Democracy and Culture

John Agresto has a brilliant article in the December Commentary challenging the wisdom of America’s effort to bring democracy to Muslim countries that do not possess the underlying cultural formation to make liberal self-government possible. In his response to the article, Abe Greenwald counters, as Bush and Rice used to do when similarly challenged, by mentioning America’s own historical shortcomings regarding blacks, Indians, and (allegedly) women, in order to make Muslim forays into self-government look more viable.

This is not helpful. Deploying this tactic without explanatory qualification tends to validate the left-wing excoriation of America taught in our schools and universities, as does making the false equivalence between the situation of blacks and Indians on the one hand and that of women on the other. Also, to make even a rough comparison between the early American republic and present-day Iraq and Afghanistan only proves Agresto’s point, that neoconservatives need a livelier understanding of the pre-political cultural conditions necessary for democratic self-government.

Most Popular


Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More