Archive for the ‘CONSERVATISM’ Category


June 2, 2017

Washington Times on June 1, 2017 published a commentary by Wesley Pruden on President Trump’s abandoning of the Paris climate agreement. Excerpts below:

“As of today,” he said, “the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. We’re getting out but we’ll start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”

This was exactly what the 196 signers needed to hear, and the president told them without heat, bombast or blather.

The president thus makes good on one of his most important campaign promises, mocking the holy writ of global warming, or “climate change” as it’s called now because the globe refuses to warm as promised and all the dead polar bears are still not dead and the ocean that was supposed to have inundated the financial district of lower Manhattan by now, [is still above water].

The president sounds like the reasonable one now. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris accord for an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.” He identified several sectors of the American economy that would lose jobs and paychecks if the United States stays in the accord — 2.7 million jobs by 2025.

This puts a large dent in Barack Obama’s legacy, about which he can’t stop talking.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” he said, trying to remember how to affect a presidential tone. “I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership, even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future, I’m confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.” This was a stunning exercise in disrespect for the one president we currently have, and for the office as well. Pittsburgh and Peoria with a foreign policy.

Mr. Trump’s critics are eager now to play holier than thou — even the pope, who had said earlier that if Mr. Trump withdrew from Paris the Vatican would take it as “a slap in the face.” Leonardo DiCaprio was disappointed, too, because he had earlier urged Mr. Trump to “make the moral position.” Moral tutelage from the Vatican and Hollywood on the very same day. Religiosity reigns, if only for the day.

But back where it counts, the president’s decision won praise from Republicans in Congress. “I applaud President Trump and his administration for dealing with yet another blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.” Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, observed that “the Paris climate agreement set unworkable targets that put America at a competitive disadvantage.”

Whatever new agreement President Trump can make will be a treaty, and must, as the Constitution makes clear, be ratified by the Senate. Barack Obama, the famous professor of constitutional law, wouldn’t do that because he knew that the Paris agreement would never have made it through the Senate..

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment:  The Paris climate agreement is an unequal treaty forcing the United States and other Western nations to pay for China’s heavy use of fossil fuels.  Conservatives in the United States have praised the president for his move.

Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America: [Trump is “not succumbing to pressure from special interests and cosmopolitan elites.”

“Withdrawal from the agreement marks a critical step in unraveling former President Obama’s destructive legacy,” President Trump’s decision is a win for both his administration and the American people.”


The Club for Growth:  [Trump’s decision put] “American taxpayers and businesses back in the driver’s seat.”

“For far too long the Obama Administration allowed foreign governments and alarmist environmentalists to dictate, not only climate change policy, but worse our nation’s economic policy,” President Trump’s decision sends a strong message to the environmentalist movement: no longer will the United States be strongarmed by their scare tactics intended to harm our economy and inhibit economic growth.”


Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute: [Trump is] “leading the world toward a brighter future.”

“The Paris Climate Agreement promises no measurable climate benefits at an incredible economic and political cost to Americans,” By getting out of the agreement, President Trump is leading the world toward a brighter future as low energy prices over the long-term will benefit consumers and energy-intensive industries.”


February 8, 2017

Washington Times on February 7, 2017, published the text of Governor Robert Bentley’s State of the State adress. Remarks as prepared, Excerpts below:


Companies and industries have poured over 24-billion dollars of investment into Alabama, in our people and in the belief that their products will be made best when they are Made in Alabama.

