Beating the Neo-Hawks like a rented donkey….
The Village Voice’s Richard Goldstein takes on Leftists Who Love the War Too Much
Greil Marcus is a discerning radical humanist. So it was a shock to pick up the progressive paper First of the Month and find him dissing leftist intellectuals for their skepticism about the war on terror. Marcus is not the only member of the counterculturati to find the hawk within. Dan Savage, the shoot-from-the-hip sex columnist, has lately become hip to the shoot. Then there’s Christopher Hitchens, the ex-socialist who has found an occasion in 9-11 to revise his ideological profile. He is now a latter-day incarnation of the Cold War liberal. Hitchens’s recent homage to George Orwell includes a remarkable defense of his work for the British government during the McCarthy era, when Orwell supplied lists of suspected com-symps, dutifully noting who was homosexualâ€”or Jewish. Hey, says Hitchens, Orwell wasn’t lying.
I can’t think of any comparable example of bad faith among the neohawks, but I do have some thoughts about what makes them run. For one thing, there’s a real temptation to leave the chronic depression and ample masochism of the left behind. The war on terror can seem like an opening to build a muscular new progressivism with its feet on the ground. And speaking of feet, there’s an undeniable satisfaction in kicking a masochist while he’s down. Among the many rewards for sadism these days is the power it confersâ€”and for progressives power is in terribly short supply. Finally, never underestimate the appeal to a critic of being taken seriously, and that means declaring your independence from left-wing “orthodoxies.”