Wednesday, May 05, 2004

What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

A column by Andrew Anthony in today's Guardian

Last week I had lunch with a friend who informed me that I was not "on the left". What prompted my friend's comment was an observation I made in this column that the Bali bombers blew up young Australian nightclubbers because they didn't like the way they danced. She thought this was flippant neo-imperialism. Well, let me put the record straight. That was not the only reason the bombers struck. According to Imam Samudra, the field commander for the attack, another aim was to seek vengeance for Australia's "part in efforts to separate East Timor from Indonesia".

The liberation of East Timor from Indonesian occupation used to be a defining cause of the left, but recently in some quarters it appears to have been trumped by the more anti-western, anti-liberal stance of jihad terrorists.
Oh well, the revolution moves on.
[I]n many ways, ["There is no such thing as society"] is a sentiment that some sectors of the left, in their obsession with identity politics, have come to endorse. So much so that the very idea of shared values and ideals, of belonging to a social whole, has become culturally suspect. For example, it used to be that a belief in a secular education for all was a central plank of the left. Not any more. For putting that case now, you would risk being dismissed as rightwing or, worse, racist.
I was inadvertently reminded of this historic error when reading a vacuous little book called The Betrayal of Dissent. Its author, Scott Lucas, argues that, starting with George Orwell and continuing with Christopher Hitchens, the British left has been let down by people who dare to question the left's position - in effect, that debate has been closed down by opening it up.

"We are beyond 'right' and 'wrong'," writes Lucas, regally. Actually, he is beyond parody and understanding, but I think he speaks to a political instinct that is not so much left as right-on. And it is this desire to appear more radical-than-thou, to be more marginal, more against, that has prevented the kind of rigorous thinking that might lead to new ideas on the left.
emphases mine
via Harry