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July 14, 2005

And Speaking Of The Decent Left...

Paul Berman was mentioned in that article linked below. He's mentioned much more prominently in a book review quoted, it seems, in full, by NormBlog.

Apparently Berman's book Terror and Liberalism has changed at least one mind. The reviewer confesses complete error in his thinking -- not in detail, he remarks, but in fundamentals.

The reviewer quotes Berman's analysis of the French left's response to the rise of Hitlerism-- to excuse it, to suggest that perhaps it wasn't all that bad (Weren't Jews guilty of at least something? Obviously the Germans must be angry with them for a reason), and then finally to actually support the collaborationist government imposed by the Nazis after the invasion:

To see the old process at work, one only has to look at how a large chunk of the world's liberal opinion has got itself into the position where it can't support Iraqi and Afghan liberals, socialists and feminists. You think the worst thing in the world is the developed countries because they brought the First World War, which to be fair is a charge worth making, or globalisation and McDonalds, which to be fair is a charge that is infantile. You are confronted with totalitarian movements, which are worse, and your first thought is to blame them on the West. Your second is to make excuses for them. Your third is to betray your comrades. Your fourth is to go up to the totalitarian movements and shake them by the hand.

As the Arabs say, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." The left seems to believe that on some level, perhaps unconscious, and can't quite bring itself to condemn lunatic barbarity simply because it seems opposed to the sorts of things they're opposed to as well -- American military power, globalization, capitalism, etc.

Would that more on the left realize that aphorism is a guideline, not a rule. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your enemy, too. This is probably the case when the enemy in question annouces, with little equivocation, that he hates you with a black passion and would like to murder you, no matter how progressive and tolerant your politics might be.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, when he announces that he hates you especially, because you are, after all, the ones most aggressively pushing the vile ideas of secularism, equality for women, more latitudinarian attitudes towards sex, and of course the crazy idea that homosexuals and victims of rape shouldn't be stoned to death.

Thanks to "someone."


More From Nick Cohen: Writing in the Guardian, of all places:

The instinctive response of a significant portion of the rich world's intelligentsia to the murder of innocents on 11 September was anything but robust. A few, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, were delighted. The destruction of the World Trade Centre was 'the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos,' declared the composer whose tin ear failed to catch the screams.

Others saw it as a blow for justice rather than art. They persuaded themselves that al-Qaeda was made up of anti-imperialist insurgents who were avenging the wrongs of the poor. 'The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty, so what is 20,000 dead in New York?' asked Dario Fo. Rosie Boycott seemed to agree. 'The West should take the blame for pushing people in Third World countries to the end of their tether,' she wrote.

In these bleak days, it's worth remembering what was said after September 2001. A backward glance shows that before the war against the Taliban and long before the war against Saddam Hussein, there were many who had determined that 'we had it coming'. They had to convince themselves that Islamism was a Western creation: a comprehensible reaction to the International Monetary Fund or hanging chads in Florida or whatever else was agitating them, rather than an autonomous psychopathic force with reasons of its own. In the years since, this manic masochism has spread like bindweed and strangled leftish and much conservative thought.

All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him.

Worth reading in full.

Thanks to Si.



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posted by Ace at 01:40 PM

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