Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Conservative Revolution

Like many progressives I have an addiction to the right-wing media. I watched the entire Republican National Convention, from start to finish, turning redder than Zell Miller at every blatant prevarication and ad hominem attack. I love to read neo-con moles like Charles Krauthammer and William Safire, and Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal never fails to amaze. The right-wing media is more titillating than any pornography - the aesthetic genre to which it bears the closest resemblance. It is a thrilling glimpse into a world of pure cupidity, wholly devoid of ethics, grounded in no reality other than that which the writer artfully selects to set the mood. Today's right-wing journalists are our greatest fantasists, and their tales of an embattled Americana fighting homosexuals and terrorists for its moral purity never fail to please. Surely last year's biggest conservative blockbuster, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," a toxic sludge of anti-Semitic slurs, superstition, narcissism, paranoia and homophobic (and homerotic) sadism, more than proves the point. Today's conservatives would like us to believe that 9/11 marked the start of a genuinely new era in human relations - of a new civilization, even, one not mired in Aristotelian virtue ethics or in the Biblical principles of just restraint but rather characterized by a pure, and purifying rage which is somehow beyond good and evil. Under these new conditions force is liberated from its ethical restraints and restored to its true place as the only genuinely effective mode of human action. Every official statement of the Bush Administration and every slogan of its supporters and enablers echoes this philosophy. What Bush really means to overturn is the *rule of law itself,* i.e. every conceivable check on the deployment of unmitigated and unrelenting power. In Bush's ideal world, the aggrieved person will simply have no recourse. There will be no mediating authority, no objective forum in which to weigh the merits of a claim of the powerless against the more powerful. Thus the "post 9/11" world is, by the logic of Bush's new antinomianism, post-legal, and by that I mean the tradition of mediation and restrained retribution which goes back to Hammurabi's code. That's the scale of Bush's madness. That's the revolution that Bush believes he has been called to begin.

1 comment:

Isabella di Pesto said...

Excellent! Excellent! Brilliant.

Why don't you write for The Nation?