Friday, August 22, 2008

Paul Berman: A Clear Headed Lefty

Due disclosure: I am fully aware that all political persuasions produce idiots and criminals; some of the worst ever were produced by the Right.

Having said that, however, let's discuss the fools from the Left for a moment. Throughout most of the 20th century there was a group, somewhere on the left of the Left, whom history calls the Useful Idiots. These were the deluded folks of the Left who lined up to promote Communism while Stalin was murdering tens of millions of his citizens in the 1920-1930; they proclaimed for Mao as late as the 1960s, when he was murdering millions of his people and doing his best to push China back into the middle ages; some of them still go around wearing Che Guevara t-shirts to till this very day, in spite of Che's main achievements being to murder large numbers of people. (It's also not clear who these contemporary idiots are useful to, given the dire condition of the Soviet Union these past two decades or so. But no matter).

The problem the Left has had in more recent decades, however, has been the infection of its mainstream. Loonies are loonies, but so long as the mainstream of the left camp was producing people such as FDR, Truman and LBJ, the loonies didn't really make much difference. Around 1968, however, as they decided to topple LBJ, author of The Great Society program, for not being good enough, something was clearly going wrong. (I'm mentioning only American figures for the sake of brevity. The phenomenon was probably even worse in Europe, and thus was not merely, or even mostly, the result of the war in Vietnam).

These days, and for some decades already, it's the mainstream that's behaving as the Useful Idiots used to; in the meantime, there have appeared new powers that actually can use their idiocy. Nowhere has this been more pronounced and stark than in the recent debacle in Georgia, where much of the Left lined up on the side of the reactionary, non-democratic, international-law-trampling Russians, merely because they're the ones facing the Americans.

The point of this brief and condensed history of the past 70 years has been to put a context on this article, by Paul Berman. Berman is one of the few voices on the Left who hasn't lost his moral compass, not even for a minute, this past decade. He's proof that when it retains its soul, the Left can and should be a power for improving the human condition.

Today, any time some large group of people behaves in a way that defies a logical calculation of potential gains and losses, the people in question are said to be reacting to "humiliation," or what used to be called "ressentiment." Humiliation, though, taken as a political experience, exists only where it has been ideologically constructed, and not otherwise. Germany, having been defeated in World War I, was afterwards said to be undergoing "humiliation"; and yet, after World War II, having been defeated ten times more cruelly, Germany was no longer said to be "humiliated." That was because the German political doctrines promoting a feeling of "humiliation" disappeared after World War II. It was the doctrines, not the experience of misfortune, that had created "humiliation."


Anonymous said...


Just looking at the political situation, today, in Israel, leaves one to wonder if "everything isn't just made up for the press."

You mean it matters that a boat loaded with balloons, heading to gaza, isn't a joke? What? With Tony Blair's sister-in-law on board. And, it isn't a joke?

That in America, John Edwards was considered a "real contendah." And, collected buckets-full-of-money, running his campaign to be the democratic nominee ... with enough time left over to "create a kid" ... with a woman not his wife. While the press ignored the story. And, then could not.

Oh, well.

The press seems to try to wallpaper the world with their stories.

While in Israel, you have Ehud Barak purposely pushing Kadima TO select another prime minister ... and, this person would "finish out Olmert's term." You know. The one Israeli citizens elected him to.

And, in that Spring 2006 election, what did they do to Bibi? Why, they gave him a dozen seats. In other words, Likud shrunk.

And, the elite journalists all climbed on board the story that Olmert (when he was mayor of Jerusalem. And, in the Likud party) ... treated his business deductions by creating "extra" receipts. Letting him make more than one list for reimbursement.

And, while we're at it. Katsav's position as president, swung to Shimon Peres. Because Mazuz (like America's NIFONG), accused Katsav of rape. Have you noticed? Katsav hasn't been charged with this "rape story." It just accomplished what it set out to do ... And, then it fades away.

Shortly, we will find out what happens to the balloons. On the boat. Traveling with a group of the press' bumkins ... All because some people would do anything to be on TV.

While in America? We just used Jerry Springer.

And, a long time ago? Well, in England "Bedlam" was put on display. And, saner people would come on Sundays, to see the loonies attached to the Wall. Of course, "Bedlam" was an abbreviation. The hospital was actually called Bethlehem.

Whatever news value used to exist ... it's gone, now.

While at least the plans Ehud Barak made, turns out helping Livni. But Barak stays down at the bottom of the barrel.

Sometimes, ya get to think: Do people ever learn?

Well, then you have the academic elites, and their favorite toy, wrapped up in socialism ... And, you know! The reason they're hot for that is that it leaves them in charge!

But when you look to see how people vote? Hardly like Labor will do all that well, ahead. While Shimon Peres basks as president. And, Katsav wasn't respected, because he got angry at the process that humiliated him with a bogus story.

Please don't confuse rape with sex. Lots of women take advantage of men, ya know? And, then? Well, you could watch the American movie, Fatal Attraction.

But you won't learn a thing if you depend on journalists to tell you the truth.

No rush. The truth shows up just the same.

Anonymous said...


Just a reminder: LBJ TANKED!

You thought his "New Society" was gonna see him heading to "great-hood?" The man failed to attract the public.

And, in 1965, with his mistake to escalate in Vietnam, really bent things for lots of Americans, here. At home. (Where drafting males was as common as it still is in Israel.) Nixon had to beat the draft back. And, it became an outlawed way for the military to collect "enlistments." (And, this didn't help Nixon, either.)

On the other hand, in Vietnam there were no ports. SO we put 50,000 troops. And, then couldn't supply them with the basics. Things got stuck on ships that couldn't even land. And, the bottleneck created by the one place where there were longshoreman; GUESS WHAT?

Led to the world of CONTAINER SHIPPING.

WW2 "birthed" penicillin.

Vietnam, however, changed the world. And, CONTAINER SHIPPING ... plus, the know how to dredge out ports from unused land ... became the "new way." Which at first was needed to send supplies.

No matter what America does in wars, SENDING SUPPLIES is beyond anything you can imagine.

And, today's world is better off for it, I guess. Since you can ship stuff anywhere. And, people everywhere can compete for a few lousy manufacturing jobs.

No wonder no one thanks LBJ for anything. What a fool he was!