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Chuck Hagel vs. Neocon Numbskulls

Readers of Notablog know that I've been hard at work on the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. I anticipate completing the current issue sometime in April, and sending it off to the printer sometime thereafter. I should be returning at that point to more regular blogging beyond my "Song of the Day" feature.

In truth, however, I've been utterly uninterested in blogging about current events. What on earth could I possibly say about, say, U.S. foreign policy, that I have not already said time and time again? I am so utterly and completely disgusted by the state of American politics in general and the state of American foreign policy in particular. I don't know what I could possibly say now that I have not already said a thousand or so times over the past 4 or 5 years. For example, I warned about the dangers of sectarian violence in Iraq long before the US invaded that country. I have also gone on and on and on about the geopolitical farce of imposing "democracy" on countries that have no history of democratic institutions.

So, in lieu of saying anything new, I thought I'd cite a point made by GOP Senator Chuck Hagel. Take it away, Chuck:

You cannot in my opinion just impose a democratic form of government on a country with no history and no culture and no tradition of democracy.

Yeah. How 'bout that? Now, try explaining that elementary principle to the neocon numbskulls still inhabiting the Bush administration like Dino DNA in Jurassic amber.

I'll have more to say about all this and more when this JARS editing is done. For now, let me just say on this very narrow point: "Bravo, Senator Hagel!"

Comments welcome. Cross-posted at L&P.


BRAVO Chris. I'm sick of all this neocon bullshit too. Plus, what with the attacks on women's rights, we have been seriously thinking of moving to Vancouver. I don't want to live in a theocracy.

But HUZZAH for JARS! You are a true scholar.


While some of the neocons are indeed Christian theocrats, the main religion that unites them is worship of the militarized state. Neocons like David Horowitz and Charles Krauthammer, for all their many faults, actually support legal abortion and gay rights and are secular Jews.

I agree with Mark and would also make that the point that I feel greater fear from the followers of Islamic Fascism. Richard Perle and William Kristol didn't fly planes into the WTC. Chris,I agree with your point about imposing democracy but think we should be trying to encourage the rule of law and the market.

Chris G,

The rule of law and a free market go hand and hand with liberal democracy. How can we bring liberal democracy to a region the age of reason has passed by?

"Richard Perle and William Kristol didn't fly planes into the WTC."

Not to point out the obvious but neither did Saddam Hussein.

Point taken.

I'll have to bone up on the papers from the neocon "Project For a New American Century," as to the "whys" and "wherefores" of this Iraq "project"-- but like any idealogues (and the neocons are nothing if not that), they couldn't see beyond themselves and their ideology. They simply didn't take "reality" into account and were so convinced of their correctness that naysayers and Age of Reason be damned, they were going to do this.

The neocons have used the theocrats to get their folks into office. And the theocrats are motivated to bring about the apocolypse to hurry along the Second Coming.

Damn! I hear a rumbling under the ground of a little mountain in Charlotteville: Thomas Jefferson spinning in his grave.

I would like to make a different point which I don't think Objectivists should say they support liberal democracy. The US was not created as a democracy but a republic. This point was made years ago by N. Branden in his Basic Principles course. Democracy invovles majority rule without restriction. Objectivists should always say they are snall "r" republicans. A republic is a limited government. A democracy is not.

Chris G.

I should be more careful with my terminology. By liberal democracy I meant the republicanism of the Founding Fathers.

This is a nice discussion and I wanted to add my two cents ( :

It's important to make a distinction between democracy as a governing principle in voluntary associations and democratic statism.

The effects of the first are more limited to those involved since a coercive apparatus over a wide geographic area isn't involved.

I completely agree that we shouldn't fetishize majority rule over individual rights or what is just though.

I recall a convseration on a conserative forum I used to visit where folks were like put gay marriage to a nationwide majority vote.

I wonder if they'd be saying the same thing if public opinion wasn't on their side.

I've been rather impressed with Senator Hagel.

Nick; I wanted to make a point that the only place in our founding documents(Constitution and Declaration)is in Sect 4 of Article 4 which guarntees a republican forum of government to each state. Neither the Declaraton nor the Constitution talk about democracy. I might make the point that only one part of one branch might be described as democractic(House of Representives)in the originial Constitution.

Those are all excellent points and I prefer republican government to unrestrained democracy too.

It's important to protect the rights of the individual from both government and the majority.

I was just noting the difference between using democratic procedures in a voluntary cooperative vs in the context of state power.

I think we have gotten off the point of Chris S.'s orginial post about Sen. Hagel. I guess that there was a time when you could have a restricted suffrage and still have the rule of law. Germany before WW1 had a wider suffrage than the UK at the same time yet I don't think anyone would think Germany was freer. I have the feeling that saying one is small "r" republican would be lost to many individuals in today's society.

Thanks to all the commentators here. Moi, to say that I'm sick of "neocon bullshit" as you put it, is an understatement. This country has been sold a bill of goods, and the payment is past due.

As for the religious make-up of the neocon right, it varies. I attribute less of this to religion and more to sheer intellectual folly. Their roots are, in my view, not only neo-Wilsonian, but downright Trotskyite. And their prescriptions will lead this country to a fate that might mirror Trotsky's.

BTW, Chris G: I appreciate what you're saying about the Islamicists, but just FYI... I have taken issue with the concept of "Islamic fascism" in previous essays. It's just one of those terminological things. See these essays:

Fasicsm and "Islamofascism"

Fasicsm: Clarifying a Political Concept

I do agree, of course, that the US should be encouraging the rule of law and the market; the problem is, of course, that the Islamic theocrats have a very different view of the kind of law ("sharia") that should be ruling, and until or unless there is a cultural transformation in that part of the world, all of this is doomed.

Peri: Amen!

On the issue of republicanism and liberal democracy: Points well taken. I'd be less worried about the style of governance than the facts of neofascist political economy that undermine any form of governance.

On Hagel: Some promise... but we'll see. :)


Just wanted to let folks know of a new post on my blog.

Further Thoughts On Marriage-Cultural Feelings

Hey, Nick, next time you post a little ad, give us a hyperlink too or at least the actual link to the post that the reader can cut and paste into their browser. Make it easy for the reader. :)