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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: December 10, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S12769-S12770]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr10de01-56]                         

                         ADDITIONAL STATEMENTS
                                 ______
                                 
                        THE ANTI-WESTERN IMPULSE

 Mr. KYL. Mr. President, John O'Sullivan is one of the wisest 
men I know. Advisor to Margaret Thatcher, editor of National Review and 
author of political commentary here and abroad, O'Sullivan has been 
concerned for years about the future of Western civilization in general 
and the United States in particular.
  In the December 17, 2001 issue of National Review, he weaves together 
ideas of John Fonte of the Hudson Institute, Samuel Huntington and 
James Burnham to elaborate on his theme that our civilization is under 
fundamental assault from modern liberalism, what he calls an ``anti-
Western impulse'' assaulting ``the institutions invented by classical 
and constitutional liberalism in its great creative phase, not merely 
the free market, but also individual rights, free scientific inquiry, 
free speech, the rule of law, majority rule, democratic accountability, 
and national sovereignty.''
  Skeptical? Then I challenge you to read what follows: ``Safe for 
Democracy, and a Nation--The idea of this country post-9/11.'' It is 
the best statement I've seen of the challenges we face from what Fonte 
calls ``trans-national progressivism.''
  I ask that the commentary be printed in the Record.
  The commentary follows.

               [From the National Review, Dec. 17, 2001]

  Safe for Democracy, and a Nation--The Idea of This Country Post-9/11

                          (By John O'Sullivan)

       One of the difficulties bedeviling political science is the 
     protean nature of political words. As Robert Schuettinger 
     pointed out in his study of European conservatism, the phrase 
     ``a conservative socialist'' could mean a hardline Stalinist, 
     a social-democratic revisionist, or merely a socialist who 
     dressed and acted in a modest, inconspicuous way. When words 
     like ``conservative'' and ``liberal'' are being used, context 
     is all. So the theme of this article is advertised in neon 
     when I begin with the definitions of these philosophies 
     advanced by two distinguished American political theorists: 
     Samuel Huntington and James Burnham.
       Writing in The American Political Science Review in 1957, 
     Huntington defined conservatism as that system of ideas 
     employed to defend established institutions when they come 
     under fundamental attack. As Huntington himself put it: 
     ``When the foundations of society are threatened, the 
     conservative ideology reminds men of the necessity of some 
     institutions and the desirability of the existing ones.''
       And in his 1964 book, The Suicide of the West, James 
     Burnham described liberalism as ``the ideology of Western 
     suicide''--not exactly that liberalism caused that suicide; 
     more that it reconciled the West to its slow dissolution. 
     Again, as Burnham himself put it: ``It is as if a man, struck 
     with a mortal disease, were able to say and to believe, as 
     the flush of the fever spread over his face, `Ah, the glow of 
     health returning' . . . If Western civilization is wholly 
     vanquished . . . we or our children will be able to see that 
     ending, by the light of the principles of liberalism, not as 
     a final defeat, but as the transition to a new and higher 
     order in which mankind as a whole joins in a universal 
     civilization that has risen above the parochial distinctions, 
     divisions, and discriminations of the past.''
       If we put these two quotations together, the function of 
     contemporary conservatism becomes clear: to defend the 
     institutions of Western civilization, in their distinct 
     American form, against a series of fundamental assaults 
     carried out in the name of liberalism and either advocated or 
     excused by people calling themselves liberals.
       To say that liberalism advances Western suicide, of course, 
     is to say something controversial--but something much less 
     controversial than when Burnham wrote forty years ago. When 
     Ivy League students from mobs chanting ``Hey, hey, ho, ho, 
     Western Civ has got to go,'' when their professors happily 
     edit the classics of Western thought out of their curricula, 
     and when the politicians preside happily over a multicultural 
     rewriting of America's history that denies or downplays its 
     Western roots, no one can plausibly deny that an anti-
     Western impulse is working itself out.
       This liberal revolution is an assault on the institutions 
     invented by classical and constitutional liberalism in its 
     great creative phase--not merely the free market, but also 
     individual rights, free scientific inquiry, free speech, the 
     rule of law, majority rule, democratic accountability, and 
     national sovereignty. It promises, of course, not to abolish 
     these liberal institutions so much as to ``transcend'' them 
     or to give them ``real substance'' rather than mere formal 
     expression. In reality, however, they are abolished, and 
     replaced by different institutions derived from a different 
     political philosophy. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute has 
     mapped out the contours of this revolution in a series of 
     important essays, and most importantly in ``Liberal Democracy 
     vs. Transnational Progressivism.'' What follows in the next 
     few paragraphs borrows heavily from his work, though the 
     formulations are mine. Among the more important changes 
     advanced by transnational proressivism (as I shall here 
     follow Fonte in calling it) are:
       One: The replacement of individual identities and rights by 
     group identities and rights. Race and gender quotas are the 
     most obvious expression of this concept, but its implications 
     run much furthher--suggesting, for instance, that groups as 
     such have opinions or, in the jargon, ``perspectives.'' 
     Individuals who express opinions that run counter to the 
     perspectives of their group, therefore, cannot really 
     represent the group.

