Friday, January 16, 2009

The misuse of Max Boot

Das Boot: The Unsinkable Career Of America’s Leading Twerpo-Imperialist by Mark Ames

I was so very happy to see this thorough trashing of Max Boot, a man whose name I first heard within an article bemoaning Obama's conservative Cabinet picks. Boot, the article explained, had written a short "think" piece explaining how he was "gobsmacked" by Obama's picks, who just as easily could have been made by a McCain administration. Towards the end of the piece, Boot gave a stunning illustration of ignorance: to him, the political liberal Hillary Clinton is a "neo-liberal", and "'neo-liberalism' [...] is not so different in many respects from 'neo-conservativism.'"

This being the sole instance of Boot's writing I had been subjected to until that point, I imagined the man to be a writer sharing the intellectual caliber and institutional credentials of a Rush Limbaugh or the unattractive tall blonde woman on Fox News. The evidence was clear: Boot clearly did not know what neoliberalism - certainly the most influential intellectual trend of the past half century - is. Yet he felt qualified to write about it as if he did know; clearly, I thought, Max Boot is the name of a second-rate bullshitter and perhaps an aspiring New York Post columnist.

Turns out, Boot is a "senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, columnist at the Los Angeles Times, contributing editor at Weekly Standard, regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and former top adviser to John McCain’s campaign."

Now, the average person who is not interested in flimsy rationalizations of worldwide exploitation and mass-murder-by-economics (one million killed in the Soviet Union alone, by the application of just one precept of the theory!) has good reason to know nothing about neoliberalism. But an intellectual - or "intellectual" - who receives paychecks from the New York Times, a Republican presidential campaign, the Wall Street Journal, Council on Foreign Relations, etc., either knows what neoliberalism is, or is a peerless (one would hope) ass.

Neoliberalism is not a political but an economic ideology. It is not a branch from the tree of Unitedstatesian political liberalism, but a branch from the tree of economic liberalism: the theory that economies work best when liberated from government control. Economic liberalism was definitively destroyed by the Great Depression, the cause of which economic liberals were entirely unable to explain; nor could they formulate a cure. Economic liberalism laid in a grave for nearly a half-century before stagflation provided the crisis that destroyed its successor: the Keynesian version of capitalism (which had embraced one form of government control of the economy). During the 1970s and '80s, liberalism climbed out of its grave in its new form: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism was a zombie variant of economic liberalism, which terrorized the world's people by immiserating and exploiting the vast majority of the world's population, while showering kingly wealth upon a vanishingly small minority. The only countries to escape the ravages of the neoliberal zombie were those, like China, that retained a significant role in their economies for government control.

Neoconservatives are neoliberal in economic outlook: part of the freedom agenda they so love includes the (neoliberal) freedom of the economically powerful to do whatever they like with their power. Which is ironic in itself, because the other part of neoconservatives' freedom agenda is the freedom of citizens to share equal power in government through democratic voting.

But the most ironic - hypocritical actually - aspect of Max Boot's thought, such as it is, is that he adores the idol of efficiency: the idea that everything on the planet should be put to its most efficient use. (This is what neoliberals believe that unregulated capitalism ensures.) Yet, while idolizing efficiency, Max Boot has chosen to keep the nitrogen and phosphorus in his brain within his skull, rather than putting it to an unarguably more efficient use: organic fertilizer for one of the United States' booming organic farms. Rather than free the elements comprising his body from the stultifying regulation and heavy-handed control of the human body's organizational scheme, he has chosen to keep them so enslaved. This hypocrisy reeks more than Boot's decomposing corpse would in a tropical organic mango plantation.

Hopefully, a neoconservative with a commitment to a true freedom agenda will one day (soon) liberate the molecular constituents of Max Boot from their currently highly inefficient use, and, with the help perhaps of a deli meat slicer, set them free slice by slice to serve the neoliberal goal of their most efficient use: fertilizer.


Lest this strike you as a uniquely violent sentiment, I suggest you read about Boot's opinions on how to treat the world's unpeople by following the imperial British example. Violent, yes - unique, no.

(Evidently, an example of the kind of pornography Max Boot masturbates to.)

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