The American Interest

Jihad's Enablers

Almost 80 years ago, Julien Benda published his tirade against the intellectual corruption of his time, La Trahison des Clercs. The "scribes" in question are those who traffic in words and ideas. For generations before the 20th century, Benda wrote, members of the Western intellectual elite made sure that "humanity did evil, but honored good." The "treason" occurred when they gave up promoting lasting values that transcend ethnic and other divisions of mankind and allowed political preferences to distort their understanding of the intellectual vocation as such.

Benda's argument, while based on the flawed assumptions of the Enlightenment, found wide resonance at a time when fascism, Nazism, and Bolshevism dominated Europe's political and intellectual scene. Today, the treason of the elite class takes the opposite form. It upholds the allegedly universal propositions of "democracy" and "multiculturalism" to the detriment of the particular value of our civilization and its fruits. In no field is this problem more visible than in the schizophrenic approach of the elite class to the "War on Terror."

The fatuity of the antiterrorist strategy of President George W. Bush and his national-security team was unintentionally encapsulated in a speech he gave to the National Endowment for Democracy on October 6. He opened by stating that America stands guard...

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