In my regular column in The Jerusalem Post, my new article: “The Road From Liberalism To Tyranny“
Neoliberalism does not serve the interests of the whole of American society.
The bottom line is this: beneath a guise of free speech, America has become a fascist country, where only one view is permitted.
Last Thursday, Jonathan Martin wrote in The New York Times that “the blueprint has already been chosen for the [Democratic Party] – by an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President [Donald] Trump.” Couple this with the media’s slew of warped or made-up stories purporting to prove the president’s incompetence, and the army of agitators that Obama’s Organizing for Action has dispatched throughout the US to sabotage townhall meetings, it seems that the president is fighting on multiple fronts.
Why the war? Trump is not part of the ruling elite that has governed and exploited America for decades, and for whom Obama and Clinton were executors, covering up their actions behind a bogus humanistic agenda of caring for immigrants.
After World War II, numerous countries in the West adopted liberalism as a “vaccine” against fascism and Nazism. But a society cannot remain vital unless different views clash within it and in the process become polished and refined. When all the parties understand that diversity of views creates vitality, they strengthen their society and increase its ability to cope with changes.
Our own Jewish tradition encourages diversity and debate as means to enhance social cohesion. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook wrote that “The great rule about the war of views, when each view comes to contradict another, is that we need not contradict it, but rather build above it, and thereby ascend” (Letters of the Raiah). Likewise, Martin Buber wrote in Nation and World: “It is not neutrality that we need, but rather cohesion, cohesion of mutual responsibility. We are not required to blur the boundaries among the factions, circles, and parties, but rather share a recognition of the common reality and to share the test of mutual responsibility.”
The problem is that today’s American society denies the legitimacy of “other parties,” as Buber put it. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Liberal MP Sir John Dalberg-Acton. Instead of creating a vibrant arena of views that invigorate one another, liberals have stifled anyone who disagreed with them. If Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is forced to apologize for stating his mildly conservative views for fear of putting his business at risk, this is no longer liberalism and certainly not pluralism. This is tyranny.
“The inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21) is not merely a verse in the Bible. It is really who we all are. This is why rulers need watchful media to monitor them, and why the media needs to be kept genuinely free and pluralistic.
Yet, this is not the situation in America. Neoliberalism has been the ruling agenda in the US for decades. It does not serve the interests of the whole of American society, but rather caters to the interests of the small elite group of magnates who control the American economy, the media, and thereby the government. They determine what is reported and what is not, who is defamed and who is glorified. By controlling the media, they have dominated public discourse and avoided criticism. This is ingenious, but deadly to society.
For this reason, I regard Trump’s victory as a sign that the American society is still alive and kicking. It gives me hope that it will also be able to go through the necessary sobering up without bloodshed and without dragging the world into another war. Had Clinton been elected, there is little doubt that a world war would have erupted. Now, at least there is a chance for peace and the correction of society.
But to correct society, all parties will need to learn from the Jewish tradition – that “love covers all crimes” (Proverbs 10:12). Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on the Zohar, wrote in his essay “The Freedom”: “Contradictions and oppositeness between people should remain forever, to forever secure the progress of the free society.” Liberals would do well to listen to their own “co-religionist” Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times who wrote, “We progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish – like diversity – in our own dominions.”
For America’s sake and for the sake of the world, I pray that this great nation wakes up and understands the value of diversity, the benefit of honing views through open debate, and the powerful cohesion attained when that debate yields solutions that contribute to the vitality of the whole of society.