Skip to comments.Liberal Democracy vs. Transnational Progressivism: The Ideological Civil War Within the West
Posted on 12/12/2002 6:53:12 PM PST by Remedy
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, on October 5, 2001, Francis Fukuyama declared that his "end of history" thesis remains valid twelve years after he first presented it shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Fukuyamas core argument was that after the defeat of Communism and National Socialism, no serious ideological competitor to Western-style liberal democracy was likely to emerge in the future. Thus, in terms of political philosophy, liberal democracy is the end of the evolutionary process. To be sure, there will be wars and terrorism, but no alternative ideology with a universal appeal will seriously challenge the ideas and values of Western liberal democracy as the "dominant organizing principles" around the world.
He correctly points out that non-democratic rival ideologies such as radical Islam and "Asian values" have little appeal outside their own cultural areas, but these areas are themselves vulnerable to penetration by Western democratic ideas. The attacks of September 11, notwithstanding, "we remain at the end of history," Fukuyama insists, "because there is only one system that will continue to dominate world politics, that of the liberal-democratic West." There is nothing beyond liberal democracy "towards which we could expect to evolve." Fukuyama concludes by stating that there will be challenges from those who resist progress, "but time and resources are on the side of modernity."
Indeed, but is "modernity" on the side of liberal democracy? No doubt, Fukuyama is very likely right that the current crisis will be overcome, and that, at the end of the day, there will be no serious ideological challenge originating outside of Western civilization. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that there already is an alternative ideology to liberal democracy within the West that for decades has been steadily, and almost imperceptibly, evolving.
Liberal democracy has traditionally meant a self-governing representative system comprised of individual citizens who enjoy freedom and equality under law and together form a people within a liberal democratic nation-state. Thus, liberal democracy means individual rights, national citizenship, and democratic representation. Yet, all of these principles, along with the very idea of the liberal democratic nation-state, are "contested" today within the West, suggesting that we have not reached "the end of history" in the ideological sense delineated by Fukuyama.
It is entirely possible that modernity thirty or forty years hence will witness not the final triumph of liberal democracy, but the triumph of a new type of transnational hybrid regime that is post-liberal democratic, and in the context of the American republic, post-Constitutional and post-American. I will call this alternative ideology "transnational" or "global" "progressivism." This ideology constitutes a universal and modern worldview that challenges in theory and practice both the liberal democratic nation-state in general and the American regime in particular. The Key Concepts of Transnational Progressivism
The Key Concepts of Transnational Progressivism
(1) The ascribed group over the individual citizen
The key political unit is not the individual citizen who forms voluntary associations and works with fellow citizens regardless of race, sex, or national origin, but the ascriptive group (racial, ethnic, or gender) into which one is born. This emphasis on race, ethnicity, and gender leads to group consciousness and a de-emphasis of the individuals capacity for choice and for transcendence of ascriptive categories, joining with others beyond the confines of social class, tribe, and gender to create a cohesive nation.
(2) A dichotomy of groups: Oppressor groups vs. Victim groups, with immigrant groups designated as victims
Influenced (however indirectly) by the Hegelian Marxist thinking associated with the Italian writer Antonio Gramsci and the Central European theorists known as the Frankfurt School, global progressives posit that throughout human history there are essentially two types of groups: the oppressor and the oppressed, the privileged and the marginalized. (For a detailed examination of Gramscian or Hegelian Marxist influence in contemporary American political life see my "Why There is a Culture War: Gramsci and Tocqueville in America" (Policy Review, December 2000/January 2001.) In the United States, oppressor groups would include white males, heterosexuals, and "Anglos;" whereas "victim" groups would include blacks, gays, Latinos (including obviously many immigrants), and women.
Multicultural ideologists have incorporated this essentially Hegelian Marxist "privileged vs. marginalized" dichotomy into their theoretical framework. As political philosopher James Ceaser puts it, multiculturalism is not "multi" or concerned with many groups, but "binary" concerned with two groups, the hegemon (bad) and "the Other" (good) or the oppressor and the oppressed. Thus, in global progressive ideology, "equity" and "social justice" mean strengthening the position of the victim groups and weakening the position of oppressorshence group preferences are justified. Accordingly, equality under law is replaced by legal preferences for traditionally victimized groups. Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that illegal immigrants as a class are discriminated against, thus placing them into the victim status entitled to preferential treatment as a group.
(3) Group proportionalism as the goal of "fairness"
Global Progressivism assumes that "victim" groups should be represented in all institutions of society roughly proportionate to their percentage of the population or, at least, of the local work force. Thus, if women make up 52% of the population and Latinos make up 10% of the population, then 52% of all corporate executives, doctors, and insurance salesmen should be women and 10% should be Latinos. If not, there is a problem of "under representation" or imbalance that must be rectified by government and civil society. Thomas Sowell recently wroteas he has been writing for several decadesthat many Western intellectuals perpetually promote some version of "cosmic justice" or form of equality of result, what American political scientist Robert Dahl calls "substantive justice." The "group proportionalism" paradigm is pervasive in Western society, even the U.S. Park Service is concerned because 85% of all visitors to the nations parks are white, although whites make up only 74% of the population. Therefore, the Park Service announced recently that it is working on this "problem."
