Do the Neocons Want Democracy?

Daniel McCarthy on the neoconservatives Jacobinism.

…what the neoconservatives mean by democracy, and what their critics know they mean, is not one man, one vote. It’s not procedural democracy but a substantive democracy: a democracy that entails an American-style mixed-market economy (“democratic capitalism”), liberal institutions of civil society (e.g., labor unions, but not too strong or violent labor unions; religious institutions, but only those organized on a voluntary basis), and a political system that is democratic in name but designed to promote enlightened objectives rather than whatever the popular will might be — especially if that popular will is retrograde by American standards. On this model, a democracy is by definition going to be pro-American and favorably disposed toward some of the more grandiose claims of Israeli nationalism. This is precisely why people like George Gilder insist that Israel is fulfilling the dream of the Enlightenment, just as America supposedly does. To oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements into the occupied territories is to oppose the expansion of high technology, capitalism, tolerance, and civilization itself — in a word, democracy. (That many of the settlers are religious fundamentalists can be glossed over: after all, the grand strategy of the Republican Party here in the U.S. demands the assimilation of Christianity to substantive democracy.)

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