Thursday, July 13, 2006


A Front Page interview about the Euston Manifesto turns into an exercise of four people talking past each other.

Draw your own conclusions but it strikes me as a wasted effort. Horowitz and Glazov seem convinced the Left has consistently attacked liberal democracy, whilst Cohen and Geras disagree.

A real shame, as by the end of the interview, readers will have no better idea about the Manifesto.

The following two comments sum up the exchange rather well:
Horowitz: Well, I guess through leftist lenses every good thing looks red.
and the counter:
Geras: [Y]ou simply recycle the same thought from which both you and Jamie started: namely, that the left is a kind of monolith of badnesses of various kinds, and it's puzzling why we should want to be "part" of this, be "engaging" with it, be "identifying" with it. The thing becomes easier to grasp once you see that, like the right, the left is not in fact a monolith; there is variety within it and there always has been.
A pity that instead of engaging Cohen and Geras on the content of the Manifesto and where it differs from their Rightist standpoint, Horowitz and Glazov preferred to focus on severe errors of judgment from Leftists in the past. Cohen and Geras both acknowledge how disgusting it is that supposed Leftists defend tyrants and dictators and how such views ought to be incompatible with Leftist thought. The interviewers give the impression that such views are inherent to the Left, which is simply untrue.

Certainly, the 20th century saw all kinds of unholy alliances. For current Leftists to be held responsible for the filthy allegiances of the past makes little sense - one might as well pose a similar question to Horowitz and Glazov as to why they feel the urge to belong to a movement that has previously aligned itself with fascists and dictatorships under the guise of realpolitik. It would be nonsense to tar all conservatives with the same brush.

Nick Cohen sums up this "debate" rather well:
I have never been a part of the totalitarian Left, and I'm not at all clear why you say that I have with such confidence. Suppose I were to assert that you were a part of the Nazi or Ku Klux Klan tradition, and you were to reply that you were no such thing. Suppose I were to insist that you were on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, to display a near total ignorance of all the democratic strands on the American Right and to keep repeating the same charge without substantiation or modification.

I suspect you would feel you were debating with a man who was ever so slightly unhinged and give up.

I give up.
A missed opportunity there, Front Page.


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