Sweet Moral Agonies

Youthful Indiscretions

As regular readers will know, the Guardian has long been a home to unpleasant political appetites and revolting apologia for murderous idealists of an approved political stripe. The most recent example, though by no means the most dramatic, comes from Peter Tatchell, who recalls, a little too fondly, his youthful romance with Maoism:

In response to the Australian media’s deranged and often racist anti-Chinese propaganda, a few of us organised a ‘Be Kind to Mao Month’, where we promoted the ‘good’ aspects of the red guards’ rebellion against what we saw as the privileged, arrogant and authoritarian communist elite in Beijing.

Over at the Joy of Curmudgeonry, Deogolwulf shares a few thoughts:

Now, I have little interest in what Mr Tatchell’s youthful sympathies were, or in what they are now, still less in what claims he might make for the purity of his intentions. Another political fantasist to add to the pile makes little difference. What interests me is how the ideal of communism has enjoyed so charmed a life in the West, eking out a fanciful existence in the heads of such men, wherein it has remained unsullied by the reality of its application or even of its theoretical expression…

But how is it that anyone can be so brazen as to claim compassion as the very basis of his politics, and yet not bother to find out whether those politics might actually be good for others? To advocate a scheme for the whole of society, and to have made little effort to find out what effects it might have, other than that it makes one feel warm inside, is not to show compassion for others, but rather to show passion for oneself. Here, ignorance may be a defence, though not of any claim to compassion.

Indeed. And there’s something almost surreal about one-time enthusiasts of a blueprint for violation and horror speaking of their former affiliations as if they were simply fashion gaffes or a taste for embarrassing pop music.

The whole thing.