Monday, September 27, 2004

The Hari-Hitchens Dilemma

After reading Johann Hari’s interview with Christopher Hitchens I started thinking about the future of antitotalitarian and progressive politics.

Hitchens is right in a way. These are early days yet, but the Neocons are proof that there is today a radical-democratic, internationalist and universalist Right promoting Enlightenment values. People like Wolfowitz and Perle are actually preaching the spreading of these values worldwide. A fairly idealist and radical approach.

Now, Hari also has a point. What Hari is saying is, what about social democracy? Shouldn’t we be promoting economic justice and welfare policies? Today democratization on a global scale seems to mean more or less free-market economics.

Hailing the Market alone as the be all and end all of things, is about as stupid and dangerous as hailing the all-powerful State. There needs to be a balance, and more precisely a system of checks-and-balances, for both the state AND the market.

So the role of the market seems to me to somehow still be the defining issue when it comes to the Left-Right divide.

However, the Neocons have proved to be more willing to use the state to promote democratic rights, which is something that cannot be said of the Libertarians and Neo-Liberals.

Then there is also the issue of factions within the Right and the Left. The far-Right Anarcho-Capitalists (i. e. extreme Libertarians/Neo-Liberals) often side up with the anti-war Left. So the isolationist Right and Left go hand in hand here. The Neocons and the Liberal and pro-war Left see eye to eye when it comes to toppling a fascist dictatorship in order to promote democracy and spreading Enlightenment values. They are in fact both UNIVERSALIST and INTERNATIONALIST.

So we should perhaps not be too eager to judge the Neocon faction just yet. I’ve said it before: perhaps we need something new. Something different. A Democratic Rejuvination. And perhaps this something doesn’t have to come from the Left, as it has done in the past. In our time, it might just be the Right that will take on this rejuvination of democracy. But like I said, it’s early days yet. We’ll have to wait and see.

From a Swedish point of view (for those of you who don’t know, I live in Sweden), the Left here is pretty much anti-war, “anti-globalization”, anti-American and nationalist. There hardly is a coherent Liberal Left or anything you could call a movement. Only disparate voices of dissent. And there aren’t too many, let me tell you.

The Swedish Right has been more ardent and vociferous in defending human rights and seeing the necessity of toppling dictatorship. It was in favour of the Iraq War and has been supportive of the struggle against terrorism.

So, for my part I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. And it’s beginning to give me a cramp.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The State of the Left

I’ve been on holiday, isolated from most of what’s been happening in the world, which in many ways is a good feeling. A feeling of relief. However, it didn’t take long to get back to reality. The terrorist atrocity in Beslan was a reminder of which lengths coldblooded religious fascists movements are prepared to go.

Yesterday, as I cruised through my favourite blogs (se roll on the right) I came across the appalling piece written by the self proclaimed anti-globalist queen Naomi Klein (can’t even be bothered to link to that complete work of tripe). This was also a reminder of what we’re up against these days.

Now, the problem with many people on the Left is that they claim to be antifascist, but in reality they are only antifascist up to a point. Or, to speak with the words of George Orwell:

The sin of nearly all left-wingers from 1933 onward is that they have wanted to be anti-Fascist without being anti-totalitarian.
(From the Orwell Essay titled Arthur Koestler)

Sadly, this is still true today. If it were 1936 today, a large part of the left would act as apologists for Franco’s fascists. This is at least a hypothetical parallel to Naomi Klein and her accolytes on the non-democratic and nationalist Left, who are now openly supporting Islamofascism.

Klein’s article, then, must be concidered a definitive defection to the Fascist or Totalitarian Left, if there can be thought to exist such a Left. And I think there does. Naomi Klein, John Pilger and Noam Chomsky are but a few examples of such a political distinction.

The problem with a great part of the Left is that it doesn’t seem to be willing to acknowledge the fact that Fascism and Totalitarianism in the guise of radical militant islamism is alive and well today. Fascism and the struggle against Fascism is thought of as a thing of the past. Something that ended with the downfall of The Third Reich and Hitler’s suicide in his bunker. It is not willing to try and understand that Fascism will take different shapes through history and that there will probably (and unfortunately one might add) always be some sort of Fascism around in some guise or other.

But the thing is, Fascism exists HERE and NOW. It is not a thing of the past. And it needs to be combated here and now.

The question then arises, how do we combat it? Well, by defending and extending our democratic and humanistic values. By a peaceful and open discussion and debate within our democratic communities. And by the use of force if necessary, and it has proven to be the case that it is necessary to fight religious Fascism.

I sometimes wonder about the state of the Left. That, maybe it’s not the Left that will be the bastion of democracy. That maybe there’s time for something new. Something that wouldn’t be called Left or Right. Something fresh with clear principles that would be free of stale ideological labels. A free and pro-active antitotalitarianism.

Because the thing with the Left is that it is not just the hard Left that is the problem. Even people within the moderate or liberal Left are unwilling to see the threat of Islamofascism and religious totalitarianism. If they also represent the left, then where do those of us who think of ourselves as belonging to a democratic, libertarian and antitotalitarian (centre-) Left go? What is our place within the Left? Should we leave the left for something else, as I suggested above (whatever that may be)? Or should the apologists of Islamofascism be forced out of the legitimacy and political acceptability that the concept of being on the Left provides?

Friday, September 03, 2004

Apologies

I have been on holiday and forgot to mention it before I left. My apologies. You'll here from me again in the near future.