By Daniel Ross
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To what extent is the enemy real, to what extent a phantasm, or a ghost that haunts the minds of American policy-makers? Is there an identiﬁable and fatally dangerous epidemic, and is there the knowledge and the means for any effective treatment? Whenever an enemy is declared, the comparison to Hitler is inevitably made. This is of course largely a matter of public relations, but that just begs the question – from where comes the lasting force of such a public relations manoeuvre? To take a ghost – the ghost of the worst – as the enemy, would mean to risk becoming possessed, to risk being determined by and coming to share the character of that The High Horse and the Low Road 35 which continues to haunt oneself as the enemy-to-come.
5 Strangers in a Familiar Land 47 The sense and the reality that in today’s society we are strangers to one another is the very basis for the form of democratic politics “we” have adopted, even if this mutual estrangement also threatens to unravel the political fabric we have so carefully woven for one another. Modern democracy, he is arguing, is a society of bonded strangers. The difﬁculties of this proposition, not to say the contradictions, do not entirely escape Scruton’s notice. He recognizes that these difﬁculties afﬂict the thought of democracy not only in its “modern” guise, but in the very thought of the origins of the “social contract” on which it is founded.
But this is not to say that there is no such thing as ghosts, nor that they cannot indeed return. Paul Wolfowitz, playing Machiavelli to Prince Bush il Magniﬁco, has staked his political future on his audacious or grandiose Iraq policy, but what is at stake obviously exceeds the question of whether this policy will prove personally fortunate for its author. What is most questionable or hubristic in the current direction of American foreign policy is the degree to which its executors seem to believe that chance is a factor that can be overcome or, at least, bridled.
Violent Democracy by Daniel Ross