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Americanism vs. Marxism-Lennonism

I have a friend who is a retired public school teacher. She is very likeable and in some areas an independent thinker. One day in conversation she brought up the terrible poverty and near-anarchy that prevails just on the other side of America’s southern border. It quickly became clear that she believed America was at fault, that America’s prosperity was somehow the cause of Mexico’s problems. When I asked her what the solution might be, she replied without hesitation that we should get rid of that border, and not stop there but get rid of all borders. Then, she said, people everywhere could live in peace.

If I could capture for you precisely how she said this, you would hear as I did John Lennon’s “Imagine” forming her thoughts:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man.

The simplest explanation of what happened to the modern progressive Baby Boomers is that they found for themselves a new national anthem, one they like much better than that old and out-dated one that asked them to be brave if they expected to be free.

When John Kerry in a commencement speech told college graduates they will live in a borderless world, he made it clear his muddled Marxist thinking—like my friend’s—is of the Lennonist variety.

In conversations with my progressive friends, I find they see America as the problem. They place their hopes in the world beyond America’s borders. When Kerry said America needed France’s approval to conduct foreign policy, his assertion made perfect sense to Lennonists. When Bill Maher said if half the country wants Trump as president then the United Nations needs to intervene, he spoke for American Lennonists everywhere.

You have to admit that American Lennonism has a certain logic. If America is the problem, then getting rid of America’s borders is an important and even an essential step toward a better world. But if America is not the problem, if America deserves to live, if there are still many Americans who want America to live, then not so much. And if getting rid of America turned out to be a mistake, it would be a mistake impossible to undo.

If you doubt that Lennonism has a powerful hold on the thinking and the imaginations of many in America, please consider this: “Imagine” has become the more-or-less official anthem played in the United States on New Year’s Eve.

I prefer “The Star-Spangled Banner.” To me, nothing expresses America’s uniqueness better than the fact that, as it is traditionally performed, America’s national anthem ends with this question:

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

That question is actually a challenge. Our national anthem issues a challenge to every generation down to our own, reminding us of our responsibility to preserve the Founders’ gift.

I’ll ask you the same question: have we kept America the land of the free and the home of the brave?

 

2016 Election • America • Americanism • Center for American Greatness • Conservatives • Defense of the West • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Economy • EU • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • History • Republicans • Russia • Terrorism • Trump White House

Does Europe Treasure NATO Again?

It is a bit rich to hear Europeans insist that any Trump Administration doubts about NATO’s usefulness is heresy—given their occasional popular indifference to and ambiguity about the alliance.

In current journalistic groupthink, Donald Trump has endangered NATO by suggesting a) it does not have a clearly defined role and needs to find one for the 21st century; and b) the vast majority of European members have welched on their defense spending commitments, on the expectation that the U.S. defense budget would always take up the slack, protect Europe, and thus indirectly subsidize the European social welfare project.

No one really disputes the logic of Trump’s criticisms, only his supposed recklessness in daring to be so rude as to voice them.

But we forget that by the mid-2000s, especially after the invasion of Iraq, there was growing European unease with the trajectory of NATO. A different narrative was then in currency of a regrettable omnipresence of the United States (the “hyperpuissance”) within NATO. Hundreds of thousands of soft-power Europeans hit the streets to protest the Iraq War and hard-power American imperialism, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld earned furious pushback for characterizing Western NATO allies as “Old Europe.”

A European solution at a time of a strengthening euro and widespread loathing of George W. Bush was greater autonomy. The long overdue reification of an all-European Union defense agreement (“Common Security and Defence Policy”), would work side-by-side with NATO, but in truth draw indirectly European resources from it and eventually supersede the transatlantic alliance. We are still waiting to see the fruition of a European External Action Service; so far there are lots of impressive acronyms for various forces and programs, but no brigades in action.

What explains the rapid European about-face on NATO by 2017? A number of things:

1) Over a decade ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to many Europeans as growing into a likely benign figure (a “flawless democrat” in the words of then socialist German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder), much less worthy of criticism than was George W. Bush. Schröder himself, just weeks after he left the chancellorship, went to work for Nord Stream, the Russian Gazprom pipeline project. Now Putin, who formerly was supposed to be reasonable, has transmogrified into a land-grabbing existential threat. A U.S.-backed NATO is suddenly seen as a more viable deterrent than the once hyped European defense force; and the Cold War American-led relic is now seen as a vital Hot War American-led deterrent.

