Monday, January 29, 2007

Life in the Left

Nothing so low as a Fallen Angel. When the Guardian reprinted excerpts of Nick Cohen's book about the Left it faced a storm of commentary from its readers. I have an extract, provided courtesy of a reader, which suggests why the Leftist readers would find Cohen's book infuriating. All I can say is that Cohen barely fails to scratch the surface; in terms of absurdity and tragedy, of the Leftist Deep. Here's how the Guardian describes Cohen's book, and you can guess why its readers should find it so maddening.


Nick Cohen attacks many enemies in this book, and he believes they are very bad indeed. They include: Amnesty International, Harold Pinter, Noam Chomsky, the Comment pages of the Guardian, the London Review of Books, Robert Fisk, George Galloway, the Socialist Workers Party, Edward Said, the anti-war coalition and (for reasons I could not fathom) Virginia Woolf.

With the exception of Virginia Woolf, the above are accused of a grand, historic betrayal of the values of the left. Cohen insists they have surrendered to fascism. He holds that this betrayal is more profound and historically significant than the one committed by the left-wing intellectuals (among them Eric Hobsbawn and Raymond Williams) who apologised for the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939.

But the real power of Cohen's book lies in its portrayal of life in the Left itself. Karen Armstrong called Marxism the last great missionary impulse of Europe. It is possibly Europe's only indigenous world religion. Here is how its devotees lived.

In the early Seventies, my mother searched the supermarkets for politically reputable citrus fruit. She couldn't buy Seville oranges without indirectly subsidising General Francisco Franco, Spain's fascist dictator. Algarve oranges were no good either, because the slightly less gruesome but equally right-wing dictatorship of Antonio Salazar ruled Portugal. She boycotted the piles of Outspan from South Africa as a protest against apartheid, and although neither America nor Israel was a dictatorship, she wouldn't have Florida or Jaffa oranges in the house because she had no time for then President Richard Nixon or the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. ...

Thirty years later, I picked up my mother from my sister Natalie's house. Her children were watching a Disney film; The Jungle Book, I think. 'It's funny, Mum,' I said as we drove home, 'but I don't remember seeing any Disney when I was their age.' 'You've only just noticed? We didn't let you watch rubbish from Hollywood corporations.' ...

I come from a land where you can sell out by buying a comic. I come from the left. ...

I still remember the sense of dislocation I felt at 13 when my English teacher told me he voted Conservative. As his announcement coincided with the shock of puberty, I was unlikely to forget it. I must have understood at some level that real Conservatives lived in Britain - there was a Conservative government at the time, so logic dictated that there had to be Conservative voters. But it was incredible to learn that my teacher was one of them, when he gave every appearance of being a thoughtful and kind man.

It is really impossible to understand the rise of fascism in the world without taking a close look at the single most destructive ideology in modern history. I still remember a close German friend telling me that it was a mistake to imagine that his country's worst export was Hitler. Far from it, he said. That honor was reserved for Karl Marx.

30 Comments:

Blogger sam said...

"Pedagogia 2007" will include 18 symposiums, with lectures, round tables, workshops and debates. This year, the event comprises of 2,411 scientific papers -841 more than in the previous congress- which is a record.

In case of Cuba, participants will analyze issues like literacy campaigns, complete educational development, information technologies and communications.

Among special speeches are slated those of Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon, Public Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer and Higher Education Minister Juan Vela Valdes.


Cuba Looks at Education

1/29/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Don't imagine that Cohen's description is a caricature. I knew some of these people in England. He's dead-on accurate. Many of them lived their entire lives in thrall to the tawdry apocalyptic visions he recounts.

Socialism in the UK has now become an odd sort of zombie relic. Few people subscribe to its core beliefs, or even take them seriously, but it stumbles on primarily as a tribal phenomenon - the ideology is dead but the tribe still needs it to cohere. As Cohen describes so well, its members would be quite literally lost if they were to abandon it, as he was.

1/29/2007 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

You can read the Nick Cohen article at http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1995096,00.html

The amazing thing about it to me is that he is STILL a Lefty! And PROUD of it!

