• Hi Guest: Welcome to TRIBE, the online home of TRIBE MAGAZINE. If you'd like to post here, or reply to existing posts on TRIBE, you first have to register. Join us!

The Left as a traitor to Leftism?

Deep_Groove

TRIBE Member
Here's a good op-ed I found...

A Friendly Drink in a Time of War

by Paul Berman


A friend leaned across a bar and said, "You call the war in Iraq an antifascist war. You even call it a left-wing war-a war of liberation. That language of yours! And yet, on the left, not too many people agree with you."

"Not true!" I said. "Apart from X, Y, and Z, whose left-wing names you know very well, what do you think of Adam Michnik in Poland? And doesn't Vaclav Havel count for something in your eyes? These are among the heroes of our time. Anyway, who is fighting in Iraq right now? The coalition is led by a Texas right-winger, which is a pity; but, in the second rank, by the prime minister of Britain, who is a socialist, sort of; and, in the third rank, by the president of Poland-a Communist! An ex-Communist, anyway. One Texas right-winger and two Europeans who are more or less on the left. Anyway, these categories, right and left, are disintegrating by the minute. And who do you regard as the leader of the worldwide left? Jacques Chirac?-a conservative, I hate to tell you."

My friend persisted.
"Still, most people don't seem to agree with you. You do have to see that. And why do you suppose that is?"
That was an aggressive question. And I answered in kind.

"Why don't people on the left see it my way? Except for the ones who do? I'll give you six reasons. People on the left have been unable to see the antifascist nature of the war because . . . "-and my hand hovered over the bar, ready to thump six times, demonstrating the powerful force of my argument.

"The left doesn't see because -" thump!-"George W. Bush is an unusually repulsive politician, except to his own followers, and people are blinded by the revulsion they feel. And, in their blindness, they cannot identify the main contours of reality right now. They peer at Iraq and see the smirking face of George W. Bush. They even feel a kind of schadenfreude or satisfaction at his errors and failures. This is a modern, television-age example of what used to be called 'false consciousness.'"

Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of otherwise intelligent people have decided, a priori, that all the big problems around the world stem from America. Even the problems that don't. This is an attitude that, sixty years ago, would have prevented those same people from making sense of the fascists of Europe, too."

Thump! "Another reason: a lot of people suppose that any sort of anticolonial movement must be admirable or, at least, acceptable. Or they think that, at minimum, we shouldn't do more than tut-tut-even in the case of a movement that, like the Baath Party, was founded under a Nazi influence. In 1943, no less!"

Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of people, in their good-hearted effort to respect cultural differences, have concluded that Arabs must for inscrutable reasons of their own like to live under grotesque dictatorships and are not really capable of anything else, or won't be ready to do so for another five hundred years, and Arab liberals should be regarded as somehow inauthentic. Which is to say, a lot of people, swept along by their own high-minded principles of cultural tolerance, have ended up clinging to attitudes that can only be regarded as racist against Arabs.

"The old-fashioned left used to be universalist-used to think that everyone, all over the world, would some day want to live according to the same fundamental values, and ought to be helped to do so. They thought this was especially true for people in reasonably modern societies with universities, industries, and a sophisticated bureaucracy-societies like the one in Iraq. But no more! Today, people say, out of a spirit of egalitarian tolerance: Social democracy for Swedes! Tyranny for Arabs! And this is supposed to be a left-wing attitude? By the way, you don't hear much from the left about the non-Arabs in countries like Iraq, do you? The left, the real left, used to be the champion of minority populations-of people like the Kurds. No more! The left, my friend, has abandoned the values of the left-except for a few of us, of course."

Thump! "Another reason: A lot of people honestly believe that Israel's problems with the Palestinians represent something more than a miserable dispute over borders and recognition-that Israel's problems represent something huger, a uniquely diabolical aspect of Zionism, which explains the rage and humiliation felt by Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia. Which is to say, a lot of people have succumbed to anti-Semitic fantasies about the cosmic quality of Jewish crime and cannot get their minds to think about anything else.

