Friday, July 14, 2006

In Defence of Euston

A rather snippy interview was conducted between David Horowitiz (from, Norman Geras and Nick Cohen, who are both supporters of the Euston Manifesto. Horowitz makes a number of outlandish claims, most of them lumping every possible idea on the left into one monolithic group, and thankfully Geras and Cohen take him to task on it.

The Front Page Moderator said:
“I am not sure how a pro-capitalist and a democratically-minded conservative is obliged to answer for people who are part of some racist organization or a torturing military junta.”

With which Geras rightfully responds:
“I'm also puzzled as to why you find it easy to make distinctions within the right - as between 'a pro-capitalist and... democratically-minded conservative' on the one hand, and "racist organization(s) or a torturing military junta" on the other - while having difficulty allowing that there could be people on the left not complicit in the crimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.”

This is my criticism of Front Page as a whole. To assume that all of those on one side of the political spectrum somehow see eye to eye is ridiculous. The same goes for those on the left that see everything on the right as fascist and totalitarian. Not only is it untrue, but it is a childishly simplistic way to see the world.

Geras gives a lengthy statement defending the Euston Manifesto and the ideas is perpetuates.
“David, I don't think it took great courage to issue the Euston Manifesto. That there are people on the left who haven't taken kindly to it is true, but then the same people haven't taken kindly to many of the positions that Nick and I were arguing for before the manifesto was produced. The 'price' they exact for not thinking what they do doesn't especially trouble me, whereas thinking what they do would.

I don't believe it will be productive for me to pursue further the questions the two of you are asking that are based on superimposing your understanding of what the left has historically been on mine or Nick Cohen's. I've already said why I don't accept that view of it. You seem to have no difficulty with the notion of a right composed of different political currents or "types" - that is the clear implication of knowing the difference between a democratically-minded conservative and a racist or a fascist - but when it comes to the left you squeeze down, and squeeze out, people of democratic outlook as if the space between Stalin and Pol Pot, on the one hand, and Tony Blair, on the other, was all but empty. It isn't - and never has been.

As of now, it's impossible to say what the long-term significance of the Euston Manifesto will be. But it wasn't envisaged as starting a "movement", as you imply - merely as providing a rallying point, in the first instance, for leftists and liberals with similar commitments to those articulated in the document. Why bother? Why not just turn my back on the left? Adapting something else I wrote recently, two reasons.

First, even for someone who doesn't regard the left as the best place to be politically, a more rather than a less healthy Left is surely to be desired. In politics you don't know how many will agree with what you have to say until you've said it, and there are already signs that what we've said in the Euston Manifesto - about holding firm to democratic principles and universal human rights, about not making excuses for tyranny or terrorism, about opposing anti-Americanism and not selling short the liberal tradition of freedom of ideas - has found a welcome from a section of left-liberal opinion. How far this will go remains to be seen, but except from a very narrowly partisan view, it has to be better for public debate and the well-being of the polity, that those on the "other side" from you are attached to principles of a better rather than a worse kind.

Second, for those of us who haven't given up on the left, there is more reason still why we shouldn't want to see democratic and universalist values made light of. We see these values as linked to others which have always been the special concern of the left. No one else can be relied on to defend them. Daniel Finkelstein wrote in The (London) Times that the "task of persuading the Left is... unnecessary": for if the Euston Manifesto had been published by rightwingers, support for it on the Right would have been overwhelming. But that isn't true of some of the manifesto's positions - for example, its embrace of broadly egalitarian principles and of trade unions as the "bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests", and its defence (in Shalom Lappin's words) of "the integrity of the public domain against the onslaught of privatization and expropriation that has resulted from the dogmatic pursuit of neo-liberal ideas". Some conservative voices have, in welcoming the manifesto, expressed clear reservations about these aspects of it.”
I recently stumbled upon this nice site that focuses on moderate Muslim voices and thought. Definitely something to check out.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More on those Juvenile Activists

A comment at Indybay Santa Cruz concerning the Denton protests states:
“It hurts to see deserving human issues reduced to screaming indictments of those not responsible. UC may have big problems, but Denise Denton caused none of them. Why she became the poster child for all of the UC system problems is unclear to me. Was it because she was an easy target? A lesbian. Why have there not been rants against the person responsible for the current situation in UC and who offered Denton the job? Only women have come under fire.”

