Go to previous post:
Your technical staff at work

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Hunt the brain

Our Admirable Sponsors

March 18, 2002

Something odd seems to have happened Via Charlie Stross, some remarkable remarks in the Observer by John Lloyd:
…[T]here is now a narrative of the left—complete in itself in the way such narratives are—which sees in the US an imperial predator whose actions—all actions—are conditioned by this aspect of its being.

This narrative has ceased to be critical, but become predestinarian: rather as predestinarians divided humanity into those whose actions could never be wrong and those whose actions could never be right, so this strain of left critique arrogates to itself the first and confers on the US the second. It is important not to confuse this grand, totalising critique with criticism, from left or right. The latter is essential for governments, most essential for governments with such awful power as the US commands. But the totalising critique is an intellectual construct, derived from the techniques of 19th century philosophy, which bends all facts to fit the ideological line. […]

The modalities of any military action against Iraq need careful, and public discussion. But the view, which the far left in Europe powerfully expresses, that in a consideration of action against Iraq the folly, imperialism and crimes of America are the only matter which may enter the discussion is an abdication of the left’s own attachment to enlightenment rationalism.

It also abandons, or at least suppresses, its own anti-fascist credentials. Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda are murderous on a grand scale, as is Saddam’s government; who have been especially murderous to those groups within Iraq—especially the Kurds—considered disloyal to his rule. He has shown willingness to invade neighbouring states, and to acquire weapons of mass destruction of all types—nuclear, biological and chemical. He is committed to destroying the Israeli state, and has sponsored terrorism against it and others.

It is neither folly nor imperialism to discuss how he might be deposed, and what assistance we might give to the Iraqi opposition to replace him. The question—is it worth it?—is a large part of such consideration. But the automatic assumption that it can never be—indeed, that the mere thought of it is a sign of evil intent—is, preposterously, the reflex of a substantial part of Europe’s left intelligentsia.

[12:20 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Something odd seems to have happened:

billh ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2002, 11:21 AM:

This predestinarian thinking, like much of the thinking of this era, a dumbed-down version of Predestinarianism, only confirms a hypothesis I posited 20 years ago. The modern liberal is not a liberal but a neo-Calvinist. Convinced of their own rightness, they can live non-reflectively and construct a list of condemnations and strictures to impose upon all that might listen to them. The striking difference between the neo-Calvinist and the old-line Calvinist is, apart from the content of their ideology, is that the original Calvinist felt the livestyle they proposed was binding upon themselves as well as others.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2002, 12:17 PM:

Of course, a

aConvinced of their own rightness, they can live non-reflectively and construct a list of condemnations and strictures to impose upon all that might listen to them.a
aa--works just as well as a description of lots of conservatives, or vegetarians, Lutherans, or science fiction fans, for that matter. Imputing that the capacity for echo-chamber thinking is somehow uniquely a liberal thing isn't interesting.aa
aThe striking difference between the neo-Calvinist and the old-line Calvinist is, apart from the content of their ideology, is that the original Calvinists felt the livestyle they proposed was binding upon themselves as well as others.a
aaNor is it plausible to claim that liberals are any more prone to hypocrisy that "the original Calvinists" were.