Companies like Polaris, in Huntsville, are building and producing ATV’s and hiring 17-hundred Alabamians and creating hundreds of positions for technicians, programmers and welders. GE Aviation is investing more than $200 million to build two factories in Huntsville and is expected to employ up to 300 people. And it’s not just our larger cities with new well-paying jobs. With an intentional focus on bringing jobs to rural Alabama we bring industry to our smallest towns. Moller Tech is building a 46-million dollar flagship facility in Woodstock, in Bibb County, supplying Mercedes and hiring 220 Alabamians. Alabama’s auto industry hit another record high in 2016, as workers at Hyundai, Mercedes and Honda rolled out over a million Alabama-made vehicles. Montgomery’s new Hyundai Santa Fe, Lincoln’s new Honda Ridgeline and Tuscaloosa’s four Mercedes models are all taking center on the world stage. Besides receiving awards for some of the best vehicles on the market, they all have one important thing in common – their Home’s in Alabama. We opened Alabama’s newest Interstate – I -22, not just providing convenience and safer travel for our people, but paving the way for greater economic development in financially-strapped Northwest Alabama. There is simply no place like Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast, and the incredible Gulf State Park Project is well on its way to becoming an international benchmark of economic and environmental sustainability. On track to open next year, the Gulf State Park Project will be the pride of our state for outdoor recreation, education and hospitality. Economic opportunity grows and thrives in our state, especially for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our state and our country, yet ask for so little. Alabama is the proud home of over 420-thousand Veterans, and through the Alabama Executive Veterans Network – or AlaVetNet, and the Alabama Small Business Commission we are making sure veteran owned businesses succeed and prosper. And today Alabama’s Unemployment Rate for Veterans stands at 4.1 percent – lower than the overall state and national rate.

Comment: States all over the United States are focusing on job creation. Alabama is a fine example of the upturn in US economy after January 2017. Especially important is investment in the Huntsville area.


October 12, 2016

Washington Times on October 6, 2016, published an opinion piece by Wesley Pruden on the dangerous world the Obama administration is leaving behind. Mr. Pruden reflected on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Excerpts below:

…everyone agreed that Mr. Obama certainly didn’t deserve the prize, cheapened as it had become by politics. Nearly eight years later the president has become something of a maker of war, not peace, which is the usual lot of any man or woman elected, like it or not, leader of the world.

The world is a far more dangerous place now. Radical Islamic terrorism, which the president still dares not call by its name, has become the new normal everywhere, gruesome death of innocents in the name of a prophet dead for centuries. The world hasn’t measured so many deaths in battle since the end of the Vietnam War, and refugees from war and terrorism have washed over Europe in numbers to remake the map, and threaten now to overwhelm the culture in America.

Mr. Obama…has pulled more than 100,000 soldiers out of Iraq, enabling the success of ISIS in taking vast territory for its so-called Islamic State, and now he has to begin the painful and embarrassing task of sending some of them back…

He rewarded Fidel Castro and the old men of the Cuban revolution, eager for the comforts of capitalism as they lie dying, but he is unable to do anything but draw imaginary red lines in the sand, like a child with his coloring book, to prevent the destruction of the Syrians.
But the president’s peacemaking legacy will be the sweetheart deal he made with the mullahs in Iran, preserving their dream of an Islamic bomb, which the mullahs promise to use to make a second Holocaust of Israel.

Hillary Clinton goes along with the president’s cynical assurance that against emerging evidence he has halted the development of the Iranian bomb.

Mr. Kaine, trying to reassure with his Howdy-Doody smile and happy talk, said three times that the Iranian nuclear-weapons program had been “stopped” or “capped.” He divided the “credit” between Mr. Obama and his negotiating skill and Hillary’s performance as secretary of State.

Whether manufacturing peace or disarming Islamic terror, Barack Obama and his protege have demonstrated incompetence all but unique in the history of the American presidency. And Hillary Clinton wants America to reward the incompetence with four more years.

Wesley Pruden is editor-in-chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment: The Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has certainly left the Western world during his four years in power in a dangerous position. The traditional challengers of the West, Russia, China and Iran, have become increasingly powerful as the Obama administration has abandoned the wise and traditional policy of securing the rimland to avoid one or more powers to rise in Eurasia. It was Nicholas J. Spykman, the founder of the Institute of International Studies at Yale in 1935 who formulated the Rimland Doctrine. He argued that geography was everything and the United States as hegemon had to be involved in the rimland from Scandinavia to Japan. The reason was that the rimland was key to world power. The United States has followed Spykman’s advise since the Second World War but since 2009 America has been withdrawing from the rimland opening up the West to international terrorism and the three anti-Western empires Russia, China and Iran. It is up to the next U.S. president to steer America back to the Rimland Doctrine and increase American presence in the Middle East and the Far East.


