Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History

By Harris Lee
Free Press, New York, 2004
ISBN 0-7432-5749-9

The United States is the blueprint for a utopia that works. Harris, who entered Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, as an adolescent, argues in this first book that the terrorists of September 11, 2001 have opened a fresh chapter of history. The following 12 chapters of this 232 page “essai” are devoted to a spirited defense of Pax Americana.

For this tasty polemic, Harris dips frequently into his only two previous published pieces on Al Qaeda and anti-Americanism which appeared recently in Policy Review, and also available at The first chapter in the book titled “The Riddle of the Enemy” is a slightly modified cut-and-paste from his original article on fantasy ideologies, where he concludes that modern ruthlessness can only be overcome by an equal attitude towards your enemy, an overt departure from Judeo-Christian morality. And, if Harris is not obsessed with the homosexuality of Spartan warriors and what he fondly refers to as “son-swapping,” he certainly displays a unique form of neo-conservatism, one where the family must be eradicated from our social fabric, the better to make way for “the team.” Read on, it gets even tastier.

In the next three chapters, our young writer takes his readers on a high-speed chase across the intellectual fields hitherto ploughed by Karl Marx, Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Naom Chomsky and, ultimately Samuel Huntington, whose essay on the clash of civilizations Harris not only espouses, but expands. This chase is entertaining if only because it reveals the depth at which Harris has conducted his reflections: there is just no escaping the enmity of man for man, don’t you know, and in particular there is no solution but to rally and defend against radical Islam whose fantasy ideology is the complete destruction of the West, loosely defined as the United States.

By the middle of the book, Harris reaches some of his perplexing perspectives: after a mind-altering review of the Arthur de Gobineau’s theories on race and a flash history the Spartan military system in ancient times, the author concludes that in order for us to be truly loyal to the common good, we must cut our ties to kith and kin, and ensure that our family and other relations are trumped by this, our new-found adherence to “the team.”

To bring his invitation into today’s context, and on achieving the liberating act, Harris writes on page 84: “If we are struggling to embody the values of liberal civilization in Iraq -by which is simply meant making Iraqis less addicted to the use of violence within their own national community - then we can only dimly imagine what a struggle must have faced the first people who set out to perform this miracle.”

In the next chapter, which answers the question “Who ultimately decides what is to be done?”, Harris also tells his reader how to find out whether you are standing on the right side of history: All you need to do, Harris explains, is ask yourself this question: “Do you want to see the rule by gang go the way of slavery and be driven from the face of the earthy, or do you believe that rule by gang is a natural right?”

By chapter ten, Harris appears to be at his most clear-headed, and here provides a superb rationalization for the cliché “might makes right.” Generously churning what he terms Hegelian dialectics with a few more handfuls of the history of military Sparta, and a dash of anti-patriarchy, the author concludes that he who stakes a claim, he who founds a city, makes enemies, but, thankfully, the ruthlessness, the dominance of this individual is inevitable.

The crowning chapter of this overly sweet intellectual edifice is introduced as no less than “the next stage of history.” Now, this segment explains to the eager reader how and why the bliss of a mid-day ice cream, a convertible BMW and the professional businessman’s conformity are the keys to the United States leadership heritage. Harris defends what many have termed American arrogance by asking if it is really so bad to think that jet travel is faster than a trip on camel-back, that modern medicine will offer better cures than a tribal witch doctor?

Whatever Harris was smoking when he was writing the rest of his book seems to have completely cleared his mind when we reach page 203. Here he paints the following portrait of America: we are uniquely equipped to act as the new sovereign not simply because of our power, but because of our tolerance. “The conservative bugaboo of multiculturalism, Harris continues, far from weakening the United States’ position has made it a historically unprecedented microcosm of the rest of the world…This is a remarkable achievement, and it is only an appalling historical insensitivity on the part of the Left that makes them blind to the world-historical significance of this fact - namely that the United States is a practical design for the next stage of human history: a utopia that works.”

Of interest to Canadian policy-makers is this distinction between sham and genuine multiculturalism: the bad sort of multiculturalism, Harris concludes, is the claim that one culture is more important than another, which used to be called racism. Real multiculturalism is respect for other cultures, which used to be called good manners. That many of the previous pages have taken his readers to the edge of racism while demanding that we shed our good thinking manners, does not at all detract from the alarming tone of Harris’s rhetoric: let the United States act unilaterally for the moment, for it is civilization itself that the United States is representing and defending against ruthless Muslim gangs, Harris warns in his final pages.

© 2004 Pluri Vox Media Corp.

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