February 22, 2006

Something nonboring about Francis Fukuyama

Well, I managed to keep up my perfect record in regards to Francis "End of History" Fukuyama's writings by not making it all the way through his celebrated essay "After Neoconservatism" in the NYT Magazine. Leon Hadar actually read it all and writes:

"What FF is basically arguing is (and here I'm borrowing from another political philosopher, Bill Maher), is that the neocons were using a great film script (which Fukuyama helped to write), but that they just did a lousy job in directing and producing the movie on Iraq."

I'm not saying that Fukuyama is always wrong. What I am saying is that Fukuyama's first idea about anything is always wrong, but, unlike his pals, he often comes up with a better answer 5 or 10 or 15 years later. Granted, that isn't a particularly scintillating track record, but compared to the true believer neocons who never learn from anything, he's Edmund Burke predicting the whole course of the French Revolution in 1790.

Anyway, what's interesting about Fukuyama is that he is, as far as I can tell, just about the only minority intellectual in America who does not write heavily about race. Guys like Thomas Sowell and Stephen Carter tried to write about something else, but the demand for writing about race was too great. (Of course, Americans are less interested in East Asians than in blacks, so the demand for Fukuyama's views on race would not be as strong). In fact, Fukuyama goes out of his way to ignore race even when it's obviously relevant. For example, his book "The Great Disruption" is primarily about crime and illegitimacy, but he dismisses race's relevance to these subjects in a single page!

However, being a minority is still valuable to Fukuyama in his spat with his former neocon pals. In 2005, when Charles Krauthammer tried to play the Anti-Semite Card on him for daring to criticize the neocons, he didn't collapse like most white conservatives intellectuals would because, hey, he's not white! So, he enjoys privileges.

As I wrote in 2005:

You may recall that prominent neocon Francis "End of History" Fukuyama jumped ship awhile ago and criticized Charles Krauthammer in The National Interest for his lack of realism about the Iraq War. Krauthammer responded, predictably, by playing the anti-Semitism card. Here is part of Fukuyama's rebuttal:

"Krauthammer says I have a "novel way of Judaizing neoconservatism", and that my argument is a more "implicit and subtle" version of things said by Pat Buchanan and Mahathir Mohamad. Since he thinks the latter two are anti-Semites, he is clearly implying that I am one as well. If he really thinks this is so, he should say that openly."

A little late, perhaps, Francis? "First they came for Pat Buchanan, but I was not Pat Buchanan, so I said nothing. Then they came ...". But better late than never. Fukuyama continues:

"What I said in my critique of [Krauthammer's] speech was, of course, quite different. I said that there was a very coherent set of strategic ideas that have come out of Israel's experience dealing with the Arabs and the world community, having to do with threat perception, preemption, the relative balance of carrots and sticks to be used in dealing with the Arabs, the United Nations, and the like. Anyone who has dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict understands these ideas, and many people (myself included) believe that they were well suited to Israel's actual situation. You do not have to he Jewish to understand or adopt these ideas as your own, which is why people like Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld share them. And it is not so hard to understand how one's experience of Arab-Israeli politics can come to color one's broader view of the world: The 1975 "Zionism is racism" resolution deeply discredited the UN, in the eyes of Jews and non-Jews alike, on issues having nothing to do with the Middle East. This is not about Judaism; it is about ideas. It would be quite disingenuous of Charles Krauthammer to assert that his view of how Israel needs to deal with the Arabs (that is, the testicular route to hearts and minds) has no impact on the way he thinks the United States should deal with them. And it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether this is the best way for the United States to proceed."

Well said. America's foreign policy blunders of the last 30 months have less to do with the fact that so many highly influential people in Washington and New York, like Krauthammer, think about Israel and its welfare all the time, as to the fact that it has become extremely dangerous to one's career to point out that they do.

Gene Expression offered a telling analogy in support of Fukuyama's calling a spade a spade here: if top Pentagon civilians were named Patel, Pondicherry, and the like, and if they had talked America into invading Pakistan, wouldn't it be acceptable to point out that their ethnicity made them a little biased? So why not in the case of Wolfowitz, Feith, and Perle?

By the way, over on Dennis Dale's Untethered site, Carter van Carter of Across Difficult Country brings up David Stove's rebuttal to Fukuyama's "End of History" theory:

"Is the world about to surrender for good to liberalism and the free market? Will there soon be no more Colonel Qaddafis, only Colonel Sanders everywhere and forever?"...

"The long proof, in a nutshell, is that the mixture which Fukuyama expects to freeze history forever — a combination of Enlightenment values with the free market — is actually one of the most explosive mixtures known to man. Fukuyama thinks that nothing will ever happen again because a mixture like that of petrol, air, and lighted matches is widespread, and spreading wider. Well, Woodrow Wilson thought the same; but it is an odd world view, to say the least."

And to finish off my blogrolling, here's the website of David's son, R.J. Stove, who often writes for The American Conservative.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

No comments: