Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Here's a piece I submitted to the Spain Herald. We'll see what they think. I know it needs some editing.

Where are Spain's moderate leftists?

David Horowitz is a well-known conservative American writer and polemicist; Libertad Digital, the Spain Herald's Spanish-language mother ship, often publishes pieces by him in Spanish. Horowitz's most recent project is the Discover the Network website (http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individual.asp), which documents the connections between various organizations and individuals on the Left, mostly in the United States .

Horowitz divides individual Leftists into five groups. The first two, Totalitarian Radicals (example: Fidel Castro or ETA) and Anti-American Radicals (example: Noam Chomsky) should be obvious. The two brands of Radicalism are often found within the same person. Unfortunately, it is all too common in Spain, among the comfortable "parlor pinkos" and "limousine leftists" whom Tom Wolfe so successfully skewered a generation ago, to actually give support to these enemies of freedom. American parlor pinkos tend to fall into what Horowitz calls "Affective Leftists", who really don't know what they think but feel that the Left is Good and the Right is Bad. Affective Leftists (example: Barbra Streisand) are mostly just goofy, though, and nobody really cares what they say. Affective Leftists are also not really serious about destroying liberal capitalist democracy, which has treated them so well. Totalitarian and Anti-American (or Anti-Spanish, over here) Radicals are. The United Left and Batasuna fall into the Radical categories, and Esquerra Republicana and the PNV are flirting dangerously with Anti-Spanishism, getting entirely too friendly with groups like ETA that practice violence.

Sometimes it's difficult to decide which celebrity or politician fits exactly into which group. Jane Fonda? I'd say Radical, she actually went to North Vietnam. Sean Penn? He's just a dope. Affective. Not that Jane Fonda is smart. Michael Moore is Radical. Everybody who signed the pro-Castro petition? Radical. Here in Spain? The Bardems are Radical. Almodovar is Affective. Zapatero and his bunch mostly strike me as Affective, though they're slightly tainted by Radicalism. All those boring Communist singers (Llach, Aute, Sabina, Victor Manuel, etc) are Radical. Most movie people like Penelope Cruz and that lot are Affective. Too many Radical bad writers, like Jose Saramago and Rosa Regas, get a lot of publicity from their politics.

Horowitz's two other classifications are a little less obvious. Just plain Leftists are democratic socialists. They are neither capitalist nor liberal, but at least they're constitutionalists and they generally oppose the use of violence. They are also generally not particularly patriotic, at least not pro-American or pro-Spanish. Most of the Spanish Socialist Party would fit in here, as would Jimmy Carter, Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry are Leftists.

Moderate Leftists are exemplified by Bill Clinton. He's not a socialist. He's not antipatriotic. He's not wholly anticapitalist. He's actually fairly liberal in the European sense of the word regarding the economy. His sympathies are with the ideals of the Left, but he's pragmatic enough to compromise his principles, something he does not have a lot of, by the way. Two other Americans who would fit in here are Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt, and I'd stick Hillary in with this lot.

Moderate Leftists are actually a good thing to have in a democratic system. Of course, we'd prefer for the conservative candidates to win most of the elections, but Moderate Leftists won't be a complete disaster if they take over, and they will probably stay out of the economy enough not to completely undermine the business sector. Moderate Leftists are a guarantee of constitutional stability, just like Moderate Rightists. They may not like to use the armed forces or the cops, but they will if they have to.

An excellent example of a Moderate Leftist is Tony Blair, who has been wrong on every single small issue but absolutely right on the one big one. I'd trust Tony Blair's moral and practical instincts almost blindly. Of course, one big advantage Blair has over Clinton is his personal integrity, but, hey, a Moderate Leftist who's honest is often not a bad thing at all. Look at Harry Truman or Franklin D. Roosevelt--or Teddy Roosevelt, who was considered a dangerous progressive at the time, or Lincoln, who pulled such socialist big-government stunts as instituting the permanent national debt, the income tax and the draft, not to mention organizing the single greatest army of the 19th century and all the centralization that involved, and who was the greatest individual agent for radical change in American history.

But who would fit in here in Spain? If Felipe Gonzalez had been more honest, he'd fit in here very well. He publicly renounced Marxism, instituted a sort of social democracy allowing business to operate more or less, allied with the United States and NATO, and fought ETA. Those are all major Moderate Leftist achievements, Sure, he spent a bunch of tax money on huge but arguably necessary projects, and sure, Socialist party hacks embezzled some of the cash, but worse things have happened. And though I'd have voted for either the AP or PP candidate against Felipe, especially if he was Aznar, Felipe's administration was not horrible. If you don't mind a little corruption and a death squad or two.

I can't think of any respectable Moderate Leftists in Spain today, though. Zapatero? He's so dumb he's an Affective, and his foreign policy is Anti-American Radical. He's not much of a Spanish patriot either. Moratinos? He sure acts like a Radical, what with all this love for Fidel Castro. Carod-Rovira? He's close to Totalitarian. The Basque left? They're crazy. The Communists? It makes me laugh.

About as close as I can come to a Moderate Leftist in Spain today is Jose Bono, the minister of defense. He's pro-Spanish and anti-terrorism, at least, and we don't know what he thinks about Spain's pullout of troops from Iraq, but he probably would have supported staying there. OK, Bono is a party hack, a regional boss. He runs Castilla-La Mancha the way Mayor Daley used to run Chicago, if you know what I mean and I'll bet you do. But, if you can stand a little corruption, you can at least trust Bono not to behave like a clown and to keep the country functioning. I am afraid that Zapatero has proven, in his first year in office, that he is no Moderate Leftist. Bono might be.

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