September 27, 2016

Washington Examiner on September 27, 2016, reported that two Republican senators pointed to Scandinavia to argue that Donald Trump supporters are raising legitimate concerns about the danger of opening the United States’ doors to refugees. Excerpts below:

“One need not support Mr. Trump to acknowledge these reasonable concerns of the 14 million Republicans who voted for him in the primaries and the tens of millions who will vote for him in November,”wrote Sen. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Ark., in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

The senators argued that their recent visit Norway and Sweden convinced them that the… response to the influx of immigrants can provide a lesson for the domestic political establishment. They asserted that the attitudes of many Swedish leaders parallel those held by American politicians. The senators, on the other hand, have argued against taking in massive numbers of refugees.

“Norwegian leaders responded to similar concerns and their country is safe and stable. Swedish leaders didn’t and their country faces economic, social, and political upheaval. There is a lesson here for American elites.”

While asylum applications dropped 95 percent between the last quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 in Norway, the senators wrote that Sweden has accepted 280,000, which is more than any other EU nation, after the country “threw open its doors in 2013” by offering these immigrants permanent residency.

“Norway is far from hardhearted. … But Norwegians understand that an open-border policy would strain their resources, disrupt the integration of other recently arrived immigrants, and undercut the legitimate desire of Norwegians to preserve their nation’s culture and character,” the senators wrote.


July 19, 2016

On May 18, 2006, Richard Koch and Chris Smith wrote about their book Suicide of the West in Financial Times, London. Excerpts below:

In 1900, most Westerners were confident and optimistic, full of pride about their civilization. Since then, the West has made enormous strides in economic, scientific, military, political and social terms. Yet the earlier confidence has gone. We have stopped believing in the ideas that drove earlier generations to improve the world.

Six main ideas made the West, century after century, progressively successful, powerful, and attractive – Christianity, optimism, science, economic growth, individualism and liberalism.

Christianity: Christianity transformed the West. It was the world’s first individualised, activist, self-help movement. Ordinary people were encouraged to clean up their act and given God’s help to do so. Everyone had a “soul”; individual human dignity and responsibility were greatly enhanced.

Optimism: the importance of optimism in driving success – of individuals, of whole civilizations – has been greatly overlooked. Optimism comes from three Greek and Christian “myths” – the myth of autonomy, the myth of progress and the myth of human goodness. Creation is ultimately good.

After 1760, our stories began to feature bad heroes – egotistical people, amoral or immoral. The last century confirmed a dim view of human nature – Freud’s ideas, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, two world wars, horrific and hateful societies. A diminished view of people facilitated these horrors.

Science: science is pre-eminently Western. It arose through belief in a perfect, rational Creator, and in our ability to figure out the perfect universe that God created.

Growth: the West’s stunning economic advance over the past 1,000 years, and especially the last 200 years, has made mankind a …success and the West dominant. Victories over hunger and disease are unprecedented.

Individualism: this has always been the West’s most striking characteristic. Now many inside the West are worried by individualism. Our highly atomistic society makes it easy to feel a failure.

If we do not demand truly responsible individualism, from our leaders, role models and ourselves, our civilization will disintegrate.

Liberalism: the greatest threat to the West comes from [classical] liberalism’s decline … Also from the “ultra-liberals”, the relativists who see nothing special about Western liberal society, who deny personal responsibility and incubate the “victim mentality”.

Western civilization has reached a fork in the road…[The West needs] a recovery of nerve, confidence in ourselves and our culture, unity within and between America and Europe, a society of individuals held together by self-improvement, striving, optimism, reason, compassion, equality and mutual identity. The road chosen will determine whether our civilization collapses or reaches its destiny.

Richard Koch, an author, and Lord Smith, former UK culture secretary, are co-authors of Suicide of the West (Continuum, 2006).

Comment: There is much of interest in the Koch-Smith book but they do not agree with James Burnham (1905 – 1987) in their conclusions. In his book Suicide of the West Burnham focused on the intangible, often vague leftist doctrine that is dominating Western civilization.

