The Ideological War within the West
Fonte, John, Review - Institute of Public Affairs
NEARLY a year before the September 11 attacks, news stories provided a preview of the transnational politics of the future. In October 2000, in preparation for the UN Conference Against Racism, about 50 American nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) called on the UN `to hold the United States accountable for the intractable and persistent problem of discrimination'.
The NGOs included Amnesty International-USA (AI-USA), Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Arab-- American Institute, National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and others. Their spokesman stated that their demands `had been repeatedly raised with Federal and State officials [in the US] but to little effect. In frustration we now turn to the United Nations. In other words, the NGOs, unable to enact the policies they favoured through the normal processes of American constitutional democracy-the Congress, state governments, even the federal courts-appealed to authority outside of American democracy and its Constitution.
At the UN Conference against Racism, which was held in Durban two weeks before September 11, American NGOs supported 'reparations' from Western nations for the historic transatlantic slave trade and developed resolutions that condemned only the West, without mentioning the larger traffic in African slaves sent to Islamic lands. The NGOs even endorsed a resolution denouncing free market capitalism as a `fundamentally flawed system'.
The NGOs also insisted that the US ratify all major UN human rights treaties and drop legal reservations to treaties already ratified. For example, in 1994 the US ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), but attached reservations on treaty requirements restricting free speech that were `incompatible with the Constitution'. Yet leading NGOs demanded that the US drop all reservations and 'comply' with the CERD treaty by accepting UN definitions of `free speech' and eliminating the `vast racial disparities in every aspect of American life' (housing, health, welfare, justice, etc.).
HRW complained that the US offered `no remedies' for these disparities but `simply supported equality of opportunity' and indicated `no willingness to comply' with CERD. Of course, to 'comply' with the NGO interpretation of the CERD treaty, the US would have to abandon the Constitution's free speech guarantees, bypass federalism, and ignore the concept of majority rule-since practically nothing in the NGO agenda is supported by the American electorate.
All of this suggests that we have not reached the final triumph of liberal democracy proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama in his groundbreaking 1989 essay.
In October 2001, Fukuyama stated that his 'end of history' thesis remained valid: that after the defeat of communism and fascism, no serious ideological competitor to Western-style liberal democracy was likely to emerge in the future. Thus, in terms of political philosophy, liberal democracy is the end of the evolutionary process. There will be wars and terrorism, but no alternative ideology with a universal appeal will seriously challenge the principles of Western liberal democracy on a global scale.
The September 11 attacks notwithstanding, there is nothing beyond liberal democracy `towards which we could expect to evolve'. Fukuyama concluded that there will be challenges from those who resist progress, `but time and resources are on the side of modernity'.
Indeed, but is 'modernity' on the side of liberal democracy? Fukuyama is very likely right that the current crisis with radical Islam will be overcome and that there will be no serious ideological challenge originating outside of Western civilization. However, the activities of the NGOs suggest that there is already an alternative ideology to liberal democracy within the West that has been steadily evolving for years. …