"I mean, look at the discussions that go on even among people who call themselves the democratic left, the good left-a relentless harping on the sins of Israel, an obsessive harping, with very little said about the fascist-influenced movements that have caused hundreds of thousands and even millions of deaths in other parts of the Muslim world. The distortions are wild, if you stop to think about them. Look at some of our big, influential liberal magazines-one article after another about Israeli crimes and stupidities, and even a few statements in favor of abolishing Israel, and hardly anything about the sufferings of the Arabs in the rest of the world. And even less is said about the Arab liberals-our own comrades, who have been pretty much abandoned. What do you make of that, my friend? There's a name for that, a systematic distortion-what we Marxists, when we were Marxists, used to call ideology."

Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of people are, in any case, willfully blind to anti-Semitism in other cultures. They cannot get themselves to recognize the degree to which Nazi-like doctrines about the supernatural quality of Jewish evil have influenced mass political movements across large swaths of the world. It is 1943 right now in huge portions of the world-and people don't see it. And so, people simply cannot detect the fascist nature of all kinds of mass movements and political parties. In the Muslim world, especially."

Six thumps. I was done. My friend looked incredulous. His incredulity drove me to continue.

"And yet," I insisted, "if good-hearted people like you would only open your left-wing eyes, you would see clearly enough that the Baath Party is very nearly a classic fascist movement, and so is the radical Islamist movement, in a somewhat different fashion-two strands of a single impulse, which happens to be Europe's fascist and totalitarian legacy to the modern Muslim world. If only people like you would wake up, you would see that war against the radical Islamist and Baathist movements, in Afghanistan exactly as in Iraq, is war against fascism."
I grew still more heated.

"What a tragedy that you don't see this! It's a tragedy for the Afghanis and the Iraqis, who need more help than they are receiving. A tragedy for the genuine liberals all over the Muslim world! A tragedy for the American soldiers, the British, the Poles and every one else who has gone to Iraq lately, the nongovernmental organization volunteers and the occupying forces from abroad, who have to struggle on bitterly against the worst kind of nihilists, and have been getting damn little support or even moral solidarity from people who describe themselves as antifascists in the world's richest and fattest neighborhoods.

"What a tragedy for the left-the worldwide left, this left of ours which, in failing to play much of a role in the antifascism of our own era, is right now committing a gigantic historic error. Not for the first time, my friend! And yet, if the left all over the world took up this particular struggle as its own, the whole nature of events in Iraq and throughout the region could be influenced in a very useful way, and Bush's many blunders could be rectified, and the struggle could be advanced."

My friend's eyes widened, maybe in astonishment, maybe in pity.
He said, "And so, the United Nations and international law mean nothing to you, not a thing? You think it's all right for America to go do whatever it wants, and ignore the rest of the world?"

I answered, "The United Nations and international law are fine by me, and more than fine. I am their supporter. Or, rather, would like to support them. It would be better to fight an antifascist war with more than a begrudging UN approval. It would be better to fight with the approving sanction of international law-better in a million ways. Better politically, therefore militarily. Better for the precedents that would be set. Better for the purpose of expressing the liberal principles at stake. If I had my druthers, that is how we would have gone about fighting the war. But my druthers don't count for much. We have had to choose between supporting the war, or opposing it-supporting the war in the name of antifascism, or opposing it in the name of some kind of concept of international law. Antifascism without international law; or international law without antifascism. A miserable choice-but one does have to choose, unfortunately."

My friend said, "I'm for the UN and international law, and I think you've become a traitor to the left. A neocon!"
I said, "I'm for overthrowing tyrants, and since when did overthrowing fascism become treason to the left?"
"But isn't George Bush himself a fascist, more or less? I mean-admit it!"