Long after Burnham’s death the suicidal tendencies of the West have increased greatly, especially in the last eight years. The first edition of Burnham’s book was published in 1964. It was republished in 2014.

There is no lack of resources or military power in the West, said Burnham, but there is an erosion of intellectual, moral, and spiritual factors in modern Western society represented by the liberal left. It represents the ideology of Western suicide. It can be argued that civilization is not about military might. It is true but without bases, posts, and soldiers there can be no civilization, there is nothing. The lines of defense are the limes also of civilization. Left liberalism has a way of comforting us in our afflictions. It transmutes the dark defeats, the withdrawals and catastrophes into their bright opposites: into gains, victories, advances. The geographic, political, demographic and strategic losses emerge as triumphs of Freedom, Equality, Progress and Virtue.

Burnham wrote during the Cold War but his views continue to be accurate. At present the liberal leftist leaders are telling us that we should not be troubled by the attacks of Islamic terrorists. These terrorists are on the run, they say, although the West is not using its full military resources to defeat them. Both the Russian, Chinese and Iranian empires are challenging the West, but the liberal leftist leaders assure us that all is well and appeasement works if we only accept peaceful coexistence with these empires. When the final defeat of the West comes the liberal leftist leaders will declare that Mankind as a whole is joining in a utopian universal civilization that has risen above distinctions and divisions of the past. It is in truth, they would declare, eternal peace and happiness.


July 17, 2016 has an interesting article by Robert W. Merry in which he is making some important comments about the West and Islam. Excerpts below:

[Many Muslims in Europe] despise the West as a morally inferior civilization that has, however, dominated many lands of Islam through a superior technology of warfare.

“The underlying problem for the West,” wrote Huntington, “is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power. The problem for Islam is that the West, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and believe that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to extend that culture throughout the world.”

Huntington also wrote, “Some Westerners . . . have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.”

There is a natural tension between the West and Islam that has always been there.

“The preservation of the United States and the West,” Huntington wrote, “requires the renewal of Western identity. The security of the world requires acceptance of global multiculturality.” In other words, domestic multiculturalism erodes America’s ability to preserve its identity. And global universalism exacerbates civilizational tensions unnecessarily. And yet that precisely is what America has been pursuing—domestic multiculturalism and global universalism. This can’t possibly work.

The Muslim population of France is about 7.5 percent, a critical mass that threatens ongoing domestic strife within that country. The renewal of Western cultural identity urged by Huntington won’t come easily there. Our hearts must go out to the entire country in the wake of episodes of mass murder like the truck attack in Nice on July 14, 2016.

The Muslim population of American, by contrast, is about 1 percent, though Muslims make up about 10 percent of ongoing legal immigration and differential birthrates will boost that population segment in coming years. The question for America is whether it should seek to craft immigration policies designed to prevent America from facing the challenge now confronting France. It’s a question that most Americans clearly don’t want to face, as reflected in the reaction to Trump’s suggestion of a temporary halt to Muslim immigration. But, if the trend lines of violence continue along their current trajectory, here and throughout the West, political sensibilities on the issue could change.

Robert W. Merry is a contributing editor at the National Interest and an author of books on American history and foreign policy.

Comment: Merry brings up a fundamental question in his article invoking Huntington’s clash of civilizations theory. There are many challenges today to the declining West.

It is important first to remember that there are many distinct cultures within Islamic civilization. The main challenge to the West is coming from the Arab subcivilization. The Iranian empire (former Persia) is the breeding ground for hatred against the West. Iran is a strong supporter of terrorist groups that attack the West. The Turkic and Malay subcivilizations of Islam have so far not turned against the West although there are Islamic terrorist groups in Central Asia. Muslim terror groups exist in for instance countries like the Philippines and Indonesia but their activities so far do not constitute a civilizational clash with the West. For centuries, however, there was a clash in Europe with Islam and a serious military Islamic threat to what was the the Western heartland.

The declining West has many more challengers than the Arab subcivilization. Other challengers are the Russian and Chinese empires. The main question is if the West will be capable of stopping and reversing internal decay, the inner challenge?

