The Tragedy of the Illuminati: A Destructive Agreement on New Isolationism

 

By: Taylor Horn

After polling extensively during President Obama’s initiative to gain public support for military action against the Syrian regime, the Christian Science Monitor produced a startling fact: isolationism, measured by the percentage of Americans favoring international disengagement, is at a seven decade high. The CSM is not alone here in recently renewing the public discourse isolationism. Some have also argued that isolationism should not be assigned any importance, as our official foreign policy over the last seven decades has soundly rejected it. Nevertheless, it remains an extremely important, and ultimately dangerous, American political tendency.

History reveals that isolationism springs from a many corners of society. Leading up to World War II, politically influential isolationism emerged from the far Right. The America First Committee, a subtly pro-German, anti-Semitic organization, famously led by Charles Lindbergh is an early example. Later, the far Left was the locus of isolationism during the era of the Vietnam War, giving voice to the belief that the US acted out of selfish interests, serving only to exacerbate suffering worldwide.

CREDIT: M. Sloan | SOURCE: The Christian Science Monitor

Through the ages, one common principle of isolationism is its tendency to originate in in organizations of political extremism before spreading into wider public discourse. One only needs to take a look through many websites of the contemporary Radical right to see a modern example of this transition from fringe-view to mainstream politics taking place. Now-familiar political figures such as Mike Lee, Louie Gohmert, Rick Santorum, and Michelle Bachman are familiar faces on neo-isolationist, intermittently white supremacist, conspiracy-based websites like Worldnet Daily and Stormfront. In the same vein, the far Right has long drawn immense rallying power from conspiratorial narratives on the Bilderburg Group and the Illuminati, where shadowy groups of corporate titans supposedly controlling global affairs.

Before we condemn modern isolationism as a conservative or libertarian issue, we must note how much this narrative shares with established Marxist, post-Marxist, and various other far Left groups. Though the Tea Party has become a more powerful political force for the mainstreaming of today’s isolationism, groups such as the Occupy Movement and the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party have expressed similar perspectives. Howard LaFranchi writes: “Today, libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky and Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas argue against Syria intervention with rhetoric that sounds much like that of leftist Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.) of Vermont, the antiwar group Code Pink, or former US Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who railed against the 2011 US intervention in Libya.”

To take another specific example, the American Front is a long-running neo-Nazi group that has recently reignited their efforts. Following FBI arrests of its former leaders, James Porrazzo led the group on a pivot to become the “New Resistance”. Porazzo’s transformation is following the Fourth Position, an ideology that mixes opposition to capitalism with racism. Porazzo has shaken up the white power community by supporting Al Qaeda and Bashar Al-Assad for their adherence to anti-capitalist and racially pure ideologies. This same ideology of the American New Resistance can also be seen in organizations in other parts of the world such as England First and Golden Dawn.

These are among the most vivid examples of the kind of unity that can be found between the radical Right and Left in that they advocate not only the dismantling of corporate capitalism, but also the segregation of the races. To summarize, in both extremist ideology and mainstream politics, far Right and far Left groups can find common purpose, a unity that causes isolationism to stand a better chance of wider adoption than in times past.

However, it isn’t politically controversial to say the groups I have referenced aim only for unachievable utopias, paying little attention to what they help create instead. What they will contribute to is the making of a world with a greatly diminished global moral standard, even worse than the tarnished one the US currently advances. Isolationism feeds a status quo that often amounts to international exploitation for those who can afford it. International corporations have the power to continue to degrade working conditions and basic human rights without fear of international pressure. Dictators and despots have the power to continue to oppress and slaughter their own people on whatever terms they wish. Bill Keller summarizes in the New York Times thus: “Isolationism tends to be pessimistic (we will get it wrong, we will make it worse) and amoral (it is none of our business unless it threatens us directly) and inward-looking (foreign aid is a waste of money better spent at home).”

No one can argue against the idea that the deployment of American power needs to follow our values a little more closely than it has. Yet our pessimism will certainly be fulfilled as the world spins on without us, and regimes like China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia step forward to offer their versions of it. A worldview which suggests we should leave each other alone is an immensely profitable endeavor for those not interested in common moral standards, collective welfare, and shared progress. If we don’t stand for these things, no one will.

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Taylor Horn is a first-year MSPPM student concentrating on international and security policy. He is currently an analyst in a startup focused on water issues and infrastructure. Prior to this Taylor has worked in international mediation, on political campaigns, and in academic research. He received a bachelor’s degree from Bard College at Simon’s Rock double majoring in Political Science and Theater.