• What An Asshole #22 - Samuel P Huntington

    Mr. Globalization, Samuel Huntington, who is credited with inventing the term "Davos man", argued last year that members of this global elite "have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations". Ironically enough, his article was published in a journal called The National Interest.

    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle ... emID=13705

    With the growth of popular progressive social movements during the 1960s in the US (and elsewhere), the global populace became increasingly aware of the criminal nature of many of their government’s activities (both at home and abroad) which fuelled increasing popular resistance to US imperialism. This in turn led influential scholars, working under the remit of the Trilateral Commission (a group founded by liberal philanthropists, see note [50]), to controversially conclude (in 1975) that the increasing radicalism of the world’s citizens stemmed from an “excess of democracy” which could only be quelled “by a greater degree of moderation in democracy”.[10]


    [10] Crozier, M., S. P. Huntington and J. Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission (New York: New York University Press, 1975), p.134.


    I kid you not. These were the very words of an influential 1975 report by a blue ribbon group of social scientists to the Trilateral Commission. It took a hard look at what it considered a growing problem of governability in the major countries of North America, Europe and Japan — the Triad of advanced capitalism. Titled “The Crisis of Democracy” the US was analyzed by Samuel P. Huntington, dean of American political science and frequent consultant to federal government departments. What Huntington saw was a kind of “democratic distemper” as people demanded more of government while at the same time challenged established authority. “People no longer felt the same compulsion to obey those whom they had previously considered superior to themselves in age, rank, status, expertise, character, or talents.” [Michel Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, New York University Press, 1975, p. 75.] Government was “overloaded” by the popular demands placed on it. In a moment of unusual candor, Huntington says, “the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups.” [ibid., p. 114.] When too many people participate too much, there is a “breakdown of democracy.”


    SAMUEL HUNTINGTON - perhaps alongside Francis Fukuyama - can be classified as one of the most controversial political scientists of the 20th Century for originating what is commonly referred to as "the Clash of Civilisations".

    This is an analytical tool that contends that the central political actors of our times will be civilisations rather than nation-states as was the norm from the time the Holy Roman Empire fell, Napoleon started his wars, and Western Europe as we more or less know it came into being.

    Of course, for Africa and much of the Developing World, the history of contact with Europe and America has always been essentially one of a clash of civilisations and Huntington rather astutely put it thus:

    "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."

    This is not to say Huntington is opposed to the use of military might to establish the supremacy of one civilisation over the other as he was after all an influential advisor of Lyndon Johnson when that U.S. president bombarded the South Vietnamese countryside in the 1960s


    But the Soviet bloc collapsed. "The terrorist organization called PLO", as Menachem Begin used to call it, recognized Israel and signed the Oslo agreement. A new justification had to be found for our unwillingness to give back the occupied territories to the Palestinian people.

    The salvation came from America: a professor named Samuel Huntington wrote a book about the "Clash of Civilizations". And so we found the mother of all pretexts.

    * * *

    THE ARCH-ENEMY, according to this theory, is Islam. Western Civilization, Judeo-Christian, liberal, democratic, tolerant, is under attacked from the Islamic monster, fanatical, terrorist, murderous.

    Islam is murderous by nature. Actually, "Muslim" and "terrorist" are synonymous. Every Muslim is a terrorist, every terrorist a Muslim.

    A sceptic might ask: How did it happen that the wonderful Western culture gave birth to the Inquisition, the pogroms, the burning of witches, the annihilation of the Native Americans, the Holocaust, the ethnic cleansings and other atrocities without number--but that was in the past. Now Western culture is the embodiment of freedom and progress.