(4) The values of all dominant institutions must be changed to reflect the perspectives of the victim groups
Transnational Progressives in the United States (and elsewhere) insist that it is not enough to have proportionate numbers of minorities (including immigrants, legal and illegal) and women in major institutions of society (corporations, churches, universities, armed forces) if these institutions continue to reflect a "white Anglo male culture and world view." Different groups such as ethnic and linguistic minorities have different ways of viewing the world. Their values and cultures must be respected and represented within these institutions. They should not be expected simply to conform to the mainstream or dominant ("hegemonic") culture. At a U.S. Department of Education conference promoting bilingual education, SUNY professor Joel Spring declared, "We must use multiculturalism and multilingualism to change the dominant culture of the United States." He noted, for example, that unlike Anglo culture, Latino culture is "warm" and would not promote harsh disciplinary measures in the schools.
(5) The Demographic Imperative
Global Progressives declare that demographic changes require Americans to alter their value system. The demographic imperative tells us that major demographic changes are occurring in the United States as millions of new immigrants from non-Western cultures and their children enter American life in record numbers. At the same time, the global interdependence of the worlds peoples and the transnational connections among them will increase. All of these changes render the traditional paradigm of American nationhood obsolete. That traditional paradigm based on individual rights, majority rule, national sovereignty, citizenship, and the assimilation of immigrants into an existing American civic culture is too narrow and must be changed into a system that promotes "diversity," defined, in the end, as group proportionalism.
(6) The Redefinition of democracy and "democratic ideals"
Global Progressives are redefining democracy from a system of majority rule among equal citizens to power sharing among ethnic groups composed of both citizens and non-citizens. For example, the current Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in 1995 that it is "undemocratic" for California to exclude non-citizens, specifically illegal aliens, from voting. Former Immigration and Naturalization (INS) general counsel, T. Alexander Aleinikoff declares that "[we] live in a post-assimilationist age" and states that majority preferences simply "reflect the norms and cultures of dominant groups" (as opposed to the norms and cultures of "feminists and people of color"). James Banks, one of American educations leading textbook writers says: "To create an authentic democratic Unum with moral authority and perceived legitimacy the pluribus (diverse peoples) must negotiate and share power." In effect, Banks is saying, existing American liberal democracy is not quite authentic; real democracy is yet to be created. It will come when the different "peoples" or groups that live within America "share power" as groups.
(7) Deconstruction of National Narratives and National Symbols
Global Progressive elites have been busy in recent years deconstructing the traditional narratives and national symbols of Western democratic nation-states. In October 2000, the British government-sponsored Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain issued a report that denounced the concept of "Britishness" as having "systemic racist connotations." The Commission, chaired by Labour life peer Lord Parekh, declared that instead of defining itself as a nation, the UK should be considered a "community of communities." One member of the Commission explained that the members found the concepts of "Britain" and "nation" troubling. The purpose of the Commissions report. according to the chairman Professor Parekh, is to "shape and restructure the consciousness of our citizens." The report declared that Britain should be formally "recognized as a multi-cultural society," whose history needs to be "revised, rethought, or jettisoned."
In the United States in the mid 1990s, the proposed "National History Standards," reflecting the marked influence of multiculturalism among historians in the nations universities recommended altering the traditional narrative of the United States. Instead of a Western nation formed by European settlers, American civilization is described as a "convergence" of three civilizations, Amerindian, West African, and European that created a "hybrid" American multi-culture. Even though the National History Standards were ultimately rejected, this core multicultural concept that that United States is not primarily the creation of Western Civilization, but the result of a "Great Convergence" of "three worlds" has become the dominant paradigm in American public schools.
In Israel, adversary intellectuals have attacked the Zionist narrative. A "post-Zionist" intelligentsia has proposed that Israel consider itself "multicultural" and deconstruct its identity as a Jewish state. In the mid-1990s the official appointed to revise Israels history curriculum used media interviews to compare the Israeli armed forces to the SS and Orthodox Jewish youth to the Hitler Youth. A new code of ethics for the Israel Defense Forces eliminated all references to the "land of Israel," the "Jewish state," and the "Jewish people," and, instead, referred only to "democracy." Even the current Foreign Minister of Israel, Simon Peres sounded the post-Zionist trumpet in his 1993 book, The New Middle East, calling on Israelis to live without borders and take up an "ultranational" (i.e. supranational) identity. His "ultimate goal," Peres insisted, included the creation of a regional community of nations with "elected centralized bodies," as well as a common market, a type of Middle Eastern EU. In Peres formulation, the State of Israel (and thus traditional Israeli democracy) would ultimately be transformed into a new hybrid post-national regime.
(8) Promotion of the concept of Post-National Citizenship.
"Can advocates of postnational citizenship ultimately succeed in decoupling the concept from the nation-state in prevailing political thought?" asks Rutgers Law Professor Linda Bosniak. An increasing number of international law professors throughout the West are arguing that citizenship should be "denationalized." In the name of "inclusion," "social justice," "democratic engagement," and "human rights," they argue for "transnational citizenship," "postnational citizenship" or sometimes "global citizenship" embedded in international human rights accords and "evolving" forms of transnational arrangements. These theorists insist that national citizenship should not be "privileged" at the expense of postnational, multiple, and pluralized forms of citizenship identities. For example, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, under the leadership of its President, Jessica Mathews, has published a series of books in the past few years on "challenging traditional understandings of belonging and membership" in nation-states and "rethinking the meaning of citizenship." Although couched in the ostensively neutral (and often ponderous) language of social science, these essays from scholars from Germany, Britain, Canada, and France, as well as the U.S., argue for new and "evolving" transnational forms of citizenship as a normative good.
