Search in Huibslog
About myself

Riethof, Brussels

...en savoir plus

View Huib Riethof's profile on LinkedIn
Latest Comments
My Social Pages

Journal RSS Menu

Email Subscription (free)
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Powered by Squarespace
« Murmures 3a - Le Sentier Complet 8.6.07 [FR] | Main | Conservatisme en Neo-Conservatisme: Overeenkomsten en Verschillen 4.6.07 [NL] »

Paul Wolfowitz and Neocon Morals 7.6.07 [EN]

Originally meant as a short text, introducing my personal thougts at the Wolfowitz tragicomedy (see below: Wolfowitz: It wasn't me- Shaha told me that Iraqi oil would pay for our occupation of Iraq...), it grew into an autonomous article that is presented here as a separate post.

wolfriza7515.jpgAs we all know by now, Paul Wolfowitz an Shaha Riza split immediately after Wolfowitz' announcement of his stepping down as World bank President. 

What has been Shaha's error, in trusting Paul, and then, feeling betrayed by him?

I think, it is something that is inherent to neoconservative morals (or: philosophy, if you like). Shaha may (rightly) have considered herself as a more staunch neocon than her friend, but she forgot that in a leninist or stalinist cabal, you hierarchical rank is not defined by your degree of fidelity to the political line, but by "higher" considerations, which are the exclusive domain of the political bureau. Paul is not even close to being a member of that Bureau. But he is (was!) a more valuable chess piece in the neocon powerplay tha she was (is).

The neoconservative powerplay is played on domains of influence and control, if not in completely controlled front-organisations like the American Enterprise Institute. Chess-piece Shaha had to be (temporarily) removed in order to deploy the powers of the new World Bank president. 

 Shaha believed that the actual tactical position of the neoconservatives in promoting the "American Century" in the world, was a principled one. She thought, that it is their highest principle, that democracy has to be promoted everywhere and by all means. She believed them, when they say, that women's rights are central to a civilised society. As a fervent democracy-imposer in the Middle-East and as a staunch soldier for women's rights against islamist backwardness, she really thought, that she was of more importance to the neoconservative objectives than her egghead-boyfriend.

She could have known better: The main allies of the neoconservatives are the christian right in the US. Nobody has ever seen a neocon object against their middle-age concepts about women, girls, sexuality and public morals. 'Democracy' is not an issue, when it suits the US to ally themselves with Ethiopian slaughterers or Croatian post-fascists.

But she didn't. And that is how a tragicomedy unfolded: Poor Paulie was seen as responsible for her woes. And dumped right away. Of course, in a broad sense, Wolfowitz, as a neoconservative theoretician, is responsible for them. But the guy doesn't know. If I understand him well, he is deeply convinced of the logic of neoconservative views on policy-making, as they are rooted in an obscure line of philosophical thinking that has been imported into Chicago University from Germany.

 Since long, I am fascinated by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the man who could have been a quiet sociology professor at a middle ranking university in the USA. But, driven by the teachings of the Heideggerian ex-German professors Leo Strauss and Albert Wohlstetter in Chicago,  he got lost in the neocon- and Washington predators' jungle. Employed as an innocent, but useful  (intellectual contributions) idiot (incapable of keeping up with the Rumsfelds' and the Cheneys' verbial aggressions).

The Strauss-Wohlstetter school justifies itself by way of Plato and his Republic governed by philosophers. Classic conservatism, as represented by Edmund Burke at the end of the 18th century, modernized that notion in their struggle against general elections, as provided for in the US (1772) and French (1791) constitutions. That is honest and straight conservatism: Elitist and cynical.

The NeoConservatives however, are inspired by Heidegger, who, in the thirties, in Germany, tried to superimpose upon the Nazi obscurantist "ideology" and it's overwhelming success in mobilizing the people for world domination by way of instincts and fears, his ideas of a dominating network of philosophers, "at the other side of time and daily existence", who would overrule vulgar types like Hitler, Goebbels and Göring. In Heidegger's philopsophy, the content of the ideology and the objectives of a mass movement are of secondary rank. What matters to him and his followers (conscious or inconscious) is the answer to the question: "Does it, yes or no, move, occupy, inspire the masses?" As long as they are occupied in the social sphere, we, the philosophical élite, can go forward with our own political agenda. This is also, what populism does. Only, many of populist agitators also believe in the nonsense they are selling. Neocons don't. People who follow them and compromize with the influence and money they have ready, will encounter dramatic surprises, the inevitable moment the Neocons suddenly decide, that another movement suits their ends better.

