Idealism and Realism in Politics: A Response to Richard J. Bishirjian's "Origins and End of the New World Order"

By Roshwald, Mordecai | Modern Age, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Idealism and Realism in Politics: A Response to Richard J. Bishirjian's "Origins and End of the New World Order"


Roshwald, Mordecai, Modern Age


  And the world was without form and void; and darkness was upon the
    face of the deep ...
  And God said, Let there be light:
  And there was light.
  And God saw the light, that it was good....
  --Genesis 1:2-4

THE OPENING VERSES of Genesis, and thus of the Bible, in a few words pose the contrast between chaos, tohu vabohu, darkness, and the creation of light as a first step to, and a symbol of, an orderly and meaningful world, which would serve as a human abode. As the story continues, and its happy ending--preempting history ere it begins--seems to be assured with Adam and Eve settled in the garden of Eden, the bliss is exploded, and humanity embarks on a long perilous journey. Cain kills his brother Abel, man's penchant for doing evil has no bounds, and "the earth is filled with violence" (Genesis 6:13), and God decides to destroy His creation--except for the righteous Noah and his family and specimens of other creatures, in order to secure a new beginning after the flood.

Yet, what evolves after the divine punishment is meted out is a new series of events in which iniquity and chaos seem to dominate, with only a few righteous trying to walk on the right way. The divine guidance directed at the Chosen People produces mixed results: not all of the children of Israel, including their kings, follow the laws of the Lord, despite the admonitions of the prophets. Iniquity and retribution, crime and punishment continue, and are enacted also in the relations among nations, as they fight and destroy each other one generation after another. These events are the substance of history, and history becomes the story of the re-emergence of chaos, of confusion, with "darkness upon the face of the deep" looming in our advanced age as the end of man-made history.

Is such an ending the telos of human existence? Have we to accept a possible doom and be resigned to the forces that control history--whatever such forces may be? Or can human beings take an active part in preventing human catastrophes? Have we to condone and succumb to what Hobbes succinctly described as bellum omnium contra omnes?

Hobbes himself, and other thinkers, saw in governments, with power to enforce laws, a way to secure peace within the state. This actually is the situation--more or less--in historical societies. However, the relations among states or nations remain in the "natural" condition, that is to say, subject to quarrel and to armed struggle--which makes history so interesting and life so miserable. Is there a way out of this situation?

Various thinkers and visionaries from Isaiah and Micah to modern designers of world peace of one kind or another, believed in the possibility of extending the rule of effective law to international relations and thus imposing a universal and permanent peace. Indeed, one could see in such endeavors an attempt, through imitatio Dei, to overcome chaos and to institute order in human relations. Others doubt or even reject such a resolution of the historical predicament that has plagued humanity. Dr. Richard J. Bishirjian does it emphatically, notably in respect of American foreign policy. Indeed, he sees in this policy a major flaw and threat to the well-being of the United States.*

The principal prophet of the New World Order--a secular political religion, alias an internationalist ideology--was Woodrow Wilson, followed by such disciples as Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, Clinton. Bishirjian goes as far as to blame Wilson for the emergence of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. New disasters may follow in the wake of such misplaced idealism.

This perilous trend must be replaced by a realistic and practical policy, in order to maintain some kind of an equilibrium in international relations, and secure America's national interests. One may not attain universal peace this way, but one may avoid catastrophes.

Bishirjian's conclusions are based on certain broad premises, and it will be useful to examine them and evaluate their reliability. …

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