Here's a few things you might have missed this week:
Terry Eagleton's description of A.C.Grayling's plan for a new college of the humanities as 'odious' is fairly typical of a certain strain of left-ish outrage (though, as we know, Eagleton has a personal animus against Grayling, Dawkins, and their 'old-fashioned Whiggish rationalism'). As Max Dunbar writes: 'From far left reaction you would have thought that Lord Voldemort himself had risen from his Horcruxes to set up a Slytherin Academy of Pure Evil (with Dark Arts BTec)'. And Max agrees that, certainly in Eagleton's case, 'there is an ideological thing going on':
Grayling and Dawkins, another lecturer at Evil University, are hated by Eagleton and similar far left academics, because they stand up to the religious right. Eagleton's big objection to Evil University is apparently that there will be no theology department, and that Tariq Ali will not be able to get a job there.
Reluctant as I am to link to spiked online, I also liked Brendan O'Neill's response:
It is ‘odious’, ‘repugnant’, ‘parasitic’, ‘hypocritical’, a ‘travesty’, a ‘money-grubbing’ scheme, and ‘it would be better all-round if its doors never opened’. Wow. What is it? A whorehouse? A Satanic church? A junk-food chain that specialises in feeding fat straight into children’s veins via a drip? In fact it’s a proposed new London-based university, called the New College of the Humanities, which says it will teach students the best of literature, culture and history for a fee of £18,000 a year. And yet judging from the unhinged coverage, you could be forgiven for thinking that someone had proposed opening a Ratko Mladic fanclub in Islington.
As Tony Blair said, in his interview (£) with the Times this week: 'Let a thousand flowers bloom!...Should it be right that people come forward with new ideas and new concepts? Of course.'
In the same interview, Blair was fairly dismissive of the nascent 'Blue Labour' movement: 'I'd be worried about indulging a nostalgia...The way the Labour Party wins, is if it's at the cutting edge of the future, is if it's modernising. It won't win by a Labour equivalent of warm beer and old maids bicycling'. Alex Massie agrees, and is suspicious of what he sees as the anti-liberalism of 'Blue Labour' and 'Red Toryism' alike: 'The spiritual renewal Glasman and Blond seem to think is necessary is, one suspects, a scolds' agenda that's the antithesis of a liberal live-and-let-live approach.' My own response would be more ambivalent, but I think Massie is probably right to conclude that Glasman and Blond - and cultural pessimist John Gray, with whom he associates them - are responding to something 'jittery, sceptical, distrusting and coercive' in the public mood.
Also on the future of Labour and the left, Paul Anderson's reflections on being a 'Labour reformist libertarian socialist' in a cold climate are well worth a read. Though generally in favour of self-organisation and 'do-it-yourself socialist initiatives', Anderson sees the priority now as defending the social-democratic state:
In an ideal world, I'd like to see co-ops running the local buses and democratic housing associations controlling most rented living spaces – but in the absence of a revolution, which isn't on the agenda, the only context in which it could happen would be a big, generous, redistributive social-democratic state that taxed the rich and used the proceeds to forge a more equal and democratic society. I want that state, I want it now, and I want it more than I want my windows cleaned by a profit-sharing workers' collective.According to Nick Cohen, the fortunes of the Left aren't going to revive until it cuts its ties to the 'disastrous and hypocritical ideology' represented by the likes of Ken Livingstone. Reflecting on Ed Miliband's unsuccessful attempt to get Jewish voters to support Livingstone's mayoral candidacy, Cohen writes:
I do not know what subterranean currents swirl in the Livingstone psyche, and have no particular desire to find out. But ever since he embraced Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the grim theologian who advises the Muslim Brotherhood, he has provided on the record evidence of his political predilections. Livingstone is a candidate for public office who is happy to engage with men who are not only antisemites, but support wife beating, the execution of gays and the murder of Muslims who exercise their right to change their faith or abandon religion completely.On the subject of pseudo-leftist fondness for authoritarian extremists, Michael Deibert wonders if the indictment of Ratko Mladic for genocide will cause those - like Chomsky - who denied Serbian war crimes to undergo a change of heart:
With Ratko Mladic, predator and killer, now in custody, Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy and the others who have sought to deny justice to the victims of Bosnia's killing fields should apologize to those victims for working so long to make the justice they sought less, not more, likely.Don't hold your breath. And in case you thought that far-left attempts to explain away tyranny and genocide were a thing of the past, take a look (if you can bear it) at this disgusting reaction to the arrest of Mladic by spiked online's Mick Hume. I told you I didn't like linking to them.