My own eyes widened. "You haven't the foggiest idea what fascism is," I said. "I always figured that a keen awareness of extreme oppression was the deepest trait of a left-wing heart. Mass graves, three hundred thousand missing Iraqis, a population crushed by thirty-five years of Baathist boots stomping on their faces-that is what fascism means! And you think that a few corrupt insider contracts with Bush's cronies at Halliburton and a bit of retrograde Bible-thumping and Bush's ridiculous tax cuts and his bonanzas for the super-rich are indistinguishable from that?-indistinguishable from fascism? From a politics of slaughter? Leftism is supposed to be a reality principle. Leftism is supposed to embody an ability to take in the big picture. The traitor to the left is you, my friend . . ."

But this made not the slightest sense to him, and there was nothing left to do but to hit each other over the head with our respective drinks.

Paul Berman is the author of Terror and Liberalism. His book The Passion of Joschka Fischer will come out in the spring.

This article is from the Winter 2004 issue of Dissent Magazine

- Deep_Groove
 

derek

TRIBE Member
"Why don't people on the left see it my way? Except for the ones who do? I'll give you six reasons. People on the left have been unable to see the antifascist nature of the war because . . . "-and my hand hovered over the bar, ready to thump six times, demonstrating the powerful force of my argument.

does he show aggression to demonstrate the powerful force of his arguement? or he, more likely, has nothing to substantiate what he's saying. the aggression is more of a tact: he who is loudest is right.

if your arguement is well supported than force is not necessary.

left / right doesn't matter. if you have eyes, ears, and a brain you can observe what's happing, and see what's goin on in the world is wrong.
 

Jazz

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Deep_Groove
and my hand hovered over the bar, ready to thump six times, demonstrating the powerful force of my argument.

Thump!...
Thump!...
Thump!...
etc.
we're supposed to take this guy seriously? who the fuck writes tripe like this?!

THUMP THUMP THUMP... the sound of my cock slapping the face of this shitty article...
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: The Left as a traitor to Leftism?

Originally posted by Jazz
we're supposed to take this guy seriously? who the fuck writes tripe like this?!

THUMP THUMP THUMP... the sound of my cock slapping the face of this shitty article...
*giggle*






....oh yes, I giggled.
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

~atp~

TRIBE Member
I'm ridiculously bored, so I'll entertain this briefly (while maintaining my snarky attitude...)

First, the argument is so ridiculously over-simplified that it should almost offend the neo-conservative types who read it; somehow, the author thinks he can make generalizations about "the left" that are utterly simplistic, unfounded and fantastical. Not a single bit of meaningful insight was provided, and therefore this article would never do any more than serve as candy for the minds of the already-converted-to-the-moronic. (NO names shall be mentioned here..............*ahem*)

Originally posted by :rolleyes:
"The left doesn't see because -" thump!-"George W. Bush is an unusually repulsive politician, except to his own followers, and people are blinded by the revulsion they feel. And, in their blindness, they cannot identify the main contours of reality right now. They peer at Iraq and see the smirking face of George W. Bush. They even feel a kind of schadenfreude or satisfaction at his errors and failures. This is a modern, television-age example of what used to be called 'false consciousness.'"

Bambi coulda been president for all I care, my "false consciousness" would still reject the idea of invading Iraq given the pretext, which was not, by the way, related in any way to democracy or fascism.

Originally posted by ;)
Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of otherwise intelligent people have decided, a priori, that all the big problems around the world stem from America. Even the problems that don't. This is an attitude that, sixty years ago, would have prevented those same people from making sense of the fascists of Europe, too."

I never generalize. I'd much rather point out the American government's fuckups one by one. Granted, some people immediately point a finger without providing insight, but this author certainly didn't reciprocate in that respect.

The author is somehow trying to pigeonhole the "left" which is like taking a fallacy (the "left") and using it as a pretext for an argument (see above).

