[Marxism] Re: Why British journalist Nick Cohen supports the war on terror

Paul Flewers trusscott.foundation at virgin.net
Mon Apr 17 17:43:03 MDT 2006

Nick Cohen is a co-author of the Euston Manifesto, a document that sees
liberal democracy as the sine qua non of political theory and practice,
which has been discussed previously on this list. It signifies a retreat of
various left-wingers away from any idea of transcending liberal democracy
towards defending those whom it sees as defending it -- which in this case
means (don't laugh) Bush in the USA and Blair in Britain.

I'm not sure whether these characters are naive or malicious, whether they
really believe that Bush and Blair want to see democracy arise across the
world, or whether they have keyed into the whole neo-con project of US
imperialist expansion. Maybe some are naive, others malicious. However,
after three years of disaster in Iraq, the chances of people being naive are
small indeed.

In 1940, Evan Durbin, a British labourite theoretician, stated that anyone,
Marxist or fascist, who did not accept liberal democracy was beyond the pale
of political norms and should be treated accordingly. In short, those who
want to go further than liberal democracy (that is, Marxists) were
effectively outside the law, fair game for the ruling class. This is the way
these Eustonites are going.

I've recently put this message on Dave Ostler's website <
http://davespartblog.blogspot.com/ >, where the manifesto has been

< I've recently had the unenviable job of reading through Encounter magazine
for the 1950s. This was a mag that was published by the Congress for
Cultural Freedom, and was funded indirectly by the CIA. Its contributors
were often ex-leftists who still thought themselves as a bit radical, but
who, in the Cold War, far from dissociating themselves from both imperialism
and Stalinism, sided with the former, just covering their capitulation with
a fig-leaf of opposition to discrimination and poverty. Any (mild)
criticisms of capitalism were heavily outnumbered by stern denunications of
totalitarianism and those deemed to support it.

< The Euston Manifesto is a modern-day version of the kind of programme that
Encounter 'socialists' would have put out 50 years back. I think that Dave O
is right -- this is a land-mark on the way to neo-conism. How many will take
the Hitchens route to its conclusion, I can't tell. But that's the way
they're going.

< There is plenty of scope for socialists to oppose US imperialism without
giving a carte blanche to Islamicism or other non-socialist outlooks, just
as there was a space for genuine socialists 50 years ago to promote real
freedom between the opposing millstones of imperialism and Stalinism. >

Paul F

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