According to American macro-historian Carroll Quigley in The Evolution of Civilizations (1961) this is questionable:

Western civilization existed in full flower about A.D. 1500, and will surely pass out of existence at some time in the future, perhaps before A.D. 2500.


June 29, 2016

Fox News on June 29, 2016, reported on the 800-page Benghazi report blaming a “rusty bureaucratic process” for the Obama administration’s slow-moving response the night of the attack. The report said that despite orders from President Obama and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to deploy assets in response to the attack on the compound to aid Ambassador Chris Stevens, his staff and security personnel, the first military force did not do so until more than 13 hours after the attack started. Excerpts below:

Republican committee members — let by Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. — insisted their work was not political.

“Read the report,” Gowdy repeatedly said.

“You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi,” he also said in a written statement.

The report faulted the Obama administration for a range of missteps before, during and after the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that led to the deaths of Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty.

The report said one anti-terrorism security team known as the FAST unit sat waiting for three hours in Rota, Spain, as Marines changed “in and out of their uniforms four times,” and even debated whether they should carry personal weapons, according to one witness. All together, the report said, “it would take nearly 18 hours” for that team to move.

The report described a web of internal debates and hold-ups, including apparent State Department guidance that “Libya must agree to any deployment,” though Panetta would later say Libya approval was not necessary.

The report also said Clinton told the Egyptian prime minster they knew the attack had nothing to do with the film and was a planned attack – despite statements being made by her and others referencing the video.

Lawmakers contrasted the “heroism” of those on the ground with the discussions in Washington. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., described the D.C. attitude as “near fecklessness.” He said, “They were more concerned about how they’re going to offend the Libyan government than how this rescue is going to take place.”

The report also showed:

During a White House meeting convened roughly three hours into the attack, “much of the conversation focused on the video.”

The forces that came to evacuate State Department and CIA officers that night were not fellow Americans, but a secret unit of former military officers from the Qaddafi regime, which the Obama administration had helped overthrow.

“Security deficiencies plagued the Benghazi Mission compound in the lead-up to September 2012.”

Panetta told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred, while former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged an intelligence failure.


May 29, 2016

År 2011 var det 40 år sedan Bertil Häggman och Claes G Ryn utkom med boken Nykonservatismen i USA (1971). Den väckt en ofta upprörd debatt. Författarna beskrev den amerikanska konservatismens rötter och och senaste gestalt med början under 1950-talet. På vänstersidan var det stor upprördhet och i det borgerliga lägret noterade man med intresse den begynnande högervinden i Förenta Staterna.

Det kanske viktigaste kapitlet i boken var Bertil Häggmans ”Kritiken mot liberalismen: James Burnham”. År 2007 tog författaren och juristen Häggman upp Västerlandets självmord i en artikel publicerad i Captus Tidning. Den bok som hade gjort Burnham berömd var Direktörernas revolution (på svenska 1947). Här försökte den amerikanske professorn analysera vad som skulle hända efter andra världskriget. Om det nazistiska Tyskland segrade skulle världen domineras av tre stora imperier. Under det Kalla kriget kom en serie om tre böcker som krävde befrielse från kommunismen i stället för containment: Kampen om världen (finns på svenska), Kommunismens kommande nederlag (finns på svenska) och till sist Containment or Liberation, som aldrig översattes till svenska.

Vad var det som gjorde boken Västerlandets självmord så betydelsefull, särskilt för bedömningen av den nuvarande västerländska krisen? Burnham drog år 1964 slutsatsen att om världens utveckling fortsatte efter den som modell som skapats av socialdemokratin i Europa och vänstern i USA skulle det leda till förfall och Västs slutliga kollaps. När Sovjetunionen rasade samman år 1991 kunde det tyckas som om hotet hade minskat. Men åtminstone inom media och kommunikation fortsatte vänstern att dominera och från och till lyckades socialdemokraterna i Europa ta makten. De åtta åren med Obama-administrationen i USA har lett till inre motsättningar i USA. Årets val i Förenta Staterna återspeglar Västerlandets kris.

