Transnational progressivism govt: Control via supranational organizations
On a plethora of issues, ranging from such foreign policy matters as war with Iraq and support for Israel to domestic policy concerns such as the death penalty and immigration policy, the American left sounds very much like the political establishment in Europe and elsewhere abroad. When international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union oppose the United States’ position on the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the Land Mine Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, they were joined by the left domestically.
This is not a coincidence. Rather, it demonstrates a convergence of interests and ideology that will be the next great test of the American constitutional regime. The Hudson Institute’s John Fonte has named this outgrowth of multiculturalism “transnational progressivism.” While the political philosopher Francis Fukuyama argued in his 1989 essay “The End of History” that Western-style (classical) liberal democracy and market economics had triumphed, marking the culmination of political evolution in human civilization, Fonte believes that transnational progressivism has presented itself as an alternative model: “Thus, it is entirely possible that modernity–thirty or forty years hence–will witness not the final triumph of liberal democracy, but the emergence of a new transnational hybrid regime that is post-liberal democratic, and in the American context, post-Constitutional and post-American”
Transnational progressivism is essentially the reaction of statists, particularly those on the left, to the successes of global capitalism. As free-market capitalism has raised living standards, outperformed state socialism and led to flourishing commerce without regard to national borders, transnational progressives have concluded that the nation-state is no longer viable. Yet rather than endorse the global free-enterprise utopia that the Wall Street Journal’s Robert Bartley and many more libertarian observers had envisioned, transnational progressivism seeks to reintroduce regulation and government control via supranational organizations while simultaneously codifying multiculturalist doctrines.
This presents itself as an enormous opportunity for the American left to accomplish objectives that have routinely been frustrated within the U.S. political system. An example Fonte has mentioned is the spectacle of some fifty American non-governmental organizations, including such household names as American Amnesty International-U.S., the NAACP and the National Council of Churches, appealing to the United Nations to “hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination” in preparation for the U.N. Conference Against Racism, stating that their issues “had been repeatedly raised with federal and state officials [in the U.S.] but to little effect. In frustration we now turn to the United Nations.” Thus, as Fonte wrote: “In other words, the NGOs, unable to enact the policies they favored through the normal processes of American constitutional democracy–the Congress, state governments, even the federal courts–appealed to authority outside of American democracy and its Constitution.”
Transnational progressives therefore believe in the primacy of group identity (race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) over individual citizenship. They divide groups between oppressor groups and victim groups. They seek quotas to insure strict proportional representation of victims’ groups and wish to purge each society’s dominant institutions of the values and traditions of the oppressor groups. If this sounds daft to you, you have not recently spent much time on a major university campus.
For the U.S., this doesn’t just mean the continued surrender of national sovereignty to supranational organizations ranging from the U.N. to the World Trade Organization. It means the continued debasement of U.S. citizenship by breaking down all distinctions between immigrants and citizens and even legal immigration and illegal immigration. Transnational progressives tout large-scale, culturally diverse immigration without assimilation. In its place, they would actually prefer that immigrants retain loyalties to their homelands as a sort of transnational presence within the U.S. For transnationalist law professors Peter Schuck from Yale and Peter Spiro from Hofstra, even “hyphenated Americanism” is unnecessary. They prefer a model called the “ampersand” citizen. This means that immigrants would not be Polish-American or Mexican-American; they would be Polish & American or Mexican & American – with overt dual loyalty and presumably dual citizenship.
Not only would transnational progressivism keep affirmative action as currently practiced in place, it would extend such practices through more explicit forms of redistribution, up to and including slavery reparations. If the end result of all this was cultural Balkanization, it would not matter. Such stratification would offer greater opportunity for regulation by the transnationalist political elite, which does not care overmuch for the component cultures anyway. Daniel McCarthy observed in a column I’ve quoted before from LewRockwell.com that insofar as the left does believe in assimilation, it is not into the culture of any nation. “The assimilation in which the Left believes,” wrote McCarthy, “is to the principles of democratic socialism and multicultural tolerance.” Of course, their definition of tolerance and multiculturalism isn’t really very tolerant and doesn’t fit any culture now in existence whenever it contradicts the left’s ideology.
An excellent example of what awaits the U.S. if transnational progressivism triumphs may be found in the European Union. Fonte charitably described its governmental structure as “post-democratic.” While there is a European Parliament, and some pretty right-wing characters have occasionally managed to get elected to it, most of the power resides in the hands of an unelected, unaccountable European Commission. This is by design, as it helps to override national, regional and sectional objections to policies deemed crucial for further European integration. The EC’s policies on issues ranging from hate speech to comparable worth pay for women are well to the left of anything that could pass in the U.S. outside the academy. The similarly unelected and unaccountable European Court of Justice has overruled both public opinion and elected parliaments of constituent member nation-states, issuing decisions that outstrip even U.S. federal judicial activism.
This is not to suggest that transnationalism is solely a prerogative of the left. There is also a transnational right that believes that the nation-state is becoming superfluous, or at least would like to help it become so. When syndicated columnist James Lileks recently commented on his clever ‘blog that the two major parties in America are really the “U.S. Party” and the “U.N Party,” he was perhaps more right than he thought. But even the most cursory glance at the policies implemented by transnationalist bodies show them to be heavily weighted to the left. Any authentic conservative or libertarian who supports this movement will end up as disappointed if it is successful as the conservative writer who opined that world government would actually increase freedom if it was incorporated along Hayekian (as in the great free-market economist and libertarian theorist Frederich Hayek) lines. No real Hayekian would ever attempt to set up a global superstate, but an unrepentant collectivist would.
Transnational progressivism is not the only choice and the realization of its policy goals is not inevitable. We can still defend individualism, constitutionalism, the rule of law, market economics and the continued value of the nation-state. But we must summon the political will to do so.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”