Political Inconsistency?

Does anyone else feel like politics are disconcertingly inconsistent?
Perhaps that the whole thing has come unmoored?
I was anti-war back in the early 00s, when the Left was anti-war. I marched in protest against the Iraq War. “Hey hey, ho ho, this racist war has got to go,” we chanted.
There was a lot of talk back then about how the US spends too much on the military and is over-involved in military expeditions abroad.
Of course, I was not an expert in international affairs, nor America’s military needs abroad. I might have been wrong. So might most of the other leftists who held similar opinions in those days. But “America is spending too much on the military, which is harming both brown people abroad and also Americans, who die in wars and have to pay for them. We would be better off spending that money on things that actually benefit Americans, like highspeed rail lines, education, health care, or just leaving it in people’s pockets and letting them use it however they want,” was absolutely a mainstream leftist position.
Today, Trump says something like he wouldn’t want to die in a war for Montenegro, and the Left responds that it is very important that Americans be willing to die for Montenegro.
Let’s step back and be rational for a second: No one wants to die for a foreign country. I don’t want to die for Australia, for Russia, for India, Japan, Montenegro, or Chad, and no one from those countries wants to die for America. Certainly there is a logic of “strength in numbers,” in which we are all safer because we create a credible, united front, but there is also logic in avoiding”entangling alliances,” which were blamed for creating the death machine known as WWI.
The question of whether Americans should die in defense of Montenegro (something we have been committed to without ever being asked,) ultimately depends on whether alliance with Montenegro makes us more or less secure here at home–a matter I haven’t seen any discussion about on Left or Right.
The only relevant argument I’ve seen is that various alliance-members have died “for us” in “our” wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, therefore we should be equally willing to die for them in their wars. The logic seems to be, “The government sent you to die in a stupid, racist war that destroyed the American economy and was a terrible idea all around, therefore you’re morally obligated to go die in Montenegro, too.”
Perhaps we should be asking whether dying in Iraq and Afghanistan was a good idea for anyone, not just taking it as some kind of obscene sunk cost that obligates everyone else to go die in random conflicts from here on out.
It seems like all of the talk about how “the military is too big” and “bombing countries like Iraq and Afghanistan is racist” was dropped as soon as people realized that massively cutting the military budget would mean… scaling back military obligations abroad.
I find a Left that suddenly pro-military spending and antagonistic toward Russia awfully disconcerting.
There are a variety of issues on the Right that I find it difficult to believe people *truly* care that much about–for example, I don’t think anyone actually believed that national policy should be determined by whether or not Bill Clinton had sex with an intern. “Bill had sex” is really just an excuse to try to force him out on technical grounds because they already didn’t like him. Similarly on the Left, I don’t believe any of the outraged commentators actually care whether the US flag touched the North Korean flag at the US/NK summit–the Left has never cared about proper flag etiquette.
These issues are transparently not things politicians, commentators, or other elites actually care about.
Was “America spends too much on the military/fights too many wars abroad” similarly nothing but a dumb rallying cry for the Left, something the upper muckety-mucks never actually believed? And what happened to all of the people who were once quite opposed to US “imperialism”?

9 thoughts on “Political Inconsistency?

  1. This has an easy answer: Trump’s election induced many neocons to flee to the left. Notice the likes of Max Boot suddenly writing about white privilege.

    A much more amusing activity is to compare the left’s reaction to the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction incident in the 2004 Super Bowl to the scientist wearing a shirt with a scantily clad woman a few years ago.


    • Was that 2004? It seems like so much longer ago.
      I think the left was, even then, in favor of women wearing less clothing if they want to, but against men encouraging women to wear less clothing.
      Shirt-gate was pretty pathetic.


      • You’re forgetting that the wardrobe malfunction consisted of a man *ripping off* a woman’s clothes in public.

        At the time, the standard leftist response was to laugh at those prudish Christians who were obviously overreacting to it!


  2. I see a consistent change: the left embracing neoliberalism, the right embracing populism.

    10-12 years ago the left argued against neoliberalism and corporate power, the libertarianish right claimed there is not even such a thing as neoliberalism, just socialism vs. free markets.

    Well, there is such a thing as neoliberalism, it is clear now. Indeed it is not a textbook ideology, it does not come from Hayek or Marx. It comes from practice.

    Basically it is all about the top universities. They teach leftism there, in the sense of culturally very woke, and in favor of redistribution and regulation. Many students go to work for the government or the press and continue that. But also many become corporate managers. Who have interests, but they cannot express it in a libertarian way, which they were never taught. They don’t want less regulation, they want a revolving door between them and regulators. They don’t want low taxes, they want holes in the system that enable clever tax avoidance. So we get a state that is quite leftist, but still a lot of corporate power and the accumulation of money at the top. And of course it is very woke. This is really neoliberalism. The rich and the poorest, often nonwhites, shaft the usually white working and middle classes. Who answer with populism. Not a big fan of Ayn Rand but she really predicted something like this – socialism with well-connected corporate allies getting sweetheart deals. Socialism without actually eating (some of the) rich, but eating everything / everyone else.


    • Capitalism is naturally anti-nationalist because companies just want to make money. They don’t care whom they hire or sell to, so long as they’re competent or have money.

      People tend to argue in their own favor (of course) but try to spin it as being in favor of others. “Oh, yes, I am in favor of redistribution. Maybe not of my money, but of someone’s money, clearly.” No one wants to be that guy who says, “Actually, I just want to keep my money.” It sounds rude!

      Sorry, I don’t think I am terribly insightful today.


  3. My theory has been that war was bad back when Bush was in office, and it could be blamed on those nasty Republicans. But since the Democrats captured the government, and didn’t intend on giving it up – war is good, and the anti-authoritarian streak I remember from general liberal spaces back in the early 00’s has pretty much disappeared too. It’s party politics at it’s finest, everything’s great if we do it.


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