2) A decade ago the United States was a thirsty oil-importer dependent on Middle East energy, while Europe was next-door to an oil-rich Russia, which increasingly was seen as an asset in a way the energy-short U.S. was not. Now America is the largest energy producer in the world, soon to be a natural gas and coal exporter, and is immune from Middle East oil chaos in a way a petrol-short Europe is not, especially given the worrisome implosion of the Middle East between 2011 and 2016 and the rise of a hostile and unreliable oil-exporting Russia.

3) The shaky European Union of today is not the confident EU paradigm of a decade ago, which, in Robert Kagan’s formulation, played more a fun-loving Venus to our arms-obsessed Mars. The euro has been weakening, not strengthening. The north-south financial crisis has been papered over, but not resolved. Global sympathies have shifted somewhat, from a “they got what they deserved” feeling about the often deceptive and undisciplined southern Mediterranean debtor nations to a more nuanced view that the lender Germany has gamed the EU for its own trade advantages, monopolizing through its exports a highly regulated European market and relying on weaker EU states to keep the value of the euro lower than a free-floating Deutsche Mark would have been.

The immigration disaster, advanced by the naiveté of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has fueled populist pushbacks against German immigration policy throughout the EU. Currently, the European economy is anemic and ossified. Turkey is no longer seen as a future EU member and protector of NATO’s southern flank, but rather a neo-Ottoman belligerent that considers fellow European NATO allies all but enemies. Given all that, the idea of NATO is now once again seen by European elites as essential in a way it was growing optional a decade ago, when European media caricatured the organization as moral cover for U.S. adventurism and imperialism. Brexit, and the United Kingdom’s reinvestment in its navy, are hints that bilateral relations could extend to two-party defense pacts.

4) Past European ankle-biting about NATO was part and parcel of an asymmetrical transatlantic relationship, sharpened during the Reagan years, in which Europe characteristically distanced itself from the United States, on the assumption that U.S. bipartisan postwar “wise men” would merely grimace a bit and press on with ensuring the costly military subsidies of Europe.

Indeed, Europe, militarily dependent on America during the Cold War, had rhetorically reinvented the dependency as one that served more selfish U.S. Cold War strategic interests to the point that U.S. bases on European soil were supposedly neocolonial outposts. (During the 1973 Yom Kippur War some European NATO members denied the U.S. the use of airspace to resupply an endangered democratic Israel, while letting Soviet transports to Egypt and Syria fly over some NATO nations; when I lived in Greece, weekend demonstrations started off with the obligatory chant Ekso Nato!). During the 1983 Pershing Missile crisis, the Reagan administration was sometimes seen by European leftists as more the aggressor against than the protector of Europe.

But now? The outsider Trump is no globalist Bill Clinton or internationalist George W. Bush. Instead, he’s seen as wildly unpredictable. Trump appears to the Europeans as the first U.S. president who might well react to European mantras about outsized American influence in European affairs, with an almost happy, “So long, it’s been good to know you” attitude. Past U.S. presidents, even after the Cold War, accepted that a U.S.-led NATO (“America in”) was critical to confining an always powerful Russia to its own territory (“Russia out”), while dealing with the age-old “German problem” (“Germany down”) of continental aggression that had led to three European wars.

Yet Lord Hasting Ismay’s original tripartite Russia-America-Germany formulation for NATO by the 21st century was looked upon as outdated and simplistic jargon.

Not anymore. Ismay seems prescient again. Fears of an imperious and domineering Germany have returned, along with worries about Russian unpredictability, both of which require America to be engaged as never before—and all of which has stopped dead European parlor talk of U.S. hegemony over NATO and replaced it with “don’t even dare think we don’t need you” desperation.

The existential threats to NATO are not Donald Trump’s, but rather the continuing European lack of confidence that it can create a peaceful, democratic, and secure continent that does not once again devour itself, along with its own chronic reneging on promised military contributions.

