Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jim Henley: Parallelism Is Not Argument

Jim Henley: Parallelism Is Not Argument:

Out of the Mouths of Neobabes II § Unqualified Offerings: [Eliot] Cohen tries to make a nigh-Riemannian parallelism do the work of argument. He wants you to think that if we had fewer bombers, the kidz would be listening to Chinese rappers, or maybe Islamofascist ones. Curiously, the era when American (and British) bands started dominating global culture was the heyday of Team B, who insisted that the Communist bloc had the beleaguered West utterly outclassed militarily. Those where the days when a sequence of red and blue bar graphs could bring the insecure American a parapornographic thrill of doom. Look how tall the red bar is on the tanks graph! The missile graph! The fighter plane graph! “What did you scare yourself with before ‘dhimmitude,’ Grandpa?” “Commitude, children!” Curiously, the kidz did not start listening to Russian bands. Because Russian bands sucked. Vaclav Havel got into Velvet Underground and brough the whole fraudulent arrangement down like a chainsmoking, diffident Samson. And the Velvets didn’t even sell!

Cohen can’t show that  “American military power” causes the Internet, only that they both use “information technologies.” I am aware of the internet’s roots in DARPA, thank you. But Cohen can’t make the case that people grew the actual internet as it developed out of ARPANet because America has troops all over the place, so he doesn’t even try. Best not call attention to the fact that people glommed onto the internet instead of other candidates - e.g. Minitel - because people could make it into something cool, for a bunch of semi-compatible definitions of cool.

And of course he closes with a question trying to pretend it is its own answer. It’s not. And I daresay Pervez Musharraf would want to know just what Cohen means by “free trade.” Meantime the kidz love the manga, even though, mascot or no, the Japanese military is nothing to write home about.

What the neocons’ libertarian-inclined friends should have noticed about them early is just how little faith neoconservatives have always had in the market as such.

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