The Euston Manifesto, or how the left learned to stop worrying...

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Was reading this last week about this:http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=1

In essence an attempt by Leftists of the Iraq war favourable/pro Blair persuasion to rebrand their ideas--- (ie a manifesto that appears to have been constructed by Nick Cohen and John Lloyd- who are involved on some level). Lots of of obvious points, but basically attempting to focus on some ill-defined and absollutist concept of "freedom" and "democracy" which is to be the prime factor in decision making for some rejuvenated leftist movement of the future... in otherwords an attempt to re-align what remains of the left towards the hegemonic western discoruses of the day.

I cannot figure out this particular strand of commentator/journalist at all... Oh sure, I can see why they are angry at what they perceive to be the anti-war movement's "enemy-of-my-ememy"ism, but are they not a little guilty of this themselves now? with a manifesto which appears to align themselves pretty squarely with neocon ideas about limits to the sanctity of statehood under international law (ie- as they state in their manifesto "if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect"."

A lot of what appears here seems misguided not because of its inherent falseness, but rather that in context it's deeply ill advised...
 

Padraig

Banned
gek-opel said:
Was reading this last week about this:http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=1

In essence an attempt by Leftists of the Iraq war favourable/pro Blair persuasion to rebrand their ideas--- (ie a manifesto that appears to have been constructed by Nick Cohen and John Lloyd- who are involved on some level). Lots of of obvious points, but basically attempting to focus on some ill-defined and absollutist concept of "freedom" and "democracy" which is to be the prime factor in decision making for some rejuvenated leftist movement of the future... in otherwords an attempt to re-align what remains of the left towards the hegemonic western discoruses of the day.

I cannot figure out this particular strand of commentator/journalist at all... Oh sure, I can see why they are angry at what they perceive to be the anti-war movement's "enemy-of-my-ememy"ism, but are they not a little guilty of this themselves now? with a manifesto which appears to align themselves pretty squarely with neocon ideas about limits to the sanctity of statehood under international law (ie- as they state in their manifesto "if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect"."

A lot of what appears here seems misguided not because of its inherent falseness, but rather that in context it's deeply ill advised...

Given that it was the emergence of the state itself which not only constructed such notions as "freedom" and "democracy", but also guaranteed [if however ostensibly] those same notions, its interesting the way these wannabe neo-cons are attempting to advance a contrary agenda [the state as inherent violator of the very rights it created] by appealing to a notion of "international community" that, as these aggressive empire-nationalists love to deny, they have been actively undermining ["coalition of the coerced" etc] for years, with the help of such august, US-controlled "international" bodies as the UN, IMF, World Bank, BIS, NATO, etc ...
 

bruno

est malade
i say let people slaughter each other and find a way out of internal conflicts on their own. in the case of chile we'd have missed an orderly return to democracy had someone come to 'liberate' us. i won't venture to guess what our situation would be like today had that happened, who knows who or what we'd have to deal with now.

this newfound love for humanity that we see today is a farce. in the real world no one does anything without self-interest, without asking for something in return. the only ones that do are real groups of people like medécins sans frontières who day in day out risk their lives for others. and they don't topple governments.

it's not right to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries, period.
 
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luka

Well-known member
that sounds silly to me. like ignoring the fact your next door neighbour keeps kicking the shit out of his wife.
 

bruno

est malade
luka said:
that sounds silly to me. like ignoring the fact your next door neighbour keeps kicking the shit out of his wife.
providing succour to your neighbour's wife is the right thing to do. though you might be delusional, misreading things (they could be rehearsing for the play, they could be sadomasochists), the consequences of intervening are negligible compared to doing the same thing to a society where history, memory, motives, a sense of future are weaved into a very complex fabric that you are not a part of. in the first case you have no interest but for your neighbour's well-being, in the latter i argue these actions are never undertaken without interest, whether under the shield of an international body or on lone initiative, and the consequences of your actions are infinitely more complex and have far wider ramifications besides run of the mill 'collateral damage'. i firmly believe that, for better or worse, social processes have to be played out in order for a society to mature. that means mind your own business.

i wanted to fit 'you're a surgeon operating with boxing gloves' somewhere into this text but fuck it, i'm off to bed.
 
