I’ve been writing lately about what I call commissars of approved opinion, who can be found on both left and right. On the left, I recently profiled the hapless Ian Millhiser, who hops around the Internet trying to stop people from promoting views to which he and his friends haven’t given the official Stamp of Establishment Approval.
Then there’s neocon Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller, who tries to destroy Eric Margolis — Eric Margolis! — by falsely calling him a 9/11 truther, and demonizes Walter Block for holding opinions on secession that the old National Review even allowed to be aired in its pages. (I link to Weinstein in Neocons Attack Ron Paul Peace Institute and in Daily Caller Says I Am Missing All Their Deep Points.)
Ludwig von Mises himself believed resolutely in secession. Mises, too, used to appear in National Review. Today, the twentysomethings who run the conservative intellectual movement — an oxymoron if there ever was one — have never heard of Mises.
Weinstein makes sure the Establishment understands that these people are cranks for not sharing 80% of the political presuppositions of Bill Clinton, as Weinstein’s friends (and presumably all other respectables) all do, and that he himself is one of the Reasonable People who may pretend to nibble around the edges of the state, but who, when the Establishment raises its flag, can always be counted on to salute.
Oh, and remember: for Jamie Weinstein it is absolutely not crankish to have run around telling everyone that Saddam Hussein had an unmanned drone program that was going to kill Englishmen within 45 minutes. We are never, ever to use the word crank to refer to Tony Blair or any of the neocons who weaved apologias for him.
It is, furthermore, positively not crankish to have cheered for the stupidest war in American history, based on propaganda that would have insulted a fourth-grader, and which resulted in at least 100,000 and perhaps as many as 1 million deaths, 2-4 million people displaced, an ancient Christian community destroyed, an Islamic constitution written for Iraq, and the strengthening of the very Iranian regime we’re supposed to blow more resources on destroying now.
Nothing crankish about that. How could it be, after all, if Tim Russert favored it?
Finally, there’s poor Jamie Kirchick, who makes fun of Ron Paul by calling his followers “isolationists” — so, like a good neocon, he adopts the left’s smear term against his opponents — and “goldbugs.” He thinks the gold standard is so stupid and contemptible that he once again uses the left’s smear term against — well, against the most free-market economists of the twentieth century. So Henry Hazlitt was a “goldbug” to be ignored? Henry Hazlitt, author of the classic Economics in One Lesson, must be dropped forthwith? To be in good stead with the wise and learned Jamie Kirchick requires quite a sacrifice indeed!
So Kirchick adopts the monetary policy of the left, and of all authoritarians and totalitarians throughout history. (Although, of course, if you are not interested in fattening the American warfare state by rushing to war with Ruritania, it is you who, in Kirchick’s infelicitous phrase, are a “dictator-lover.” Physician, heal thyself.) He is a “conservative.” He supported Rudy Giuliani for president.
Again we have someone who is dying to let everyone know that he holds all the approved opinions, and that he has never soiled his pristine mind with thoughts that were not pre-screened by the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The endorsement of Giuliani was really the icing on the cake. As if we needed more proof that Kirchick was basically satisfied with how things are going, and would perhaps like to see things be about 1.2% different.
I am considering having a regular department here in which I go after a “Commissar of the Week.” Part of me is concerned about giving them attention they don’t deserve. But the other part thinks this is an important phenomenon to study, understand, and explain to others. What do you all think?