by Keith Egerton
Edited and revised 10/28/16
One of the most remarkable phenomenon in current liberal leaning comment in the liberal leaning Guardian group’s publications, are the often bilious attacks on the ‘left wing’ in British society, and on the current Labour Party in particular.
One such article in the Observer (16th October, 2016), titled ‘Who, on the left or right, will stand up for Syria?’, began with the statement,
The far left’s ideology is not “left wing” in any sense that a socialist from the 19th or 20th centuries would have understood.
Really? Now, I am not formally qualified to objectively examine this statement in detail. My reading list on the history of socialism includes only general histories of the reform movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries. But to anyone with even a little knowledge of the history of socialism, the author’s assertion seems counter-intuitive. Such a general statement surely needs to be challenged and debated, not least because it is presented as an absolute truth.
Following on from this opening gambit, and examining the rest of the article, the reason for this somewhat dishonest assertion becomes clear.
The author questions why the so called ‘far left’ in British politics is refusing to condemn Russia for its actions in Syria, and one of the author’s early conclusions is that
The left’s task [as the left sees it] was to oppose the West.
The article presents the author’s world-view as fact, and the conclusions and insights are arrived at with strangely twisted logic.
Thus, the author states that it is “leftwing” to support the “gangster-capitalist Russian state”. Presumably, if the author was being even-handed and was basing this observation on geopolitical facts, it would be equally true that it is “rightwing” to support the “gangster-capitalist USA”.
What is most alarming is the author’s attempt, in the following extension of his logic, to promote a divide in British society. Here are his words:
I could note that the mainstream media has not realised that British Islam is overwhelmingly Sunni, but its supposed defenders on the ‘left’ are now allied with Putin, Assad and the Iranian and Hezbollah death squads – the Shia side in the Sunni/Shia religious war, in other words.
So, the author seems to want the media to talk about the fact there is a majority of Sunnis among British Muslims, and that there is an element of British society that opposes them in their religious and presumably political objectives. This seems to be a deliberate attempt to set British Islam against the ‘left’, as the author sees it, and to ignore, or even to welcome, the already delicate state of inter-Muslim relationships within British society.
The author develops his theme further, at one point concluding that “Corbynism is not an alien ideology that appeared from the fringe, but a grotesque version of the prejudices of polite society.” Presumably a member of ‘polite society’ is anyone the author deems as having a social conscience, either on a national or international level. But surely the use of the word “grotesque” is an emotional abomination, and not worthy of a serious piece of journalism.
Another conclusion, after stating that “mainstream liberals” and “post-socialist tyrannophiles” wanted “to tell you that the west was the source of the world’s ills”, is that there were “sinister movements in the British left” … “let alone sinister movements in the rest of the world.” It seems the author’s suspicions know no bounds.
As a further example of the author’s logic, he asserts that Corbyn has sympathy for Putin (with no apparent exceptions), and thus Corbyn tacitly endorses “Marine le Pen’s National Front and the leaders of Europe’s other far-right parties”.
And is there room for statements like this in civilized comment:
When we turn off the pictures from Aleppo and look in the mirror, do we see the blandly wicked features of the Labour leader gazing back at us?.
The author’s final conclusion is a wish that the “fashionable and disgraceful ideas” [of not condemning Russia for its political stance and military action in Syria, and of condemning western intervention in Iraq], which became fashionable due to social pressure, will be changed by [opposition to] the “far left’s control of the Labour Party”.
The author’s agenda seems to be to fill the “L-shaped hole where the left should be” with another version of the left that fits in with the author’s other, non-stated agendas.
To address the author’s substantive concerns, however, he should just see that the reason for the ‘fashionable opinion’ of not condemning Russia with demonstrations is that today’s ‘polite society’ have the means to be better informed than in the past, perhaps in the days that he has nostalgia for. Days when the left followed the right in its jingoism. It doesn’t take much online research to discover that arms were being smuggled into Syria several months before the Civil war began, and it doesn’t take much more effort to find out which country was supplying those arms, and for what reasons.
The author is indeed living in the past, in a world where foreign policy went unquestioned. There are still attempts at gross manipulation of the minds of people in Britain and throughout the world, and the author obviously laments that people in ‘polite society’ are less susceptible to such manipulation. Mainstream media opinion-presented-as-fact will hopefully continue to be examined and countered by ‘fashionable opinion’. Long live ‘polite society’!