For example, he said that he hoped that the invasion of Iraq would free that country's people - but that "they" would ensure that Bush and Blair would be "hounded to their graves." He is distressed that the Left are not cheering for the freed Iraqis - but not that his friends still intend to hound the men responsible for that freedom to their graves.

And relative to the oranges issue, he still says that while it extended into absurdity, it was still a great thing to grow up in a household where every action was analyzed for its moral implications. And I suppose then after deciding not to buy oranges his Dad went out to sell shoes or play the clarinet or paint houses or whatever he did for a living. There is no indication of an awareness of those, such as the military, who devote - and sometimes give - their lives to a greater cause - but don't give a damn about pissant issues like where the oranges came from.

1/30/2007 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

meme:

I, too, can attest to the shabby state of grace inhabited not only by portions of the British Left, but enclaves of its American mimics, as well.

Anti-Americanism, in general, and Iraq, in particular seem to be the primary animating impulses, at present, even while the old 'wooden language' of class resentment and redistribution -- leavened with condemnations of 'racism' -- is still spoken.

Funny, but without 9/11 the Western frog was being slowly brought to a boil in a soft-Left broth of multi-culturalism and feminization. It's still going on, but at least some of the frog seems aware of it.

1/30/2007 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Wretchard,

Your close German friend is very wise.

1/30/2007 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

In less than 90 years, we (USA) haved saved them from:

1. the Kaiser and the Huns;
2. the Fuhrer and the Nazis; and
3. Josef and the Soviets.

Now, Osama and the jihadis are upon them (and us) and their (Euro) carping goes on.

Perhaps the EU should get real "real" and send surrender delegations to ObL and to D.C. to figure out where they may get better deal....

1/30/2007 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 01/30/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

1/30/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

3case, the refugees will likely stream westward, as usual.

1/30/2007 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger CatoRenasci said...

Reminds me of the Grape Boycott pushed by all the lefties at the behest of Caesar Chavez's UFWOC....

Coming from a wine industry family, my car had a bumper sticker:

Eat Grapes! The Forbidden Fruit!

1/30/2007 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

3case - 3Case said...
In less than 90 years, we (USA) haved saved them from:

1. the Kaiser and the Huns;
2. the Fuhrer and the Nazis; and
3. Josef and the Soviets.


It may be pleasingly jingoistic to say that, but it doesn't make it true.

A. WWI ended in German exhaustion and inability to stop the British Commonwealth nations thrusts in the North. The US entry was mainly a morale-booster for the French who had born the brunt of the war in the early years, we contributed the most by stopping the French collapse. We lost 1/20th as much as other nations did in casualties because we had 1/20th the contribution.
US entry was not decisive.

B. WWII European theater was won in the following order of contribution:

1. The Soviet Union.
2. The Soviet Union.
3. The Soviet Union.
4. The British Commonwealth inc. the Free Poles.
5. The USA.
20. The Free French

Europeans and Russians would have beat Germany without the US contribution or materials supplied, military historians believe. It just would have taken longer.

Our role in the Pacific theater was dominant, however and we rightly take nearly full credit for defeating the Japs.

C. The US played a bigger role in containing the Soviets after acquiescing to Soviet domination in Eastern Europe to set up what FDR called "Good 'Ol Joes Buffer".

The US had the primary military contribution, and contributed desperately needed funds in the modest Marshall Plan (far less than we have given Israel or "the noble Iraqis" in present value dollars).

What saved the W Europeans from the ideological challenge of Communism was the European Socialists and unions that managed to create an economy that worked better than the communist one while providing the secure welfare state Europeans wanted.

1/30/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

This is not what I intended to post on, but I cannot let it pass unanswered.

It may be pleasingly jingoistic to say that, but it doesn't make it true.

A. WWI ended in German exhaustion and inability to stop the British Commonwealth nations thrusts in the North. The US entry was mainly a morale-booster


And who, exactly, was producing the bombers -- and doing most of the bombing -- that exhausted Germany?

Somehow I'd missed that Patton was a Brit. I guess the 35th ID must have been British, too.

Look, the Canadians at Juno were the only ones to attain their D+1 objectives at Normandy. Monty and his friends stopped for friggin TEA when they opened a couple of draws.

