the grail, when Buchanan has been saying this for years, and is met with the same public bewilderment that Raimondo and Lind recieve when parrot this thinly veiled conspiracy theory.

Did you know that the Nazis had flying saucers?
posted by hama7 at 5:33 PM on July 17, 2004

hama7 - It seems more, to me, like a description of a pedigree and a tendency.

This was one major stream that fed American neoconservatism, but your use of the word "conspiracy" is imprecise here.

Latin : "To breathe together" - as a group of conspirators "conspires" together in a small space, all breathing the same air.

These Trotskyite neocons need not ever have breathed the same air, in the same small space.

They just have a similar outlook : they came from similar backgrounds

Watch Woolsey

" If you want to figure out whether the administration of President George W Bush intends a crusade to remake the Middle East in the wake of Washington's presumed military victory in Iraq, watch what happens with R James Woolsey. A former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Woolsey is being pushed hard by his fellow neoconservatives in the Pentagon to play a key role in the post-Saddam Hussein US occupation."

And there Woolsey is, serving as iraq's new "Minister of Information".

Odd, eh?
posted by troutfishing at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2004

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