[Marxism] The Jihadism of Fools By Fred Halliday

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 10 07:57:55 MST 2007

>The following article is from the lastest issue of Dissent magazine.
>After reading a number of recent contributions to this list
>uncritically lauding Hamas for their "pricipled positon" on the
>Palkestinian struggle, and I assume on resolving the "Jewish
>Question", I think a little dose of reality is needed here.
>Best Regards,
>Jack Lieberman
>The Jihadism of Fools
>By Fred Halliday
>Winter 2007

Fred Halliday is a renegade from Marxism, just like his brother Jon.

Here is my take on his current stance:

Like others who have traveled this route, 
Halliday is developing a rather bilious 
personality that is rapidly encroaching on 
Christopher Hitchens’ turf. I refer you in 
particular to an item in last Sunday’s Observer 
penned by Halliday and titled “It’s time to bin 
the past” 
It rather shamelessly appropriates Leon Trotsky’s 
verdict on the Mensheviks being consigned to the 
dustbin of history, since Halliday–an 
ex-Trotskyist–must surely be aware that Trotsky 
was attacking reformists just like him.

Halliday discusses three “dustbins” of history in 
his screed. The first two relate to the former 
Soviet Union and Washington and make rather 
obvious points about Putin and Bush. It is the 
third dustbin that gets Halliday into a proper lather:

“The Third Dustbin is that of the contemporary 
global protest movement, to a considerable degree 
a children’s crusade of intellectual demagogues, 
recycled 1960s bunkeristas with their fellow 
travellers in literary circles, dreamers and 
political manipulators, of the old and new lefts, 
whose claim to moral and analytic superiority too 
often masks a set of unexamined, and themselves 
often recycled, platitudes from the Cold War 
period and, indeed, from the ideology of the communist world.”

Which intellectual demagogues would Halliday be 
railing against here? Naomi Klein, the most 
prominent spokesperson of this global protest 
movement? Is she recycling ideology from the 
communist world? Sigh, if only this were the case. Halliday lurches ahead:

“Indeed the contents of this Third Dustbin are 
familiar enough: a ritual incantantion of ‘no 
war’ that avoids any substantive engagement with 
problems of international peace and security, or 
reflection on how positively to help peoples in 
zones of conflict; a set of vague, unthought out, 
uncosted and often dangerous utopian ideas about 
an alternative world; a pleasing but vapid 
invocation of global human values and 
internationalism that blithely ignores the 
misuses to which that term was put in the 20th 
century (for example by Stalin or Mao); a 
complacent attitude, innocent when not indulgent, 
towards political violence (witness the cult of 
Che Guevara, a cruel and dangerous man, and the 
invitees from Northern Ireland, Palestine and 
Iran, to name but three at the London Social Summit in October).”

One has to wonder if the editor assigned to 
Halliday’s piece was drunk when he worked on it, 
since the above citation can barely stand on its 
own feet. Not only is it a 129 word sentence in 
clear violation of the Gunning fog factor, it also spells ‘incantation’ wrong.

With respect to the “cult of Che Guevara, a cruel 
and dangerous man,” one can only wonder if 
Halliday must be upset by the hit film 
“Motorcycle Diaries,” which inspired an 
over-the-top verbal assault from Christopher 
Hitchens on Slate. One supposes that Che gets 
people like Halliday and Hitchens all upset 
because he reminds them of their long frozen-over 
youthful idealism. And those invitees from 
Northern Ireland, Palestine and Iran. They should 
have known better than to be born in such places. 
Far better for them to have been born elsewhere 
or at least to have forsaken radical politics as 
Halliday did long ago. Our angry professor concludes:

“We can assess the outcome of discussions in 
Davos and Porto Alegre to see if thinking on the 
current crises of the world has moved on. Here 
ideas and policies should meet what I term the 
‘Vilanova Test’, named after the flinty Spanish 
writer Pere Vilanova, who, on the basis of years 
of political engagement and debate in Spain and 
the Arab world, has argued consistently for 
pensamiento duro, ‘tough thinking’, in the 
contemporary world. We certainly have, and may 
again be treated to, plenty of the other.”

What can I say, when I hear business about “tough 
thinking”, Henry Kissinger’s realpolitik comes to 
mind. This, after all, is what Halliday and his 
co-thinkers are about–reshaping the planet in 
pursuit of geopolitical goals. I don’t mind if 
that’s their agenda. The least they can do is can the leftish rhetoric.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2005/01/31/the-bilious-fred-halliday/ 

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