Ironically, Trump’s herky-jerky warnings about redefining strategic missions and meeting required contributions may jolt the alliance into reform—in a way that past American presidents’ mellifluous but empty rhetoric about the fissures within and the contradictions of NATO seem to have only made things worse.

 

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America • Americanism • Big Media • China • Defense of the West • Democrats • Deterrence • Donald Trump • EU • Foreign Policy • Greatness Agenda • Republicans • Russia • The Left • The Media • Trump White House

Beware the Headline Trap: Tillerson to Meet With NATO Ministers—on Wednesday

“Exclusive: Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April—sources,” read the headline of a Reuters story first published Monday.

“Well, that doesn’t seem right. It also seems politically stupid,” I thought, before I clicked on the article and read it. Turns out, the headline is misleading at best, and downright dishonest at worst.

Yes, it is true that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be missing the NATO meeting. But it is not, as the headline implies, because he is opting for a meeting with the Russians.

Turns out, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in the United States visiting President Trump, and Trump wants his secretary of state there for the meeting. I mean, it’s not like China is making territorial claims over a massive swath of international waters that would give it control over half the planet’s merchant shipping, or recently implied it was willing to use nuclear force in defense of the disputed islands in the South China Sea by flying a nuclear-capable bomber over them.

And it’s not like North Korea, the client state of China, is improving its nuclear long-range missile capabilities, and the United States could really use Chinese cooperation on enforcing sanctions to slow North Korea’s progress.

Oh, yes, actually, all of those things are happening, and the president of the United States understandably wants his secretary of state in the room when he has a chat with China’s president.

China is at the center of numerous serious national security problems that directly affect the United States. It would be good if the country’s most powerful officials could work something out with the Chinese head of state while he’s here.

But what about NATO? Aren’t our NATO allies important, too?

Yes. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was just in Brussels addressing the NATO defense ministers in February to reassure allies and also to explain the limits of our patience with most of the alliance members’ anemic demonstration of commitment to the organization. My favorite line was this one: “Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance, and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened.” Mattis also clearly expressed the importance of a strong NATO and America’s commitment to it.

But, one might say, that is Secretary Mattis. Secretary Tillerson doesn’t seem to get NATO’s importance. Except that he was Waterford Crystal clear in his confirmation hearing that he recognizes the critical importance of the alliance and understands the U.S. Article V commitment to collective defense is inviolable.

And another thing worth noting as stated in the Reuters story: “A State Department spokeswoman said Tillerson would meet on Wednesday with foreign ministers from 26 of the 27 other NATO countries—all but Croatia—at a gathering of the coalition working to defeat the Islamic State militant group.”

Got that? As in: tomorrow Tillerson will, in fact, meet with NATO foreign ministers, even if he won’t make the meeting the first week in April—because he does not control the laws of space and time.

Here’s a thought: If the NATO foreign ministers really want the U.S. secretary of state at their meeting, perhaps they should coordinate with his scheduler? If not, they’ll just have to chat with him Wednesday.

But surely there must be something scandalous here about Russia! The headline implied Russia has something to do with Tillerson not making a particular NATO meeting.

The Reuters reporters even included the following quote from U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs: “Donald Trump’s administration is making a grave error that will shake the confidence of America’s most important alliance and feed the concern that this administration simply too cozy with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin.”

Heavy stuff, no? “Grave error.” “Shake the confidence.”

Well, perhaps that was a bit over the top. Contrast Engel’s remark with the quote of Antoni Macierewicz, the defense minister of stalwart NATO ally Poland, who said in response to the January deployment of 4,000 American troops to Poland—the biggest deployment of U.S. troops to Europe in decades: “Today I know that Poland will not be threatened… God bless American President Trump.”

But this newfound assurance doesn’t fit the narrative that the Trump administration is too cozy with the Russians. So, let’s put it aside, and get back to Russia.

Later in April, after Tillerson meets with the G7 (in addition to the United States, the group includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom), he is meeting with the Russians. But what does this have to do with him missing the NATO meeting? As far as I can tell by reading the article, it has as much to do with it as the price of tea in China.

Which brings us back to the real reason he is missing the NATO meeting in the first place. Tillerson is meeting with Chinese President Xi.