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craner

Beast of Burden
Uh, you'd better check up on the history of medécins sans frontières and the ideas of its founder Bernard Kouchner before going any further with this idea, Bruno. Surely the name 'Doctors Without Borders' gives the game away, here? Their very existance is partly due to the 'neutrality' doctrine of the Red Cross. There seem to be some limits to sovereignty, no?
 

bruno

est malade
absolutely, and i'm not asking to shut down the borders. what i'm against is military intervention and 'regime change'.
 

bassnation

the abyss
bruno said:
absolutely, and i'm not asking to shut down the borders. what i'm against is military intervention and 'regime change'.

...especially when its dressed up like its philantropy for someone elses benefit, when everyone with half a brain can see that its not.
 
D

droid

Guest
bassnation said:
...especially when its dressed up like its philantropy for someone elses benefit, when everyone with half a brain can see that its not.

And when those demanding regime change are the same people who supported said regime when it was committing its worst crimes...
 
D

droid

Guest
oliver craner said:
Having a bit of trouble with CONTEXT droid?

Er... no?

How are you Oliver? Still begging for scraps at Nu-Labours Humanitarian feast of plenty? Still believing the hype? :p
 

bruno

est malade
i take back the it's not right to meddle in the internal affairs bit and say instead that it is right as long as you do it covertly, leaving no fingerprints (yet even some fingerprints are tolerated after the fact, the important thing is for the original intervention to have been executed in stealth). this is an unspoken rule of the game for things that go beyond diplomacy.

legitimacy is key: people need to feel events are in their hands. it's not enough that a cause is good, it has to be perceived as good. the minute a good cause is advanced by foreign interests openly it is tainted, in my view.
 

scottdisco

rip this joint please
A U.N. mission could help to stop the atrocious attacks on civilians in Darfur, but only if it’s given the means to act aggressively.
Peter Takirambudde of HRW.

is it multilateral interventions you object to Bruno, or just uni/bi-lateral grabs (a la US/UK) ?

i apologise if i am not reading you well; you did say the moment a good cause is advanced openly by foreign interests it is tainted.
which presumably means everything, but thought i'd get further clarification.

just interested (of course some of us, it appears, would argue the UN is an American puppet anyway).
 

corneilius

Well-known member
World Body Politic.

The people power of the UN, like democracy in the US or the UK and elsewhere exists to the extent that people at community level, worldwide, are prepared to demand a meaningful involvement (which is more than the process of voting) or not.

These two ideals, Democracy and THE UN have two levels, the contractual which was enough for the ideas to be sold, (ie; the concept of inalienable rights, supported by law) and can only really be enforced by public opinion, strongly expressed, and the actual, which will be down to who actually gets involved in the process.

At present we tend to leave it all to professsional politicians and civil servants while we watch TV, work and go on package holidays. And then we blame them when it goes wrong. Or worse, blame the people they blame, swallowing the hype in the process.

We avoid our responsibilties at our own peril.
 

sherief

Generic Human
It looks to me like one of the big names on the list is Norman Geras, which is really interesting to me. Reading up a while ago on some of the humanist/anti-humanist debates in Marxism, I was reccommended some of Geras' work. He was a humanist marxist, supportive of human rights against alot of the Althusserian trends of the 1960s-70s, but I guess with age he got more and more concerned with human rights and less with Marxism. I don't really see anything now in his original theoretical work, but I can say at least it wasn't so conservative as he's become...e
 

tatarsky

Well-known member
In reading this, I think the crucial question to ask is: "How is this different from a neo-con perspective?" (allowing room for a neo-con agenda built upon principals, rather than considering them as simply being corrupt bastards, committed to their own interests alone and/or the interests of America, as they perceive them. ;) )

In many areas, the only difference is in emphasis, in that BoBonoist fashion - i.e. the construction of the systems they propose are the same as the current order, except with the supplement that they believe they can be tweaked for good.

On regime change: "OK, but do it with a happy face, and without all the killing of civilians/torture".

On globalisation: "OK, but do with a happy face, without all the poverty, and weath and income gaps".

etc.

There are a few genuine differences, and these are the aspects that any new Left must examine hardest.

