06 / June
06 / June
The Nation Reviews My Book

A Conservative History of the American Left is "worth taking seriously," writes historian Michael Kazin. "Unlike his fellow partisans, Flynn has spent some time in libraries and archives, and he strains to turn this erudition into a larger interpretation of the phenomenon he detests." The review in The Nation calls A Conservative History of the American Left "an intriquing failure," which when considering the source I'll take as a compliment. The negative review distorts and fails in neglecting to give the reader a feel for the book. In one breath Kazin borrows from Marx's insult lexicon in calling actual communists--you know, the people who lived on communes instead of the one who dreamed about them inside the British Museum--"utopian socialists." In another breath, he accuses me of not considering "retrospective enemies, be they alive or dead, on their own terms." Practice what you preach, dude. Political scientist Paul Gottfried and historian Tom DiLorenzo pen positive reviews. DiLorenzo focuses on the book's first section, which inspects those utopian socialists antebellum communists. Gottfried notes on TakiMag, "The most critical insight that I extracted from Flynn's book is the recognition that radical social ideas travel well in American society, if they are made to look and smell American."

posted at 12:47 AM
Comments

What is really interesting about Kazin's review is that he makes a lot of the same distinctions you make when discussing the broad leftist landscape in his own work, but seems to fall into defense mode rather quickly in the review. I actually recommended that people read your book alongside some of Kazin's work because I think they run parallel in many ways. Odd to see him pen such a review.

Posted by: Dylan Waco on June 6, 2008 12:52 AM

---A Conservative History of the American Left is "worth taking seriously," writes historian Michael Kazin. "Unlike his fellow partisans, Flynn has spent some time in libraries and archives, and he strains to turn this erudition into a larger interpretation of the phenomenon he detests." The review in The Nation calls A Conservative History of the American Left "an intriquing failure," which when considering the source I'll take as a compliment.---

Damn straight that's a compliment Dan! Remember that lefty elites are HUGE SNOBS. If they credit you with "doing your homework" and writing and "intriguing failure" that's high praise indeed man! Do you realize how the President's mispronunciation of "nucular" drives those wackos into fits of apoplexy? Malaprops drive them berserk and if they call you a "failure" instead of a Neanderthal (lefties love to throw that at me) they respect and hate you! Badge of honor Dan.
Take a bow.

Morgan

Posted by: Morgan, aka JINGOIST on June 6, 2008 07:00 AM

Dan it's even better. You should have included the truly FUNNY part of the review:

---It's true that Flynn generally views the history of the left through the crude lens of a propagandist: he considers the Unabomber a member of the environmental movement, claims Lee Harvey Oswald was a "communist assassin" and insists that federal largesse makes Medicare recipients "a burden to everyone."---

Do these people live in an upside down world or WHAT? You stated some FACTS (those things which are demonstrably true) they didn't like so the comrades at the Nation label you a "crude propagandist." Hell Dan didn't he credit you with "spending some time in the library"? You gotta love these poor fools.

Posted by: Morgan, aka JINGOIST on June 6, 2008 07:21 AM

Upside down is the perfect description of a confused and denying left who can't make sense or come to grips with their broken beliefs and theories.

Posted by: asdf on June 6, 2008 07:36 AM

Its hard to determine as has been mentioned in these comments whether the opposition to the war is political, moral or myopic. I do think this war can be compared to the Vietnam war in the sense that the reasons for entering the wars were pure, but later corrupted by self-interest and the taking of moral high-ground, always easier after the fact. I have always believed that the USA was a righteous country and I believe that puerile history about the US being the City on the Hill. The founders certainly believed it as they believed in Providential Under-Takings. It is easy to narrow the focus and blame the players and the motives of the few, but countries go to war as a community and no matter how cogent and pristine your disagreement, voicing them publicly during the event where precious blood has been spilled only serves the purposes of of the voicee and more important, the enemy. A strong case can be made for the war and it has nothing to do with WMDs, Neo-Conservatives, nation building, big corporations, oil, liberalism posing as conservatism or ignorance.
"The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment".
Sometimes it is best to remain silent, especially when all the facts are not in. Spiritual men are hard to find in a truly secular environment.

Posted by: DLSA on June 6, 2008 12:07 PM

Back to the supposed halcyon days of Bill Clinton? At least Clinton was more interested in chasing skirts than taking an activist role in the government he was responsible to head (pardon the pun). So he couldnít cause the mischief that a true Socialist like Obama would. Obama's policies would wreak havoc on the American economy.