Observant consumers of the media are now on to the exaggerated, dramatic, misleading, and sometimes downright false reporting of major media outlets. But less careful readers and those already inclined to believe the “everything has everything to do with Russia” narrative will be susceptible to falling for these kind of headline traps, especially when lazy reporters merely copy headlines and stories that bring high numbers of clicks, as many news outlets did with this one.

Let this be a cautionary tale: don’t fall for headline traps, and don’t let friends fall for them, either.

Economy • EU • Foreign Policy • Trade • Trump White House • Uncategorized

The Art of Economic Warfare (Part 4): Overcoming the European Fantasy of Free Trade

 

The dogmatic popular version of “free trade” is a pretty terrible deal for most Americans. Yet our elites continue to push what amounts to an unwanted and unneeded policy—which they are pleased to call “free trade” but which amounts to a privileging of the elites—upon the public. Most of our elites in the business and political world insist that such policies have worked very well for the European Union and we should not allow ourselves to be left behind by such advanced peoples in the Old World.

But let’s look at the “economic miracle” of the EU just a bit closer, shall we?

Even when the European Union experiment seemed unquestionably successful, the truth is that unemployment throughout the continent was grotesquely high. During the period of 2000–05, the most recent economic boom time, the overall unemployment rate in the EU was around 10 percent, according to Eurostat.

Most economists argue that an unemployment rate higher than 5 percent is bad. If that is the case then Europe’s general unemployment rate was high even during what was supposed to be a boom time in the global economy. The reasons for these high unemployment numbers were related to the European Union’s commitment to open borders and cheap labor above all things. The problem was that Leftist leaders throughout Europe defined their national interests in ways that were “coincidentally” tied up in the economic interests of their friends and supporters and allowed the supranational interests of the EU to supersede common sense—to say nothing of the interests of their countrymen. This was a failure of “free trade.”

Also, since when is the European Union a model for free trade? It’s a customs union, which is quite dissimilar from a simple free trade agreement, as former British Conservative MP, Daniel Hannan argued recently. The EU is a conglomeration of states and businesses seeking to unify the European continent in a supranational union that effectively boxes out foreign goods and services through an external tariff, in favor of domestically-produced, European ones.

Indeed, the EU is one of the biggest protectionist entities out there—all while it is hailed by the global elite as a model of free trade. Yet, when Trump advocated on behalf of policies offering protections for American workers and industry, he was lambasted as a parochial nationalist who would launch a trade war.

There is little doubt that Europe is the model for the American Left. Is it really a surprise that the same business tycoons and popular Democratic politicians championing this view of the world are all based in cosmopolitan coastal cities? These are cities that have far more in common with post-national cities, like Brussels and Paris, than they do with working-class towns, like Omaha, Nebraska, and Canton, Ohio.

The cities in question are also places where unemployment (save among the highly educated, insular, ruling class) is high and there exists a culture of a very few haves and a great many more have-nots. Such a system should not be replicated for the entirety of the United States.

The United States has suffered mightily under the brutal yoke of global “free trade.” Over the past eight years, America’s unemployment numbers have started looking like Europe’s unemployment numbers. This ceaseless assault from those packaging cronyism as “free trade” has marginalized a majority of Americans. It has also gutted America of many opportunities for real growth and expansion. Without opportunity and with the rise of the welfare state, America will increasingly come to look like the Europe that our forefathers sought to liberate themselves from: class-minded, divided, highly centralized, and devoid of economic opportunity for the common man.

Donald Trump’s election has signified that the common man is fighting back. It is a kind of non-violent  form of American Revolution. Trump sees the disruptive effects that unnecessarily are being visited upon Americans before they can adapt to the new paradigm and a changing economy. Therefore, President-elect Trump’s policies seek to  protect most Americans from these pernicious effects until such time as an adaptation is possible. This is the thrust of what Trump supporters mean when they advocate for “economic nationalism.”

Finally, an American president is placing the economic interests of Americans, not just international hedge fund-types, at the forefront of our policy aims. This is the essence of good public policy. We should not allow our economy to become distorted and permanently harmed by the greed and the mistaken beliefs of a handful of global left-wing elites.

Let’s “Make America Great Again” by preventing it from looking like Europe.

