“Beyond Left and Right” was the tide of the Antiwar.com conference which brought together Pat Buchanan and Alexander Cockburn, Justin Raimondo and Lenora Fulani (to say nothing of two Chronicles editors) in the same room (if not all at the same time) for a broad critique of the aggressive New World Order launched by the Bush and Clinton administrations. It was a cordial exchange, in which left and right did not pass each other like ships in the night but crossed at a 90-degree angle after exchanging salutes. However, before quartering the hammer-and-sickle with the fleur-de-lis, opponents of U.S./NATO imperialism might ask what the two sides have in common.

To answer that question, most of the radicals and reactionaries in San Mateo, California, would agree in opposing the U.S. policy of imperialism and in condemning last year’s aggression against Yugoslavia. Beyond that point, agreement becomes more difficult, partly because so many different political perspectives are represented, partly because some of us—even most of us—are unclear about what we do believe or about how the United States turned into what it is today. If there is to be not a coalition but some sort of joint operation, both parties had better be clear about the limits of what they agree upon.

The only ideological coalition worth talking about will be the union of reactionary Christians when they find the will to resist the Jacobin governments that have destroyed their world, but even a popular front alliance should have its rules. At a bare minimum, it could not include sentimental pacifists who oppose the use of violence, civil disobedients who believe in doing evil that good may come of it, or nostalgic leftists who cannot believe that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Tito have let them down.

One part of the problem lies in the Cold War America to which so many conservatives look back as a Golden Age. America today, nearly all of us are children of the Cold War. Some of the speakers at the conference opposed the U.S. policy of containment, opposed the undeclared war in Vietnam that cost so many Vietnamese and American lives, and resisted fire demonization of the Russian people as our natural enemy. Others thought that communism was a nightmare menace that had to be kept in its box and still believe that Ronald Reagan’s buildup of file American war machine brought down the Berlin Wall and saved the world from an Evil Empire.

I understood both positions, because I had opposed both tire war in Vietnam and despised the American left’s manifest attraction to communism. Where were the isolationist reactionaries in die 60’s? Russell Kirk, I know, disliked America’s Southeast Asian adventure, but he kept his peace. What else was he to do? He was part of a coalition defined by aggressive anticommunism. Other isolationists drifted toward the left and found a home there. I do not know what would have happened if conservatives like Kirk could have joined forces with Eugene McCarthy and William Appleman Williams. Certainly, a different sort of coalition would have been the result. But after the death of Robert Taft, conservatives had little choice but to identify themselves with resistance to godless communism in what they regarded as a struggle for the world.

Near the end of the Cold War, Jean-François Revel published an influential book under the title, How Democracies Perish. Revel’s thesis, like the thesis of earlier Cold Warriors such as James Burnham, was a variation on the old story of Lenin and the rope: The greedy West, incapable of understanding the ideological force of communism, was collaborating with the very powers that would destroy it, and if communists lacked the money to buy the rope from the West, well, the West would always lend it to them.

On a deeper level, however, the West’s failure to combat its enemies can be traced to the very socioeconomic system it seeks to protect. In theory, the Cold Warriors were protecting the peoples of Britain, France, and the United States against the expansion of an evil empire, but nations can only be successfully defended by people who believe in nationhood, which is anathema to the liberal assumptions that are the foundation of most Western states.

At the heart of liberal democracy lies the conviction that all nations are the same or ought to be; and just as all individuals are, in principle, equal and should be able to compete in the marketplace for success, so all nations, cultures, and religions are basically equal, so long as they are willing to enter into the marketplace of ideological competition. Liberal nation-states cannot control immigration, restrict citizenship, or protect trade, precisely because the nation-state is only a temporary stop on the train line that leads to a globally integrated marketplace in which we are all—or ought to be—citizens of the world, not citizens of the United States.

In this quest for a global Utopia based on the principle of equality, modern states have undermined the family, made war upon the church, and ridiculed every principle of morality and common sense. As a substitute for divine law and the wisdom that comes from human experience, they have offered us a nonsensical philosophy of human rights, and to enforce these rights, they have broken every moral law known to civilized people while at the same time celebrating their moral superiority over the tribal cultures of the Balkans.

If anyone resists the conversion process, he and his people are labeled genocidal criminals; CNN will obligingly show doctored photos of concentration camps and mass graves; international tribunals will declare him guilty of crimes against human rights; and the U.S. government will put a price on his head—as if that were not in itself a crime.

During the Cold War, the diverse political and economic systems of the West were lumped together under the rubric of Western Democratic Capitalism. This was part of an effort to create a Western ideology with which to oppose the ideology of Marxist communism, but—and it is time to speak plainly—the democratic capitalism extolled by Cold War liberals (most of whom called themselves conservatives) and unreconstructed Trotskyists (who called themselves neoconservatives) has very little in common with the democracies of Switzerland and ancient Athens or, for that matter, with the old American republic.

Greek and Swiss democracy worked in small-scale communities and was actually based on the will of die people, and it has virtually nothing in common with the vast bureaucracies that govern the United States and the nations of the European Union. In fact these systems are the very opposite: For the Greeks, the family and the little community was almost everything; today, Western governments make war on the family and on every little community, whether ethnic or religious. The attempt to create a New World Order translates this principle of national and anti-human bureaucracy to the global level.

