Sunday, August 22, 2004

Hard Left Turns

Nick Cohen's "Where have all the children of the left gone?" in the Aug. 16 New Statesman contains a British version of an argument I've been making here: that the current "Left" in the Western nations is more like the Old Right than the old Left: isolationist, rubbishing democratic movements among oppressed peoples, toadying to shabby dictators who happen to share their ideologies and enemies.

The obvious conclusion to draw at the moment is that we are living in a rerun of the 1930s, and the liberal left is once again sucking up to tyranny. It is easy to think that way. Look at how the democratic left in Britain proved its futility and played into Tony Blair's hands when it allowed the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Workers Party to lead the anti-war movement. Look at the Independent, which has abandoned its founding principle of separating news from comment, so its front pages can imitate the manners of the Mail and scream at readers that the troubles of the world are the fault of democratic governments.

...Ask an Iraqi communist or Kurdish socialist today what support they have had from the liberal left and they won't detain you for long. Apart from the odd call from the Socialist International, there has been none worthy of the name. One expects the totalitarian left to be stuffed with creeps, but the collapse of the democratic left strikes me as catastrophic. Why couldn't it oppose the second Gulf war while promising to do everything possible to advance the cause of Iraqi democrats and socialists once the war was over? Why the sneering, almost racist pretence that Saddam had no honourable opponents?