Originally posted by :confused:

Thump! "Another reason: a lot of people suppose that any sort of anticolonial movement must be admirable or, at least, acceptable. Or they think that, at minimum, we shouldn't do more than tut-tut-even in the case of a movement that, like the Baath Party, was founded under a Nazi influence. In 1943, no less!"
Well, if you came and tried to forcibly colonize my country, I'd probably try and fuck you up. (insert "I'll cut ya bitch" image here).

And what was the point of correlating the Baath Party with Nazism? I bet I could point out more similarities between Bush's government and the Nazis than between Saddam's regime and the Nazis. This doesn't really help anyone's argument.

Do you really think that dropping bombs on a country is an intelligent or productive way of stripping dictators of their power?

Originally posted by Deep_Groove's personal Jesus
Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of people, in their good-hearted effort to respect cultural differences, have concluded that Arabs must for inscrutable reasons of their own like to live under grotesque dictatorships and are not really capable of anything else, or won't be ready to do so for another five hundred years, and Arab liberals should be regarded as somehow inauthentic. Which is to say, a lot of people, swept along by their own high-minded principles of cultural tolerance, have ended up clinging to attitudes that can only be regarded as racist against Arabs.
lol. Holy shit, this is usually the way the "left" criticizes the "right". Unbelievable...where does this guy get his information from? Fantasy. That's all I can call this.

The left has concluded that Arabs want to live under a dictator? AHAHAHA! He's concluded this from the simple fact that we reject Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq? AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Originally posted by :p
Israel BLAH BLAH BLAH Palestine BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH *fart* (thanks to janiecakes)
I've read more insightful toilet paper packaging than the shit (no really, the shit) that this guy has to say about that problem.


Did this guy get paid to write? Did it cost me any money to sustain his lifestyle? God, I hope not.
 

Deep_Groove

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~
And what was the point of correlating the Baath Party with Nazism? I bet I could point out more similarities between Bush's government and the Nazis than between Saddam's regime and the Nazis. This doesn't really help anyone's argument.
............

................

........................ (time for incredulity to sink in)...

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHABWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHABWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Are you really as intellectually bankrupt as you sound?

I would say: "go right ahead and point", but really, I don't want EVEN YOU to be that badly embarrassed.

LOFL!

- Deep_Groove
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
I had a really enjoyable shit today. It was all formed and had a nice, chocolate-brown colour.






...something made me think of that just now.
 
tribe cannabis accessories silver grinders

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
yo, neo-marxist, you're a smart dude and you should really know better than to throw the word 'solidarity' around in the same sentence as deep_groove.

oh and while we're at it 'neo' is the silliest little prefix that you could possibly put in front of marxist. i'm down with small 'm' marixists, and especially the autonomist school, but 'neo' is just tired.

in solidarity,

dicknose
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
errr, unless this is in reference to another thread and you're being clever in which case i commend you comrade.

in solidarity,

neo-assumptionist
 

docta seuss

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Neo-Marxist

Insults are the last refuge for individuals lacking an argument.
..or the first refuge for those bored with rediculous arguments..

in this case however, i'm inclined to agree with your take on things.
 

SlipperyPete

TRIBE Member
hey there dicknose,

using regular household objects with the intention of making your orifices large enough to accomodate penis-stuffery makes you look and sound foolish.

in solidarity,

cap'n leprosy
 

Neo-Marxist

TRIBE Member
oh and while we're at it 'neo' is the silliest little prefix that you could possibly put in front of marxist. i'm down with small 'm' marixists, and especially the autonomist school, but 'neo' is just tired.
Hey Spinsah,

I use the prefix 'Neo' for a reason. Although I am inclined to agree with you that it is tired, it is only so because people who aren't Gramscians lump themselves into the neo-Marxist category. And my use of 'in solidarity' was used with irony in mind, but you probably figured that out, so it's a moot point!

Cheers!
 
tribe cannabis goldsmith - gold cannabis accessories

kodos

TRIBE Member
It seems to me that the new face of tyranny is profitable tyranny. The artifacts of this system are not gas chambers and labour camps, but rather - shopping malls and office buildings.
 
Top