    Professor Huntington was not thinking about us in particular. His task was to satisfy a peculiar American craving: the American empire always needs a virtual, world-embracing enemy, a single enemy which includes all the opponents of the United States around the world. The Communists delivered the goods--the whole world was divided between Good Guys (the Americans and their supporters) and Bad Guys (the Commies). Everybody who opposed American interests was automatically a Communist--Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Salvador Allende in Chile, Fidel Castro in Cuba, while the masters of Apartheid, the death squads of Augusto Pinochet and the secret police of the Shah of Iran belonged, like us, to the Free World.

    http://montages.blogspot.com/2007/09/qu ... house.html

    1 What is Freedom House?

    While touting itself as having a "bipartisan character," Freedom House is often associated with hawkish and neoconservative factions within both major U.S. parties, a fact made clear by many of its current and past supporters and board members, which have included former CIA Director James Woolsey, ex-Reagan administration official Kenneth Adelman, the late UN Amb. Jeane Kirkpatrick, and former member of the Committee on the Present Danger, Max Kampelman. Other board members have included the conservative Rolling Stone writer P.J. O'Rourke; Samuel Huntington, a Harvard professor who says the post-Cold War period will be dominated by a "clash of civilizations" between the Muslim and Christian worlds; Ruth Wedgwood, a right-leaning human rights lawyer; and Arthur Waldron, a longtime foreign policy hawk who has been a leading advocate for a hardline China policy. Many of these individuals have also supported the work of a number of other conservative organizations, including the Project for the New American Century, the Center for Security Policy, and the American Enterprise Institute. Other Freedom House supporters and scholars have included Mark Falcoff, the late Penn Kemble, Nina Shea, and Daniel Pipes. ("Freedom House," Right Web, 26 July 2007)

    What is it doing in Iran?

    In choosing Freedom House as the venue for a foreign policy address this week, President George W. Bush has stepped into an intense debate among democracy activists in the US and Iran on how US dollars should be used to carry out the administration's policy of promoting freedom in the Islamic republic.

    Few in the Washington audience on Wednesday realised that Freedom House, an independent institution founded more than 60 years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, the former first lady, is one of several organisations selected by the State Department to receive funding for clandestine activities inside Iran.

    Peter Ackerman, chairman of the board of trustees, who introduced Mr Bush, is also the founder of a separate organisation that promotes non-violent civic disobedience as a form of resistance to repressive regimes. His International Center on Non-Violent Conflict has organised discreet "workshops" in the Gulf emirate of Dubai to teach Iranians the lessons learned from east European movements.

    A separate organisation, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre based in New Haven, Connecticut, has also received US funding and organised a Dubai "workshop" for Iranians last year that was not made public.

    Mr Ackerman, who is very wealthy from an earlier career as a financier, says he does not accept government money. Questioned by the FT, Freedom House confirmed it had received funding from the State Department for activities in Iran. It declined to give details but said it was not involved in Mr Ackerman's work in Dubai.

    Freedom House also disclosed that it received $100,000 (€83,873, £57,500) from Mr Ackerman last year and a further $100,000 from his organisation.

    In a research study, with Mr Ackerman acting as chief adviser, Freedom House sets out its conclusions: "Far more often than is generally understood, the change agent is broad-based, non-violent civic resistance - which employs tactics such as boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders." (Guy Dinmore, "Bush Enters Iran 'Freedom' Debate," Financial Times, 31 March 2006)


    In the days of Kit Carson, native people were herded into reservations while US troops destroyed the insurgents and their natural resources. In Malaya in the 1950s the British destroyed the Chinese communities at the base of the insurgency while herding civilians into "new villages" behind barbed wire. In South Vietnam the enclosures were called "strategic hamlets," and the assassination campaign to root out Vietcong guerrillas was called the Phoenix Program. To empty the countryside of potential Vietcong sympathizers, Harvard's Samuel Huntington advocated "forced urbanization."