The US were heavily involved in bombing sector IX of Budapest -- en beszelek magyarul whilst the Russians could make their progress primarily because the US had Germany tied down in the West such that reinforcement of the east was impossible.

It was a common effort, and without any of the major players -- Russia, Britain, America, and Canada -- it would have taken much longer.

1/30/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

What I intended to post on is this: the extent to which the Left in America is a species found primarily in academic and para-academic settings. I offer a single vignette, like one dot in a pointilliste painting.

Kansas State University is sponsoring a "sustainable agriculture" conference in February, the theme of which is the "well being of rural Kansas."

On the cover of the promotional flyer is an obviously Asian woman, apparently Hindu, with very long fingernails and a lacy shawl. Yup. Here's your honest-to-goodness Kansas farm wife. Let's hear it for diversity.

Highlighted speakers include a Japanese professor of Hindu Studies specialising in South Indian temple ritual traditions. She's speaking on "The Zen of Food."

Sessions on "Farmers' Markets bring the Community to the Table." You get the picture.

Not one hint that if a farm isn't profitable it isn't sustainable. End of discussion. Not a single thing on how to maximise return on investment through wise allociation of capital, which is the sine qua non of success in a farm business.

I farm for a living and the entire conference -- funded almost entirely at taxpayer expense -- is pretty well unrelated to the realities of earning a living on the land. That's the academic Left to a tee.

My point is this: The Left is completely out of touch, across the board. Geo-politics is only one facet of their dissociative disorder, though perhaps the most dangerous in today's world.

1/30/2007 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

C4, it may be pleasingly anti-jingo of you say such things, but an Axis command economy absorbing the production of Europe, Africa, and the entire Pacific side of the planet would've been damn hard for USSR, the Anglos sans USA, and the various undergrounds to have EVER beaten, even conditionally-to-terms.

1/30/2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

USSR infantry rolled on Detroit iron--that alone, in the breach, may've stabilized the eastern front, and taken it 'to terms'.

1/30/2007 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

...B. WWII European theater was won in the following order of contribution:

1. The Soviet Union.
2. The Soviet Union.
3. The Soviet Union.
4. The British Commonwealth inc. the Free Poles.
5. The USA.
20. The Free French...

C-4 is usually accurate on his most of his facts, but I would reduce it to the top three:

1. The Soviet Union for purposes of attrition.
2. The RAF and radar for wasting the Luffwafe, and providing the USAAC a base.
3. US industrial capacity and remotness to the battlefield.

No combination of the others would have been as effective but all may have eventually won, but matbe not.

1/30/2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

USSR would've been in HUGE pickle vs a Japanese Empire unmolested by the US Navy. I know the question is Europe-narrow, but USA resources applied to the Pacific theater, if applied--added--instead to Europe, would've made such a difference that no argument over the relative contributions to victory in Europe can leave it out and still make any sense. Just imagine the Siberian divisions that tipped the eastern front at Stalingrad being instead deployed 5,000 miles westward.

1/30/2007 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

2164th said...

"... I would reduce it to the top three:

1. The Soviet Union for purposes of attrition.
2. The RAF and radar for wasting the Luffwafe, and providing the USAAC a base.
3. US industrial capacity and remotness to the battlefield.

No combination of the others would have been as effective but all may have eventually won, but maybe not."

I would argue that Germany lost WW-II mainly for the same reason they began the war, i.e. having Hitler as Fuhrer. A competent leader would never have invaded the Soviet Union without first conquering England. Also that mutual defense treaty Germany made with Japan was an act of suicide.

1/30/2007 10:27:00 AM

1/30/2007 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Uh, duh, "eastward".

And, Stalingrad saved the Caspian/Caucasus oil, the lack of which greatly helped to finish the Luftwaffe--not to mention the Wehrmacht at the Bulge and ever after.

