What Are We Talking About, Anyway?
July 13, 2005 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Debating A Neocon, etc. "Editors’ note: The following exchange is significant for its discussion of how the world order functions today. Particularly interesting is the debate over the significance of neoconservative ideology within the ruling class and whether such a thing as 'Islamic fascism' exists."
posted by davy (23 comments total)
"Debating a neocon"? Seems about as useful as arguing with a wall that it should move a few inches.
posted by clevershark at 2:06 PM on July 13, 2005

You can't argue with religious folks.
posted by inthe80s at 2:23 PM on July 13, 2005

First time I saw the title I thought it said "dating a neocon".. Hmm.. Tips?
posted by Mossy at 2:25 PM on July 13, 2005

Mossy writes "First time I saw the title I thought it said 'dating a neocon'.. Hmm.. Tips?"

Perhaps this site could provide some guidance?
posted by clevershark at 2:32 PM on July 13, 2005

Hammerquist cites the "stagnation of the EU" as a symptom of the imperfection of capitalism's "hidden hand." The "global capitalist system" he writes about is anything but "capitalist."

Nonetheless, this was a pretty interesting post.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:43 PM on July 13, 2005

His "opening statements" are facinating.

Yes, he thinks it's "all about the Oil". but "all about the Oil" is the only rationale for these actions that make sense. We know these people arn't as stupid as they seem to think the US population is, (they don't belive in Iraqi WMDs) so they must have some sensible reaction that underlies it all.

The IMF is also a disaster to those who take the money.
posted by delmoi at 3:05 PM on July 13, 2005

An interesting exchange, though you have to wade through a lot of lefty rhetoric that will be alienating to most people who don't nod approvingly at a mention of "old problems foretold in the Grundrisse..." but instead wonder what the fuck the Grundrisse might be. I have to say I like this guy Goff; we might not agree on a lot politically, but I'd like to have a beer with someone who can write:
It is truly remarkable how easily KO’ed these neocons are once you step outside the tight little ring of the Republicrats. They’ve got maybe three combinations, and they are slow as a cow. Everything inside has been ritual combat, so they do very badly when someone actually intends to hit them.
But his interlocutor makes more substantive points, so I'll be quoting them for the benefit of those whose eyes glaze over at the thought of reading four lefty screeds in succession. This I think is the nub of his argument, and contains an important truth, whatever you think of capitalism:

I think that the crucial feature of the current situation is not the emergence of a militarized and newly aggressive imperialistic U.S. nationalism. It is the development of a militarized and aggressive capitalist internationalism that is militarily centered in the U.S. This ruling class internationalism, as advanced by the neocons, finds the existing nation/state institutional framework – the very framework which has contained popular reform movements, including both the economic class struggle and the national liberation movement - to be a source of dangerous inertia, not to mention an expense that might be politically unnecessary.

It's important to realize that Bush & Co. may very well not have the local interests of the US of A at heart in their geopolitical decisions. Whether you think it's a good idea for capitalists of all countries to unite for the profit of all is another matter, but that does seem to be what's going on.

I got a chuckle out of this and appreciated the honesty:

The concepts and analysis of a left that viewed capitalism as “moribund” a century ago must be employed with serious reservations on every issue.

But he quickly got off on his "neo-fascism" hobbyhorse, which despite all his reasoning seems to me counterproductive; I can't do better than quote his own damning question:

If the conditions now are so markedly different from when fascism originally developed, why continue to use a term that will necessarily be confusing?

But the following does describe a phenomenon that needs considering, whatever labels we paste on it:

From the classic fascist worldview, neo-fascism draws an emphasis on hierarchy, order, discipline and sacrifice contrasted with creativity, autonomy and fulfillment. The movement is anti-universalist. Its social vision is anti-humanist, legitimating the forceful subordination of majorities to minorities, of “low cultures” to “high cultures.” The subordinated majorities are untermens[c]hen, not fully human, a lesser status that is sometimes expressed as being feminine rather than masculine. The alleged superiority of the privileged group may be defined in different ways, by gender as above, by religion, “culture,” as well as by the more familiar race, nation, and ethnicity. This all opens possibilities for competing neo-fascisms, complicating the overall challenge to global capitalism, not to mention confusing the hell out of the left.

Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2005

Of course, this guy comes across as a bit of a crackpot. For example claiming that the democrats and the republicans are just as bad as eachother, which is mostly true but still sounds crazy.
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on July 13, 2005

Actualy, if you read Hammerquist's response, he actualy seems to agree with a lot of Goff's premise. However, he's a neo-con and therefore a crackpot by definition.
posted by delmoi at 3:18 PM on July 13, 2005

Um, the neo-con is the guy Goff was describing in the first piece (the one he was worried about debating). Both Goff and Hammerquist are raving commies. (And therefore [before you can say it] crackpots by definition.)
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on July 13, 2005

I have the feeling that Goff's sparring partner is misspelt (or has two different spellings). If so Don Hamerquist (one m) is a former cadre of CPUSA (he left the party in 1969, I think). And most certainly (because the title might imply otherwise) he is not the neocon mentioned in the title, but, as is evident from the debate, a man of the left, discussing with Goff the nature of the neocon movement. He "wins" the argument IMHO easily because he has a much more nuanced idea of how the system works, I think than Goff.