2016 Election • America • Donald Trump • EU • Foreign Policy • Trump White House

Making America Great Again: A View from Abroad

 

First of an occasional series. 

As the president-elect now discovers his friends and enemies in Washington, D.C., so he will soon discover them abroad. As Donald Trump is now the focus of domestic hopes and fears amongst those who would use his power for their own ends, so he will soon be the object of foreign ambition.

With every friend the president chooses, he makes an enemy. With every hope he fulfills, a burning envy will arise elsewhere. His advantage rests in this: on the domestic front he can fire his enemies. On the foreign front he can fire at them. Presidential power is his truest friend and he must preserve it and expand it with his words and deeds.

Yet whenever Trump fires, he must aim well. What should he aim for in foreign affairs? American power has had many targets since September 11, 2001. Most have been hit, but little has been won. It was too much. America aimed to build a democratic world. President-Elect Trump must aim lower and therefore more realistically: to save American democracy for the world.

The mobs of the Arab street are ungrateful for the sacrifices Americans have made in Iraq and in Afghanistan so that they might live in freedom. Rather than having the character of citizens who debate and vote, the Arab street has shown itself to be barbaric—a mob who prefer to cut off heads and blow themselves up.

President-Elect Trump rightly noted that rather than spending time and money attempting to build democracy in the Middle East it would have been better to take their oil. His healthy insight here is a re-discovery of the genius of ancient political philosophy: some cultures are not fit for self-government and in them a tyrant rises to preserve law and order—the pillars of human decency. The President-elect rightly perceives that keeping an enemy like Saddam Hussein close—as President Reagan did in the 1980s—is better than keeping close the “friends” who toppled Saddam Hussein and who now are the cause of much of our misery in the region.

This is why we must return to the policy of the Reagan administration and keep our enemies closer than our friends. We lost our opportunity in Libya when Gaddafi surrendered himself to our will. Rather than keeping this enemy tyrant close, we sided with the friends of democratic revolution and the result is tragic. We lost our opportunity in Syria when Assad found a strong ally in Russia and marginalized our influence. But we still have this opportunity in Iran.

If Trump shows his criticism of the Iran Deal was a criticism of President Obama and not of Persia, if he strikes a better deal with Iran that guards our interests while keeping Iran close to us, he will have a victory.

Victory in the Middle East is not the establishment of democracy, but the reestablishment of order and good business. It is better to have the tyrants of Syria and Iran as enemies we can keep close to us than to make “friends” among the democratic revolutionaries who wish to topple Assad and probably wish to topple us, as well. The revolutionaries know nothing about constitutional republicanism and their democracy will be the democracy of the barbaric street mob and the suicide bomber. It is better to have an orderly tyrant as a close enemy than to have close “friends” who are actually barbarians.

Nation States will never have perfect relations but it is better to conduct hard business and bitter rivalry with closer enemy States than with close friends who are mercenaries and mobs. To continue our healthy rivalry with Russia, Syria and Iran, we must work with them to eradicate ISIS and all revolutionary movements in the region. The effectual truth of politics must guide us, not imagined democracies which have never and will never exist. Law and Order without ideals is not the best of all possible worlds, but lawlessness and disorder is the worst of all possible worlds – and under lawlessness and disorder Arab idealists will die with all the rest.

To work with Russia effectively it will be necessary to come to terms with Russia in the Eurasian theatre. There, matters are already coming to a head. Our Russian enemy is orderly, powerful and ripe with opportune business prospects. Our Ukrainian friend is anarchic, weak and ripe with a thirst for more of our wealth since they have none of their own and no political talent to produce it for them. Surely we should endeavor to keep our Russian enemy closer to us than our Ukrainian friend?

Finally, the president will have to consider the Chinese—particularly the link between Russia and his ambition to re-negotiate world trade. Russia has always been the great bulwark of a civilization closer to ours which both protects Atlantic civilization by keeping China at bay and understands China well as close neighbors do. The Poles may protest, as will the Ukrainians, but given that American soldiers defend Poland, U.S. interests will prevail there and a Russian-American alliance against terrorism is in American interest. So long as Poland is preserved from physical harm, the United States may safely harm her pride with grand overtures to Russia. Under no circumstances should President Trump entangle America in the bitter quarrel over the Smolensk catastrophe.

