Duplicitous liberal-left is nothing but a straw man

Reader Mick Hall points us to this piece from John Harris, who takes issue with Martin Kettle and argues that there is a moderate, responsive left, which had its own clear sighted reasons for not backing the Iraq War:

Thankfully, there is another left, perhaps a little too moderate for dramas and documentaries, but some distance from breathing its last. Its basis is the political tradition in which thousands of us were raised: more Methodist than Marxist, and replete with its own sacred tenets – equality through redistribution, internationalism, a gentle faith in Fabianite gradualism. Contrary to the claim that socialism is now over – though in order not to scare the horses, we tend to call it social democracy these days – it is still here, its importance in Britain now reflected in the fact that most of the declared candidates for Labour’s deputy leadership at least pretend to dance to its tune. And let’s not forget: people from this background opposed the war not in spite of their history, but because of it.

The mainstream left’s instinctive response to international tension may usually be to urge negotiation, though that is surely a hallmark of enlightenment rather than cowardice. It will always seek to look beyond what sociologists call epiphenomena, and focus on the nuts and bolts, as in the claim that even if the high priests of violent jihadism are sui generis, the sympathy and support they currently attract is traceable to failures on which we can act. That is not, as the likes of Cohen and Hitchens would have it, a matter of “excusing” terrorism; it is an example of the kind of basic analytical thought without which politics shrivels.

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  • Aaron McDaid

    … the sympathy and support they currently attract is traceable to failures on which we can act. That is not, as the likes of Cohen and Hitchens would have it, a matter of “excusing” terrorism; it is an example of the kind of basic analytical thought without which politics shrivels.

    This is indeed a crucial point. Some form of discrimination often precedes the terrorism. On its own the existence of the discrimination doesn’t always explain or justify the terrorism, but that’s not relevant. Such discrimination (or oppression or invasion or whatever) was never justified, even before anybody said boo to the oppressors. And no matter what the terrorists do, the imperative is there to end the discrimination and apologise for not ending it sooner.

    The challenge is to either defend or change current policy in the Middle East or wherever (whatever that is) without reference to terrorism in any way. The idea that discrimination commenced in the past and continued today can be justified by looking at recent terrorism is obviously a nonsense.

  • BeardyBoy

    Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.

    Pity they never actually do that.