Monday, July 17, 2006

The Blair Manifesto

Entertaining that Harry's Place linked to this interview at FrontPage magazine.

Geras and Cohen presumably thought their now extensive history of fawning to the right would secure an easy ride. Sadly, Horowitz and co. felt unable to accept even the slightest measure of decency in these decentists, as long as they continued to identify themselves with the Left.

This makes Harry's Place happy because, as with the BNP, it gives them something, anything, to point to in their struggle to convince anybody that they're left-wing:

“For all that those associated with projects like HP, or supportive of the ideals of the Euston Manifesto, and so on, get accused, by some of being 'right wing' or 'having betrayed the left', etc, etc, ad infinitum, it's interesting to note the complete lack of comprehension that there can be any such thing as a 'decent left' on the part of the FrontPagers.”

Unfortunately FrontPage's fixation on Pol Pot gave Geras and Cohen an opportunity to largely evade the one question they have never properly answered about the Euston Manifesto. As Horowitz said:

“If you had Blair social democrats in mind in writing the Manifesto, you would hardly need a manifesto. You would just be Blair Laborites. And if this is the case, Blair has already provided all the manifesto you need.”

The Manifesto writers always claim to be sticking up for an underrepresented view on the nominal left, ignoring the fact that their views are held by the bulk of the parliamentary Labour party and the Prime Minister (not to mention practically everybody else in parliament, and the bulk of the media).

All we get in response is this, from Geras (Cohen says nothing):

“I'm not a Blair Labourite, to answer your direct question with a direct answer, because I'm a socialist and Tony Blair isn't.”

That is, he draws the distinction personally, wisely ignoring the Manifesto entirely – wisely, because the Manifesto isn't socialist. If Geras believes in the redistribution of wealth, or the nationalisation of industry, or anything else identifiably socialist, he certainly doesn't appear moved to mention them in his blog. But even if he did hold these beliefs, it would have no relevance to his absurd Manifesto, which says nothing meaningful on economic policy. All it contains are platitudes that could have been copied from the first draft of a Blair conference speech:

“The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice.

Oh, and they're fans of “Make Poverty History” just like Tony and Bob Geldof.

If the distinction that Geras draws between himself and Blair is limited to the Socialist tag – and he raises nothing else – then it seems clear there is no difference at all between Blairism and the Euston Manifesto. That's probably why, despite widespread media coverage, it has been such an abject failure.


Anonymous Flying Rodent said...

You might want to check out Nick Cohen's column in today's Observer,it's a classic example of the Left That Dare Not Speak It's Name waxing lyrical.

Cohen looks at the current situation in the middle east, reminisces about the fond days of 1999 when liberal intervention was all the rage, wipes a tear from his eye and declares that the only solution is surely more intervention.

And amazingly, he manages an entire column without flinging an insult at George Galloway. Wonders will never cease!

7:26 pm  
Blogger StuartA said...

Thanks for that.

It seems like a generic Cohen potboiler, with only a very vague attempt to connect numerous conflicts around the globe.

He appears to be suggesting, without any justification at all, that "liberal-minded people" are so poisoned by their hatred of Bush that they wouldn't support his Blairite wheeze of an international force in Lebanon.

But it is extremely unlikely that a strengthened U.N. force would be dismissed, as he implies, as "'all about oil', an 'illegal' war or a neoconservative plot". He is smearing the anti-war left by transferring their views on Iraq to Lebanon without any justification.

The reality, of course, is that the strongest opposition is likely to come from Israel, which has always objected to international forces interfering with its activities.

Overall, he is trying to say that opposition to the Iraq war implies opposition to all humanitarian intervention. That way he can pick out more congenial examples to use as a base for criticism, and forget about the consequences of his favoured interventionism in Iraq itself. Sudan is a favourite decentist's subject for this reason.

He shakes his head over Iraq:

"Yet after Iraq, the phrase 'humanitarian intervention' dies on the lips."

But he doesn't seem to understand how that undercuts his case. Of course US/UK troops are tied up -- they're fighting the war of choice that Cohen supported. Of course the disaster in Iraq gives pause to anyone contemplating intervention -- that's hardly the fault of those who opposed it.

1:55 pm  
Blogger james higham said...

...the real hee-hawing warmongers might link to the Eustonites to beat up on the Left but they don’t even pretend to take seriously the manifesto’s commitment to public ownership and minority rights and enlightenment values... [left writes]

Enlightenment values says it all to me. It'a a vacuous document designed simply to create 'tone', for the agenda is vastly diffeent to that stated.

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