(9) The Idea of Transnationalism as a major conceptual tool.
The theory of transnationalism promises to be for the first decade of the 21st century what multiculturalism was for the last decade of the 20th century. In a certain sense, transnationalism is the next stage of multicultural ideologyit is multiculturalism with a global face. Like multiculturalism, transnationalism is a concept that provides elites with both an empirical tool (a plausible analysis of what is) and an ideological framework (a vision of what should be). Transnational advocates argue that globalization requires some form of transnational "global governance" because they believe that the nation-state and the idea of national citizenship are ill suited to deal with the global problems of the future. Academic and public policy conferences today are filled with discussions of "transnational organizations," "transnational actors," "transnational migrants," "transnational jurisprudence," and "transnational citizenship," just as in the 90s they were replete with references to multiculturalism in education, citizenship, literature, and law.
Many of the same scholars who touted multiculturalism now herald the coming transnational age. Thus, at a recent conference, the same American Sociological Association (ASA) that promoted multiculturalism from the late 1980s to the mid-90s now featured transnationalism. Indeed, the ASAs then-president, Professor Alejandro Portes, argued that transnationalism is the wave of the future. Combined with large-scale immigration , transnationalism will redefine the meaning of American citizenship, he insists. The distinguished University of Chicago anthropologist Arjun Appadurai has suggested that the United States is in transition from being a "land of immigrants" to "one node in a postnational network of diasporas."
It is clear that arguments over globalization will dominate much of early 21st century public debate. The promotion of transnationalism as both an empirical and normative concept is an attempt to shape this crucial intellectual struggle over globalization. The adherents of transnationalism create a dichotomy. They imply that one is either in step with globalization, and thus with transnationalism and forward-looking thinking, or one is a backward anti-globalist. Liberal democrats (who are internationalists and support free trade and market economics) must reply that this is a false dichotomythat the critical argument is not between globalists and anti-globalists, but instead over the form Western global engagement should take in the coming decades: will it be transnationalist or internationalist?
THE SOCIAL BASE OF TRANSNATIONAL PROGRESSIVISM: A POSTNATIONAL INTELLIGENTSIA -
The social base of global progressivism could be described as a rising post-national intelligentsia. Defining "intelligentsia" in the broadest sense it includes three elements: (1) the producers of ideas and concepts, (2) the popularizers or publicists of ideas and values, and (3) the practitioners who implement ideas and values at all levels. This could include anyone from a Western government official to an elementary school teacher. One need not be particularly intelligent to a member of an intelligentsia. A Kindergarten teacher pushing the crudest form of multiculturalism could be conceived as belonging to what John OSullivan calls the "lumpenintelligentsia."
Leaders in the post-national intelligentsia would include many international law professors at prestigious Western universities, activists in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundation officers, UN bureaucrats, EU administrators, corporation executives, and practicing politicians throughout the West. The post-national intelligentsia is an eclectic group but it would include the following thinkers and actors.
British "Third Way" theorist Anthony Giddens, who declared that he is, "in favor of pioneering some quasi-utopian trans-national forms of democracy." Giddens writes: "The shortcomings of liberal democracy suggest the need to further more radical forms of democratization." Instead of liberal democracy, Giddens (using the language of Juergen Habermas) posits a, "dialogic democracy," with an emphasis on "life politics," especially "new social movements , such as those concerned with feminism, ecology, peace, or human rights." Giddens also declares that he "is strongly opposed to the idea that social justice is just equality of opportunity."
Italian Marxist theorist Toni Negri (who clearly knows his Gramsci) and Duke University Literature Professor Michael Hardt are the authors of the best-selling book Empire, lauded by the New York Times as the "next big idea." In Empire, Negri (a jailed, former associate of the terrorist Italian Red Brigades) and Hardt (his former student) using Marxist concepts such as the "multitudes" i.e., "the masses" vs. the Empire attack the power of global corporations and, without being overly specific, call for a new form of "global" or transnational democracy.
University of Chicago Philosophy Professor, Martha Nussbaum calls for reinvigorating the concept of "global citizenship" and denounces patriotism as "indistinguishable from jingoism" in a debate several years back that set off a wide ranging discussion among American academics on the meaning of patriotism, citizenship, and the nation-state.
The late Carl Gerstacker, the legendary chairmen of the board of Dow Chemical in the 1960s and 1970s expressed the libertarian strand of transnationalism when he declared, "I have long dreamed of buying an island owned by no nation and of establishing the World Headquarters of the Dow Company on the truly neutral ground of such an island, beholden to no nation or society."
Strobe Talbot, former Undersecretary of State, when he was an editor of Time magazine wrote that he was optimistic that by the end of the 21st century "nationhood as we know it will be obsolete: all states will recognize a single global authority All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary." Further, he declares that the devolution of national sovereignty "upward toward supranational bodies" and "downward toward" autonomous units is a "basically positive phenomenon."
Complementary to this general (and diffuse) sentiment for new transnational forms of governance is the concrete day to day practical work of the NGOs that seek to bring the transnational vision to fruition. When social movements such as the ideologies of "transnationalism" and "global governance" are depicted as the result of "social forces" or the "movement of history," a certain impersonal inevitability is implied. However, in the 20th century the Bolshevik Revolution, the National Socialist Revolution, the New Deal, the Reagan Revolution, the Gaullist national reconstruction in France, and the creation of the European Union and its predecessor organizations were not inevitable, but were the result of the exercise of political will by elites who mobilized their strength and defeated opponents.
