Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The God that Failed

Jonathan Chait inks an admirable review of the new memoir by neo-con defector Max Boot, who found the scales knocked from his eyes by the catastrophe of November 2016.

Boot, like most conservative intellectuals, reacted with incredulous disdain when a demagogic reality-television performer registered at the top of opinion polls in 2015. Most of those conservatives eventually reconciled themselves to Trump, either after Trump had sewn up the nomination, following his election, or after one of his many partisan skirmishes, at which point they could declare that the liberals had “forced” them to Trump’s side by criticizing Trump too harshly, opposing Brett Kavanaugh, or some other offense. Boot did not. Instead, he has written one of the most impressive and unflinching diagnoses of the pathologies in Republican politics that led to Trump’s rise.
What Chait finds noteworthy is that Boot now understands that the modern conservative movement "trafficked all along in anti-intellectualism, bigotry, ideological radicalism, and loopy conspiracy theories." The cherished myth that William F. Buckley kicked out the John Birch society and created a sound intellectual foundation for conservative gets, well, the Boot. Boot is nostalgic for Dwight D. Eisenhower, but the Republican party and the movement it embodies will never go back there. It can only chase its own tail, digging itself deeper and deeper into authoritarianism, white supremacy, patriarchy, insane conspiracy theories, rejection of science and indeed the very existence of empirical reality, all in the service of plutocracy.

The Republican party, in pulling the ground out from under the feet of its more moderate or at least sane factions, is creating space for the Democrats to become more progressive and more inclusive. If there is ever to be a legitimate center right party again in the U.S., it will have to be a new party.


Mark said...

I can't shake the feeling that we are headed down a path that we cannot retreat from without some kind of catastrophic, even apocalyptic event. I know every generation thinks the world is ending, but the problem is that no one can tell that the world really is ending until the end is actually in sight.

Justin Cohen said...

Wow. Well-said, Mark. Your words articulate--unfortunately--ideas with which I resonated, concepts that I had not been able to put into words.

Justin Cohen said...

I talk to my twelve- and thirteen-year-old students, and they're really angry about the mess we're creating.

I was at a retail business today, waiting. I talked to three people there. One, a woman who'd lived recently in Oakland, CA, was (like me) incredulous that Shitler is the president of the U,S. The other, like me from upstate NY, said, "I didn't like [Shitler] at first, but i'm warming up to him." When I mentioned things like the NY Times article explaining how Shitler's entire financial history is a lie, and that he is the most fantastic failure/criminal/liar to ever occupy the White House, the man quickly changed the subject, asserting that all politicians lie (a statement breathtaking in its global generalization). The third person, a woman who works at the business, is a Shitler supporter and I like her. We agreed not to talk about politics.

I've come to the conclusion that many, many Americans think of unfettered "freedom" as a desirable abstract, and that, to them, it means the roar of planes, the thunder of bombs, the ownership of guns, the subjugation of the African-American and the suppression of immigrants, the triumph of rich Caucasian men, even to their own detriment, the propagation of obscene lotteries and the pie-in-the-sky dream of gratuitous, unobtainable wealth. It's all based on "me first," a denial of community. It means sticking their heads in the ground to deny climate change and the imminent destruction of the species, Homo sapiens.

If we took the time the Earth has existed--4.5 billion years--and called that "one year," then Homo sapiens has existed only for the last 15 minutes of December. 99.9% of all species that have existed on Earth are gone. 100 billion humans have already died. We're marching quickly to join them because so many of us can't face the truth: the United States of America was founded on a genocide by hypocritical Caucasian men of wealth, whose successors insist on giving people poorer than themselves someone to look down upon through the crime against humanity that is racism.

Mark said...

I'm sure you all know that after the end of World War II, some Germans remained loyal to Adolph Hitler and continued to support the genocidal policies of the Nazi Party. They were completely aware of what had been going on, many from the very beginning, and thought that it was all a good thing. Can you imagine trying to engage in a calm and rational manner with someone like that? How do you have a conversation with someone whose value system is so antithetical to your own, and to everything you think is good and decent?

Anonymous said...


mojrim said...

This book is just more lifeboat construction by mass murdering neocons trying to disguise their complicity in getting us here. Boot, like the others, remains a mass murdering, tax cutting, Freemarket(tm) chicken hawk. He just wants the GOP to go back to dog whistles.

Burn in hell, Max Boot, Jonathan Chait, and anyone else fluffing for those people (looking at you, David Corn).

Mark said...

Anonymous, what on Earth would make you think I'm comparing you or anyone else to Hitler and the Nazis? I have reread my comment and all I can see is an observation of the behavior of post-WWII Nazis. Are you saying it's not true?

And besides, Godwin himself thought that comparisons of some people and behaviors to Hitler were perfectly OK. If you had done a little reading you might have known that. Read some! Expand your horizon! (Oh, forget it. Brick walls and all that, you know.)

And, besides, just because someone said something doesn't make it true. (Oh, wait, in your world it does!)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mark,

The context of the thread, the fact that your comment came directly after my disagreement with Mr. Cohen's clearly racist rant against white people and also liberals' penchant of calling anyone that disagrees with them a "Nazi" would lead any reasonable reader to believe you were making that comparison.

If you weren't, please accept my apology. If you had labeled your comment as 'Off Topic' no one would think twice.

Justin Cohen said...

Anonymous is a completely confused shithead. I've BEGGED Cervantes to make us register so that
"Gay Boy Bob" is booted off the site.

Anonymous: To you and your lies, slander, and bullshit (You're the racist, my non-friend):

FUCK YOU. Get the hell off this site. You are a disgrace, a reject, a shithead. Just leave.

We're all sick of your lies and slander. You are such a fucking asshole ...

Justin Cohen said...

PS What is truly so disheartening about "Anonymous"/Gay Boy Bob's comments is his sheer stupidity.

Beyond his subterfuge, his sabotage, the fact that he does not belong on this site and will not identify himself, the fact that he is here out of sheer invidiousness ...

His stupidity is alarming. But perhaps he is a Russian. Who the fuck knows? Till Cervantes makes it impossible to comment (because he will refuse to identify himself), we have to put up with his garbage.

Cervantes, why would you continue to take no action against this ignorant, malicious saboteur? My god, it's your blog!