1/30/2007 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

C4 is correct in the contribution of the Soviet Union in the burial of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. However, but for the contribution of the Allies' bombing campaign and the Second Front, Hitler may have had the time he needed to perfect two things:

1. The atomic bomb.
2. Jet aircraft.

Had the war in the east continued into, say, 1946, Hitler might have been able to enrich uranium to the point where he could have developed one or two workable gun-type bombs that would have worked wonders against either Soviet tank formations or a Russian city, such as Moscow. The Soviets would have been forced to sue for peace, leaving the Fuhrer in much the same position that the Kaiser was left in 1917 after the fall of Kerensky.

Hitler's decision to declare war on the United States was the decisive German blunder of the war, even more so than Barbarossa. It irretrevebly took a negotiated settlement out of German hands.

C4 is dead on about the Pacific Theater, however.

1/30/2007 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

The Russians were certainly abused but what won the war were Hitler's critical strategic and tactical mistakes of which the Russians played no active part.
Hell the Finns kicked the Soviets butts for a good long time.
The Battle of Britain changed the entire course of the war in Europe as did Midway in the Pacific.
The Russians had land to trade and one good general, Georgi Zhukov. Stalin also didn't care about the "statistics" of the dead...20 million, shit naybody can make that decision. No the Russians didn't win it they just provided cannon fodder for the Germans who froze in the Russian winter. Just like Napoleaon.

1/30/2007 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Lord Acton said...

My favorite example of lefty dissonance:

So, war -- well, Einstein said this after World War I. He said, “War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished.” War has to be abolished, you know. And it’s -- I know it’s a long shot. I understand that, but you have to -- when something’s a long shot, but it has to be done, you have to start doing it. Just as the ending of slavery in this country in the 1830s was a really long shot, but people stuck at it, and it took 30 years, but slavery was done away with. And we can see this again and again. So, we have a job to do. We have lots of things to do.
-Howard Zinn

1/30/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Zinn never heard of "The Civil War" I take it?

His example of "gettin' it done" cost the two combatants what would be 7,000,000 killed, in today's population.

1/30/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger rab said...

I would like to suggest a genius named Alan Turning as an individual who had a major impact on the allies winning the war.

He was the codebreaker who figured out Enigma.A true turningpoint early in WW11.

1/30/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Buddy Larson is hitting close to it, but here are things to consider:
1. The USSR helped to START WWII, not only with their anti-aggression pact with Germany but by also invading Poland at the same time that Germany did. They were actively on the German side in Sept 1939. Also, the U.S. sent aid to Finland to help them with their war with the USSR.
2. The U.S. send massive quantities of supplies to the USSR: Thousands of aircraft, Jeeps, tanks, trucks, as well as raw material of all kinds, including steel. Many of the Katuyska rockets were made in the USA as were the Dodge trucks that carried many of them. Some Soviet units were equipped entirely with US vehicles and tanks. And some German units were equipped with Soviet made tanks, because so many were captured.
3. The Luftwaffe kicked butt so hard on the Eastern front they did not have to bother to take names. Erich Hartman shot down 352 planes, 95%+ of which were Soviet. Hans Rudel knocked out over 500 Soviet tanks using the obsolete Stuka. The only reason the Luftwaffe did not rip the Red Army to shreds was that the USAAF bled them white, with a great deal of help from the RAF.
4. The USSR refused to help in the Pacific, not entering the war there until it was over and not allowing shuttle bombing raids or even the use of their territory for emergency landings. If the Japanese had the luxury to help their Axis allies and attack the Soviets the USSR would have been SOL.

So the Soviets helped to start the war, fought it only where they had to, were our allies only very selectively, and consumed vast quantities of our material and technology without so much as a Thank You. They could not have survived without us. And if they bled a lot, by God they deserved to.

1/30/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Then, after the war, USSR paid itself back with master/slave relationships with every country where stood a Russian boot on VE Day. They still haven't returned the Kuril Islands --fat payment for a minimalist effort against EOJ in the closing weeks of the war.

1/30/2007 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger kymar said...

That's Alan Turing, not Turning, and his contributions to science and history go far beyond his role in breaking Enigma. In the spirit of ludicrous oversimplification and pontless provocation exemplified by Cedarford's statement on what "military historians believe," we can say that we owe the victory, the century, and life as we know it to a Jew and a homosexual.

Though I'm not sure it would have much to do with "life on the left."

1/31/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger rab said...