Similarly, "transnationalism," like "multiculturalism" and "global governance," like "diversity," are not "forces of history" but ideological tools, championed by activist elites. The success or failure of these values-loaded concepts will ultimately depend upon the political action and political will of these elites contrasted to the political actions and the political will of their opponents: the forces of the liberal democratic nation-state.
On issue after issue, a wide range of Western NGOs are attempting to achieve political ends that they would not be able to achieve through the normal democratic process. They do so by going outside the liberal democratic framework, using extra-constitutional or post-constitutional means. These issues include:
the International Criminal Court
the UN Convention on Womens Rights
reservations on the UN treaty against racial discrimination
policing United States borders
implementation of affirmative action legislation
imposition of the death penalty
the Kyoto Treaty on global warming
legal rights of non-citizens in a constitutional regime
The major NGOs supporting transnational progressivism include:
Amnesty International USA
Human Rights Watch
American Friends Service Committee
American Civil Liberties Union
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.
National Council of Churches, USA
International Human Rights Law Group
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law
Many others will be discussed later. These NGOs are heavily funded by the Ford, Rockefeller, Charles Stewart Mott, and MacArthur Foundations. They sometimes work in tandem with leading international law and immigration law professors and often find ideologically sympathetic jurists in European (and occasionally in American) courts and administrative bodies.
A good part of the energy for transnational progressivism is provided by human rights activists who consistently evoke "evolving norms of international law" as a major tool to accomplish their goals. The main legal conflict between traditional American liberal democrats and global progressives is ultimately the question of whether the US Constitution trumps international law or international law trumps the US Constitution. By "international law" I am referring to what experts, including John Bolton, Jeremy Rabkin, Jack Goldsmith, Lee Casey, and David Rivkin have called the "new international law" that differs from traditional concepts of the "Law of Nations."
Before the mid-20th century traditional international law usually referred to relations among nation-states, it was "international" in the real sense of the term. Since that time the "new international law" increasingly penetrates the sovereignty of democratic nation-states, it is, therefore, in reality, "transnational law." Human rights activists work to establish norms for this "new international (i.e. transnational) law," and then attempt to bring the United States into conformity with a legal regime whose reach often extends beyond democratic politics and the guarantees of the US Constitution.
The tactics of the transnational progressives (including American and non-American NGOs and UN officials) are to excoriate American political, legal and administrative practices in virulent language, as if the American liberal democratic nation-state was an illegitimate authoritarian regime. Thus, Amnesty International USA in a 1998 report charged the US with "a persistent and widespread pattern of human rights violations." Amnesty stated that, "racism and discrimination contribute to the denial of the fundamental rights of countless men, women, and children" in the United States. Moreover, police brutality is "entrenched and nation-wide"; the US is the "world leader in high tech repression"; and it is time for the US to face up to its "hypocrisy." The report discussed "a national background of economic and racial injustice, a rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiments" and stated that, "human rights violations in the US occur in rural communities and urban communities from coast to coast." The United States had long "abdicated its duty" to lead the world in promoting human rights. Therefore, declared William Schultz, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, "it was no wonder the United States was ousted from the Human Rights Commission" (of the UN.)
While Amnesty called on the UN to condemn "institutionalized cruelty" in the US, Human Rights Watch issued a 450-page report excoriating all types of "human rights violations." For example, Human Rights Watch declared that "criminal justice polices" display a "disproportionate impact on African-Americans" ("Although, they comprised about 12 percent of the national adult population, they comprised 49.9 percent of the prison population.") Overall, Human Rights Watch declared, the US was guilty of "serious human rights violations" including:
"rampant" police brutality, and
"harassment of gay adults in the military paralleled by the harassment of students perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered" in public schools that are "experienced" by these students "as a place that accepted intolerance, hatred, ostracization, and violence against youth who were perceived as different."
Human Rights Watch also attacked the "curtailment of internationally-recognized rights" for [illegal] immigrants and complained that "the U.S. Border Patrol continued to grow at an alarming pace, doubling since 1993, when there were roughly 4,000 agents, to approximately 8,000 agents."
UN special investigators (rapporteurs) examined US "human rights violations" in 1990s. The first thing these investigators did was meet with an array of American NGOs. In their official reports, the UN officials quoted freely from American NGO documents. UN investigator, Maurice Glele of Benin, wrote that, "racism existed in the US with sociological inertia, structural obstacles, and individual resistance ." Glele visited the US State Department and found that discrimination complaints by African American State Department employees "had dragged on since 1986." Meanwhile, the report stated, the "State Department remains a very white institution." The UN investigator further wrote, "The fate of the majority of Blacks is one of poverty, sickness, illiteracy, drugs, and crime in response to the social cul-de-sac in which they find themselves."
Rahhika Coomaraswamy of Sri Lanka, the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on Violence Against Women found that the United States is "criminalizing" a large segment of its population, a group that is "composed of poor persons of color and increasingly female." She complained that the US holds more prisoners than any other country in world and that more than "43,000 are women, most of them poor and black."
