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?


At September 14, 2004 at 7:08 AM, Blogger Patton said...

Concise, highly readable, and inarguable.

Welcome back.

At September 14, 2004 at 11:18 AM, Blogger Frederick said...

Thanks for your kind words, Mike. It's good to be back.

At September 15, 2004 at 3:25 AM, Blogger Nick said...

What is the antitotalitarian Left? What makes it different, for instance, from the antitotalitarian Right? If not socialism, which I think is totalitarian, then what? "Social justice" is vague, and the closer you get to it, in the sense of an egalitarian distribution of resources, the less of an open market there is, and the more totalitarian the system becomes. What are the principles of the antitotalitarian Left, and how do you apply those principles in domestic politics? How do the principles allow for some movement towards egalitarianism, but stop short of totalitarianism? What is the actual program?

At September 15, 2004 at 11:45 AM, Blogger Frederick said...


You ask some very good questions. What is an Antitotalitarian Left? Is it different from the Antitotalitarian Right? Theser are the kind of questions I think it is necessary to ask oneself.

In the broadest sense, being Antitotalitarian in my opinion goes beyond the categories of Left and Right. It is a kind of superstructure that can be applied to either on parts of the Left or parts of the Right.

Ideologically, there are of course differences on several issues -- such as the role of market mechanisms that you yourself mention. So I guess that being on the democratic Left means wanting checks and balances not just when it comes to state institutions, but also when it comes to market issues.

I consider myself to be of the libertarian and egalitarian centre-Left. I believe that there can be no freedom without equality, and no equality without freedom. These are complementary forces and you cannot emphasize one at the cost of the other. This is the historical mistake of Communism and laissez-faires Liberalism. The Communist bias towards equality stifles liberty, and the laissez-faires Liberal bias towards liberty stifles equality.

So, to me an Antitotalitarian Left would be one that is as strongly libertarian as it is egalitarian. Some might consider this utopian, but I believe it is necessary in order to prevent people from becoming slaves under conformism and centralism on the one hand, or of poverty and discrimination on the other hand.

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