The United Hates of America
Jamie Glazov's United in Hate is a serious book and deserves serious attention. Mulling it over, I recalled reading a newspaper article about some domestic calamity or other that had befallen the United States and tripping over a providential typo -- the United States was misspelled as the "Untied States," an apt metathesis or anagram. Which fits in pretty well with Glazov's argument and which suggests another felicitous misprint we might stumble across one of these days: the "United Hates of America."
For the U.S. is a country that seems to be increasingly at war, not with the hostile nations of the world that wish it harm, but with itself: the electoral gulf between red and blue states; the growing procedural animosity between Democrats and Republicans, mirroring the ideological conflict between liberals and conservatives; the unprecedented legal threat that the current administration is levying against its predecessor's anti-terrorist interrogation methods, which promises even further discord and self-division; the friction between the mainstream press and the blogosphere, with the former tending on the whole to suppress information and the latter to unearth it; and especially the long and destabilizing campaign of the American Left against the political interests of its own country and its rush to embrace the dictatorial agendas of America's most resolute enemies. In the current geopolitical context, the most pronounced subset of this zealous campaign is the "unholy alliance" (to use David Horowitz's phrase) between the radical Left and the Islamic Right, which is a major theme of Glazov's book.
There are, of course, many other excellent books on the general subject that United in Hate is addressing. I might mention in passing such works as David Pryce-Jones' The Closed Circle, Paul Hollander's Political Pilgrims, David Horowitz's The Politics of Bad Faith, Phyllis Chesler's The Death of Feminism, Mary Habek's Knowing the Enemy, Nick Cohen's What's Left, Mark Steyn's America Alone, Robert Spencer's Stealth Jihad, Kenneth Timmerman's Shadow Warriors -- and even Saul Bellow's To Jerusalem and Back, where we read the following prescient passage:
But the connection of democratic nations with the civilization that formed them is growing loose and queer. They seem to have forgotten what they are about. They seem to be experimenting or gambling with their liberties, unwittingly preparing themselves for totalitarianism, or perhaps not quite consciously willing it.
This was written in 1975 and could have served as an epigraph to United in Hate.
What Glazov has done in carrying on the work of his intellectual compatriots is to narrow and intensify the beam of their concern, laser-like. He directs his scrutiny to the love affair of the radical Left, and even large segments of the liberal Left, with the very forces that would destroy them, and he does this with a relentless, unswerving focus, buttressed by a veritable profusion of specific, high-profile examples and case studies. And he stays on message with such fierce and unwavering concentration that the reader has no choice but to keep pace. Mental coffee breaks are out of the question.
The result is devastating. The only resistance that those unsympathetic to his thesis can mount is to respond ad hominem and slander the messenger, for his examples cannot be wished away and his analysis seems the only conceivable means of making sense of the leftist orgy of national treason, betrayal of genuine liberal principles, and passionate support of tyrants and demagogues. Patriotism may often be "the last refuge of a scoundrel," as Dr. Johnson remarked, but whether or not this is so, I would add that treason is the act that always bears his signature.
For Glazov, the political believer, that is, the man or woman of the sanctimonious Left, is estranged from real human relationships. Glazov writes: "the believer attempts to fill the void left by the lack of real human connection with a supposed love for humanity as a whole." He calls this psychological aberration, this proneness to utopian reveries of perfect consummations at the expense of concrete human experience, "negative identification." By this he intends that "a person who has failed to identify positively with his own environment subjugates his individuality to a powerful, authoritarian entity, through which he vicariously experiences a feeling of power and purpose." The political believer feels swept up in the luminous project of building a new and equitable world in which all social distinctions and economic disparities are expunged -- regardless of the cost in human corpses littering the road to the golden city.
The consequence of this species of "totalitarian puritanism" -- of the need to redesign human nature and recreate society to consort with an ideal archetype that exists nowhere but in the empyrean of human desire or the Platonic realm of supersensual forms -- is ruthlessly destructive and accounts for the unseemly devotion of Western fellow travelers with the one-party despotisms of the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
It also clarifies the bizarre and singular marriage between the Left and Islamism. Glazov writes that the "common denominator" between two such improbable bedfellows -- the one ostensibly promoting gender equality, freedom of speech, and a pluralistic society, and the other predicated on gender apartheid, theocratic coercion, and conformity to Sharia law -- is a belief in redemptive violence. As Glazov points out, "Ground Zero must be engendered everywhere so that the earthly paradise can be built on its ashes." For the Left, the goal is the socialist Arcadia; for Islam, the universal caliphate. What exists must therefore be annihilated so that something presumably better can be erected on the debris.