In fact, now that I think about it, Hamerquist's position is possibly the most coherent analysis of the neocon movement I've seen coming from the left (or the right and the center for that matter).

This should be compulsory reading on the left, both as analysis and as warning:
What’s “delusional” with these Islamophobes? I hope Goff isn't accepting the liberal nonsense about the neocons’ underestimations of the difficulties in Iraq—the charge that they expected to be greeted as liberators and believed that this war would “pay for itself.” No matter what Perle, Wolfowitz, or Cheney said publicly, I don’t believe for a moment that they actually held such views. This situation is no different than with the fake issues of WMD threats or “links to terrorism” that Goff notes. The public arguments that the war would be “easy” and that the thing they call “freedom” would be a hot commodity in Arabia, were public relations gambits as transparently fraudulent as the related public arguments for the “Iraq threat” and the “necessity” of the war.

The neocons were confronted with a problem. The strategic course they thought was essential promised to be costly and massively unpopular. So they built a case for it that had no necessary connection with the facts and the truth. Certainly they would be happier if the war and occupation were going more smoothly, but we can expect that they will find ways to make use of the difficulties incurred in Iraq to expedite their general strategy. For them, Iraq is only a first step, an episode, a place to begin—and they have begun.
(I feel I must also point out that the opening paragraph of Hamerquist's second reply is amazing in that it is a rare occasion in a public debate where one of the parties admits a mistake upfront and with no excuses)
posted by talos at 3:23 PM on July 13, 2005

From the Hammerquist response:

The neocon’s first commandment, the active use of U.S. power to advance “freedom” and “liberty” or “connectivity”, can require national sacrifices and might not lead to national aggrandizement. Many of the policies advanced by the neocons arguably will weaken U.S. capitalism in both the short run and the long run. This is exactly why these policies have stimulated significant opposition within the capitalist ruling class from both the official right and the official “left,” an opposition which in either case is essentially conservative. A paradoxical combination of traditional capitalist liberalism with traditional capitalist reaction was clear in the hapless Kerry campaign. In fact, the political bankruptcy of that campaign is itself testimony to the viability of the neo-con view - to the fact that something is “there”.

So in other words, the anti-neo-cons want to protect America from idological neo-cons bent on "sacraficing" the US to create global capitalist utopia. That dosn't sound like a particularly bad position to me.
posted by delmoi at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2005

ah, okay. Clawson is the guy that Goff Debated. And Hammerquist is just someone who felt like chiming in. I'd like to see Clawson's rebuttal to this, if he has one.
posted by delmoi at 3:32 PM on July 13, 2005

Kwantsar said: Nonetheless, this was a pretty interesting post.

Oh, shit. I fucked up again.

Anyway. Hey Kwantsar, are you and quonsar different people?

And clevershark, who was that woman who fairly recently wrote a book about the joys of being buttfucked?
posted by davy at 5:45 PM on July 13, 2005

davy writes "And clevershark, who was that woman who fairly recently wrote a book about the joys of being buttfucked?"

I don't know... and I'm *not* searching for that on Google...
posted by clevershark at 6:00 PM on July 13, 2005

Toni Bentley, author of The Surrender.
posted by RylandDotNet at 6:29 PM on July 13, 2005

Thanks for this excellent post!

I'd rate these articles as two of the most intelligent short overviews I've seen of the current global political situation.

And yes, I do like the way they debate honestly and politely, with sincere apologies when appropriate.

They seem to be primarily interested in arriving at a better, consensual understanding, rather than in protecting their own positions.

posted by cleardawn at 6:52 PM on July 13, 2005

They seem to be primarily interested in arriving at a better, consensual understanding, rather than in protecting their own positions.

Just like Metafilter, ain't it!
posted by davy at 7:07 PM on July 13, 2005

"Just like Metafilter, ain't it!"

And here I was thinking an operating system thread on Slashdot :)
posted by soulhuntre at 8:23 PM on July 13, 2005

In the immortal words of ParisParamus: You are ignorant and unprincipled.
posted by mosch at 11:16 PM on July 13, 2005

In the immortal words of ParisParamus: You are ignorant and unprincipled.

And I'm damn good at it too.
posted by davy at 12:45 AM on July 14, 2005

Really a prescient argument presented by Goff. And $60 a barrel oil seems to be fulfilling his dark vision of oil-addicted heavyweight empires beginning to cast a covetous eye on each others consumption. Despite the fairy tales of "establishing freedom and democracy" in the middle east coming out of the White House.

Oil prices in the stratosphere. Yet necons don't seem to have much to say on the subject. Why aren't necons feet being held to the fire? Remember "kick his ass and get the gas"?
posted by telstar at 2:58 AM on July 14, 2005

ok capitalism is bad, and did much , enslaved 8 million africans in the process. well sir the muslims (islam enslaved 160 million from all over even ireland and still no reparations. I seethe with latent hatred for the memories of my great G,G,G,G,g< grandmother suffered at the sheik of arabys hands.muslim is the biggest enslaver and still is, and I find it laughable black americans convert to an even mo betta enslaver than the ineffective christians.and the benefits of being brought here too, will any go to afrika? hell no so stay here and be as free as you can delude yourself into being, your mind is free at least.
posted by xtiml at 10:26 AM on July 21, 2005

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