I don’t trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs.
Barham. It’s always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the
first to shout what a Hell it is. And it’s always the widows who lead
the Memorial Day parades . . . we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by
blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or
all the other banal bogies. It’s the rest of us who build statues to
those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of
us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear
our widows’ weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its
In a TCM interview James Garner called The Americanization of Emily one of his favorite roles. What made him a great actor was he knew a great script, and Paddy Chayefsky’s script for Emily is one of the best ever. (He later wrote Network and died too soon.)
All this is by way of introduction to a challenge given me by a reader, to watch The Trap (above) and discuss how it fits into my own thesis, the cycles of American politics, the Nixon Thesis of Conflict, and the coming Internet Thesis of consensus that will emerge from the current crisis.
Quite simply, England let itself be Americanized. The primary author
of this change was Margaret Thatcher (left). She embraced the Nixon Thesis of
Conflict, the conservative teachings of Barry Goldwater, the whole
neoconservative schtick. Once elected British prime minister in 1979
she implemented that program. The myths and values of Thatcherism
became Reaganism, And in that process England’s politics became a
mirror of, and an extension of, America’s.
Tony Blair, like Bill Clinton, ran as an AntiThesis to this
political Thesis. His aim, like Clinton’s, was to accept the premises
of the Thesis, but to moderate them, smooth them over, dress them up
for export. But every AntiThesis depends on the Thesis for its
legitimacy. Blairism without Thatcherism is a mushy middle. Clintonism
without Reaganism is the same. You can’t have a Third Way without two
hard rocks to navigate between.
Blair was captured by Bush in the same way Clinton was. The Thesis
marched forward, the AntiThesis marched behind. Hillary Clinton and
John Kerry voted for the Iraq War resolution to "retain their political
viability." Blair joined the enterprise for the same reason.
But every Thesis leads to excess, and a new Crisis. When a Thesis
goes beyond the times it was created to address, it becomes an -ism, a
caricature of itself. It spins off the rails because new questions
emerge it can’t answer, which it wasn’t addressed to answer. We went to
Iraq because the Thesis assumed 9/11 was the start of another Cold War.
Iraq is a Cold War activity.
But it’s not. The Thesis is wrong for this time. Its assumptions are
false for this time. Treating a bunch of religious fanatics living in
caves as though they are the Soviet Union is madness. A new Thesis is
needed to address the new challenge.
That’s what I’m on about. We have the tools for it in our hands.
It’s the Internet. The new Thesis will use the freedom of the Internet
to crush intolerance, not because freedom has powerful armies but
because freedom, real freedom, freedom which is what you make of it,
really does empower, and really can make this world a beautiful
adventure, as Charlie Chaplin said at the end of The Great Dictator.
The Internet brings a lot more than freedom. It brings the ability
to share, with people around the world, and build new structures, new
businesses, new models, customized to fit the individual. I sat down
for breakfast this morning with some neat software guys.
One was from Australia, the other from India. Their home office was in
London, but they were moving it to Silicon Valley, although the Indian
was reluctant to uproot his family — from Austin, Texas.
All this is made possible by the Internet. A hundred million
miracles like this are happening every day, thanks to the Internet. It
is from this that a new political Thesis will emerge, an international
Thesis, based on free cooperation, on working together, on building
rather than destroying. And it is this Thesis that will crush radical
Islam, crush it in its crib, for the same reason that freedom beat
Because it works.