Bertil Häggman skrev 1971 om Burnham i Nykonservatismen i USA att denne ville förstå vänstern i dess konkreta, nuvarande form som en motreaktion mot ”fienden till höger”. Utan denna fiende skulle någon vänster inte existera.

Det fortsatta studiet av Burnham är oundgängligt. Hans varningar är särskilt värda att uppmärksammas när tillväxten i Europa upphört, befolkningsminskningen accelererar och tre anti-västliga imperier, bland dem Kina, kontinuerligt flyttar fram sina positioner.


May 15, 2016

American The University Bookman in 2013 remembered James Burnham’s The Machiavellians at Seventy in a review by geopolitician Francis P. Sempa. Excerpts below:

Seventy years ago, James Burnham…wrote an insightful and timeless study of politics and the nature of political power in a book entitled The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom.

In 1941, Burnham wrote his first major book, The Managerial Revolution, which received critical acclaim from the New York Times, Time, the New Leader, Saturday Review, and other publications. John Kenneth Galbraith recalled that The Managerial Revolution was “widely read and discussed” among policymakers in Washington. William Barrett remembered the book as “original and brilliant” in its prediction of an emerging “New Class” in the United States and other world powers. It has had a strong influence on a string of conservative thinkers, who appreciated Burnham’s realism and his assessment of a coming democratic regime dominated by what others have called knowledge-workers.

Prior to his break with Marxism, Burnham, at the urging of his colleague Sidney Hook, began reading the works of Machiavelli, the German political scientist Robert Michels, the Italian political philosopher Vilfredo Pareto, the French syndicalist thinker Georges Sorel, and the Sicilian theorist and politician Gaetano Mosca. After Burnham left the international communist movement in the spring of 1940, he re-read these works as part of what he called his “political re-education.” Burnham was seeking an empirical and universal “science of politics” that would enable him and others to understand the actions and policies of political leaders. He later credited the “Machiavellians” with teaching him that “only by renouncing all ideology can we begin to see the world and man.”

Burnham went on to write a number of other important articles and books, such as The Struggle for the World (1947), The Coming Defeat of Communism (1949), and Containment or Liberation? (1952), a brilliant Cold War trilogy which set forth a strategy for Western victory; Congress and the American Tradition (1959), which explored the principles of the American founding and the subsequent erosion of intermediate institutions in the face of growing centralized state power; and Suicide of the West (1964), a brilliant dissection of liberalism and its role in reconciling us to the global retreat of Western Civilization. However, all these works betray the influence of the Machiavellians, and writers familiar with Burnham’s career attest to the fundamental nature of The Machiavellians to all of Burnham’s subsequent writings.

Brian Crozier called The Machiavellians “the most fundamental of Burnham’s books.” Joseph Sobran called it “the key to Burnham’s thought.” John B. Judis wrote that The Machiavellians informed Burnham’s tactical understanding of the Cold War. According to Burnham’s biographer Daniel Kelly, Burnham admitted that since discovering the Machiavellians “he had not been significantly influenced by any other political theorists.” The book remains important as well to those wishing to understand the development of modern democratic regimes.

Burnham used this comparison of political rhetoric across six centuries to illustrate that throughout history there has been a “sharp divorce” between the formal meaning and real meaning of political rhetoric.

The real meaning could only be discerned by examining the rhetoric in the specific context of the time and circumstances in which they were written. “We think we are debating universal peace, salvation, a unified world government, and the relations between Church and state,” Burnham explained, “when what is really at issue is whether the Florentine Republic is to be run by its own citizens or submitted to the exploitation of a reactionary foreign monarch.”

“We believe,” he continued, “we are disputing the merits of a balanced budget and a sound currency when the real conflict is deciding what group shall regulate the distribution of the currency.” The formal, ostensible, and idealistic goals appeal to sentiment and passion and serve to disguise the real aims of the writers. “In the hands of the powerful and their spokesmen,” he warned, this method of political advocacy “is well designed . . . to deceive us, and lead us by easy routes to the sacrifice of our own interests and dignity in the service of the mighty.”

