Monday, May 3, 2010

On Democracy and its Enemies May 3, 2010

Hatred of the Left by the Right

I am appending an op-ed article from the New York Times by Frank Rich
in which he discusses the hate campaign being conducted against
Obama and the Democratic Party by the right, which is no longer
just the lunatic right that we have always had to live with. It
is not only an American phenomenon which is the reason that I
bring it up. It is symptomatic of the asymmetry by which the
liberal side is willing to respect the right and opinions of it
ideological adversaries, but the right reacts with vitriolic
hate. We can recall the venom with which Bill Clinton was
pursued by the Republicans over a sexual indiscretion issue
that was no more than a bagatelle and should have been left as
an issue between him and his spouse. I mention this to defuse
the idea that the present wave of hate is purely racist.
Clinton is a pedigreed WASP, albeit not of the Brahmins of
Boston, but he fared no better than Obama at the hands of the
right. It is notable that neither Clinton nor Obama were or are
able to counter this spleen with an effective riposte. We
liberals are too nice.

In Israel, things are no different nor are they anywhere else.
Serb nationalism tramples any liberal expression. Turkey
bridles at the insinuation that it is insufficiently democratic
to join the EU, independent of the truth of the accusations.
Reform and Conservative Jews around the world respect their
Orthodox brothers and sisters and receive vilification and
scorn in return. Liberal organizations such as the New Israel
Fund, Breaking Silence and Combatants for Peace along with the
mainstream peace activist groups such as Peace Now, Gush Shalom
and Yesh Gvul are the objects of incitement and New Profile was
subjected to a police investigation designed solely to harass
and intimidate. Protest actions and demonstrations that derive
from a left-liberal agenda are subject to police repression.

Reading Rich's article immediately brings to mind the sly
tactics of right wing organs in Israel such as NGO Monitor and
Mekor Rishon. The trick is to portray themselves as victims of
a left wing power structure that deprives them of freedom of
expression and poisons the minds of young people through campus
brainwashing. In Israel, they blithely ignore the fact that the
radical right is in power and that most of the media kowtow to
the unholy alliance of messianic settlers and the military
caste. We are now facing legislative initiatives design to
crush free speech and eventually outlaw human rights and peace
activist organizations. The ostensible motivation is to protect
military officers from war crimes tribunals, but the intent
runs much deeper. The idea is to put an end to liberal
democracy in Israel in order to create an apartheid community
after the ultimate annexation of the Occupied Territories. The
right has no interest in peace and no willingness to cede land.
On the other hand, it is aware of the demographics and is
seeking a means of denying the vote to non-Jews in the ultimate
Greater Israel.

The driving force behind this opposition to democratic values
varies from country to country. I have been told by people
familiar with the American cultural scene that the reason
people vote against their own economic interests, e.g. Reagan
Democrats, is connected with their fear of change and the
modern world as represented by the youth rebellion of the
1960's and 1970's along with resentment of the educated
classes. This may explain the Sarah Palin phenomenon. In
Israel, we have the residue of resentment of the treatment of
the immigrant grandparents of today's body politic along with a
xenophobic religion and a jingoist attitude towards Arabs that
justifies anything. In all these cases, there exists a
political class that knows how to manipulate these amorphous
feelings and to exploit them. It is enough to note the scare
tactics used by insurance companies and doctors to fight
National Health in the United States or the invoking in Israel
of the Holocaust by the military caste and the settler
community to repress criticism and to obtain impunity for war
criminals. Note the pathetic victims...
 Goebbels can rest quietly in his grave; his doctrine
of the Big Lie and the inculcation of fear is alive and well
everywhere, including here. It is no accident that the big
money, the politicos, the settlers and the generals are all in
bed together. When they get up with fleas, it is not obvious
who is the source or maybe they are just sharing what they have
in common.

I was once told by a Chinese diplomat that people do not really
want democracy. In his view, Western democracy was foisted on
the people of the English speaking world by a particular class
of politicians in the 18th century. What people want is a
strong leader who will take care of them and relieve them of
responsibility for public affair. Even if we leave aside the
contribution of the French encyclopedists of the same period
and the spread of democratic ideas across Europe, he is still
spewing nonsense. It is enough to note the countless struggles
against tyranny that have marked all of human history. When you
see a concentrated attack against democracy, the question cui
bono arises and the Watergate rule "follow the money" is
usually a very good guide.
In my last blog I published a link to an article by Tzvia Greenfeld in
which she predicted the ultimate doom of Israel as we know it unless
the Occupation is ended soon.  The prospects for this look glum although
the Cairo proximity talks, if the Quartet figure out a way to get tough might
be a little ray of hope.

Equine Economics in Europe

To end, as usual, on a lighter tone, I refer you to the Greek economic
crisis and its resolution in the framework of the EU.  To anyone who objects
to calling this a lighter note, let me refer you to the famous conversation between
Tevyeh and Shalom Aleichem when they meet on the road:
Shalom Aleichem: Hello Tevyeh, how are you doing?
Tevyeh: Oy, Mr. Shalom Aleichem, let us talk of something more pleasant than my affairs.  What is
the latest news of the cholera epidemic in Odessa?
With that in mind, let us consider the Greek repayment of the EU bailout.   Credit the Borowitz report for this,

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