His economic plan would return us to the failed policies of high taxation along with an expansion of government spending. Heís committed to almost doubling the capital gains rate and makes no bones about his plans to go on a tax rampage. Not only would he increase the capital-gains tax rate from 15 percent to as much as 28 percent, he wants to allow the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire in 2010, which effectively raises taxes on Americans by tens of billions of dollars.

Itís been estimated that if Obama has a free reign (and with a majority in Congress he could) his policies could cost more than $850 billion over his term.

He also wants to do away with the $102,000 FICA payroll tax cap, which means anyone making over $102,000 would pay an additional 7 percent in taxes on earned income and additionally the loan dividend tax rate George Bush implemented.

Four years of activist Socialism intruding and putting the crunch on energy, healthcare, business, etc. from a guy the National Taxpayers Union rated at 5% would be devastating.

Posted by: asdf on June 6, 2008 04:23 PM

I did it again. Wrong post. Mea Culpa.

Posted by: asdf on June 6, 2008 04:24 PM

--It's true that Flynn generally views the history of the left through the crude lens of a propagandist: he considers the Unabomber a member of the environmental movement, claims Lee Harvey Oswald was a "communist assassin" and insists that federal largesse makes Medicare recipients "a burden to everyone."---

"Do these people live in an upside down world or WHAT? You stated some FACTS (those things which are demonstrably true) they didn't like so the comrades at the Nation label you a "crude propagandist." Hell Dan didn't he credit you with "spending some time in the library"? You gotta love these poor fools."

In fairness to Kazin, there are tons of quibbles to made about Oswald and his true politics (and no I am not a conspiracy guy). Also the Unabomber's manfieston was basically a huge broadside against modern leftist identity politics. It is easy to lump him in with the Left for obvious reasons, and I would not neccesarily object to it, but it is worth noting that a distinct form of "post-left" anarchism has cropped up over the years and Unabomber parallels this segment of anti-statitism to a tee.

Posted by: Dylan Waco on June 6, 2008 07:14 PM

In fairness to me(!), what I wrote in my book about the Unabomber was quite different from how Kazin presented it. Here is what I wrote: "That was the mainstream. The underground environmentalist movement boasted the likes of Ted Kaczynski..." In other words, I took pains to say the Unabomber was not part of the mainstream environmental movement but was one of any number of underground figures.

Oswald described himself as a Marxist as early as fifteen, subscribed to the Worker, emigrated to the Soviet Union and sought to renounce his U.S. citizenship while thre, started a chapter of Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, and noted on a radio show discussing FPFC that "I am a Marxist." I find it strange that Kazin, who castigates me for not considering leftists "on their own terms," would ridicule the idea of labeling Lee Harvey Oswald what he labelled himself: a communist.

Posted by: Dan Flynn on June 6, 2008 07:56 PM

Seriously now Dan, did you expect The Nation to treat your work fairly and honestly? We BOTH know better. This is no surprise.