Bacre Waly Ndiaye, UN SR on Extrajudical, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions , like other UN investigators met with representatives of American NGOs including ACLU, American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Human Rights Watch, and the International Human Rights Law Group among others. The SRs report found "a significant degree of unfairness and arbitrariness" in the application of the death penalty." The report complained that 41% of death penalty inmates are African-American, 47% white, 7% Hispanic, 1.5% American Indian. The UN Special Rapporteur also specifically attacked the US justice system in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Durban as a Case Study of NGO Activity
The recent UN Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia held in Durban, South Africa, represents a classic case study of how American NGOs promote transnational progressivism. About a year before the conference was to meet, a group of about fifty American NGOs (including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the NAACP, the International Human Rights Law Group,) sent a formal letter to UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson that called upon the UN "to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination" that "men and women of color face at the hands of the US criminal justice system."
The spokesman for the group, Wade Henderson, of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, stated that its demands "had been repeatedly raised with federal and state officials but to little effect." "In frustration," he said, "we now turn to the United Nations." In other words, the NGOs said, in effect, that they could not enact the policies that they favored through the normal processes of American constitutional democracythrough state governments, state courts, the Congress, the Executive Branch, or even the federal courts. Therefore, they found themselves compelled to appeal to authority outside of American democracy and beyond its Constitution.
The NGOs attended Durban with strong financial backing from the Ford, Rockefeller, MacArthur, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundations. Once at the conference the NGOs worked in tandem with the African states that were supporting "reparations" from Western nations as compensation for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade of the 17th to 19th centuries. The NGOs provided research assistance and helped developed resolutions calling for the US and other Western nations to pay reparations for historic Atlantic slavery. Although they failed to mention the large traffic (14 million as opposed to 11 million) of African slaves that were sent to the Islamic lands of the Middle East). At Durban, the NGOs endorsed a series of demands including those that:
support the "inclusion of compensatory measures" (i.e. reparations for slavery) as a sub-theme on the agenda of the World Conference.
require that the US "publicly acknowledge the breath and pervasiveness of institutional racism" which "permeates every institution at every level."
call for a declaration that "racial bias corrupts every stage of the [US] criminal justice process, from suspicion to investigation, arrest, prosecution, trial, and sentencing."
insist that "rhetoric emphasizing the progress we have made in overcoming this countrys racial problems actually ignores how deeply imbedded racism is."
urge that hate crimes legislation be supported and expanded at federal and state levels.
condemn opposition to affirmative action and "urged the US government and state authorities reaffirm and vigorously defend affirmative action measures."
excoriate the "persistent failure of the US government to recognize that an adequate standard of living is a right, not privilege" and deplored the "denial of economic rights in this country (USA)."
characterize policies that emphasize English language acquisition for non-English speakers as "discriminatory" and insisted that "multi-lingualism should be encouraged and promoted, not impeded."
denounce free market capitalism as "a fundamentally flawed system" and [express] "the conviction that it is possible to organize a more just, equitable and socially responsible system."
Most importantly, the NGOs insist that the US ratify all major UN "human rights" treaties and drop legal "reservations" to treaties already ratified. Thus in 1994 the United States ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), but attached reservations declaring that the US did not accept treaty requirements "incompatible with the Constitution." The US refused to accept these treaty requirements because the CERD treaty contains provisions that restrict certain types of speech and political activity allowed by the First Amendment. Yet leading NGOs, including the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, and the International Human Rights Group, demand that the US drop "all reservations" to the CERD treaty.
On August 6, 2001, Reuters reported the US presented its first explanation to a UN committee on how it was implementing the CERD treaty. According to Reuters, an American delegation "reiterated the US policy of condemning unequal treatment of racial and ethnic minorities." However, neither the UN Committee nor the NGOs were interested in equal treatment; instead, they insisted on equal results. So much is apparent when an NGO representative from the Center for Constitutional Rights complained that, "Almost every member of the UN committee raised the question of why there are vast racial disparities in every aspect of American lifeeducation, housing, health, welfare, criminal justice." A representative from Human Rights Watch declared the US offered "no remedies," saying that the US "simply restated a position which already doesnt comply with the CERD and which indicates no willingness to comply."
Indeed, to comply with the NGO interpretation of the CERD treaty, the US would have to turn its political and economic system, together with their underlying principles, upside downabandoning the free speech guarantees of the Constitution, bypassing federalism, and ignoring the very concept of majority rulesince practically nothing in the NGO agenda is supported by the American people. Nevertheless, the NGOs insist upon "compliance." Not surprisingly, the Ford Foundation awarded a $300,000 grant to the International Human Rights Law Group "to encourage US compliance with CERD." It is revealing that the language of almost all the UN conventions that ignore the guarantees of the US Constitution including the International Criminal Courts (ICC), the Convention on Womens Rights, the Convention on Childrens Rights were written by American and other Western NGOs. In other words, the documents were written by a Western post-national intelligentsia aided by a "Westernistic" or "Westernized" coterie of Third World intellectuals (e.g.Nobel Laureate Kofi Annan.)
ANTI-ASSSIMILATION ON THE HOME FRONT
It is significant, but little noticed, that many of same NGOs (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) and international law professors who have advocated transnational legal concepts at UN meetings and in international forums are active in U.S immigration and naturalization law. On this front the global progressives have pursued two objectives: (1) eliminating all distinctions between citizens and non-citizens and (2) vigorously opposing attempts to assimilate immigrants into the "dominate Anglo culture."
