Reality Matters: Beyond the mental fog of ideology

Once the mental fog of ideology is lifted, the return of particularity — rootedness, locality, community, and civilization — will be permitted.

An era has passed away. It’s a new world — its head tentatively poking-up from out from a fractured eggshell. The Biden visit to “Israel” thus represented one distinctive American generation’s long goodbye to “Israel” and the Gulf, as an era fades away. The doyen of the Israeli press corps, Ben Caspit, writes in Hebrew, the era’s eulogy: “Nothing symbolizes this historic event [Biden’s visit] more than the sentimental and (genuinely) poignant image of the 79-year-old president bending down on his knee to two women who survived the Holocaust, aged 86 and 95, and just refusing to say goodbye to them. He asked questions, took interest, hugged, kissed, and even wiped a hidden tear. Biden doesn’t have to pretend when he says, “you don’t need to be a Jew to be a Zionist … There aren’t any pro-“Israel” American Senators from this generation who don’t admire and even love the Israeli leaders as such”.

“The good news is that [Biden’s affection] is authentic. The bad news is that it’s about to end”.

Biden came, perhaps unconsciously, to try to prolong the old era a little longer. I saw this once before when I was very young. Then, the elderly post-war generation were mourning the passing of Empire, unable to find a jot of empathy for the longing for independence from colonialism that was reshaping the globe. The ‘old India hands’ were certain that their former subjects would regret their Sahibs’ departing, and at any moment would summon them back to the India they loved. “You have no idea how much I love this place, more than you can imagine”, Biden told President Herzog standing on the red carpet.

That earlier episode – mourning the Empire – seems unbelievable today. But history, if not repeating itself, is somehow resonating again. Then, nations were clamouring for independent statehood, only to fall under the ideological sway of an emerging neo-liberal American Empire.

Today, much of the non-western world is abandoning ideology, in favour of reasserting national and civilizational claims, whilst Washington and its various clients and satraps remain committed to ideological struggle, to bolstering liberalism — the one ideology that survived the previous century’s clash of ideologies. To listen to the likes of John Bolton today is like hearing a distant echo from the past: the voices of post-war ‘Curry Colonels’ reminiscing on old colonialism.

To Ben Caspit’s credit, he – as a nationalist and Zionist – recognises the changing times, unlike most: “The Jerusalem Declaration that Biden and Lapid signed – at the rate things are developing – is liable to become irrelevant shortly”, he writes. “It emphasised the ‘shared values’ that “Israel” and the United States have”.

“But these values aren’t that shared anymore”.

“Growing segments of Israeli society no longer hallow democracy, and definitely not the values of human freedom and liberalism” writes Caspit. “That is what’s driving the Democratic Party away from “Israel”, and it’s what’s driving some of the American Jewish community away from “Israel”. Don’t make light of this: the ties with the US and the strategic front that the American Jewish community gives us are the most important strategic asset for our national security. This is our sole source of international, military, technological, and moral support”.

But it is passing. “Israel” is finding itself alone as the last outpost of a particular ideology, guarding a radical ‘faith bloc’ dragged forward by Binyamin Netanyahu, which “is a path that drives us away from the US and the Western world – and which will leave us fallen and shattered”, Caspit gloomily forewarns.

Even The Hill, a journal more usually relating to the minutiae of Capitol Hill politics, noted the ‘changing of the seasons’ in observing that, though days apart, the separate BRICS and G7 meetings couldn’t have been more contrasting.

Whilst the BRICS is a multi-ethnic coalition of nations that gather to address the economic challenges to economic and social development, the G7 is largely a group of white majority countries coming together at a scenic cabin in the Alps to discuss mainly security and containment strategies. This divergence cannot be discounted, The Hill piece notes, as “an out of touch G7 could lose global leadership to the BRICS”.

Reality matters. And whilst the G7 did indeed demonstrate an élite that is woefully out of touch with reality, its loss of global leadership is more a function of a different faultline. The appeal of Russia, China and the BRICS is that it bubbles with ideas and new initiatives, whereas the West is passionate rather, for ideological conformity and for strangling debate. The western establishment and its media show no sign of re-thinking, and apart from a few, no capacity for thinking anew. Liberalism, it seems, can’t live without aggressive universalism.

The real secret of President Putin’s global appeal is that once the mental fog of ideology is lifted, the return of particularity — rootedness, locality, community, and civilization — is permitted. Hence, the conditions unleashed by multi-polarity have allowed the world’s most prominent cultures and civilizations space in which to reanimate and revive themselves in their respective spheres.

The implication of the US Establishment’s liberal-universalist compulsion is that as civilizations around the world abandon ideology, America is being left behind, as if flopping limply, whilst the tide waters recede; leaving it beached under the sun from the coming era.

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