Monday, August 12, 2002

From The Mailbox

To the Editor:

You know what the neocons remind me of? Japanese rock’n’roll.

Countries like Japan and Russia have no native blues tradition, and hence no feel whatsoever for all the nuances or history of rock. So at any given time, what they call “rock music” is an imitation of whatever mass-produced prole-feed is popular enough to cross the ocean.

There are millions of people in Russia and Japan who recognize Elvis, the Beatles, or Michael Jackson, and plenty of groups imitating them--but nobody who’s ever heard of Barbecue Bob or Robert Johnson. So they have plenty of bland imitations of whatever is number one on Top 40 this week, and absolutely no appreciation for its context.

Likewise, neocons like David Horowitz come from a political tradition completely alien to the traditional American Right. And, much as the Russians and Japanese just up and decided to try to imitate American pop culture, Horowitz and his ilk decided to become “conservatives.” But since the only visible models of “conservatism” at the time were New Right Reaganites, who worshipped at the altar of the National Security State and the war against “Godless Innernashunnul Commonism,” their conservatism is just a clumsy ex-Trotskyite imitation of Reaganism/Thatcherism, with absolutely no appreciation for the historical context of the American tradition.

They come across a lot like the pod people in “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers,” making a clumsy attempt at imitating regular humans.

Unfortunately, as William Kristol said, the neocons have largely succeeded in defining conservatism in popular consciousness--the pod people now outnumber the regular humans. People who’ve never heard of Robert Taft think “conservatism” means the Imperial Presidency, the perpetual Warfare State, and the evisceration of the Fourth Amendment.

So in a country founded on distrust of the government, and of standing armies and empires, we’ve been reduced to identifying “conservatism” with believing whatever Glorious Leader tells us this week about the official enemies of the state, wrapping ourselves in the flag, and repeating the Pledge of Allegiance over and over until we’ve whipped ourselves into a state of ecstasy.


Kevin A. Carson
Lowell, Ark.

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