There are a few problems with this assessment. First of all, I don’t believe Denton received more criticism from the activist community than the school's previous chancellor, Marcy Greenwood. To claim that Denton was picked on because she was a woman and a lesbian is more than a small stretch.

The activists on the UCSC campus rarely use good judgment and reason when they decide to wage a campaign against an individual. Simply take a look at last years transit strike in Santa Cruz, where a number of activists thought it was a good idea to go protest at a Metro Transit board member’s home one Sunday night. Simply astonishing that they felt their actions would produce a positive result.

The activist community isn’t thinking, and that is why they single out one or two individuals for their self righteous posturing. It is much easier to get pissed off and blame an individual than it is to realize that the world is complex and rarely do administrative bureaucrats have complete control over a complex institution such as a university.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

International I.D.I.O.T.S

If any of you still need a reason to doubt International A.N.S.W.E.R and its leadership within the anti-war movement, take a look at this piece by Sherrie Gossett.
“The large turnout signals an invigoration of the anti-war movement, which has been increasingly dominated by the international A.N.S.W.E.R coalition, an organizational front group formed by the International Action Coalition. Closely allied with IAC is the World Workers Party, a quasi-Stalinist organization that supports authoritarian regimes and Communist dictatorships. Also at the forefront in the weekend demonstration and current anti-war protests was the "Not In Our Name" campaign started by Clark Kissinger of Refuse and Resist, an organization affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, of which Kissinger is a member and writer for its newspaper.
The controversial ties of IAC remain almost completely unreported by the mainstream media, but increasingly are being exposed by a handful of enterprising Internet journalists, including Michelle Goldberg and Ian Williams of, Michael Tremoglie, Edward Immler and David Horowitz of, and Christopher Hitchens, a 20-year veteran of The Nation magazine, now writing independently. The controversy has spread to the commentary pages of Mother Jones and has Justin Raimondo of crying foul while bemoaning his experiences at San Francisco's "Baghdad-by-the-Bay."
A small group of left-wing, right-wing and libertarian activists and writers now accuse the organization's elite of being sellouts to foreign dictators while giving lip service to humanitarian concerns. They say this "patina of morality" obfuscates a surreptitious political agenda: the armed overthrow of the American republic.“

Monday, July 10, 2006

Why Liberalism is Important

In my life, I have come across a number of lifestyles that are considered inappropriate, and at worse, deviant by a large portion of society. I have contemplated the role of “outsiders” in our society for some time, and it has inevitably led me to liberalism, and this is why (in 500 words of less for the MTV Generation), I have come to define myself as such.

Every individual adult should be able, and allowed to decide the lifestyle they want to live. Communitarian philosophies (socialism, communism, fascism, populism) all aim to bind the choices each individual makes to that of the community at large. As picturesque as that may seem, friends of mine who have decided that they were women inside, regardless of the genitalia they were born with would not be allowed to be in most of these societies. Or perhaps someone would like to spend hours and hours on collecting old records and being generally anti-social. They have a right to do so, even if the society as a whole does not find such hobbies acceptable. In a communitarian society, such acts may not be acceptable if the society as a whole does not agree with it.

In a nutshell, this is why I am a Liberal. I believe an individual should be allowed to make their own life choices, and not have to conform to those around them. It would be terrible to not have my friends who were gay, and not have friends who enjoyed anti-social hobbies. I want the world to be a place that all individuals can be who they truly feel they are.

This hardly means I advocate many of the lifestyles I may defend (drug use, promiscuity). I am an active Christian, and I constantly conform to the rules and community my church has fashioned. But it is my choice to live in such a way, not the states.

That is why I am a Liberal.

Still protesting…Still not listening

Yes, they are probably right; developers don’t care what a few college lefties have to say. Thank God.