[[Page S12770]]

       Two: An attack upon majority rule as the main mechanism of 
     democratic government. Majority rule, its opponents contend, 
     gives insufficient weight to minority or ``victim'' groups, 
     and should be replaced by a power-sharing arrangement among 
     different groups. This ambitious concept has not been totally 
     enacted anywhere, but steps towards it have been taken. The 
     Voting Rights Act, for example, requires that election 
     districts be drawn in such a way as to ensure specific racial 
     outcomes; and some European nations have recently introduced 
     laws requiring political parties to ensure that a given 
     percentage of their election candidates are women.
       Three: Transferring power from political institutions 
     directly accountable to the voters, such as Congress, to 
     judges, bureaucratic agencies, and international 
     organizations outside the control of the voters. Originally, 
     this transfer of power required the consent of the elected 
     bodies; increasingly, however, judges interpret international 
     law, including treaties that have not been ratified or that 
     have been greatly expanded in scope since ratification, as 
     overriding domestic law. This process, still in its nervous 
     infancy in the U.S., is far advanced in the European Union--
     where the courts have overruled national legislatures on 
     issues as different as territorial fishing rights and the 
     right of soldiers to become pregnant. If allowed to continue, 
     this trend must first erode and eventually render obsolete 
     both national sovereignty and self-government.
       Four: De-constructing and re-constructing the self-
     understanding of America. Every nation has a sense of itself 
     and its history that is embedded in a national narrative 
     marked by heroic episodes. In this traditional narrative, 
     America is the progressive universalization of English 
     civilization--Magna Carta expanded to accommodate slaves, and 
     later immigrants, and enriched by the cultures they brought 
     with them. It is therefore a branch of a branch of Western 
     civilization; but multiculturalism seeks to undermine this 
     self-understanding and to replace it with an entirely 
     different narrative, in which America is seen as a 
     ``convergence'' of European, African, and Amerindian 
     civilizations (and therefore the natural basis for a 
     political system based on group identities and rights). 
     This re-constructionist impulse has become the orthodoxy 
     in many public schools.
       Five: Re-constructing the people by mass immigration from 
     other cultures. As long as new immigrants are assimilated 
     into the existing nation, no problem arises; if assimilation 
     fails to occur, the nation is gradually dissolved into a 
     Babel of different cultural groups with conflicting 
     allegiances. Under existing law, however, assimilation is not 
     only made difficult by the sheer numbers of people arriving, 
     it is also discouraged by official policies of 
     multiculturalism and bilingualism.
       Six: Divorcing citizenship from nationality and bestowing 
     the rights of citizens--including the right to vote--on all 
     residents in the nation, including illegal immigrants. 
     According to this theory, citizenship should be carried on an 
     immigrant's back to whichever nation he manages to sneak 
     into. If seriously implemented in law, it would transform 
     nations into mere places of residence; the symbol of this 
     kind of citizenship is Mohamed Atta, the hijacker who 
     destroyed the World Trade Center.
       In the post-national world Fonte described, nations are no 
     longer peoples united by a common history and culture, and 
     ``the mystic chords of memory''; they are simply the varied 
     inhabitants of an arbitrary piece of real estate. Political 
     authority is no longer constitutionally limited and located 
     in particular national institutions; it is diffuse, and 
     scattered among bodies at different levels. Politicians no 
     longer have to take responsibility for hard decisions; they 
     can pass them onto higher organs of unaccountable power. 
     Civic patriotism is no longer the prime civic virtue; it is 
     displaced either downwards, by a narrow ethnic loyalty, or 
     upwards, by a cosmopolitan loyalty to international 
     institutions.
       But a terrible beauty has not been born. Instead, 
     Leviathan, by dividing itself up into several spheres, has 
     slipped free of constitutional restraints and popular 