Thus, Louis Henkin, one of the most prominent scholars of international law when discussing immigration/assimilation issues attacks "archaic notions of sovereignty" and calls for largely eliminating "the difference between a citizen and a non-citizen permanent resident" in all federal laws. Columbia University international law professor Stephen Legomsky argues that dual nationals in influential positions (who are American citizens) should not be required to give "greater weight to U.S. interests, in the event of a conflict" between the United States and the other country, in which the American citizen is also a dual national.
Two leading law professors (Peter Spiro from Hofstra, who has written extensively in support of NGOs, and Peter Schuck from Yale) complain that "since 1795" immigrants seeking American citizenship are required "to renounce all allegiance and fidelity to their old nations." In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, they advocate dropping this "renunciation clause" from the Oath. They also reject the concept of the hyphenated American and prefer what they call the "ampersand" individual. Thus, instead of thinking of a traditional Mexican-American who is a loyal citizen, but proud of his ethnic roots, they prefer immigrants (or migrants) who are both "Mexican & American," who retain "loyalties" to their "original homeland" and vote in both countries, thus ignoring the solemn Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance.
University Professor Robert Bach was the author of a major Ford Foundation report on new and "established residents" (the word "citizen" was assiduously avoided) that advocated the "maintenance" of ethnic immigrant identities, supported "non-citizen voting," and attacked assimilation (suggesting that homogeneity not diversity "may" be the "problem in America.") Bach later left the Ford Foundation and became deputy director for policy at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the Clinton Administration, where he joined forces with then INS general counsel T. Alexander Alienikoff, to promote a pro-multicultural, anti-assimilation federal policy. Alienikoff, a former (and current) immigration law professor, has characteristically declared, "we need to move beyond assimilation."
It has been well-documented (through Congressional hearings and investigative reporting) that the financial backing for this anti-assimilationist campaign has come primarily from the Ford Foundation, which in the 1970s made a conscious decision to fund a Latino rights movement based on advocacy-litigation and group rights rather than on civic assimilation. On this front, the global progressives have been aided if not always consciously, certainly in objective terms, by a "transnational right." It was a determined group of transnational conservative Senators and Congressmen that prevented the Immigration Reform legislation of 1996 from reducing unskilled immigration. The same group worked with progressives to block the implementation of a computerized plan to track the movement of foreign visitors in and out of the United States. Whatever their ideological, commercial, or political motives, the constant demand for "open borders" and "free movement" of people as well as goods by the Wall Street Journals editorial pages and by certain commentators, lobbyists, and activists on the transnational right has strengthened the anti-assimilationist agenda of the global progressives.
THE EUROPEAN UNION AS A STRONGHOLD OF TRANSNATIONAL PROGRESSIVISM
Whereas ideologically driven NGOs represent a subnational challenge to the values and policies of the liberal-democratic nation-state, the European Union is a large supranational macro-organization that to a considerable extent embodies transnational progressivism, both in governmental form and in substantive policies. The governmental structure of the EU is post-democratic. Power in the EU principally resides in the European Commission and to a lesser extent the European Court of Justice. The European Commission is the EUs executive. It also initiates legislative action, implements common policy, and controls a large bureaucracy. The EC is composed of a rotating presidency, nineteen commissioners chosen by the member-states and approved by the European Parliament. It is unelected and, for the most part, unaccountable. A White Paper put out by the European Commission suggests that this unaccountability is one of the reasons for its success: "The original and essential source of the success of European Integration is that the EUs executive body, the Commission, is supranational and independent from national, sectoral, or other influences." This "democracy deficit" is constantly lamented, particularly by the Germans who have proposed greater power to the European parliament, but, at this stage, the issue remains and represents a moral challenge to EU legitimacy.
The substantive polices advanced by EU leaders both in the Commission and the European Court of Justice are based on the global progressive ideology of group rights discussed earlier that promotes victim groups over "privileged" groups and eschews the liberal principle of treating citizens equally as individuals. Thus, statues on "hate speech," hate crimes," "comparable worth" for womens pay, and group preferences are considerably more "progressive" and less "liberal" (in the traditional meaning of the term) in the EU, than in the United States. At the same time, the European Court of Justice has overruled national parliaments and public opinion in nation-states by ordering the British to incorporate gays and the Germans to incorporate women in combat units in their respective military services. The European Court of Justice even struck down a British law on corporal punishment declaring that parental spanking is internationally recognized as an abuse of human rights
A group of what Undersecretary of State John Bolton has referred to as "Americanist" (as opposed to "Globalist") thinkers have emphasized the vastly different philosophical and ideological foundations of the American liberal democratic regime and the European Union. Two Washington lawyers, Lee A. Casey and David B. Rivkin, Jr., argue this position forcefully in a recent article ("Europe in the Balance: The Alarmingly Undemocratic Drift Of the European Union") in Policy Review (June & July 2001). Casey and Rivkin note that in the American "philosophical and constitutional traditions the question in determining whether any particular model of government is a democracy is whether the governed choose their governors in practice as well as in theory." On the other hand, they see in the European Union, " the reemergence of a pre-Enlightenment pan-European ideology that denies the ultimate authority of the nation-state, as well as the transfer of policymaking authority from the governed and their elected representatives to a professional bureaucracy as is evident in the EUs leading institutions." All of this "suggests a dramatic divergence from the basic principles of popular sovereignty once shared both by Europes democracies and the United States."