Alan Turing (1912-1954)

Suicide by cyanide

1/31/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

Cedarford wrote:

"Europeans and Russians would have beat Germany without the US contribution or materials supplied, military historians believe. It just would have taken longer.

Which is just absolutely ridiculous.

Sure, military historians may believe that, but some historians also try to deny the Holocaust.

1/31/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

C4,

As noted amply above, you wrong!

WWI was a stalemate with all side's pretty much bleeding out until we (USA) arrived.

WWII was 3 years of German conquest until we (USA) arrived.

The response about Euro-socialists building a vibrant economy to defeat the Soviets is some of the greatest fantasy I've read here...and you got in a chi-chi piddle on the Marshall Plan, to boot. Europe was rolled over, belly-up with it's tail between it's legs before the Soviets.

As to WWII, nobody mentioned the Fuhrer's failure to learn the lessons of Napolean as a contributing factor to Germany's loss in the East nor that Uncle Joe was saved conducting purges by throwing huge numbers of his populace into the maw of the German war machine...ever couunt those civilian deaths?

2/01/2007 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger ipw533 said...

A. WWI ended in German exhaustion and inability to stop the British Commonwealth nations thrusts in the North. The US entry was mainly a morale-booster for the French who had born the brunt of the war in the early years, we contributed the most by stopping the French collapse. We lost 1/20th as much as other nations did in casualties because we had 1/20th the contribution.
US entry was not decisive.

The US entered WWI at a time when the armies on the Western Front were in an intractible quagmire. The inertia was broken when the Germans signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Lenin, which allowed them to redeploy troops previously occupied with fighting the Russians to the west and enabled the 1918 Ludendorff offensive.

The Germans went into that offensive with both reinforced troop numbers and more effective tactics but still suffered from an exhausted logistical system. The French and British armies likewise were logistically exhausted, but were reinforced not only by fresh American fighters but by American supplies--the latter provided the edge that the Germans could not compete against.

B. WWII European theater was won in the following order of contribution:

1. The Soviet Union.
2. The Soviet Union.
3. The Soviet Union.
4. The British Commonwealth inc. the Free Poles.
5. The USA.
20. The Free French

Europeans and Russians would have beat Germany without the US contribution or materials supplied, military historians believe. It just would have taken longer.

Our role in the Pacific theater was dominant, however and we rightly take nearly full credit for defeating the Japs.

I'm curious to know which military historians would argue that the Allies, the USSR included, could have defeated Nazi Germany without the logistical assistance (and later the direct military assistance) of the US. Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve its strategic objectives largely due to German logistical failures but that doesn't necessarily mean that the Soviet Union would have militarily prevailed in the end; as late as early 1943 Stalin had clandestine peace feelers out to Hitler, although it's possible that those were merely there to apply pressure to the Anglo-Americans to create a western "Second Front".

In 1943 the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy created strategic threats the Germans could not ignore. Troops which could have been used to stabilize the Eastern Front had to be deployed to the Mediterranean Theater; this was exacerbated when German combat divisions had to be posted to France in response to the Normandy invasion.

What really made the difference was Casablanca. Roosevelt and Churchill made it clear to the Germans that nothing less than unconditional surrender would be accepted, and Stalin reluctantly went along but ratcheted up pressure for the "Second Front".

Could the Russians have defeated the Germans without our aid? IMO militarily that was possible, although the costs would have been even more horrible than what the USSR actually suffered. But in the Clausewitzian sense war is statecraft by other means--so there is no guarantee that Stalin could not have concluded a separate peace with Germany had Hitler been deposed.

The British served as an initial bulwark but would have been largely ineffective had it not been for the infusion of American troops and supplies. Britain's contribution to WWII was staying alive long enough to become an American staging area. As for the Free French and Free Poles, I will not denigrate their bravery and sacrifice in battle but I will note that they added little to the cold strategic calculus of the war.

What saved the W Europeans from the ideological challenge of Communism was the European Socialists and unions that managed to create an economy that worked better than the communist one while providing the secure welfare state Europeans wanted.

That, simply put, is damning with faint praise, and the jury's still out....

2/03/2007 12:40:00 PM  

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