Dead Men Left

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Pressing work demands mean - once more - that blogging will tend towards the intermittent over the next week. (I say this now. More likely is that I will become distracted from "pressing work demands" and continue posting regardless of imminent and alarming deadlines.) So as a compromise, here is a mixed bag of oddments from the web:

Chris Lightfoot prises open a dubious defence of authoritarian policy over here. It is a wonder, given the most cursory grasp of British history, that anyone can argue "[l]acking sharply-defined ideological differences, Westminster politics has little sense of the malign, let alone totalitarian, as opposed to illiberal or merely incompetent, exercise of power", but this tabloid journalist manages it. The peculiar logic that an absence of "sharply-defined ideological differences" in the legislature prevents the emergence of a "malign... exercise of power" we also will not dwell upon. (Though I might deign to suggest that in the British case, it is precisely those periods of greatest ideological consensus at Westminster that have produced the most sharply authoritarian policy. But anyway.)

(Instant Kamm, by the way:

slightly obscure cultural reference, portentous tone, grammatical sniping, the inevitable bitching about a Liberal Democrat, and a rhetorical attack on Soviet communism, only fifteen years too late

...surely it should be possible for a small, simple computer program, running an algorithm based on this outline to replace the real Kamm? Any takers?)

It is also strange that, just days before a left-wing populist wins an overwhelming democratic mandate in a referendum on his Presidency, Nick Cohen chose to lament the "death of the Left". (One, vaguely cosmopolitan, politically decisive example to match the smattering of parochial cultural flotsam Cohen presents.) Chris Brooke at The Virtual Stoa, responding to one of Cohen's approximate fellow-travellers, presents a reasoned case in favour of the Left's continued good health, concluding:

And what of the counter-examples? Well, they're the usual suspects, I'm afraid: the global justice movement, or the "movement of movements", as it's sometimes called, and the various bits and pieces that get grouped together under that heading: those who work with refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants; the Brazilian landless workers movement and other land rights movements around the world; the Karnataka State Farmers Association and many other trade unions; ATTAC and the international Social Forums (Fora?) which it's helped to spawn; Oxfam; the opposition to Robert Mugabe's thuggish regime (and yes, even some of the neoliberal MDC opposition to Mugabe); the Rawlsians and their leftist critics in the universities; Amnesty International; the Zapatistas; Students United Against Sweatshops and their ilk; the governments of Lula and Hugo Chávez (much of the time); European social democratic governments (some of the time, increasingly rarely, in fact); the food sovereignty movement; just about any attempt to redistribute resources from the affluent to the poor; together with the usual spectrum of organisations continuing the long, hard work of liberating and empowering women, sexual minorities, the disabled, indigenous peoples, and so on, and so forth, and so it goes on. You can guess some of the rest.

That's my left, perhaps it's even my Left, and it's one that gives me quite a lot of hope for the future, even if it does get buffeted a bit by the currents of history along the way. But then, how could it not be?

Daniel Brett, whose blog is persistently worth reading, pens a cautionary note on the latest round of "anti-terror" arrests.

Charlotte Street somehow manages to bestow gracious knowledge upon ignorant apes like myself without being horribly patronising. Unless you're Johann Hari, of course, in which case it is rather deserved.

Finally, a tittersome blogging in-joke, may god have mercy on us all.