In the world of practical international politics, in the period immediately prior to the events of September 11, the European Union clearly stood in opposition to United States on some of the most important strategic global issues including the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Land Mine Treaty, the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, and policy towards missile defense, Iran, Iraq, Israel, China, Cuba, North Korea, and the death penalty. On most of these issues, global progressives in the United States including many practicing politicians supported the European Union position and attempted to leverage this transnational influence in the domestic debate. At the same, the position of the Bush administration on many of these issues has support from elements in Europe, certainly from members of the British political class and public, and undoubtedly from some segments of the Continental European populace as well (on the death penalty for example).
Interestingly, both conservative realists (such as Henry Kissinger) and neo-conservative pro-democracy advocates (such as Elliott Abrams) have argued that elements in the European Union, the UN, and among the NGOs threaten to limit both American democracy at home and American power overseas. As Jeanne Kirkpatrick puts it, "foreign governments and their leaders, and more than a few activists here at home seek to constrain and control American power by means of elaborate multilateral processes, global arrangements, and UN treaties that limit both our capacity to govern ourselves and act abroad."
Scholars, publicists, and many others in the Western world, especially the United States, original home of constitutional democracy, have for the past several decades been arguing furiously over the most fundamental political ideas. Talk of a "culture war," however, is somewhat misleading, because the arguments over transnational vs. national citizenship, multiculturalism vs. assimilation, and global governance vs. national sovereignty are not simply cultural, but ideological and philosophical. In a word, they are about political philosophyin the sense that they pose such Aristotelian questions as: What kind of government is best? What is citizenship? What is the best regime?
In America, there is an elemental argument about whether to preserve, improve, and transmit the American regime to future generations or to transform it into a new and different type of polity. In the terms of contemporary political science we are arguing about "regime maintenance" vs. "regime transformation."
In the final analysis, the challenge to traditional American concepts of citizenship, patriotism, and assimilation from transnational progressivism is total and fundamental. It is a challenge to the regime itself, or to American liberal democracy. If our system is based not on individual rights, but on group consciousness; not on equality of citizenship, but on group preferences for non-citizens (including illegal immigrants) and for certain categories of citizens; not on majority rule within constitutional limits but on power-sharing by different ethnic, racial, gender, and linguistic groups; not on constitutional law, but on transnational law; not on immigrants becoming Americans, but on migrants linked between transnational communities; then the regime will cease to be "constitutional," "liberal," "democratic," and "American," in any real sense of those terms, but will become in reality a new hybrid system that is "post-constitutional," "post-liberal," "post-democratic," and "post-American."
This intramural Western conflict between liberal democracy and transnational progressivism began at some point in the mid to late 20th century; it should continue well into the 21st century. It could well turn out to be a perpetual conflict with no permanent winner or loser, a continuous end game that is never concluded. From the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 until the attacks on the heart of the American republic on September 11, 2001, another "date which will live in infamy," the transnational progressives were on the offensive. Since 9/11, however the forces of the liberal-democratic nation state and the American regime in particular appear to be reasserting themselves. Clearly, in the post-September 11 milieu there is a window of opportunity for those who favor a reaffirmation of the traditional norms of liberal-democratic patriotism and a rejection of post-democratic transnational values. Whether that segment of the American intelligentsia committed to liberal democracy as it has hitherto been practiced on these shores has the political will to seize this opportunity is not yet clear. Key areas to watch include official government rationales for the use of force and the conduct of the war; the use and non-use of international law; assimilation-immigration policy; border control; civic education in the public schools; and the state of the patriotic narrative in popular culture.
I suggest in this paper that we add a fourth dimension to a conceptual framework of international politics. Three dimensions are currently recognizable. First, there is traditional realpolitik, the competition and conflict between and among nation-states (and supranational states such as the EU.) Second, is the clash (or at least the competition) of civilizations, conceptualized by Samuel Huntington Third, there is the division (and conflict) between the democratic world and the undemocratic world, what Aaron Wildavsky and Max Singer in 1993 called the separation of the world into the zone of peace (democratic zone) and the zone of turmoil (undemocratic zone). I am suggesting a fourth dimension, the conflict within the democratic zone (and particularly within the West) between the forces of liberal democracy and the forces of transnational progressivism. If the third dimension is struggle between democrats and anti-democrats, the fourth dimension is conflict between democrats and post-democrats.
At one level, the fourth dimension amounts to a struggle between the American (or Anglo-American) and the Continental European models of governanceof what Western Civilization ought to be. The later travels the road to bureaucratized social democracy and the security of the welfare state; the former emphasizes the sometimes conflicting values of civic republicanism and the liberal values of openness and individuality, within a market-driven milieu. As John OSullivan and others have pointed out there are Europeans who support an entrepreneurial, liberal, Anglo-American style regime and there are many Americans (particularly among elites) who favor a more collectivist Continental European approach.
The conflicts and tensions within each of these four dimensions of international politics are occurring simultaneously and affected by each other. The statesmen and student of international politics should incorporate all of these dimensions into a comprehensive understanding of the world of the 21st century. In the end, I believe Fukuyama is wrong to suggest that liberal democracy is the final form of political governance, the evolutionary end point of political philosophy. During the 20th century liberal democracy finally triumphed militarily and ideologically over powerful anti-democratic forces that were, in a sense, Western ideological heresies: National Socialism and Communism. In the course of the 21st century, I believe that Western liberal democracy, after defeating its current anti-democratic non-Western enemy in what will essentially be a material-physical struggle, will continue to face an ideological-metaphysical challenge from powerful post-liberal democratic forces, whose origins are Western, but, which could, in James Kurths words, be described as "post-Western."
