Friday, 16 January 2009

Signs of a new left fascism?

Not much time for blogging this week, but I've tried to keep up with what others are writing, particularly on the fallout from events in Gaza. The situation is increasingly depressing, principally because of the loss of so much innocent life, but also because of its wider impact, including a hardening of Arab support for Hamas, an increase in antisemitic vitriol and violence (regularly catalogued over at Harry's Place), and deepening hostility to Israel on the political left.

It's not that Israel is somehow 'responsible' for these developments or that its recent actions have unilaterally 'caused' them: after all, there was plenty of Arab antisemitism, Muslim victim-psychology and left-wing anti-Israel feeling around before all of this happened. But there's little doubt that, whatever its moral justification, the military campaign in Gaza has probably made the emergence of a viable two-state solution, with a secure Israel living alongside a peaceable Palestine, less rather than more likely, as well as dampening hopes that the forces of liberal, secular democracy would win out against clerical obscurantism and jihadist militancy in the Arab world (not to mention among the western left).

As other bloggers have documented in detail, many of the protests in the West against Israel's actions have been notably soft on Hamas and have often provided a platform for antisemites and clerical fascists. Anti-Zionist outrage has too often slipped into virulent antisemitism, making it no exaggeration to speak, as Johnny does in this post, of the re-emergence of a kind of left-wing fascism. Along similar lines, see this post over at The New Centrist, which links to an article by Ernest Sternberg on the 'revivified corpse' of left fascism.

The work of anti-totalitarian leftists is certainly going to be harder, but arguably even more urgent, after recent events.


Tom said...

Can you have 'left fascism'? Fascism is specifically about oppressing the vulnerable and weak in an effort to prevent their rebellion... this isn't really a property of the left.

Martin said...

Well, you'd think that would be the case, wouldn't you? Take a look at the two posts I link to for further clarification. They're mainly referring to antisemitism, which is where some on the far left join hands with the far right, but another symptom might be the cosying up to clerical fascism by the SWP, Respect, et al. Of course, it does raise the whole question of whether these groups deserve to be called 'left wing' as a result...if we accept your definition of the left.

Anonymous said...

sorry if this sounds offensive because that's not my intention, but the problem with the left in democratic societies is that you got so used to leave in democracy and to have the benefit of a liberal system of values that you have become naif.

by you I mean the people who support the democratic left.

there has always been a non-democratic left, which aims to replace those liberal values that are shared both by the democratic left and by the progressive right by their own value system.

in times of crisis they emerge because it is in times of crisis that the get the chance to challenge that system of values.

this people will ally themselves with other political actors that are similarly willing to challenge those values, just like Hitler and Stalin had a pact of non-agression.

the fact that progressive people fail to grasp this is appalling and explains why is it that apparently generous ideas such as multiculturalism, that seems to promote tolerance, are being perverted to promote intolerance and inequality.

to this we add the fact that there are too many people whose appearance of soffistication conceals a very superficial understanding about what it means to be free and some of those people happen to have some weight as opinion makers and will not bother to attack that liberal system that I am referring to so that they feed their image of 'anti-system'.

not that they want to destroy the system, they just want to feed their market niche...

I could go on and on and on...

ask anyone you like, what are the basic principles of a free society, they will probably know the answer... ask them to explain it to you in simple words and simple examples 'as if I were really dumb' and theyr will probably fail to give you a satisfying answer...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Martin.

Miller 2.0 asks:

"Fascism is specifically about oppressing the vulnerable and weak in an effort to prevent their rebellion... this isn't really a property of the left."

The revolutionary/radical left has a long and sordid history of "oppressing the vulnerable and weak in an effort to prevent their rebellion." Or, to put it another way, states and movements dominated by radical leftist political organizations have a long history of killing or imprisoning those who stand in their way.

The notion that fascism is an exclusively right-wing ("conservative") phenomena was demolished by Hayek many decades ago.

Fascism is specifically concerned with elevating the position and authority of the party-state at the expense of the individual. Something quite common in leftist regimes.