February 16, 2005
Ward Churchill is right. Partly.By Christopher Chantrill
No sooner had Prof. Nancy Hopkins of MIT bounced up from her fainting couch, upon the prospect of yet another task force to investigate gender inequity in the darkly menacing groves of Larry Summers' Harvard, than conservatives started swooning over Ward Churchill's remarks to the effect that 'little Eichmanns' in the twin towers on 9/11 had it coming.
'They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire — the 'mighty engine of profit' to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved — and they did so both willingly and knowingly.'
It's been that kind of winter.
We conservatives need to get up off our fainting couches too, and realize that Ward Churchill is right. Oh, not about his rude, crude argument ad Hitlerum, but the larger argument.
Let us speak truth to ourselves. The United States is a global empire that is taking over the world, and most conservatives are in favor of it.
Here's how the American empire works. In 1990, Nike opens a factory in Vietnam. For the first three years, the workers walk to work. Then they start riding bicycles. After another three years, the first motorcycles appear. Last year, when Swedish writer Johan Norberg visited the factory, he found that now a few workers can even afford an automobile.
Let us speak truth to ourselves. The reason the United States dominates the world is not because of our democracy or the rule of law. It is because of our power.
We are much too sensitive about this, and the left takes full advantage of this weakness of ours. Let's end the denial and admit it. The last half millennium has been an age of breathtaking world conquest, an achievement unimaginable even to great world conquerors like Alexander and Genghis Khan.
This world conquest began with the expulsion of the Moors from Spain and the Portuguese flanking movement around Africa to cut the Middle East out of the spice trade. Then the Spanish conquered Central and South America, the British East India Company took India from the Islamic Mughals, and the Puritans and their willing accomplices from mainland Europe conquered North America.
Despite all this successful bloody conquest, the secret of Western power is not military, however. Nor will you find its secret in the rational power of big civilian bureaucracies. The West is powerful because it relies on a Hayekian spontaneous order, the result of millions of decisions by millions of little men and women. It is the American settler moving west and compelling the U.S. cavalry to come and rescue him from irate Indians. It is the humble clerk of the East India Company who got a military friend to teach him a bit of soldiering and then went out and conquered Bengal. It is the young bookkeeper getting interested in the barrels of Pennsylvania oil being traded by his employer, Hewitt and Tuttle, commission agents of Cleveland, Ohio.
This sort of Hayekian thinking has even seeped into the military. Western generals now train soldiers to be 'self—reliant, self—confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility' instead of just fodder for artllery.
Let us speak truth to ourselves. Our double—entry bookkeeping, our self—government, our rule of law, and our limited—liability companies are more than mere wonders of the world. They are more than innocent inventions; they are the terrifying force multipliers that made us into world conquerors and world benefactors.
We should thank Ward Churchill and his ilk—the Chomskys and Zinns, the firm of Hardt & Negri, and even No Logo's Naomi Klein —as they luxuriate in their academic, NGO and journalistic sinecures and pettishly expose the little lies we Americans tell ourselves to avoid confronting our world—historical consequence. They are right. America is an empire, and we are all imperialists. And a good thing too.
Just for fun, let us adopt the psychobabble of our liberal friends. The 9/11 attacks were a cry of help from Saudi little rich kids begging us to come and release them from the cruel and depraved rule of their fathers. Just think of American soldiers as helping professionals that want to help people.
Ward Churchill is right, but so what? Does he think he can set the world ablaze by riling up some little Saudi rich kids and the Ruckus Society? Let him wait till the Indians get their act together. Ever since Jinnah and the Muslim League they've had it up to here with Islam. Then there are the Chinese. Their house church people are planning to launch 100,000 Christian missionaries upon the world. They have developed a narrative about Christianity as a westward moving religion. It got started in Palestine and then moved west to Europe, to America, and to Asia. The destiny of Chinese Christians, they believe, is to bring Christianity westward across Asia and 'Back to Jerusalem.' As a famous American said: 'You ain't seen nothing yet.'
That will teach Ward Churchill a lesson.