Tuesday, March 25, 2003[posted by jaed at 12:22 PM]
European anti-Americanism as bad philosophy:
The Wild Monk offers an extraordinarily thought-provoking essay linking the current European anti-Americanism to Rousseauean revolutionary romanticism. Long post, and worth every word.
...when protestors carry signs to the effect that "America is the terrorist" or "Bush = Hitler", they are not simply being stupid.� They are reflecting - in a crass and foggy way -�a fundamental conclusion of the Post-Modern philosophical tradition. It is an article of faith in this tradition that Democratic Capitalism (or Classical Liberalism) is discredited as a�moral force.� When joined to the enormous power of the American state, this "immoral force," offers a greater threat to Europe and the world than fundamentalist Islam.��The material success of Democratic Capitalism is no saving grace nor counter argument to this view.� Indeed, in the inverted world of Post-Modernism, the greater the material success enjoyed by Democratic Capitalism, the greater the evidence of its failure.�I'm not at all sure I agree with the idea that this conflict is usefully thought of as a continuation of the Cold War, but that is a nitpick. One of the hallmarks of the war that started on 9/11/2003 has been the sense of icebergs slowly rising - of what looked like small problems and minor conflicts gradually turning into much larger ones as I came to focus on more of the picture. This essay has had that same effect for me, tying together relatively trivial and superficial conflicts into a coherent, if much more frightening, whole.
Note that the argument is assuredly not that the protestors all�return home�to read Heidegger and Derrida.� Indeed, few are likely to be acquainted with the details of Post-Modernism.� Nonetheless,�they are immersed in a�culture in which Post-Modernism is the dominant force in academia and among the intellectual classes.� The outlines of the philosophy and its political manifestations are clear enough that even teenagers feel justified in hoisting up a banner decrying the "millions slaughtered" by American hegemony.
Clearly, Europe does not march in monolithic lockstep with the Post-Modernist left.� However, the sheer scope of the European protests, the philosophical sentiments (crudely) presented by the protestors, organizers and press, and the massive public support for Chirac make it clear that the Post-Modern Left exerts a very strong influence over European thought.��In America, while the Post-Modern Left has a sizable presence among the American intelligentsia, the country as a whole remains firmly in the Democratic Capitalist camp.� Given these observations, it is clear that America's present conflict with Europe is not simply a function of disagreement over military intervention: they reflect fundamental differences in the dominant philosophical systems operating in each domain.� Furthermore, these two traditions - and thus America and Europe - cannot be reconciled: their disagreements reach down to their very foundations.� This "Cold War" of ideologies provides the energy that will continue to keep anti-Americanism bubbling in Europe for the foreseeable future.