    Excerpt from The Confiscation of American Prosperity by Michael Perelman

    A few years later at a meeting of elite corporate executives called by
    a well
    connected business organization, The Conference Board, the businessmen
    horror as a series of disasters, scandals, and injustices shook public
    confidence in
    business. One displayed proper gallows humor, lamenting: "At this
    rate business can
    expect support from the environmentalists. We can get them to put the
    corporation on
    the endangered species list" (Vogel and Silk 1976, p. 71).
    Others expressed their fears in a more straightforward manner,
    exclaiming, "The
    American capitalist system is confronting its darkest hour" (Vogel and
    Silk 1976, p.
    71). The participants voiced their skepticism for democratic
    solutions. One
    executive warned that "the dolts have taken over the power structure
    and the capacity
    of the nation in the US" (Vogel and Silk 1976, p. 189). Another asked,
    "Can we still
    afford one man, one vote? We are tumbling on the brink." Still
    another warned:
    "One man, one vote has undermined the power of business in all
    capitalist countries
    since World War II" (Vogel and Silk 1976, p. 75). Ominously, a number
    of the
    assembled executives spoke vaguely of the need for "war time
    discipline" and "a more
    controlled society" (Vogel and Silk 1976, p. 76).
    The Trilateral Commission, an organization of elites in the United
    States, Europe,
    and Japan commissioned a volume entitled, The Crisis of Democracy:
    Report on the
    Governability of Democracies. The author of the contribution on the
    United States,
    Samuel P. Huntington, an influential professor at Harvard, complained:
    The vigor of democracy in the United States in the 1960s thus
    contributed to a democratic distemper, involving the expansion of
    activity, on the one hand, and the reduction of governmental authority,
    on the other.
    [Huntington 1975, p. 102]
    According to Huntington, "Some of the problems of governance in the
    United States
    today stem from an excess of democracy .... the effective operation of
    a democratic
    political system usually requires some measure of apathy and
    noninvolvement on the
    part of some individuals and groups (Huntington 1975, p. 114). So, for
    if only people would become more apathetic and uninvolved in the
    political process, a
    stunted democracy would work to the satisfaction of conservatives.
    Although the executives vented their frustration at the
    environmentalists and other
    social activists, they probably realized that the real threat that they
    faced was
    something far more dangerous: the economy was rapidly deteriorating.
    This weakening
    of the economy in the late 1960s came as a complete shock. People had
    been taking
    prosperity for granted. Now, with its enviable conditions rapidly
    eroding, business
    was unlikely to sit by for long, especially while it faced severe
    challenges to its
    privileges and power.
    Attacking social movements and policies might have given some
    satisfaction to
    business executives, but the social movements, in themselves, did not
    threaten business, except to the extent that they indirectly undermined
    the ability
    to discipline workers. The underlying problem was the built in
    tendency for market
    economies to fall into deep recessions or even depressions.
    In any case, business launched an aggressive offensive in an effort to
    control of the situation. Control remained illusive, but at least
    business could
    shore up its profits by curtailing wages, regulations, and taxes. In
    this respect,
    business was successful. The redistribution of income toward the rich
    reflects the
    extent of their success, although their policies have already proven
    destructive for
    the majority of society and ultimately will even harm the interests
    that business
    executives hold most dear.

    http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle ... emID=13175

    Part II: The Enemy

    What then lies at the root of this quite natural alliance between Christian fundamentalists, market fundamentalists, billionaires, Zionists, islamophobes, and garden variety warmongers? Karl Schmitt, the Nazi philosopher of law who theorized the way to defend the Christian state from the twin evil of communism and liberalism, identified the essential basis of political authority in the power to name the enemy. For Schmitt, while leftists see the enemy across town, in the ruling class and the state, the problem with liberals is that they see no enemies. Communism must be opposed; but the liberal alternative is not up to the task, since, without enemies, politics degenerate. To defeat the liberal atrophy of politics as well as labor’s militant tendencies, Schmitt saw the necessity of having an existential enemy, one that the whole state can be fully mobilized against. The enemy creates the conditions for the exercise of decisive state power, free from the restraints imposed by law and the deadlocks of parliamentary politics. Although the debt is rarely acknowledged, that has been the guiding principle of right-wing reaction. One could read Huntington’s “Clash of Civilization” thesis as the globalization of Schmitt’s insight. While originally presented as descriptive, the “Clash of Civilization” has been so influential because it is in practice a political program, one tailored to combat what Huntington himself called elsewhere “an excess of democracy.” Does one needs to mention that Huntington also looks askance at unions? The raw Schmitt, however, is too clearly reactionary. The new Schmittianism of the Islamophobic front is a rightwing reaction veiled in the trappings of the traditional left.

    Having an enemy across the border — alien, total, menacing — helps the right assert political power domestically, the power it now needs to liberate stock markets from the fetters of the welfare state. This is the revolution’s goal, and support for Israel is right at the center of it. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis is manna from heaven for Israel because it places its fight against the Palestinians in a larger struggle that includes the whole West. This was always a conscious and important Zionist goal. Two examples of many: Max Nordau addressing the crème of British Imperialism at Albert Hall in 1920. “We know perfectly well what you require of us. We are to keep guard over the Suez Canal for you. We are to act as sentinel over your route to India and Asia …” And a short century later here is former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu capitalizing on 9/11: “What is at stake today is nothing less than the survival of our civilization.” And “The international terrorist network is thus based on regimes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Taliban Afghanistan, Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority and several other Arab regimes such as the Sudan … the Palestinian groups cooperate closely with Hezbollah, which in turn links them to Syria, Iran and Bin Laden.” Of course, Hezbollah and Bin Laden’s affiliates are sworn enemies, and Arafat was connected to neither. The other thing worth noting about Netanyahu is his neoliberal zeal in cutting welfare, and the fact that during his tenure as Finance Minister the poverty rate in Israel rose 15%.

    Radicalizing Europe’s Muslims therefore serves Israel’s purpose. But it is also, in line with Schmitt’s and Huntington’s ideas, a blessing for the neoliberal assault. Western support for Israel inflames Muslim public opinion and produces instances of fanaticism that in turn help inflame popular animus against Muslim immigrants. Practically all organized support for Israel is involved in demonizing Islam. The demonization of Islam strengthens the appeal of the most radical Islamists and increases the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Terrorism breeds fear and fear breeds obedience to authority and conformism. Divide and conquer. (Take, for example, Margaret Hodges recent foray into anti-immigrant xenophobia to cover up for New Labor’s policy of shafting its constituents) It works in the US. It works in Israel. Why shouldn’t it work in Europe? Needless to say, a state about to go smash labor and destroy public services needs all the obedience it can generate. It also needs vast police powers, and what better way to justify curtailing civil rights than a frenzy surrounding terrorism?

    Furthermore, war and fear of terrorism require the transfer of funds from social services to defense and security. This is a bonanza for Israel since Israel specializes in selling security and defense wares. But spending on defense and security is also much better than spending on welfare from a neoliberal perspective. First, it is a way for the state to fund corporate profits directly, and therefore dear to the heart of financial capital. Second, the shift in priorities leads to dislocations that are in themselves useful for precipitating changes in the rules of work in favor of higher profits and lower wages. Third, social spending increases labor’s bargaining power. Defense spending doesn’t. It is pure waste, which is an advantage from the point of view of profits under current conditions. War, fear of terrorism, and immigrant bashing also bolster the legitimacy of the EU. Cross-border arrest warrants, mobile joint border policing, anti-terrorist task forces, are easier to justify than higher prices and lower wages.