The general principle guiding a republican empire of liberty ought to be the one Trump pursued throughout his global business ventures: American greatness is by nature the envy of the world when it is manifest in America and Americans.

As foreign partners have marveled at Trump’s business talents and no doubt sought to learn and adopt his modes and orders, so the entire world will marvel at America when President Trump makes America great again. Make America great again and the world will seek to emulate American Greatness. Our republican empire of liberty has always been an empire of ideas brought to life around the world by people inspired by America. To preserve the republican empire of liberty Trump must dedicate his Presidency to understanding, applying and arguing for the genius of American greatness inherent in our constitutional republican traditions.

Weapons of war win battles. Ideas, not weapons of war, will win all of our wars.

Cultural Marxism • Defense of the West • EU • The Culture • The Leviathian State

Weigel Gets It Right In “God & Brexit”

 

George Weigel sees a cautionary tale in Europe that Americans would be wise to heed.  Referencing German scholar, Ernst-Friedrich Boeckenfoerde he notes “that the modern liberal-democratic state faced a dilemma: It rested on the foundation of moral-cultural premises—social capital—that it could not itself generate. Put another way, it takes a certain kind of people, formed by a certain kind of culture to live certain virtues, to keep liberal democracy from decaying into new forms of authoritarianism…”

As you would expect from the title – “God & Brexit” – Weigel suspects that the God deficit in Europe led to the EU’s much commented upon democracy deficit against which UKIP and the other Eurosceptic parties are reacting.  Weigel notes that the primary architects of the EU, Adenauer, Gasper, and Schumann were all Roman Catholics and that their vision for Europe involved a bet on European culture:

The wager underlying this project, as these men conceived it, was that there was enough of Christian or biblical culture left in Europe to sustain democratic pluralism in a “union” of sovereign states that would respect national and regional distinctiveness. And that Christian or biblical “remainder” involved the Catholic social-ethical principle of “subsidiarity”: the idea that decision-making should be left at the lowest possible local level (as in classic American federalism, where local governments do some things, state governments do other things, and the national government does things that local and state governments can’t do).

More here.

What Adenauer and his colleagues envisioned was a liberal democratic reboot of the Holy Roman Empire.  Where the Empire was composed of more or less sovereign states (mostly monarchies in one form or another) united by a common faith and electing an Emperor, the new Europe would be a union of liberal democracies united by an inherited Christian culture and working together on certain common problems through a representive body.  What they envisioned as perhaps becoming a federation became instead a union – a union that that European people don’t seem to want.  Where the federation would have respected the rights and cultures of its members, the union demands state-enforced homogeneity.

But the wager hasn’t paid off.  Weigel argues that they lost the wager because there wasn’t enough Christian or biblical culture left to sustain the project, that when what he calls the “Culture of the Self” took root after “biblical religion collapsed, as it manifestly has in most of Old Europe and too much of New Europe after 1989, commitments to subsidiarity and its respect for difference imploded as well.”

Weigel is mostly right though he leaves some big questions unanswered – mostly because they are outside the scope of this short, but excellent essay.  There are questions for both Europe and America – and important questions about the necessary conditions of freedom.  Subsidiarity isn’t just a Roman Catholic notion, the principle is present in Reformed ecclesiology as well and certainly influenced some of the American Founders (Madison was educated by Presbyterian clergymen).   So while the oft-repeated statement that America is a Christian nation begs some thorny social, factual, and theological questions, it is probably not too much to say that America was, largely, a nation of Christians.  Much the same could be said of Europe.

Weigel suggests that free government, what he calls liberal democracies, were possible because of the ethical agreement and social cohesion of Christian societies.  More than that he argues that once biblical religion was replaced with the Culture of the Self – what Harry Jaffa referred to as the Leftist ideal of the “radical liberation of the uninhibited self” – that European societies became progressively less liberal (though more libertine), and their politics became less free.  In short, he argues that the destruction of the Christian consensus in Europe undermined the consensus for liberalism itself.  The big unanswered question for Weigel and for the West, is whether that consensus is a requirement for liberal democracy.