I noticed a photo of Barack Obama reading a book. It is still a bit charming to have a President who actually reads books, so I am inclined to view this as a positive. However, the book turned out to be The Post-American Future by Fareed Zakaria.
So is this sinister? Probably not, since Zakaria is a big shot (he is the editor of TIME Magazine international) and the book was a bestseller and one doesn’t simply read what one agrees with. Still, this is a bit troubling, since we’ve been told more than once that the Neocons are dead but the suckers keep coming back to life.
So who is Fareed Zakaria? His B.A. is from Yale (he was Scroll and Key – probably too ethnic for Skull and Bones) and his Ph.D. is from Harvard. His mentor at Harvard was Samuel Huntington. Huntington is a famous neocon and the author of a number of books, including Who are We? And The Clash of Civilizations.
By neocon we mean of of course “neoconservative,” which is to say a descendant in the intellectual lineage of Leo Strauss, which is to say an opponent of democracy, or if we want to get serious, a fascist. Strauss proposes there are two levels of truth, the exoteric and the esoteric, one set of doctrines he publishes for the outside (which are lunacy by themselves) and then, another, more radical doctrine which is spoken only to his chosen few. It is an attitude that also pervade the religious organization “The Family” which has been much in the news over the last year or so, a group which believes that Jesus held back his real doctrine for the elected few and contradicted the “exoteric” Jesus who seemed to believe in healing the sick, helping the poor, etc.
Allan Bloom was another of these neocons, the author of The Closing of the American Mind and whose self was immortalized in his friend Saul Bellow’s book Ravelstein, highly recommended for anyone wanting to gain further insight into the Ethan Brand-charcoal heart of a neocon. Francis Fukuyama was another, the author of Our Posthuman Future, but his ascendancy to become the new Henry Kissinger appears to have stalled despite his own attempts to distance himself from the neocon disasters and also because Kissinger, of course, does not die but lives on like Nosferatu.
Zakaria seems to be the new neocon golden boy. Like so many of these people, he benefited in the public eye from 9/11; in his case, due to an essay he wrote called “Why They Hate Us” which was published in TIME. In this article, he placed the blame for Arabic problem squarely on the Arabs:
If there is one great cause of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, it is the total failure of political institutions in the Arab world. Muslim elites have averted their eyes from this reality. Conferences at Islamic centers would still rather discuss “Islam and the Environment” than examine the dysfunctions of the current regimes. But as the moderate majority looks the other way, Islam is being taken over by a small poisonous element, people who advocate cruel attitudes toward women, education, the economy and modern life in general. I have seen this happen in India, where I grew up. The rich, colorful, pluralistic and easygoing Islam of my youth has turned into a dour, puritanical faith, policed by petty theocrats and religious commissars. The next section deals with what the United States can do to help the Islamic world. But if Muslims do not take it upon themselves to stop their religion from falling prey to medievalists, nothing any outsider can do will save them.
Pay no attention to the long history of intervention by Great Britain and the United States in the region, but instead point the finger of blame directly at the Arab world. Of course. We’re only here to help.
Zakaria is the author of two other books besides the one Obama was seen reading. One is called The Future of Freedom. I could summarize it here, but the summary provided on Amazon.com is so succinctly astonishing that I just want to quote it in full here:
Democracy is not inherently good, Zakaria (From Wealth to Power) tells us in his thought-provoking and timely second book. It works in some situations and not others, and needs strong limits to function properly. The editor of Newsweek International and former managing editor of Foreign Affairs takes us on a tour of democracy’s deficiencies, beginning with the reminder that in 1933 Germans elected the Nazis. While most Western governments are both democratic and liberal-i.e., characterized by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic rights-the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Zakaria praises countries like Singapore, Chile and Mexico for liberalizing their economies first and then their political systems, and compares them to other Third World countries “that proclaimed themselves democracies immediately after their independence, while they were poor and unstable, [but] became dictatorships within a decade.” But Zakaria contends that something has also gone wrong with democracy in America, which has descended into “a simple-minded populism that values popularity and openness.” The solution, Zakaria says, is more appointed bodies, like the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Supreme Court, which are effective precisely because they are insulated from political pressures. Zakaria provides a much-needed intellectual framework for many current foreign policy dilemmas, arguing that the United States should support a liberalizing dictator like Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf, be wary of an elected “thug” like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and take care to remake Afghanistan and Iraq into societies that are not merely democratic but free.
Amazing. Democracies require “strong limits,” the Germans “elected” the Nazis (this is a radical oversimplification of what happened – the Nazis never held a popular majority of any kind), Singapore, Chile, and Mexico represent “good” governments and Hugo Chavez is “bad,” and the World Trade Organization is “effective” because it is “insulated.” This is jaw-dropping stuff, as unsubtle as a propaganda cartoon during wartime.
So what is The Post-American World about? It is globalist cheerleading, a book that in its own words describes a world in which American has not declined but it is rather the rest of the world which is rising up to meet us. (Indeed, the Amazon.com page for this book features a fawning interview between Zakaria and the propagandist Thomas Friedman.) How glorious! It is part and parcel of the worldview that somehow if all the countries of the world participate in monopoly capitalism’s future, that we all can benefit (or, more likely) perish equally. The neocon’s idea of democracy is that everybody gets equally reamed. The good news is, however, that great profits can be made by those in the know.