    Finally, in terms of talking left and walking right, Israel is indeed a “light onto the nations,” and a successful controlled Schmittian experiment ensconced within a formal parliamentary democracy. Today, Israel is the second most unequal society in the developed world. The silver medal status, however, depends crucially on not counting Palestinians under occupation. Taken as a whole, Israel is in fact the industrial world’s indisputable leader in inequality. But even that doesn’t quite capture its unique achievement. Consider that this inequality is the result of a century of economic development during which, most of the time, Israel was under “socialistic” leadership! Europe had to wait for the ’80s and ’90s to find socialist leaders whose real motto is “investors of the world unite!” Israel already had such leaders in the ’20s. (See Zeev Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel) This “socialist” and “democratic” legacy of Zionism must offer an appealing roadmap for the Tony Blair left. Unlike most European countries, Israel developed as a capitalist country without going through the menace of a radical-left alternative. The nationalism of the historic labor party (Mapai) precluded it. The existential enemy authorized a secure zone for the unhindered development of capital. Consider this revealing nugget from Mapai leader David Hacohen:

    I remember being one of the first of our comrades to go to London after the first World War. … There I became a socialist… I had to fight my [student] friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to the housewives that they not buy at [Palestinian] Arab stores, to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there. … To pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash the Arab eggs they had bought; to praise to the skies the Keren Kayemet [Jewish National Fund] that sent Hankin to Beirut to buy land from absentee effendi [landlords] and to throw the fellahin [peasants] off the land … to take Rothschild, the incarnation of capitalism, as a socialist and to name him the “benefactor” — to do all that was not easy. (my emphasis. Haaretz, Nov 15, 1969, quoted in Arie Bober, ed., The Other Israel)

    The Israeli Labor Party has the distinct achievement of firmly associating the term “left” with racism and class privilege, against both Palestinians and Jews. Today, it is the party of generals, the security services and neoliberals. Compared to Europe, the complete dismantling of the Israeli welfare state sailed through with ease. The long-term strategy that netted these results was the Schmittian strategy of a state fully mobilized against the Enemy, the Arab, both internally and externally. Here is Mizrahi writer and activist Sami Shalom Chetrit describing how it works, how war is used to entrench class, race and power:

    You look at the Arab and actually you’re looking the mirror, and you’ve been taught that the reflection in the mirror is actually bad, negative, low, enemy, so you start spitting in the mirror. It’s hard to spit in the mirror everyday, because you go crazy. It’s hard to live with self-hatred, you get sick, so what do you do? You channel everything to the Arab. It’s very simple social psychology. That is how we all became Arab haters, because if we don’t hate them, we’re going to hate ourselves. … [That’s] why they keep the Occupation going… They won’t back down because if they do, they will lose their Ashkenazi, Zionist hegemony… Right now, in my view, everything is collapsing but no one complains because “we are at war …”

    The way Israel deliberately confounds the left-right distinction is also reflected in the internal politics of the West. While it is not difficult to discover the hands of wealth and reaction behind pro-Israel bodies, much of the Western left is congenitally paralyzed on the subject of Israel. The common attitude is silence or mealy mouthed half-criticism. The most significant agent of this debility is the cult of the Holocaust. Pre-war communists correctly saw Zionism as a colonial and racist enterprise. In the struggle against fascism, however, the left won the war but lost the peace. The apotheosis of the Holocaust and the enshrining of an idealistic, nostalgic anti-fascism was their sop. Israel sought and was accorded the guardianship of European guilt. Holocaust kitsch and the attendant sanctification of Israel is now the West’s alibi against all charges of continuing racism. In addition, Jewish community organs, captured by wealth, built their power on the cult of the Holocaust and now use it to de-legitimize criticism of Israel and drum up Islamophobia. Support for Israel is therefore a crucial element in preventing the articulation of a coherent social-democratic opposition to racism.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story ... 11,00.html

    Samuel Huntington, who is credited with inventing the term "Davos man", argued last year that members of this global elite "have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations". Piquantly enough, his article was published in a journal called The National Interest.

    And here's a totally bizarro take on things just for fun: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/906924.html

    This article was originally published in forum thread: What An Asshole #22: Samuel P Huntington started by Kid of the Black Hole View original post