Sunday, August 27, 2006

Must See TV: C-SPAN BookTV, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It by Douglas Murray

Douglas Murray, author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, gives an excellent speech at the Hudson Institute with coverage by C-SPAN:

Description: In a discussion about his book, "Neoconservatism: Why We Need It," BBC commentator Douglas Murray examines the historical rise of neoconservatism, discusses it in the context of today's political environment, and shows how the conservative revolution is continuing - on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr. Murray describes the neoconservative rational behind the Bush administration's response to September 11, the Iraq War, and the current conflict in Lebanon and Israel.

Author Bio: Douglas Murray is the author of "Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas," which was published while Murray was still an undergraduate at Oxford. Mr. Murray lectures throughout Europe and the United States on the War on Terror, Islam and Europe, interventionism and the ongoing culture wars. Mr. Murray also appears on BBC as a commentator.

If you miss C-SPAN's coverage, the Hudson Institute has audio and transcript. A snippet from the transcript to whet your appetite:

...The instinctive conservative sense of natural right and moral certainty, though not disapproved, is made to look to a new generation desperately unsophisticated and therefore provably wrong. In an age where the pretense of moral as well as mental sophistication matters more than the thing itself, I think is an especially dangerous lacuna. Neo-conservatism, by contrast, as I explain in the book, is a conservative philosophy which I believe can satisfyingly hold up, expose and destroy the presumptions which the generation of politicians now in power in Europe still hold onto.

In my book I trace the origins of neo-conservative thought, not just through the great heroes of Leo Strauss, Allen Bloom and Irving Kristol, but right back to the start: to Pericles and Plato, from the earliest thinkers who explained and expressed our deepest instincts about freedom, democracy and the striving of the human spirit.

I believe that at the crossroads of neo-conservatism, the in-built conservative instinct meets a hardened and tested philosophy, which not only defends natural right and certain absolutes but provides the antidote to the greatest philosophical disaster of our time; that is the disaster of relativism...

...Vast populations in the Western governments, such as that of France, can apparently now find no difference between a democratic state a terror group, between an aggressor or a defender, between a state whose intention is to save civilian life and a terror group intent on maximizing civilian casualties, between a state that builds bunkers to protect civilians from missiles and a terror group that builds bunkers to protect its missiles and then uses civilians to protect those bunkers.

Relativism has created a soup in which the most childish and well as the most pernicious ideas now flourish. It’s no wonder that so many people, like the BBC, rely on body counts to decide who is right. Of course, it’s not hard to point out that this doesn’t quite work. Germany lost more troops in the last war than Great Britain but it didn’t make Germany right. So this is not about right and wrong; it’s about a nightmarish nihilistic and lost philosophy desperately scouring to find a moral measurement in a world which they’ve made entirely relativist.


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