Word Choice [1 of 2]

The last post got a little attention, but listen: the reason I think it is important to make sure we choose our words clearly and carefully is because we are dealing with people who, very frankly, are demonstrably doing a far better job of choosing their words than we are -- both as a Western civilization and as bearers of the name of Jesus Christ.

Let me give you a particular example -- and I know: you don't read this blog for politics, but this is an issue where the Gospel, and orthodoxy, and politics all meet not just as passers-by on the road, but they are all wearing the same pair of pants at the same time.

Some of you may have read remarks to the UN in the last 2 days -- and while his remarks took a lot of chutzpah to make in public where someone was writing down his words and people were videotaping him saying these things, there's a context he was pretty adroit in avoiding: the existence of the UN as an institution 100% without question requires the participation and protection of the United States of America.

If Hugo Chavez wants to wag his moralistic and humanitarian finger at George Bush while standing in the center of the UN stage and call him "Satan" and complain about a theory of global hegemony, the first thing he needs to do is realize that if the UN were in even Britain or Germany -- or his crappy little country which he seems to require a lot of violent force to keep in order -- it (the UN) would have ceased to exist a long time ago.

See: what Chavez is really on about is not "hegemony". Let's talk about that for a second -- can you define that word? In the global sense, it means "the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group". That is: it means somebody leads and others follow. Now: at no time in history has there ever been a lack of hegemony -- the question is whether or not there was global hegemony or merely-geographic hegemony. For example, Imperial China exerted hegemony over the East until probably the end of the 19th century, then Japan made a play for hegemony, and then Socialist China battled back, and now there is another kind of hegemony extant in the East which North Korea is trying to overcome.

And that sounds very noble, doesn't it? That North Korea is "trying to overcome hegemony"? But in fact, what North Korea wants to do is use force to overpower or leverage countries which are globalizing their ecomonies and prospering. The kind of hegemony that Japan, and China, and Taiwan, and even S. Korea are participating in is economic hegemony based on open market principles. Are they all exemplary players? Prolly not. But are they developing and trying to fix their problems? I think the answer there is, ultimately, yes.

And that said, the hegemony they are falling in-line with is unquestionably American hegemony -- the politically-democratic, economically-captialistic hegemony of market-based proliferation of goods, services and ideas. So America is certainly a leader in that field -- even though we ourselves have some remedial classes to take on all accounts.

And in that, what kind of leadership is possible in hegemony? It is totalitarian influence? Oh hardly! See: Noam Chomsky -- the guy who wrote the book Chavez was waving around -- paints the picture that hegemonistic dominance is somehow evil or insidious, but in fact it is far less damaging and socially debilitating than the kind of dominance Chomsky himself would advocate for -- which is in fact a anarchic view of government which goes beyond libertarianism and demands the equal distribution of wealth (a system which, in spite of its superficial advocation of trade unions and self-governnance, must by necessity rely on a centralized method of wealth distribution -- which is to say, totalitarian socialism).

Chomsky says he's for self-rule, but what kind of self rule is it in which one cannot choose one's economic outcome -- that is, that all economic devices (sloth, greed, hard work, inventiveness) result in the same personal economic reward?

The problem for Chomsky (and thus for Chavez, who we have not forgotten) is that he thinks it is evil for success to dictate terms. He thinks that failures deserve the same socio-economic weight as successes. He couches it in very sympathetic terms (you know: the West is dominating India and Somolia out of cultural existence, and the West must therefore be evil stormtroopers for violating the cultures of other nations), but when we take his argument out of the examples he gives and put them into the real world, his view is that because the West is irradicating disease and poverty in other nations by forcing them to surrender failed cultural practices for the kind of practice which have bread economic success in the West, the West is a bad guy for doing the things Chomsky claims he wants to see happen in the world.

Because Chomsky is a linguist foundationally, he thinks that the problem really is the words we are using to describe the problems we have -- not that, for example, that people are dying from AIDS because culturally they do not value monogomous, long-term family units headed by one husband and one wife. Or, for example, that the US has a better average standard of living than Angola because somehow the US stole Angola's share of the net-ZERO world economic pie and not because the US has a labor force which, on-net, outproduces any country in the world and that level of production drives a net level of consuption.

So the hegemonist "strategy" of the West to "dominate" is really a strategy in which the US is wildly successful, and we make the open-handed offer to join us in this kind of culture, but we also make the stone-cold decision that under no circumstance will we allow someone else to destroy our success. That is, you can join us, you can ignore us, but if you want to oppose us, we are going to have a problem -- "we" in the sense of "you" as someone who has to live with the consequences of being angry about the general improvement in the standard of living for those who get on the bus. Do not stop people from getting on the bus.

That's what Chavez is all "god-as-my-witness" about: the US is the economic leader in the world, and we would really rather that the world follow us into a culture where there is more economic prosperity, not less. Mostly he's mad that when he issues threats we take him seriously and, using the standard of "we are going to have a problem", he can't stagger around the world like a barfly looking for another drunk to fight with.

And in that, there's Chavez's second problem: the UN exists because of American hegemony. If he really wants to end American hegemony, my suggestion is this: let him build his own UN building in his low-rent country, perpetually provide the security for it, become the major financial supporter for the organization, and then he can parlay for the kind of global relationships he thinks ought to be in place. If you want to come into my house and use my living room as a toilet, and then complain that I'm an inhospitable host for telling you where the toilet is hand asking you to wipe your own back-side, the problem is not my hospitality: it is you inability to demonstrate continence.

Because the reality is that Chavez wants to trade the extant hegemony for some other plainly less-defined set of hegemonistic values and relationships. And under his kind of hegemony, there would be no UN in which George Bush or anyone else could stand up and accuse him of moral dispondency without being proclaimed an agent of Satan and a threat to the whole world. So my suggestion to Chavez is that he put his money where his mouth is. I think we, as a country, would be glad to see the UN go away from our land. Let the world have its collective hand-wringing sessions elsewhere, and they can send us the video tape for our reference. And if Chavez is the kind of guy they would prefer to follow into that brave new world, Amen to that, too.

Just don't come back in 6 months demanding things from us. You want us out -- we'll leave. We're taking our guns, our money and our beer with us.

You're going to have one kind of hegemony or another. You choose -- just don;t pretend that just because you call something "hegemony" or "Satan" that is what it actually is.

More later.