The Machiavellians, on the other hand, were, according to Burnham, “the only ones who have told us the full truth about [political] power.” Burnham devoted the rest of the book to analyzing and synthesizing the empirical studies of “political man” contained in Machiavelli’s The Prince, Discourses on Livy, The Art of War, and History of Florence; Mosca’s The Ruling Class; Sorel’s Reflections on Violence; Michels’ Political Parties; and Pareto’s Mind and Society. The Machiavellian tradition, what Burnham called “Machiavellism,” attempted to use the scientific method to analyze politics, political leaders, and political events. Machiavellian political analysis was driven by empiricism, not ideology; facts, not goals.

The primary goal of every ruling class is to maintain…its power and privileges.

Burnham used the political truths gleaned from the writings of the Machiavellians to construct an analytical framework for studying domestic and international politics.

That framework consisted of a number of core theses, including that (1) an objective science of politics describes and correlates observable facts and eschews advocacy of any political goals; (2) political science is primarily concerned with the struggle for power among people and groups; (3) all societies are divided between a ruling class and the ruled, an elite and the non-elite; (4) history and political science should focus on the study of the elite or ruling class, and its relation to the non-elite; and (5) the primary goal of every ruling class is to maintain and expand its power and privileges. Therefore, the rhetoric used by these ruling classes should be carefully analyzed for what it says about the political elite’s desire to retain power and exclude the non-elites.

In the closing chapters of The Machiavellians, Burnham used these political truths to analyze and warn against a trend toward what he called “Bonapartism” evident in all advanced nations, including the United States. “In every advanced nation,” he wrote, “we observe the evolution of the form of government . . . wherein a small group of leaders, or a single leader, claims to represent and speak for the whole people.” The leader or leaders claim paramount or unlimited authority based on “the will of the people.” There is an effort to diminish or destroy all “intermediary political bodies” that come between the centralized government and the people. He noted that the tendency toward Bonapartism or totalitarianism was completely developed in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia; less so in England and the United States. He warned, however, of a “paradoxical political phenomenon” in the United States, which he called “democratic totalitarianism,” whereby leftists and liberals in the name of democracy cede more and more power to a centralized government and “advocate the suppression of the specific institutions and the specific rights and freedoms that still protect the individual from the advance of the unbridled state.” This centralized government then speaks for the people as a whole, with the leader coming to represent the will of the people.

In Burnham’s view, however, it is precisely those groups and forces who oppose the governing elite that ensure the survival of liberty.

The democratic totalitarians who wield state power, Burnham noted, claim to represent the people; therefore those forces that oppose the state are called obstructionists or enemies of the people. Critics of the policies of those in power are labeled extremists who oppose the will of the people. In Burnham’s view, however, it is precisely those groups and forces who oppose the governing elite that ensure the survival of liberty.

Burnham’s discussion of the threat to liberty posed by the growth of centralized state power and the importance of intermediary institutions to the preservation of liberty are the most important and enduring aspect of The Machiavellians. He defined liberty, what Mosca called “juridical defense,” as “a measure of security for the individual which protects him from the arbitrary and irresponsible exercise of personally held power.” For liberty to survive it is necessary for the right of opposition, which means “the right of opponents of the currently governing elite to express publicly their opposition views and to organize to implement those views,” to exist. This is because the “existence of a public opposition (or oppositions) is the only effective check on the power of the governing elite.” “No theory, no promises, no morality, no amount of good will, no religion will restrain power,” he wrote. “Only power restrains power.”

Liberty and freedom, he explained, require “the existence in society of a number of relatively autonomous ‘social forces,’” and that “no single social force—the army . . . or the Church or industrial management or agriculture or labor or the state machine . . . —shall be strong enough to swallow up the rest and thereby be in a position to dominate all phases of social life.” Reminiscent of Montesquieu and the Founders, Burnham wrote,

It is only when there are several different major social forces, not wholly subordinated to any one social force, that there can be an assurance of liberty, since only then is there the mutual check and balance that is able to chain power. There is no one force, no group, and no class that is the preserver of liberty. Liberty is preserved by those who are against the existing chief power.

