Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Foggy Bottom Blues

There's a scene in the recent Coen Brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davies" where the eponymous anti-hero is angered by the refusal of the Seaman's Union to let him ship out.

"Is it because I'm a Communist?" he asks.
"Shachtmanite?" ponders the official.

Being a folksinger not a Communist young Llewyn had no idea what the official was talking about.  I'd expect most of the cinema audience, at least outside America, were equally puzzled, it being something of an in-joke.

Max Shachtman was a leading American Trotskyite who broke with the leader in the late 1930s, more importantly he has been described as the godfather of neoconservatism.  The late Christopher Hitchens even claimed that "a biography of the protean, scintillating revolutionary and Cold War sage Max Shachtman could be an intellectual Rosetta stone for the story of mental and moral combat in the modern American mind."

Trotskyism? Neoconservatism? Well the revolution was never meant to happen in a backward state such as Russia;  American capitalism was seen as the most progressive force in the world and its absolute hegemony
the prelude for the next stage in human history.  Unfettered capitalism at home and an aggressive, nationalist American foreign policy were the watchwords of those Shachtmanites who went on to influence the emerging doctrine of Neoconservatism.

The Neocons also adopted some of the less worthy traits of their old Trotskyite gurus: misplaced intellectual arrogance; a contempt for wishy-washy liberals; the idea that the ends justify the means; shambolic permanent revolution, and in Eastern Europe a nostalgic Russophobia.  Today their cadres - and it seems they love using old Bolshevik terminology - continue to have a good deal of influence within the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy. 

They're well worth researching and their fruits are on front-pages everywhere.  Oh and I think they could work well with this "liberal" interventionist charmer if she's ever elected president:


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