     control. For the ordinary voter the world has become a 
     mysterious place, far more difficult to navigate, let alone 
     control. For political elites, it has become a market in 
     power in which bureaucrats, pressure groups, businesses, and 
     international lawyers exchange favors behind a veil of post-
     national irresponsibility.
       For years, this progressivist revolution proceeded rapidly, 
     chiefly because the public was paying little or no attention 
     to it. But whenever it emerged into the light of 
     controversy--as when Lani Buiner's nomination led to the 
     revelation that law professors believed in something like 
     John C. Calhoun's ``concurrent majorities''--the public 
     reacted violently against it. The typical lack of public 
     interest was due in part to the GOP's nervous reluctance to 
     raise such issues as racial preferences, bilingual education, 
     or even the International Criminal Court. Although 
     conservatism dictated a principled defense of the 
     Constitution against these attacks, the Republicans backed 
     off. In effect, they went from ignoring such assaults under 
     Reagan, to going along with them quietly under George H. W. 
     Bush; to even embracing some of them with a show of 
     enthusiasm under George W. Bush. If the revolution were to be 
     stopped, the political equivalent of a thunderbolt would be 
     required.
       To everyone's horror, that thunderbolt was delivered, in 
     the form of the attack on September 11; as everyone agrees, 
     that changed everything. In particular it revealed that 
     America had deep reserves of patriotism and that there was a 
     wide, though not universal, desire for national unity. In one 
     terrifying moment, it created or revived constituencies for a 
     firm assimilationist approach, for tighter immigration 
     policies that protected U.S. security, for a reading of 
     American history as the narrative of a great achievement, and 
     for the celebration of U.S. power against all the recently 
     fashionable follies of post-nationalism. In foreign policy, 
     the Bush administration met this public appetite with a clear 
     declaration of war on terrorism, and a clear military 
     strategy for waging it; it has been rewarded for this with 
     high popular support.
       In domestic policy, however, it has been largely inert--
     preferring to constrain liberties internally rather than to 
     strengthen protections against external threats. In the less 
     tangible but vitally important matter of national unity and 
     moral, it has concentrated entirely on (very proper) warnings 
     against anti-Muslim sentiment--but without asking for 
     expressions of loyalty from Muslim leaders or, more 
     generally, asking immigrant communities to make a public 
     commitment of their loyalty to the American nation. That is a 
     profound mistake. Most immigrants would be happy to make such 
     a commitment; it is America's cultural elites who would 
     resist it most strongly.
       But then, they are the shock troops of post-national 
     progressivism; and they would realize that the demand for 
     loyalty would be an unmistakable sign that America had 
     recovered complete confidence in itself, in its own 
     institutions of constitutional democracy, and in its 
     historical mission. Without such a demand, moreover, many 
     decent moderate people might drift idly into the kind of 
     multicultural extremisms that helped shelter the World Trade 
     Center attackers. For, as Americans above all should know, 
     you can't beat something with nothing.
       This, then, is a moment of great significance and 
     opportunity in American politics. Democracy and the nation-
     state are the Siamese twins of political theory; democracy 
     rarely survives apart from its twin. Every attempt to create 
     a multicultural democracy either has failed or is deeply 
     troubled. Bush could very reasonably weave a national appeal 
     around the theme of defending American democracy--with equal 
     emphasis on both words. It would resonate strongly with the 
     American majority; command the support of many voters in 
     minority groups; provide the GOP with a raft of popular 
     domestic policies; and attract Democratic constituencies such 
     as patriotic blue-collar workers. and if such an appeal is 
     not make, the progressivist revolution is going to end up 
     winning.
                          ____________________



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