Ik ben bezig aan een artikel over de invloed van het Amerikaanse neoconservatisme op de Nederlandse politiek. Paul Scheffer is het nieuwste object van interesse. De analyse in Het Land van Aankomst, u weet wel zijn ‘genuanceerde’ magnum opus, is voor een belangrijk deel geïnspireerd op het Amerikaanse neoconservatisme. Dan heb ik het in het bijzonder over de neoconservatieve denkers Samuel Huntington en Bernard Lewis. Ik vond net een totaal vernietigende recensie van het boek van Huntington waar Scheffer zich op inspireert. Een essay, verrassend genoeg geschreven door de man achter Balkenendes normen en waarden retoriek, Amitai Etzioni (pdf). (Hoop niet dat ooit iemand zoiets over mij schrijft):
Uit: The Real Threat: An Essay on Samuel Huntington
“Examining the most recent book by Samuel Huntington, Who Are We?: The Challenges to America’s National Identity, raises a question that applies to similar publications, like The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life by Charles Murray: How should such books be reviewed? Who Are We? is one of a small number of volumes that look like works of social science and have the appearance of scholarship but actually appeal to, reinforce, and help to legitimate one form of prejudice or another. Some of these works, we shall see, “merely” agitate against democratic forms of government; others reflect various anti-feelings— anti-Black, Mexican (and more generally immigrants), or Muslim (and more generally foreigners) — just as certain films seem at first glance to be works of art but actually appeal to prurient interests. Should one treat such works the way one treats any other serious book? Ignore them altogether, as one ought to treat the ruminations of Holocaust deniers? Or examine them mainly as ideological tracts?
David Brooks points out in his humorous but insightful book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There that one way to make it in our public intellectual life is to be dead wrong. Then, he says, scores of people will write essays and present lectures explaining why you are in grievous error. Your books will sell like hot cakes. And your next one will be promoted with extra diligence by a keen publisher. Above all, your misbegotten message will receive extensive public airing. This (Brooks does not note) is especially true if the work plays to one or more widely held prejudices, especially those that people usually refrain from speaking about. Such books are extra-popular because they give license to the expression of silently embraced prejudices by claiming that they have a base in scholarship and even science. However, if such works were roundly ignored instead of dissected, would these prejudices be held at bay? To respond to these questions, an examination of Huntington’s work is useful indeed.
The theme that runs throughout various works of Huntington is best characterized as a theory of fear. His books typically identify a mounting threat, such as Mexican immigrants, Islamic civilization, or democratic proclivities, and then point to the need for strong national-unity building measures and mobilization of the people (including militarization) in response to the barbarians at the gates, if not already in the gates. Sometimes, the argument is formulated in basically analytical terms: If the required vigorous responses to the particular challenge at hand are not forthcoming, various calamities will ensue (e.g., the U.S. will lose a large part of its territory to Mexico and its AngloProtestant identity will be undermined) that implicitly call for stronger countermeasures. In other cases, an advocacy for powerful antidotes is quite explicit. As Huntington puts it in the Foreword to Who Are We?, he is writing as a patriot and a scholar, in that order.”