John Fonte is a Senior Fellow and Director of Hudson's Center for American Common Culture.
Refining class warfare
Well begin with an overview of the thought of Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), a Marxist intellectual and politician. Despite his enormous influence on todays politics, he remains far less well-known to most Americans than does Tocqueville.
Gramscis main legacy arises through his departures from orthodox Marxism. Like Marx, he argued that all societies in human history have been divided into two basic groups: the privileged and the marginalized, the oppressor and the oppressed, the dominant and the subordinate. Gramsci expanded Marxs ranks of the "oppressed" into categories that still endure. As he wrote in his famous Prison Notebooks, "The marginalized groups of history include not only the economically oppressed, but also women, racial minorities and many criminals." What Marx and his orthodox followers described as "the people," Gramsci describes as an "ensemble" of subordinate groups and classes in every society that has ever existed until now. This collection of oppressed and marginalized groups "the people" lack unity and, often, even consciousness of their own oppression. To reverse the correlation of power from the privileged to the "marginalized," then, was Gramscis declared goal.
...Historically, Antonio Gramscis thought shares features with other writers who are classified as "Hegelian Marxists" the Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs, the German thinker Karl Korsch, and members of the "Frankfurt School" (e.g., Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse), a group of theorists associated with the Institute for Social Research founded in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1920s, some of whom attempted to synthesize the thinking of Marx and Freud. All emphasized that the decisive struggle to overthrow the bourgeois regime (that is, middle-class liberal democracy) would be fought out at the level of consciousness. That is, the old order had to be rejected by its citizens intellectually and morally before any real transfer of power to the subordinate groups could be achieved.
...As laymen and analysts alike have observed over the years, the major foundations particularly Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and MacArthur have for decades spent millions of dollars promoting "cutting edge" projects on racial, ethnic, and gender issues. According to author and foundation expert Heather Mac Donald, for example, feminist projects received $36 million from Ford, Rockefeller, Mellon, and other large foundations between 1972 and 1992. Similarly, according to a Capital Research Center report by Peter Warren, a policy analyst at the National Association of Scholars, foundations have crowned diversity the "king" of American campuses. For example, the Ford Foundation launched a Campus Diversity Initiative in 1990 that funded programs in about 250 colleges and universities at a cost of approximately $15 million. The Ford initiative promotes what sounds like a Gramscians group-rights dream: as Peter Warren puts it, "the establishment of racial, ethnic, and sex-specific programs and academic departments, group preferences in student admissions, group preferences in staff and faculty hiring, sensitivity training for students and staff, and campus-wide convocations to raise consciousness about the need for such programs."
...As we have seen, Tocquevillians and Gramscians clash on almost everything that matters. Tocquevillians believe that there are objective moral truths applicable to all people at all times. Gramscians believe that moral "truths" are subjective and depend upon historical circumstances. Tocquevillans believe that these civic and moral truths must be revitalized in order to remoralize society. Gramscians believe that civic and moral "truths" must be socially constructed by subordinate groups in order to achieve political and cultural liberation. Tocquevillians believe that functionaries like teachers and police officers represent legitimate authority. Gramscians believe that teachers and police officers "objectively" represent power, not legitimacy. Tocquevillians believe in personal responsibility. Gramscians believe that "the personal is political." In the final analysis, Tocquevillians favor the transmission of the American regime; Gramscians, its transformation.
Earlier Americans were confident that most citizens, acting through self-governing associations like families, churches, and businesses, could take care of their own needs. Government existed to secure the conditions where this was possible. In the prevailing view that has arisen in the past century, based on theories of the Progressive Era, citizens are thought to be unable to manage their own lives without extensive and detailed government regulation of the economy and of social relations. The resulting administrative or welfare state has radically altered Americans' way of life.
But can we, or should we, re-embrace the principles of constitutional government, the principles of the American founding? It is often said that twentieth century America is too complex to be governed according to an eighteenth century document. As recently as 1965, however, America was already a modern society-wealthy and highly industrialized-and the government was still operating largely under the Founders' Constitution, in accordance with the principles of the Declaration. In fact, it remains a viable choice to return to that way of life today.
Nor should that choice be understood in terms of "turning the clock back." On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge said:
About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary.
This statement points to the most important question facing Americans and their leaders today. It is a philosophic question that encompasses all the great contemporary policy questions: Were the American Founders or their Progressive-liberal critics correct about human nature and the ends of government?
I bet he got teased a lot
I don't know how I got on your ping list, but the articles you select I would have read anyway, so please leave me on.
I had posted the above summer 2001 from Jerry Pournelle's web site, and thought it one of the more important items I had read in some time. This was the first time I had seen the term "Transnational Progressivism" used, and thought it important enough to create an IE favorites folder of that name under my "Politics" folder.
Events of 9/11 pushed this article at its contents to the back burner. Perhaps we should see them as related; it is the multiculturalism that this movement pushes that keeps our borders weak.
Not specifically on Transnational Progressivisim, but related.
(1) The ascribed group over the individual citizen
I'll admit I stopped reading right here.
No matter what name they give this system now, Socialism is still socialism.
God Save America (Please)
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