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« Middlesex. 6.2.06 [NL] | Main | Bush and Miers. Bush and Merkel. »

The Weakly Standard (5): Strong-Government Conservatism

This week's Weekly Standard features a long article by Executive Editor Fred Barnes: Strong-Goverment Conservatism - How George W. Bush has redefined the American Right. (p. 28 sqq.)

The Soviet Union is dead. Personality cult is alive and kicking.

This ridiculous, poster-like, portait of the Strong Man covers an entire page of our favored weekly. Maybe, it should have been the cover of this issue. But then, I think, the Kristol family vetoed it, having some reminiscences of similar propaganda posters, like, for instance, this one:









Or that one:










Or, for that matter, Stakhanov-posters from de Soviet Stalin aera, would also do.

The article itself is of the Byzantinist kind, well known from the eulogies to Walter Ulbricht or to Erich Honecker, that used to eat up so much printing space in East German "theoretical" journals.

I cannot help to be reminded of the texts that people like Karl Radek, Kamenev or Lunacharski, defeated "left" and "right" Bolshevik opponents, dedicated, during the first half of the thirties, to the "genius" of Joseph Stalin. It has not saved their lives: From 1937 on, they were unmasked as capitalist agents and as saboteurs during mock-trials and then disposed of.

Barnes' endless rambling about the un-conservative, un-libertarian, un-small government, un-sound spending policies and idealistic foreign nation-building of Mr. Bush, is in fact a "tongue in cheek" history: All those un-conservative policies on key issues are ... a genial twist in strategy in order to save: Conservatism in the 21st century!

This way of dealing with an unavoidable imperial grip on reality is not unlike the one applied by those historical Bolshevik intellectuals, who had accompanied Lenin from the beginning of the century, had gone through endless theoretical debates then, and knew very well, that Stalin's justifications for "Socialism in One Country", or "the main struggle is against Social(democrat) fascism", or "Death to the Kulacks" had nothing to do with the construction of Socialism and were mere rubbish. Genial rubbish, but rubbish. Their contempt for the intellectual capacities of the Georgian upstart, who reigned as a Czar over their Party, can easily be read between the lines. But always, at the end of their texts, came suddenly and out of the blue their servile praise of the Great Helmsman, whatever his last 180° turn of the moment was: Praise for the genius of the Plan, praise for the genius of abandoning the Plan, praise for the United Fronts against Fascism, praise for the genius of the Treaty with Hitler.

Barnes' life is not in danger. Bush is not a Stalin. Nevertheless, Barnes betrays his inner convictions as if it were.
O.K., for who can read between the lines, it is evident, that this president Bush is an egomaniac, a dangerous fool, full of contradictions.

Even the strong-man poster may be a subtle encouragement to democratic-minded conservatives, to come out and say that this presidential posture is un-American. Such a subtle play might fit into an entrist strategy, which would make the neoconservative weekly perhaps the most effective opposition against Bushist policies.

That is why I will not leave it alone.

Our great poet Henriëtte Roland Holst said it so well, in the middle of strongman's power plays in de revolutionary socialist movement at the end of the First World War:

"De zachte krachten zullen winnen, in het eind":
"(The weakly bodied forces will win, at the end of the day)"
And what about that love boat cruise in February?


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