Foreign policy as an act of atonement.
Some of us live through the accident of birth and our ancestors’ sacrifices, in a functioning democracy. Such a system allows one to make choices regarding the persons that are entrusted to execute their will. Through that instrument, we can determine the goals pursued by the resulting government. Alas, the prevailing praxis falls short of the theory’s potential.
A few weeks ago, Hungary’s Prime Minister has presented some ideas at an open university as part of a brainstorming. His stated goal had been to explore the ways by which the future development of the community he is mandated to lead might be secured. As a point of departure Mr. Orbán has used his discovery that the state of liberal democracy has failed. The presentation proceeded from that finding of failure. Thus he concluded that a “work based” order needs to be developed, to avoid the mistakes of others. The concept translates into a policy of tough love. It intends to combine the goals of stability and local conditions to make society successful.
The PM’s findings regarding the liberal state has provoked reactions. For the reason that he stated the obvious, the response was furious to say the least. The curses suggest that, although libel might be resented, it hurts less than a truth that fits. In Europe, the “liberal press”, as well as the openly or covertly Socialist one, seconded by the “moderates” that perch any fence, united in their outrage. Orbán became promoted to be a Magyar Putin. Additionally, he was credited with having invented Fascism, National Socialism, dictatorship and any further negative that comes to mind. Therefore, the ostracism of the country, the cessation of economic aid, the downgrading of diplomatic relations and the quarantining of the PM, were recommended by sources such as the Washington Post.
It is a safe assumption that most of the readers will grasp what Orbán meant when he used the term “the liberal state”. While to your correspondent some of his terms seem to be in want of more precision, the failure of the liberal state and the need for a “work-based” order (you get what you create) appear to. Orbán’s finding that uttered the obvious served to justify a search for alternative systems, makes sense.
An order, in which all those are excused for their present misdeeds that claim victim status for their ancestors, will end in disorder. Order is the perquisite of wealth. Disorder and instability will drive the talented as far away as they can run, and it will persuade investment capital to flee. Unclear rights to the fruit of ingenuity, enterprise and work, will discourage everything that creates the wealth of nations. Poverty will be the upshot. “Something for nothing” will attract those that have nothing to give and that lack the will to contribute to the public’s weal. Where the law does not apply to all, the industrious will suffer because it will be the rioters that are rewarded.
But let us proceed to a single one of the matters that is presently providing one of the challenges that bankrupt liberalism, which had been kidnapped by statists and permissive collectivists. As a classical liberal, one is aware of the problems of liberal entities: No man-made system can be perfect. At the same time, one cannot ignore the damage done to the world order that is the prerequisite of a genuinely liberal-libertarian, progressive society that overcomes history’s “poverty for most”.
Globally, as-practiced-liberalism heads at full speed against a wall it constructed. That coming crash is the subject of the concluding portion of this essay. Oddly, while penning this, a video has reached the writer. It will not change the planned content; however, the report confirms the message.
Misapplied, and in its content adulterated liberalism creates destructive instruments. These enhance not only its eradication but also the overthrow of democracy as they demolish the foundations of popular government. The forces that plead the global cause of Islam have –as claimed here earlier- declared war on our culture and on modern civilization. How could this, for our elites’ unimaginable threat arise?
Islamism thrives on a virus embedded in its creed. That makes it totalitarian as legitimacy is derived from an all-inclusive ideology that conveys infallibility upon its interpreters. The ethically unrestrained use of violence to eradicate “enemies” is a consequence. Islamism differs from the totalitarian mainstream in that it does not evolve in an industrialized context. Its backward looking radicalism reacts to the success of other cultures by condemning them. Out of that springs the intent to destroy them. This contrasts with the garden-variety totalitarianism’s promise to bring about modernization faster than democracies can. Furthermore, totalitarian ideology represented a misconstruction of democracy. Islam is not only anti-modern but even its roots are undemocratic. Therefore, other organized religions have dealt violently with skeptics. However, this manifested an aberration of their fundaments and was thus of short-term duration.
Present day liberalism has gone beyond Mr. Orbán’s charge that its methods have failed to protect national wealth, caused indebtedness, while it undermined the exposed countries’ competitiveness. Whatever the merits of that may be, the main damage of the liberal system is in the realm of international affairs.
There is an inclination to fill the evening news with decapitations. The killing of diplomats and the violations of treaties that assured credulous nations of their sovereignty embellish it are reoccurring events. Several forces, Islamist organizations, but also Putin's Russia, and to a lesser extent mainland China, have declared war on us. They wage it against the world order and its norms in general.
Liberal-led foreign policy that must respond has several components. One repeats of a mistake of the Thirties. Against all the evidence, the hope is nurtured that “they” will discover that their interest is to avoid tensions and that, thereby, the carnivore will become a vegan. Connected is the assumption that the challenger misconceives his interests and does so not out of principle. Related is the assumption that the bully can think in rational categories. This amounts to a “they are like us only that they act raucously and can be civilized by signs of good will”. Here a conviction emerges according to which stated goals – the Caliphate shall conquer the world- are dismissed as posturing. Absurd claims must be unpolished negotiating positions, but not genuine purposes. Yes, the sane might think so. However, ideology is madness and logic does not apply to the possessed.
Liberalism’s foreign policy practices its trade as an act of atonement. The liberal prejudice assumes that, other cultures, even if not blessed by advanced plumbing, embody simple virtues. The “noble savage” was a fiction of the 18th century –and it continues to be that. Poverty does not ennoble. Underdevelopment is not an expression of decency, not all folks in “loin cloths” are, being close to nature, ethically superior, while pigments or past servitude does not vouch for virtue.
The above has a mirror image reflected through distorting glass. While advanced industrial civilization, whether “Western” or not, is imperfect, it has qualities that deserve appreciation. There is no reason to see evil at work in its success. There is something worth defending here, and against fanatical enemies, that defense better be resolute. Being willing to negotiate about our liquidation is not a sign of flexible virtue but of lacking principle. That impression begets not tolerance but contempt. If that disdain is deserved, then it amounts to the death wish of the suicidal.