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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Anti-Semitism on the left

This is a great piece by Nick Cohen.

To explain away a global phenomenon as a rational reaction to Israeli oppression, you have once again to turn the Jew into a supernatural figure whose existence is the cause of discontents throughout the earth. You have to revive anti-Semitism.

The alternative is to do what the left used to do. If you look at the list of late-20th-century leftist causes I have mentioned, you will see that the left, for all its faults and crimes, was against fascism. It used to know that the powerful used racism to distract the powerless, as they do to this day in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, where the deployment of Jew hatred is positively tsarist. Although I know it's hard to credit, the left also used to know that the opponents of fascism, including the opponents of Saddam, had to be supported.

But the liberal left has been corrupted by defeat and doesn't know much about anything these days. Marxist-Leninism is so deep in the dustbin of history, it is composting, while social democracy is everywhere on the defensive. Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Christian fundamentalism are beating it in the struggle for working-class and peasant minds. An invigorated capitalism is threatening its European strongholds. There's an awful realisation that Tony Blair and Bill Clinton may be as good as it gets. The temptation in times of defeat is to believe in everything rather than nothing; to go along with whichever cause sounds radical, even if the radicalism on offer is the radicalism of the far right.
Read it all. You don't get many opportunities to read interesting and thought provoking pieces in the New Statesman. Maybe one a lifetime? Little harsh? Ok two in a lifetime.

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