Roger L. Simon

Comrade Trotsky Meets Mr. Jefferson (two endless revolutionaries)

Many have already read Wretchard’s valuable commentary on a Michael Ignatieff piece in the NYT – Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread? My own views on this are pathetically simplistic and admittedly globalist – i. e. we live on one miniscule planet in a gigantic universe and our best hope for living together well (if at all) is democracy. Unlike Ignatieff, I don’t care if that comes from the United States, “God” or whoever. Call me whatever you want, but don’t call me late for the (democracy) lunch. Put another way, in the words of Chairman Deng Tsaio Peng, “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, only that it catches mice.” (Yes, I’ve quoted this before, but it’s a great quote.) The mouse we must catch is democracy.

Speaking of which, some of us are waiting for President Bush’s speech tonight, the one that is intended to put a weary public back on course in Iraq. I suspect it will not succeed, not because what Bush says will not be true or eloquent (he has some good writers and thinkers), but because he is surrounded by cacophony, some of it of his own making. By turning so rapidly and fully to his domestic agenda in his second term, he is partly responsible for redirecting attention from what is by far the major issue of our time – the modernizing of Islamic civilization before it becomes massively destructive to itself and others. For whatever its importance, history will regard fixing social security (and similar matters) as a rather minor problem by comparison.

(Just to be clear, I don’t think for a moment democracy is a solution to all humanity’s woes. It’s just our only refuge from totalitarianism.)