This is why so many on the secular Left -- Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Ward Churchill, William Blum, Robert Jensen, Edward Said, Peter Dale Scott, Naomi Klein, Jean Baudrillard, George Galloway, Ramsey Clark, Michael Moore, and innumerable others -- exulted in the carnage of 9/11, as did their fundamentalist counterparts in the Islamic world, like the Palestinians who danced in the street and handed out candies to celebrate the great event. For the members of the anti-American Left, their papers and speeches were the candies they distributed to mark this sublime and long-awaited triumph.
Yet another important common denominator, Glazov explains, between the Western Left and Islamism is their shared hatred for the state of Israel, the only true, democratic nation in the Middle East and the West's forward position in the war against an undeviating adversary. The Left abominates Israel as a mini-America, that is, as a colonial occupier of third world innocents, and as a symbol of all the things it loathes: "modernity, freedom, corporate capitalism and globalization -- all things reviled by Muslim fundamentalists." It has thus allied itself with militant Islam on the principle that "my enemy's enemy is my friend." It has not assimilated Jonathan Rosenblum's wise reformulation, "Sometimes, my enemy's enemy is my enemy" -- as it will discover in the course of time should it ever come close to accomplishing its aims.
For what the Left has failed to realize is that, from the perspective of their new confederates, it is a wholly expendable commodity that will be mercilessly eliminated or dhimmified once "victory" is achieved. In the political nuptials it has eagerly contracted and continues to consecrate with its Islamic spouse, the Left has assumed the role of the female partner in a traditional phallocratic relationship in which it will be brutally suppressed, infibulated, confined, burka'd, and, should it prove wayward, duly honor-killed. The Left consists, in the witty formulation of National Post columnist Barbara Kay, of "useful jihidiots" who serve a cause which, when the time is right, will turn and devour it to the very bone and marrow of its living substance.
This is indeed, at first blush, a profound enigma, involving the supple elusiveness of self-knowledge and conscious awareness, in effect, the dark epistemology of willed ignorance. How can political believers be oblivious to the stubborn facts staring them in the face? How can they justify their loathing of their own society which has furnished them with every advantage and their dedication to the undeniably cannibal regimes of this world? The answer is deceptively obvious. Because the believer, Glazov writes, "seeks to nurture his self-identification as a victim and to lose himself inside a totalitarian collective whole, he must deny the truth about the object of his worship." And, of course, he must also "purge the sense of shame [he] feel[s] over [his] own affluence and privilege."
The utopian prepossession which has seized upon the mind of the political believer is, according to Glazov, a "longing for the fairy-tale world of innocent childhood [which] she projects ... onto the adversarial society she idolizes." What the political faither (as we might call her, on the model of the conspiratorial truther) is unable to accept is the complex, refractory, and defective grown-up world in which she is condemned to live -- a debased world represented in her mind by Western and especially American society. The faither cannot grasp that no society is or will ever be perfect and that America, for all its glaring faults, is far superior to the leveling autocracies that would supplant it. Convinced that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, members of the political faith cannot see that not only is this not the case, but that there is far more of it on this side of the fence.
Maturity requires us to choose not between the imperfect and the perfect, but between the imperfect and the disastrous. But projection is a powerful instrument of the political infatuate whose resentment and disaffection leads him or her to embrace the disastrous as revenge upon the imperfect. At the same time, disaster is painted over as a remedial paradigm and a pristine alternative to the real. And what this produces, in Glazov's diagnosis, is "an instinct for destruction." Under the spell of their sabbatical delusions, faithers are determined to remake the societies they live in, whatever the price in human suffering.
This is the essence of Glazov's argument. "The political faith," he writes, "rejects the basic reality of the human condition -- that human beings are flawed and driven by self-interest -- and rests on the erroneous assumption that humanity is malleable and can be reshaped into a more perfect form." Nothing must stand in the way of the single-minded pursuit of this millennial delirium in which the end justifies the means, though the barbarous inhumanity of the means makes it unlikely that the end will ever be attained or is even worth attaining. One must break eggs to make an omelette, goes the totalitarian cliché, but what one invariably gets is a heap of broken eggs and a nagging question. Where is the omelette?
For many of us, it is hard to imagine the mischief and hurt that the denizens of la-la-land can do until, that is, one follows their political itineraries and studies their various screeds -- which read as a curious hybrid of the venomous and the romantic. The peculiar quality of this material is frankly disturbing -- one pages at one's peril -- and the quantity is unstanchably intimidating. Here too, then, is the value of Glazov's book. He does much of the investigative spadework for us.
When people fall in love with an idea, with a vast, resonating abstraction, others better get out of the way. Or, as in the case of Jamie Glazov and his intellectual peers and precursors, prepare to disarm them.