Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Long Assignment: Read this piece by Alan Wolfe, on the trendy quasi-fascist political thinker Carl Schmitt:
Liberals think of politics as a means; conservatives as an end. Politics, for liberals, stops at the water's edge; for conservatives, politics never stops. Liberals think of conservatives as potential future allies; conservatives treat liberals as unworthy of recognition. Liberals believe that policies ought to be judged against an independent ideal such as human welfare or the greatest good for the greatest number; conservatives evaluate policies by whether they advance their conservative causes. Liberals instinctively want to dampen passions; conservatives are bent on inflaming them. Liberals think there is a third way between liberalism and conservatism; conservatives believe that anyone who is not a conservative is a liberal. Liberals want to put boundaries on the political by claiming that individuals have certain rights that no government can take away; conservatives argue that in cases of emergency -- conservatives always find cases of emergency -- the reach and capacity of the state cannot be challenged.
Then read this piece from the WSJ:
For a moment this Sunday, the yard outside White House senior adviser Karl Rove's home looked like a scene from "On the Waterfront."

In the screen version, Karl Malden's parish priest finds his church surrounded by union toughs who bang their clubs on the basement windows in an effort to intimidate those inside attending a meeting on dockside corruption. In the real-life Beltway version, nine busloads of activists "stormed" (the Washington Post's word) Mr. Rove's yard, blocking the street, surrounding both sides of the house and pounding on the windows at a time when he was inside with his 15-year-old son and his son's friend.

Okay, I'll admit that Wolfe covers his ass with this sentence: "There are, of course, no party lines when it comes to conservatives and liberals in the United States." But then, of course, he goes on to examine the 2004 election as though he had never made that caveat statement:
No wonder the 2004 election has aroused so much interest. We will, if Schmitt is any guide, be deciding not only who wins, but whether we will treat pluralism as good, disagreement as virtuous, politics as rule bound, fairness as possible, opposition as necessary, and government as limited.
Which side do you think is which, in his view? And when, exactly, was the last time that blue-blazered College Republicans burned newspapers and shouted down speakers; that the staff of the American Enterprise Institute went into the political streets with bike chains and flick knives; that the chamber of commerce "protested" you by (criminally, by the way) storming your property and attacking your house in an obvious attempt at intimidation?

Liberal, conservative: whatever.

Look, I'm more likely to call myself liberal than conservative -- but anyone willing to look closely will admit that the banner of fascism is carried by the left these days.

More: Another Wolfe howler:

Ann H. Coulter . . . regularly drops hints about how nice it would be if liberals were removed from the earth, like her 2003 speculation about a Democratic ticket that might include Al Gore and then-California Gov. Gray Davis. "Both were veterans, after a fashion, of Vietnam," she wrote, "which would make a Gore-Davis ticket the only compelling argument yet in favor of friendly fire." . . . Liberals, by contrast, even in their newly discovered aggressively anti-Bush frame of mind, stop well short of Coulter's violent language.
First, as I've written about Coulter before, she's something of an arsonist. Even National Review fired her. Second, take a peek at what the "liberals" say at Indymedia or Democratic Underground. They're about as representative of liberalism as Coulter is of conservatism. (And I'm sure I don't even need to point out famous liberal Hunter Thompson's assertion that Ed Meese deserved to be sodomized by drug-enraged bull elk.)

More: Jacob Levy beat me to this by two days. Not fair! I'll bet he doesn't have to pay for his own subscription to the Chronicle! (Now out of the academic world, I have to wait for the content to move to the "free zone" of His observations are similar to mine, but better written, and with less elk sodomy. (Suggested motto for Volokh Conspiracy: "Now with less elk sodomy!")

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