“Not unity, but difference,” he continued, “not the modern state but whatever is able to maintain itself against the state, not leaders but the unyielding opponents of leaders, not conformity with official opinion but persisting criticism, are the defenses of freedom.” This analysis can be helpfully compared to that of Tocqueville a century earlier; in his Democracy in America, Tocqueville describes a pluralist and decentralized democratic America, where the pressures of equality exist and are growing but which had not yet rendered his “democratic despotism” a full reality. Burnham draws a more pessimistic picture as the results of that despotism worked their way through with the help of ideology and what Burnham thought to be universal political forces of elite self-protection.

Despite its prescience, The Machiavellians, unfortunately, is one of the least remembered of Burnham’s books. It is, nevertheless, his most profound and timeless work.

Francis P. Sempa is a contributor to “Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics” (Potomac Books), and the author of “Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21st Century” (Transaction Books). He has written on historical and foreign policy topics for Joint Force Quarterly, American Diplomacy, Strategic Review, The National Interest, The Washington Times, and other publications. He is an attorney, an adjunct professor of political science at Wilkes University, and a contributing editor to American Diplomacy.


May 9, 2016

Det nya kalla kriget kan komma att kräva att Väst korrigerar delar av sina försvarsdoktriner. Den västliga försvarsalliansen NATO har gjort smärre uppgraderingar, en bataljon här och en bataljon där till de mest utsatta länderna: från norr Estland, Lettland, Litauen och Polen. Stödet till Ukraina har än så länge varit begränsat.

Författaren Bertil Häggman publicerade den 13 december 1989 i en av landets ledande liberala dagstidningar, Kristianstadsbladet, en kommentar avseende en av de stora gåtorna under det kalla kriget: varför misslyckades nästan alla så kallade Sovjetexperter med att förutsäga det sovjetiska imperiets fall.

Det fanns några klarsynta. Zbigniew Brzezinski var president Jimmy Carters säkerhetsrådgivare men hans råd påverkade inte presidenten. Carters period vid makten blev inte någon framgång. Den demokratiske presidenten klagade över nedgången i USA men gjorde inte något åt det. Resultatet blev att de amerikanska väljarna valde den republikanske presidenten Ronald Reagan.

I boken ”Between Two Ages” argumenterade den polskfödde experten att Sovjetunionen inte hade en chans att vinna en tävlan med USA på det teknologiska området. Rysslands situation torde i dag vara densamma som Sovjetunionens under slutet av 1970-talet.

År 1989 kom så ”The Grand Failure”. Här konstaterar Brzezinski att det rysk-sovjetiska imperiet hade drabbats av en oåterkallelig historisk nedgång. Det är vanligtvis imperiers öde.

Det hävdas ibland felaktigt att de ryska och kinesiska imperierna skulle vara framgångsrika modeller. Så är inte fallet. De har i stället en minskande attraktionskraft för utvecklingsländerna.

Vänsterns tyckarnomenklatura i Sverige har i dag problem med att avgöra vilken modell man vill ha för Väst. På vägen mot den eviga freden i Immanuel Kants anda är det möjligen en moderniserad socialism som lockar. Flera socialistiska dinosaurier opererar nu i USA och England. Demokratiske presidentkandidaten Bernie Sanders är en av dessa. Den engelske oppositionsledaren i England är ett annat exempel för att inte tala om Londons nya borgmästare. På tal om dinosaurier ansåg den socialdemokratiske utrikesministern Sten Andersson i slutet av det kalla kriget att Estland, Lettland och Litauen inte varit ockuperade av Sovjetunionen.

President Carters demokratiske säkerhetsrådgivare uppskattade år 1989 antalet offer för kommunismen i Sovjetunionen till omkring 50 miljoner. Nu ligger uppskattningarna något högre. I hela världen har kommunismen kostat omkring 150 miljoner människors liv. Förtrycket fortsätter i det kinesiska imperiet och i några ströstater som överlevde det kalla kriget.

Till sist är det numera frågan om ett tredje imperium, det persiska eller iranska, som ger understöd till islamistiska terrorister i Mellanöstern (Libanon, Syrien, Irak och inte minst Gaza).