The Roots of neocon elitism

Those roots are in the thoroughly aristocratic, elitist, idea of the state as the apanage of a few chosen philosophers. An idea that goes back to Plato and Aristoteles. Democracy, generalized voting, are OK as long as they limit themselves to management of the 'social'. 'Real' politics (relations with the exterior world, defense, culture and higher education as well as religion and morals) are reserved for those who think.
The property, the wealth of the city, the state, are for the elite to wield. For they feel, that they ARE the state. They see no difference between their own purse and the treasury.
It was indeed Martin Heidegger, who, during the twenties of the last century, re-adopted this view of society and it's structure. That is what led him during the thirties to the illusion, that he could work with the Nazis, rewriting their primitive ideology around the "Führer-Prinzip" (leader-principle) into a Platonic concept. He must have thought: The Nazi "Führer" are now, for a long time to come, the state-elite. The state IS that elite. That elite IS the State. But they need a little hand from a REAL philosopher for the NON-social issues.
This way of thinking arrived to the US in a complicated, often contradictory, way. And it was soon adapted to their needs and desires by quite different schools of thinking. We mentioned already the neoconservatives (whose founders come from a Communist sect).
But also Hannah Arend, who was a pupil and a 'short time companion' to Heidegger, distinguishes between 'politics' and 'social'. However, she envisions self-management: The social by the masses and their representatives, the political by a thinking elite. But her interpretations differ in practice stark from those of the neocons. She was an advocate of self-management as a way to emancipation and civilization. She was a champion against authoritarianism and its wicked manipulation of public opinion. She admired in the Founding Fathers not especially their freemason inspired secret society character, as well their sound ideas and laws that were made for the best of freedom and the pusuing of happiness for all citizens. She (rightly, in my opinion), saw the Founding Fathers (and, for that matter, many of the statebuilders of the French Revolution) as wise people, who did not abuse in their self-interest, the powers they wielded over society. That is undoubtedly also, what Plato originally meant.
Here is what  Stephen Eric Bronner writes about the roots of neoconservatism in LOGOS, spring 2004, a Quarterly Journal of modern society and culture:
(Bronner is Professor (II) of Political Science at Rutgers University, Senior Editor of Logos, and most recently the author of Imagining the Possible: Radical Politics for Conservative Times  (Routledge) and Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politics of Radical Engagement (Columbia University Press).
Neo-conservatism begins with different premises. Certain members of its staunchest advocates like Perle and Wolfowitz originally met and became friends in seminars at the University of Chicago given by Albert Wohlstetter, the mathematician and senior staff member at the Rand Corporation. A few like Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, may have been influenced by the writings of the important political philosopher, Leo Strauss, at the University of Chicago.
But neo-conservatism actually has little in common with his attempt to develop an intellectual “aristocracy” capable of preserving the classical tradition in a “mass democracy.” No less than Plato, perhaps, neo-conservatives may think they are employing the “noble lie.”
But their form of lying is far more banal than the attempt of this great thinker to veil the lack of philosophical foundations for an ideal state.
Neo-conservatives employ their mendacity no differently than any ordinary group of liars: to justify this interest or cover up that mistake. 

Neocons think that the own the state 

All this means also, that, tendentially at least, neoconservatives consider the state as their own, exclusive domain. Including its budget, its personnel and its freedom to do to other states and peoples in the world everything that it considers as justified by its own interests and objectives. People like Wolfowitz are so far away from reality, that they even do not expect, that others (bank personnel, international co-directors who represent financial stakeholders, the public, even girlfriends), may think differently.

He still will not understand that he helped to waste 31 billions of American taxpayers money in Iraq. For he doesn't see that that money is not his money. He thinks, he owned it. The same is true for the million he spent on calming Shaha, when she had to leave her post at the Bank

Wolfowitz' 15 pages 'written reply' to the World bank ethics Investigation Committee report, argues, that it was in no way Paul D. Wolfowitz, who did something wrong. It is the OTHERS: The ethical committee who missed the courage needed to confront his rapacious girlfriend. And, that "intractable' woman herself.
The neo-conservative Bank President thinks, that he has to deal with the procedure. That it could be wrong in itself, regardless of procedures and responsibilities, to spend public money to buy peace in your household, apparently did not come to mind.

He must still think that that is not the question. He had a private problem. He felt guilty to furious Shaha. Neocon unity was in danger. Public money should pay for it. 

 As the incomparable Maureen Dowd (20/5/07) said so rightly in the NYT:

Wolfie used public compensation for private contrition. Gilt for guilt — not a good deal.

 A (too) rare revelation of the mendacity and authoritarian mind of a group who dominate Washington policies for too long now.

Who doesn't denounce it, will be guilty of having helped Evil to happen:


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

In spite of the reference to this post in "A Legal Alien in New York" and "At Home in Europe", no member of Pipes' and Mark Steyn's "Campus Watch"-brigade (one thousand of them visited 'Legal Alien' these days), felt, apparently, a need to enter into a more fundamental discussion with the author of these blogs...

June 15 | Registered CommenterHuib

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>