Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pot Calls Kettle! Look Out for Those Opportunistic Nihilists!

Firedoglake's probably the last place you'd expect bloggers to throw around epithets like "nilhilist," but that's exactly the case here:

George Packer's New Yorker article asking if conservatives have "run out of ideas" caused quite the stir in the Right Blogosphere this past week. And right bloggers proved Packer wrong: as it turns out, they didn't have any "ideas" to start with. They have obsessions and vindictiveness in plenty, but ideas? Not really.

To me, the response to Packer's piece is far more illuminating than the actual article, which is rather banal. If "movement conservatism" has failed, as I sincerely hope it has, I'd argue that this is because too many of its proponents believed their own press and became persuaded that "movement conservatism" was ever an intellectual movement at all, as opposed to an essentially nihilist politics of vicious opportunism, where the entire goal is power for its own sake.

Packer is of course discussing the GOP's rather bleak electoral prospects this year, especially in the House and Senate. (He pretends to believe that McCain is a new kind of "post-partisan" candidate, a common form of elite journalist wishful thinking that ignores, for openers, Hagee and Parsley.) He speaks to a number of conservative writers, like David Brooks, Ross Douthat, David Frum, and Pat Buchanan. The Brooks part has gotten the most attention, perhaps because of Brooks' admission that "You go to Capitol Hill—Republican senators know they’re fucked," which is of course hugely entertaining. But the overall thesis is that the period of GOP dominance just may be over, because the Nixonian "Southern Strategy" as well as other mechanisms for splitting the old FDR coalition may just have finally run out of steam.

First, I think Packer's late to the party. Karen Tumulty made the case for the ideological decline of the GOP over a year ago, and at that time the thesis wasn't all that novel.

But for FDL to attack GOP partisans for the "nihilist politics of vicious opportunism" is like the pot calling the kettle black.

What's nihilism, in any case? I routinely deploy the term to identify hard-left terror-backing defeatists, many of whom are the main supporters of the Democratic Party.

I generally refer to my politcal opponents as "nihilist" in this sense:

An approach to philosophy that holds that human life is meaningless and that all religions, laws, moral codes, and political systems are thoroughly empty and false. The term is from the Latin nihil, meaning “nothing.”

Nihilist political philosophy's also identified with postmodern ideological movements, which privilege the notion that there exists no objective morality.

Postmodern nihilists on the left include those who've joined together in an anti-American alliance of socialism and Islam to destroy alleged American neo-imperialism worldwide. These are the same folks on the American left who call for the murder of American military service personnel as a putatively legitimate form of antiwar protest. Today's nihilists include the overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats who voted to authorize the war in Iraq in 2002, and within three months of the toppling of Saddam Hussein turned around to denounce the Bush administration for launching a "provocative and unnecessary" war.

That's opportunistic nihilism!

I also include
Firedoglake as fundamentally, radically nihilist, root and branch, in its program of demonization, anti-Semitism, bereft of any shred of true traditionalism and essential value.

As always, I'll have more.

Until then, see Dr. Sanity, "
The Children of Postmodern Nihilism."