[VIDEO] Nick Cohen Can’t Take it Anymore: ‘Why I’ve Finally Given Up On The Left’Posted: September 17, 2015
Left-wing thought has shifted towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic. It is insupportable.
Nick Cohen writes: ‘Tory, Tory, Tory. You’re a Tory.’ The level of hatred directed by the Corbyn left at Labour people who have fought Tories all their lives is as menacing as it is ridiculous. If you are a woman, you face misogyny. Kate Godfrey, the centrist Labour candidate in Stafford, told the Times she had received death threats and pornographic hate mail after challenging her local left. If you are a man, you are condemned in language not heard since the fall of Marxist Leninism. ‘This pathetic small-minded jealousy of the anti-democratic bourgeois shows them up for the reactionary neocons they really are,’ a Guardian commenter told its columnist Rafael Behr after he had criticised Corbyn.
Not that they are careful about anything, or that they will take advice from me, but the left should be careful of what it wishes for. Its accusations won’t seem ridiculous soon. The one prophesy I can make with certainty amid today’s chaos is that many on the left will head for the right. When they arrive, they will be greeted with bogus explanations for their ‘betrayal’.
Conservatives will talk as if there is a right-wing gene which, like male-pattern baldness, manifests itself with age. The US leftist-turned-neocon Irving Kristol set the pattern for the pattern-baldness theory of politics when he opined that a conservative is a liberal who has been ‘mugged by reality’. He did not understand that the effects of reality’s many muggings are never predictable, or that facts of life are not always, as Margaret Thatcher claimed, conservative. If they were, we would still have feudalism.
[Check out Nick Cohen‘s book “You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom” at Amazon.com]
The standard explanation from left-wingers is equally self-serving. Turncoats are like prostitutes, they say, who sell their virtue for money. They are pure; those who disagree with them are corrupt; and that is all there is to it.
Owen Jones, who seems to have abandoned journalism to become Jeremy Corbyn’s PR man, offers an equally thoughtless argument. ‘Swimming against a strong tide is exhausting,’ he sighed recently. Leftists who stray from virtue are defeated dissidents, who bend under the pressure to conform.
It won’t wash, particularly as Jones cannot break with the pressures that enforce conformity in his left-wing world and accept the real reason why many leave the left. It ought to be obvious. The left is why they leave the left. Never more so than today.
In the past, people would head to the exits saying, ‘Better the centre right than the far left.’ Now they can say ‘better the centre right than the far right’. The shift of left-wing thought towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic has been building for years. I come from a left-wing family, marched against Margaret Thatcher and was one of the first journalists to denounce New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism — and I don’t regret any of it. But slowly, too slowly I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.
In 2007 I tried to make amends, and published What’s Left. If they were true to their professed principles, my book argued, modern leftists would search out secular forces in the Muslim world — Iranian and Arab feminists, say, Kurdish socialists or Muslim liberals struggling against reactionary clerics here in Britain — and embrace them as comrades. Instead, they preferred to excuse half the anti-western theocrats and dictators on the planet. As, in their quiet way, did many in the liberal mainstream. Throughout that period, I never heard the BBC demanding of ‘progressives’ how they could call themselves left-wing when they had not a word of comfort for the Iraqi and Afghan liberals al-Qaeda was slaughtering.
The triumph of Jeremy Corbyn has led to What’s Left? sales picking up, and readers acclaiming my alleged prescience. Grateful though I am, I cannot accept the compliment. I never imagined that left-wing politics would get as bad as they have become. I assumed that when the criminally irresponsible Blair flew off in his Learjet, the better angels of the left’s nature would re-assert themselves.
What a fool I was.
Jeremy Corbyn did not become Labour leader because his friends in the Socialist Workers party organised a Leninist coup. Nor did the £3 click-activist day-trippers hand him victory. He won with the hearty and freely given support of ‘decent’ Labour members.
And yes, thank you, I know all about the feebleness of Corbyn’s opponents. But the fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care.
They don’t put it like that, naturally. Their first response is to cry ‘smear’. When I show that it is nothing of the sort, they say that he was ‘engaging in dialogue’, even though Corbyn only ever has a ‘dialogue’ with one side and his ‘engagement’ never involves anything so principled as robust criticism.
A few on the British left are beginning to realise what they have done….(read more)
Source: The Spectator
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 19 September 2015
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