Morgan

Posted by: Morgan, aka JINGOIST on June 7, 2008 08:44 PM

THE PERILS OF ISOLATIONISM
Likewise, in the prohibitively unlikely event that the United States ever embraced it, Buchanan's or any other variant of an America-first policy would yield nothing but strategic and moral disaster in today's environment. The imperatives of geopolitics still mandate a strong, activist, global American foreign policy for the reasons Henry Kissinger described: "Geopolitically, America is an Island off the shores of a large landmass of Eurasia, whose resourses and population far exceed the United States. The domination of a single power of either of Eurasia's two principle spheres- Europe or Asia-remains a good definition of strategic danger for America.... For such a grouping add the capacity to outstrip America economically, and in the end, militarily."
Similarly, the United States still must prevent any hostile entity from dominating the Middle East. The world's need to ensure access to that region's enormous supplies of oil is an important reason but not the only vital one. Such a hegemon would pose an unacceptable strategic danger by having the potential to combine the power emanating from controlling the Middle East's oil reserves with radicalism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Especially in a unipolar world in which the United States is the sole superpower, robust American power and the willingness to use that power remain indispensable to deter hegemonic threats from arising in vital geopolitical regions, or to defeat such bids at the lowest possible cost and risk, should deterrence fail. The diffusion of WMD capabilities has expanded the zone from which grave threats can arise. Now smaller countries can conceivably inflict the type of damage on the United States that in previous eras required a large geopolitical power base even to contemplate. The United States must possess the capabilities and inclination to thwart such threats as well.
Like Buchanan, liberal isolationists such as Eric Nordlinger have it backwards when they advocate maximizing conciliation, disengaging from America's worldwide alliance system, and reassuring dangerous challengers. The best practicable order depends on the United States robustly deterring its adversaries and reassuring its friends by clear and credible commitments to vital geopolitical regions.
Contrary to Nordlinger's and Buchanan's claims, the United States can afford to operate as the ultimate balancer in Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East, now and for some time to come. Even Paul Kennedy has repudiated his earlier warnings about the dangers of American Imperial overstretch, from which Buchanan draws so heavily. Writing in the FINANCIAL TIMES in February 2002, Kennedy marveled that "nothing has ever existed like the disparity in power" between the United States and the rest of the world-not even in Roman, Muslim , or British empires at their peaks The United States spends more on deterrence than the next nine countries combined, an asymmetry that will increase as the United States under President Bush continues to raise defense spending sustantially. The result is an array of force Kennedy calls "staggering"
Simultaneously, the American share of world economic product steadily expanded from 22 percent in 19980s to about 30 percent today, as the Russian and Japanese share declined. Since the 1980s growth rates in the Europeean Union also have lagged behind those of the United States . This trend is likely to continue because Western Europe's demographic decline, an overgenerous welfare state, the difficulty assimilating its burgeoning Muslim population, and the inability of Western European governments to muster the will to make their economic systems more competitive.
Even more remarkably, the United States achieved and can sustain it's current level of military predominance indefinately and inexpensively. The United States now spends less than 4 percent of it gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, compared with 13.5 in fiscal year (FY) 1953 under President Truman, 8.7 percent in FY 1969 under President Johnson, and 6.0 percent FY 1986 under President Reagan. The Bush administration's defense spending as a percentage of GDP is just slightly higher than that of the Roosevelt adminstration on the eve of Pearl Harbor, when the United States remained unprepared and isolationist.
In the long term, China potentially poses the most serious threat to American predominance. Nevertheless, the gravity of this thrust will depend on whether the Chinese economy continues to grow annually at a rate of 9 or 10 percent for the next three decades; and whether the political system averts the cataclysmic convolutions that frequently plunge the nation into chaos. The American economy will remain way ahead of China's, even under the most optimistic scenarios for Chinese economic growth and political stability. Josef Joffe shows why with this highly plausible calculation; assuming China maintains a 7 percent annual growth rate endlessly, and assuming the U.S. economy grows correspondingly at a modest 3 percent a year, the U.S. GDP in 2035 will still exceed China's by a factor 2.5
Writing in the March/April 2005 issue of FOREIGN AFFAIRS, David S. Levy and Stuart H. Brown sum up their persuasive refutation of the overstretch myth this way:

Despite the persistence and pervasiveness of this doomsday prophesy, U.S. hegemony is in reality solidly grounded: it rests on an economy that is continually extending its lead in the innovation and application of new technologies, ensuring its continuing appeal for foreign central banks and private investors. The dollar's role as the global monetary
standard is not threatened, and the risk to U.S. financial liabilities has been exaggerated. To be sure, the economy will at some point have to adjust to the decline in the dollar and a rise in interest rates. But these trends will at worst slow down the growth of U.S. consumer's standard's of living, not undermine
the United States' role as global pacesetter. If anything, the world's appetite for U.S. assets bolsters U.S. predominace rather than undermines it.


The upshot is this: no plausible counterweight to American diplomatic, military, and political power looms on the horizon for many years to come. What the United States has not been able to afford since the beginning of the twenty-first century is the America-first strategy that Pat Buchanan and other contemporary isolationists propound.

Posted by: joe a. on June 8, 2008 01:50 AM

Joe A: I think it is important to maintain our strength (though, note well, global hegemony is not the purpose of our regime), as long as our strength is good for us and the world. But shouldn't we be careful to not make the world worse? Will a fractured Iraq with a new interest in radical Islam really be in our interest? I think this will be the long-term effect of the Iraq invasion, no matter how long the occupation takes.

Posted by: xantippe on June 8, 2008 03:33 PM

http://www.c-span.org/

Posted by: joe a. on June 9, 2008 01:09 PM

Some encouraging news.... 9/9/2008
Marine Major General Douglas Stone, commanding general of Task Force 134, talked about on ongoing detention operations in Iraq. He recently completed a 14-month tour as the deputy commanding general for Detainee Operations with Multi-National Force Iraq. He talked about his time deployed in the country.

http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library/index.php?main_page=product_video_info&products_id=205892-1

click the red flash player button on the the right

Posted by: joe a. on June 9, 2008 09:28 PM
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