It is time to set aside the popular misconception that democracies do not wage aggressive war or establish empires. Who were the most democratic peoples in history? The Athenians who, as soon as they established a democracy, created an empire; (he Florentines, who subjugated most of central Italy; the liberal British monarchy of the 19th century that controlled India and much of Africa. Who were more democratic than the 19th-century Americans who annihilated the Indians, kicked the Spanish out of Florida, and grabbed a large part of the continent from Mexico before going on to subjugate the southern third of the republic?

The triumphant democrats went on to conquer Cuba and Puerto Rico and wage a genocidal war against the people of die Philippines. Democracies, both actual (like 19th-century America) and phony (like America today), are by their nature expansionist because they cater to the appetites of the masses and are enthralled by the rich and powerful. If you have any doubts, consider only the history of the United States in this century or even in the past ten years.

In our time, however, “democratic capitalism” is tar from democratic, and if capitalism has anything to do with die free market, it is not capitalist, either. America is fast becoming a plutocracy, and terms like “capitalism” and “free enterprise” are used loosely to mean a system of transnational corporations that seek to control the world’s business.

Any attempt to suppress economic freedom, as took place in the former Soviet Union and in die former Yugoslavia, has disastrous consequences both for a national economy and for human social life. Even the mixed economic systems of Scandinavia and Britain have tended to undermine creativity and initiative and to destroy social institutions. This is what so many of our potential allies on the left refuse to understand. They look at businessmen and see the enemy, but when the same corporate executive goes to work for the Department of Health and Human Services, he is working for the good of mankind.

Economic freedom is an essential quality of human dignity, and when governments attempt to repress that freedom—as they do in communist and socialist countries—they are destroying human dignity. In the West, however, which is supposedly devoted to economic liberty, governments regulate small businessmen in order to benefit the giant corporations, and under misnamed free trade agreements and the World Trade Organization, a small coterie of multinational executives is attempting to eliminate competition, destroy small economic communities (such as nations), and to replace free enterprise with a global economic bureaucracy that will act as a NATO without weapons, though they will always be able to call in the NATO troops whenever their usual methods of bribery and intimidation fail.

Free trade, in fact, nearly always spells empire. Who have been the greatest free-traders of the past two centuries? British imperialists and the bipartisan free-trade imperialists of the Bush-Clinton administrations. Libertarians and classical liberals have to decide whether they are going to be free-trade imperialists or patriotic isolationists.

True democracy, in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, means that the government leaves people alone—not simply as individuals, but as families and members of communities. A truly democratic state may not attempt to engineer an artificial unity of diverse regions and peoples, as the Italian fascists did; or suppress religion and shift populations, as Stalin did; or manipulate internal boundaries and laws to benefit one group at the expense of another, which is done in the United States today in the name of minority rights and in the old Yugoslavia. All these tricks, whatever pretty names they are called by, should be seen for what they are; parts of a political system that aims at total control over human social life.

In the United States, this revolutionary project began to take shape about the same time as Marxist revolution in Russia, but it was not until the 1930’s that American political leaders began to impose a national-socialist regime that paralleled developments in Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union. The American ideological state, however, is distinguished from the others in one important respect: Instead of relying on coercive force, on jackboots and lager, gulags and Pravda, the new American state employed the art of seduction. Consumerism, sexual immorality, prescription tranquilizers, and commercial TV more effectively undermined the old American character than any of the devices employed by the hard totalitarian states.

Fifteen years ago in Chronicles, we began to point out that Americans were no longer citizens of a republic but subjects of an empire, and that this imperial system has been erected on the ruins of our old republic. The new American religion of false democracy, rigged markets, and multicultural mass culture can only complete the destruction of Europe that was begun in Serbia by American bombs.

For our leaders, the ongoing task is to find ethnic brush wars in Chechnya or Kosovo that demand a graduated response of concern, alarm, condemnation, and intervention. The evidence of Bosnia and Kosovo suggests that this degraded Western elite will not be satisfied until the entire world is a Disneyland replica of San Diego. For them, nations do not exist except as local administrative units of the global marketplace; this attitude was revealed recently when a top Clinton administration official asked for an expanded role for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to protect refugees within a state—in other words, to give the UNHCR the implicit right to intervene in internal struggles.

What is the American left’s public response to the economic wing of the New World Order? Riots staged by androgynous hooligans who have watched one too many PBS documentaries on the 60’s. “You say you want a revolution . . . “—but they do not. A revolution requires courage and discipline.

We have seen these faces before, chaotic, resentful, stupefied. They danced in the streets at the Festival of Reason; they drank and fornicated behind the Paris barricades in 1848; and they greeted the Bolsheviks as the liberators of the human spirit from God, morality, mathematics, and hygiene.

The cultural left defines itself by its hatred of Christendom, but there are remnants of a more humane, almost Chestertonian left that sees the New World Order as the realization of the Rockefeller dream of one market/one state/ein Reich/ein Führer. They can see the mark of the beast on the faces of Madeleine Albright and George Soros, and—who knows?—in struggling against these devils, they may join the side of the angels.