Tear Down This Argument
By: Brandon Sherman
Token conservative columnist Ross Douthat has an interesting piece in today’s New York Times to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. His argument, in short, is that the end of the Cold War has left us without a legitimate target for our paranoid delusions about the next great turn or tragedy in world history. He takes both political parties to task for their role in perpetuating pseudo-threats in an age of what is actually unprecedented security.
On the right, pundits and politicians have cultivated a persistent cold-war-style alarmism about our foreign enemies — Vladimir Putin one week, Hugo Chavez the next, Kim Jong-il the week after that.
On the left, there’s an enduring fascination with the pseudo-Marxist vision of global capitalism as an enormous Ponzi scheme, destined to be undone by peak oil, climate change, or the next financial bubble.
Meanwhile, our domestic politics are shot through with antitotalitarian obsessions, even as real totalitarianism recedes in history’s rear-view mirror. Plenty of liberals were convinced that a vote for George W. Bush was a vote for theocracy or fascism. Too many conservatives are persuaded that Barack Obama’s liberalism is a step removed from Leninism.
OK, fair enough. Give Douthat some credit for making a bold claim that directly contradicts conventional psychosis wisdom. The state of our public discourse is abysmal – but that doesn’t mean our current economic, political and social solutions are actually sustainable. It just means the crazies haven’t been vindicated…yet. Twenty years of ideological hegemony for global capitalism is hardly enough time to declare “the end of history.”
What do you think?