David Thompson
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April 21, 2008

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mr shifter

heres a golden oldie, not entirely unrelated to the subject in hand...

http://www.counterpunch.org/fiskbeaten.html

David

Ah, Mr Fisk’s finest hour. At the time I did wonder if there was some strange erotic component to his outpourings. In fact, I still do. I suppose one can only hope his masochistic leanings are indulged by some burly chaps. Then everyone will be happy.

Horace Dunn

I was pleased to see that Alan Johnson used the word “reactionary” to describe this particular faction of the Left. I’ve often felt, though, that “reactionary” could well describe most left-wing factions. It strikes me as odd that left-wing and progressive are used more or less as synonyms. These days if you’re seeking out some hide-bound, reactionary views you would do well to look at the Labour Party back benches, or amongst the opinion-writers of the Guardian. Mention the word reform (the BBC perhaps, or the NHS, welfare provision etc etc) to these people and you’ll be met with purple-faced rage and intransigence. Polly Toynbee is the patron saint of these blustering neo-blimps, adhering to tired (not to say failed) old ideologies and nostalgic for those golden days of 1968.

Of course, when you get to the pro-Jihad left, these people are not merely reactionary – the word “backward” seems most apt, if a little too polite.

David

Horace,

Yes, reactionary is the term that springs to mind, along with contrarian, delusional, paranoid and vile. The Guardian’s CiF site is, as often as not, a sort of blocked moral u-bend. Sometimes it’s amusing in its derangement, but usually it’s just grubby and depressing. And as I said yesterday, my impression is that the pious and unhinged are hardly a minority, as the comments seem to bear out.

Alcuin

Theodore Dalrymple, in pondering this issue, quoted someone with whom he (and I) are not prone to empathising with, namely Terence Eagleton: "In the conflict between Western capitalism and radical Islam, a paucity of belief squares up to an excess of it. The West finds itself faced with a full-blooded metaphysical onslaught at just the historical point that it has, so to speak, philosophically disarmed."
http://www.aims.ca/library/Paradoxes.pdf

And, of course, the greatest rider of this particular scapegoat was the charlatan Edward Said,
http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2006/12/06/orientalism/index.html

now suitably debunked (though you would not realise it from the BBC) by Ibn Warraq.
http://www.secularislam.org/articles/debunking.htm

I think this clash of values is irreconcilable. We have to be judgemental, we have to look at cultures from the inside as well as from the outside from where odious behaviour may seem a mere anthropological curiosity. When it is in your backyard, it graduates from curiosity to problem. It is also not possible to apply personal morality to nations. An individual may sacrifice his life to further a cause - that is his right, but no democratic government can contemplate such an option. Ahmadinejad may wish to sacrifice Iran in his millennial wet dream, but few Iranians would follow him.

Those who decry the USA as the number one oppressor should briefly consider a 20th century in which there had been no USA to rescue Europe from its folly. Britain would have made peace with Nazi Europe (like the French) after its strength had been bled almost to death. Hitler could have been able to contain the Red Army, leaving Europe carved up between two odious dictators. The option of self-criticism would never have arisen, and Britain would have to trade with Fascists to survive. Whether Liberals would be biting their tongues with silent fury or have gone native under Oswald Moseley is a question they might like to be asking themselves. They might also be honest and realise that "Neo-Conservatives" are almost exclusively renegade Liberals - real Conservatives are quite a different breed.

J. Peden

“everything is our fault, and if only we could be better, we could fix anything.”

Ah, swoon and behold, the audacious Audacity of Hope the self-victimized noble must cling to.

But, wait, who is this woeful "we" of which you speak, O' Progressive dhimmi?

Nevermind, simply bend over and accept your bitter and just deserts - after all, that should make you feel even better, wot?

David

Alcuin,

“Those who decry the USA as the number one oppressor should briefly consider a 20th century in which there had been no USA to rescue Europe from its folly.”

I remember an Open Democracy thread from a couple of years ago which asked readers to choose an alternative to the US – i.e, a nation they’d actually like to see as the preeminent military, cultural and economic force. Serious answers were not forthcoming. I also recall another thread, from about the same time, asking those who casually use the terms “American empire” and “US imperialism” to explain exactly how the US qualifies as an “empire”. Again, and despite the length of the thread, no serious explanation was offered, though the term was still used with remarkable regularity.

Cambias

In my experience, when you really try to bore in on exactly what they mean by "American Imperialism," you usually wind up with awful oppression like McDonalds and Starbucks. Oh, and somehow buying stuff from China is imperialism, too.

Candice

This whole topic of liberal self-flagellation informs why I despise Jimmy Carter - the quintessential Presidential failure who goes about the world legitimizing dictators and terrorists while blaming the West for many of those same despots' excesses and evils. This is a common thread in many religious movements as well. One defines one's piety by confessing to and repenting of one's sins. In order to gain more piety one must beat one's breast more loudly and with more fervor than one's fellow religionists. So it is with today's greens and socialists.

As for Progressives, I share the opinion that they are some of the most conservative, reactionary, and prejudiced people in the world. As an American, I call myself a true Progressive. I believe in progress. In improving the world for individuals. I find it abhorrent that so-called liberals, who supposedly care the most for all peoples of the world, oppose any action to improve the lives of Iraqis and Afghanis by military action. They say America should stay out because we intervene based on self-interest and not altruism. We should not invade Iraq because we do not invade N. Korea, Darfur, China, etc. They miss the obvious: It is better to help some where you can than to help no one where you cannot.

David

Candice,

“I believe in progress. In improving the world for individuals. I find it abhorrent that so-called liberals, who supposedly care the most for all peoples of the world, oppose any action to improve the lives of Iraqis and Afghanis by military action.”

For quite a few, I suspect the problem has much to do with using words like “progressive” while being captivated by an ideology that’s at odds with the most obvious engine of progress, i.e. capitalism. Ditto the ideological disdain for “US imperialism” and “bourgeois” values - values which, more often than not, lead to material betterment. Thus, for many, a choice arises: Either cling to that ideology - and one’s self-image as radical or whatever - or abandon those things, which don’t seem to work terribly well, and support what very often does.

Peter Horne

Funny video here you might enjoy,
http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/02b04e93cb

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