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January 11, 2003

The whys and wherefores of Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semetism

After Tony Blair gave his recent speech attacking anti-Americanism, this editorial appeared in the Times of London.

I have copied only a few excerpts from this excellent article.

Knocking America off its superpower pedestal has long supplanted taking control of the commanding heights of the economy as the idea which holds the Left together. Forget Clause Four. That was a dead red letter. It’s opposition to Uncle Sam which is the glue in the Left coalition, the brew which puts fire into bien-pensant bellies, the opium of radical intellectuals. And the crack in Osama bin Laden’s pipe.

Anti-Americanism provides the drumbeat for the protesters who march at every significant left-wing rally. Whether the protest is nominally against war, global capitalism or environmental degradation, the real enemy is Washington. Every significant Left intellectual, from Harold Pinter through Dario Fo to Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky has made criticism of the American imperium his defining belief. But Yankee-phobia now extends far beyond the protest march and the academy.

For Yankee-phobia is, at heart, a dark thing, a prejudice with ugly antecedents which creates unholy alliances. And, like all prejudices, it thrives on myths which will end up only serving evil ends.

Why then do the myths of America the Hateful take such powerful hold? Because anti-Americanism provides a useful emotional function which goes beyond logic and reaches deep into the darker recesses of the European soul. In centuries past those on the Left who wished to personalise their hatred of capitalism, who sought to make it emotionally resonant by fastening an envious political passion on to a blameless scapegoat people, embraced anti-Semitism. It was the socialism of fools. Which is what anti-Americanism is now.

It should not therefore be surprising that those on the populist Right who share the Left’s antipathy towards the US are those, like the Austrian Freedom Party or the French National Front, who are heirs of anti-Semitic traditions. Nor should it be remarkable that the other tie which binds these allies of new Left and old Right together, the thread linking those such as George Galloway and Jörg Haider, is their hostility to Israel.

Both America and Israel were founded by peoples who were refugees from prejudice in Europe. Europe’s tragedy is that prejudice has been given new life, in antipathy to both those states.
I am in complete agreement with him that anti-Americanism and anti-Semetism are similar and are both irrational. He suggests it exists because the Left has a need to personalise their hatred of capitalism. I beg to differ.

John J Ray wrote an essay entitled Lies and the Psychology of Leftist Politics (after going to the link go to unpublished papers and look for the one with this title) in which he formulated the theory that;
The Leftist is primarily driven by the related forces of narcissism and need for extreme power, that his/her "idealism" or claim to care for the welfare of the people is a brutal fraud which he/she adopts as a cloak over his/her real goals and that the Leftist never lets any concern for the truth restrain him/her in seeking to attain his/her concealed goals of obtaining ultimate power for him/her or his/her clique.
This explanation seems to me to be closer to the truth and also explains why the extreme Right who aren't anti-capitalist join in. Although he is talking about movements such as Communism or Nazism (which he considers Leftist), a milder form of this applies to all Leftists, namely they have a desire to attack the powerful and bring them down to size.

This editorial also states that it's about "knocking America off its superpower pedestal". For two thousand years, attempts have been made to "knock the Jews off their pedestal" where the World perceived them to sit because the Jews introduced monotheism to the world, claimed to be the chosen people and were set apart. In a way, America fits the bill too.

Ted Belman