Within their stated principals, what peaked my interest the most was the mention of open source, which kind of came from nowhere, and was neglected any mention in their elaborations. But it seems to me that the line of thinking that brought them to put open source on their list is the correct one to pursue, since its primary aspect is its attack on monopoly power, which for me must be absolutely crucial any new Left agenda.

As discussed above, many of their points in their Statement of Principals are hard to argue against. The trouble is that their Elaborations make it much clearer what this group is to be about. The elaboration mainly concerns itself with particular international affairs, Iraq, 9/11, Palestine, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, all of which fits squarely with that weak, BoBonoist perspective.

The only paragraph in their elaborations that actually refered to anything outside of this Bobonoism is this;

"The social and economic foundations on which the liberal democracies have developed are marked by deep inequalities of wealth and income and the survival of unmerited privilege. In turn, global inequalities are a scandal to the moral conscience of humankind. Millions live in terrible poverty. Week in, week out, tens of thousands of people — children in particular — die from preventable illnesses. Inequalities of wealth, both as between individuals and between countries, distribute life chances in an arbitrary way."

...with it's reference to inequality. But there is no further discussion before it makes way for mutterings about Abu Ghraib, etc.

They conclude:

"The values and goals which properly make up that agenda — the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression — are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to."

To me, the most important phrase there is "the continuing battle against unjustified priviledge and power". The trouble is, my focus would be on Goldman Sachs and various other financial terrorists, and indeed our very own unjustified priviledges and power, that we hold over the developing world via the WTO. If this is the agenda, it smacks of the worst kind of hypocrisy.

It's also worth noting that there are no environmental issues discussed here.

Is this what the "Left" is to become? Will the same BoBonoism of many environmentalists and developing world campaigners be extended to regime change?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
The Euston Manifesto

I was wondering if anyone else here has read this yet, and, if they haven't, if they'd like to?

http://eustonmanifesto.org/joomla/content/view/12/41/

I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but I have to say it's very rare that I agree pretty much entirely with anything anyone writes about politics (which I do here). The only thing I'm not too sure about is whether I agree American democracy is as 'strong' as all that (item 6). Apart from that, it sums up pretty well what I think about the world. I'd be interested to read your comments.
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Nick Cohen and his hand-wringing post leftist bullshit... I've been reading this imbecile's views for the last four years or so in the new statesman, where they see fit to give him space to write an identical article every two months or so about how the SWP and Galloway are in bed with horrible people and there's no solidarity on the left with the people of Iraq (vs Saddam) and its all motivated by anti-Americanism above all else... blah blah fucking blah--- now he's written a whole book on the subject, which I'm sure you would love, Mr Tea...

I think the Euston manifesto is insanely naive, the blueprint for an interventionist strategy for the left which whilst logical in certain regards gives no view to (a) the historical results of such strategies or (b) the realpolitik which guides the hand in terms of selecting such interventions.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I thought there was a fair chance this had been discussed on here, but hey ho.

Some of the criticism is interesting, if a little predictable. I'm not sure I follow the argument that the Eustonites are 'saying effectively the same thing as the neo-cons': surely 'wanting to intervene in the affairs of other countries out of a genuine desire to uphold human rights' is a LOT different from 'wanting to intervene in the affairs of other countries out of financial self-interest/neo-imperialism'? Just because the neo-cons have often used the former as an excuse for the latter, that doesn't mean that *anyone* who wants to do the former is going to end up doing the latter, does it? (It's a bit like a woman who is instantly suspicious when her husband brings her flowers, thinking he's trying to wangle his way out of some misdeed - hey, maybe he just wanted to give her some flowers. :) )

Out of interest, I was in favour of the recent Iraq war when it started, but I've changed my stance having seen what a monumental fuck-up has been made of the 'reconstruction' process since.

Edit: well, you speak of the history of 'such strategies' - have there been ANY interventions, in recent history, for genuinely, no-strings-attached humanitarian reasons? I.e., for the reasons outlined in the Manifesto? As for naivety, that's a valid claim, but any political credo as optimistic as that is inevitably going to sound naive in these cynical times.

As it happens, Gorgeous George is my MP. The cunt.
 
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