Jonah Goldberg, writing yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, neatly defines the chasm separating the modern Left and Right; dividing Red State from Blue:
I've come around to the view that the culture war can best be understood as a conflict between two different kinds of patriotism. On the one hand, there are people who believe being an American is all about dissent and change, that the American idea is inseparable from "progress." America is certainly an idea, but it is not merely an idea. It is also a nation with a culture as real as France's or Mexico's. That's where the other patriots come in; they think patriotism is about preserving Americanness.
If you've been paying attention here at all, I imagine you can guess which of these views I would subscribe to. The different views of patriotism Goldberg describes impinge on virtually every significant political and policy disagreement we have.
I especially love that "[b]eing an American is all about dissent and change." Now isn't that laughable ? The only "dissent" the Lefties put up with is that which hews to the party line. I'm thinking of all the little goateed darlings infesting the universities, eating their granola; smoking their imported smelly cigarettes; drinking their fair-trade organically grown coffee; seeking their daily guidance from the Lefty internet; partying on Daddy's money; each with his own "Question Authority" bumper sticker. Such valiant dissenters ! They respect the right to disagree only when they share the disagreement, and question any authority that isn't theirs. Try dissenting against them, and find yourself branded the functional equivalent of a heretic; or watch the brave dissenters shout-down the next right wing speaker who appears on their campus. These are the future HR managers, lawyers, judges and other abominable no-men who will soon be telling you how to live your life because They Know Better.
I would argue that we have something more complicated than a clash between two different views of "patriotism." The fundamental political and cultural conflict in our society today is between two different world views: on the one hand, what John Fonte was pleased to dub "transnational progressivism" -- the ideology of the cultural overclass of lawyers, celebrities, media personalities and international business (to say nothing of international bureaucracies) -- and their acolytes in training in the universities; and on the other, traditional nationalism and patriotism.
Something as parochial and gauche as patriotism has no place in the worldview of the new cosmopolitans, Fonte's transnational progressives. For the international overclass, environmentalism and multiculturalism are the household gods, and, as Mr. Goldberg says, the only "we" that matters, is not the national "we" but the multicultural and global "we" as in "we are the world":
For such globalists, it just seems obvious that the U.S. Supreme Court should consult polls of Africans or the laws of France to glean the real meaning of the American Constitution. And, of course, John Kerry was right to say that there's a "global test" for what America can do in the name of its national interest.
The transnational progressive view is fundamentally anti-individual -- it has to be because it emphasizes group rights: based on race, class, gender, sexual preference, membership in a "historically underrepresented" or putatively "victimized" class. It is at once anti-democratic and paternalist, in that the emphasis on group rights -- rights that cross national frontiers -- creates a need for an overclass of lawyers, mediators, judges, human relations experts and facilitators to mediate between different groups.
Ideologically, an American member of this overclass: with his (or her) degree from an Ivy League or other right-thinking Blue State university is as home in London or Paris as in New York. Money is freely fungible and transferable, and the increasingly coordinated European and American regulatory bodies make sure that business can be conducted on the same terms in those places; and, not incidentally, ensures that bothersome local preferences of ignorant, no-class boobs in Flyover country -- expressed by state legislators and other elected local poobahs -- can be gotten around. In this world, borders and national sovereignty are a nuisance -- interfering with the free movement of capital and empowering the local unwashed.
Of course, to the Overclass, there is politically correct culture, and bad culture. "Good" is immigrants keeping the cultures of where they came from -- even having school lessons in the curriculum of the countries they came from. "Bad" is wanting the melting pot to apply -- for immigrants to adopt American culture and values. I sometimes envy the rest of the world: Frenchmen, Mexicans, Germans and everybody else can have nations. They can have their own cultures, their own laws, their own distinctiveness, they can be themselves. But the great and good say that America's an idea -- and they render the idea meaningless because at bottom they think it's no big deal: that American rights are either the same or less than human rights, and that anybody and anything from anywhere can be an American.
Maybe One World is the way to go, but as for me, I want nothing of it. To me, America is not just an idea -- a set of vague principles that anybody, anyplace can subscribe to or join. America's bigger -- it's a nation -- entitled to its own culture and development, which should look to the welfare of its own citizens first. Unfortunately though, the forces making for McWorld are in the ascendant. For their own reasons, our own elites seem to want to join their foreign confreres in tying the American Gulliver down. We shouldn't let them.