Thursday, February 01, 2007

Power of Nightmares

A three part series (search Power of Nightmares on googlevid for 2,3) from the BBC on neo-conservatism and al-Qaeda. The Power of Nightmares is predicated on a postmodern world wherein politicians can no longer offer us dreams but rather gain power and legitimacy through protecting us from nightmares and nightmarish peoples and actions.

The video contains a certain outlook I don't at all times share. For example, it correctly notes that prior to the al-Qaeda attacks (Khobar, Cole, 9/11) were signs of weakness and isolation in many ways. Jihadism was a moribund institution until the US decided to invade Iraq. But they have since then become more powerful--or at least the ideology has spread virally.

But be that as it may, the video gives amazingly profound background especially on the neocons. They began by purposefully lying (convincing themselves of the lie perhaps) of the Soviets having a secret hand behind every terrorist network in the world. [The same storyline would be changed to al-Qaeda].

The film explores the thought of Sayid Qutb, the godfather of jihadism and Leo Strauss, the godfather (I suppose) of neoconservatism.

What both men realized was that secular Western society held within it the seeds of its own demise. For Qutb the answer came in the return to Islamic society, sharia, and jihad against this new form of ignorant paganism (jahiliyah), which for Qutb infected not only the West but Muslims too. Hence they could be killed.

For Strauss, the populace must be roused with a "noble lie"--an idea in Plato's political philosophy. The cattle can not understand the truth but must be mobilized behind a great transcendent idea (though there is no transcendence in neoconservatism itself)--in this case America's divine purpose to spread freedom the globe over at all times, in all places....aka democratic Trotskyism.

William Kristol, son of original neo-con (paleo-neocon if that makes any sense) Irving Kristol. Hardline anti-Stalinists leftists who become disenchanted with the left from the failures of LBJ's Great Society and joined the Republican Party. The noble lie allowed them to align with social Christian conservatives, though almost to a man the neocons were secular Marxist Jews. Kristol is famously crass in his support of anti-abortion measures (which it seems unlikely he really cares that much about) in order to get the social conservative vote on neocon foreign policy.

These two men, Strauss and Qutb, and their modern followers, are the last of the political idealists. And the Neocons are seeing their dream die on the fields of Iraq.


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