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UNITED STATES: Politics, left, right, upside down?



The Florida imbroglio is discouraging to those of us who regard rational discourse as essential to democracy. In Florida, the two crowds shout insults at each other just as though it were a football match. Indeed, one announcer said today that one side "made a Hail Mary pass." Since that is a Notre Dame term, presumably it was the Democrats. The two sides are almost the same except for their shirts.

A posting yesterday traced violent political demonstrations back to Berkeley. The good Bishop philosopher of Cloyne,one of the three great English philosophers of the eighteenth century, who spent three years in America promoting higher education (hence the name of UC Berkeley) must be turning over in his grave. I hope he has not read the San Francisco Chronicle (12/10/00) which ran an article entitled "Hounded in Berkeley" describing how violent radicals there had prevented Benjamin Netanyahu, Gen. Wesley Clark, Madeleine Albright, Dan Flynn, David Irving, Vicent Sarich, Sanda Day O'Connor, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, from speaking. "God save America"...from Berkeley.

The result is an enormous amount of bad feeling. That pillar of WAIS, Jaqui White, has a huge and beloved mastiff called Teodoro. The ugly rumor is circulating that she supports Geoge W., while Teodoro is a Democrat. He bit her, snarling "I Gored her!" Is this true, Jaqui?

WAISers are getting angry at each other is a very unWAIS way. One message denounced those who equate the extreme right and the extreme left. A long piece from Tim Brown explained what they have in common. JohnWonder said the terms are meaningless. Of course they derive from the semicircular shape of the US and other senates, the left being to the left of the speaker. In the British parliament the two sides face each other as "the government" and "the opposition."

Meanwhile sanity survives in the American system. I had never heard of Kearney, Nebraska, which curiously is in Buffalo County, not in neighboring Kearney Councy. It is the site of a buffalo, or rather cow college, a branch campus of the University of Nebraska. President Clinton chose this spot "in the heartland of America" to give as major address on "Foreign Policy in the Global Age." It was excellent, and of course right on target for our conference. He was rewarded with loud applause, showing that in this rural area there is not the isolationist mentality one associates with the Midwest. Indeed, he may have chosen the site to defy the militia people to the west, He described how the internet can help poor countries like Bolivia. The text of the speech may be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/library/hot_releases/December_8_2000_4.html. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, speaking at the same time at Duke University, had high praise for Clinton and his foreign policy. Much of his talk was devoted to the Assembly of the Americas to be held in Québec which will promote an Americas free trade zone.

The anti-globalization case was admirably presented by Alan Tonelson, author of Race to the bottom : why a worldwide worker surplus and uncontrolled free trade are sinking American living standards (Boulder, Colo. ; Oxford : Westview, 2000). He deals specifically with China, pointing out with facts and figures how trade with China is creating problems for the American worker. It is the position also of Pat Buchanan, who is ultra-conservtive, but Tonelson sounds more like a, dare I use the word, leftist. He says think tanks (like Hoover) are controlled by big corporations, which have an interest in cheap Chinese labor.

In brief, the Clinton speech and the Tonelson book give the pros and cons of globalization in a clear, informed way. Bishop Berkeley applauds them.

Ronald Hilton - 12/11/00


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