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

tht

akstavrh
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?

there are no instances where a goverment has disregarded the sovereignty of another for 'human rights' alone

there are a few examples where something good has come to pass collaterally, but that is something else entirely
 
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gek-opel

entered apprentice
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.

This is the whole point. The Eustonites float their ideas disingenuously, on the one hand contextualising them as they must in recent history (for they are purely reactionary in nature) yet on the hand failing to think, in REAL terms, who will be doing the intervening, and why. This is why its either strikingly naive, or appallingly cynical.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I fail to see what's reactionary about them. In fact I don't have too much of an idea of what 'reactionary' means, other than that it's the opposite of radical or progressive, and these guys support things like non-exploitative trade relations, democracy, women's rights, freedom of speech and other things I would certainly consider 'progressive' in the widest possible sense.

I don't think it's cynical, I think the worst you can accuse them of is being naive and unspecific in their aims - which is hardly surprising, given their attempt to put together a manifesto of such broad scope.

I think there have been examples of interventions carried out in which protecting civilians from war has been the main (if not the only) goal, but these seem to have happened mainly under the UN, which, sadly, is looking increasingly toothless these days.
 
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gek-opel

entered apprentice
I fail to see what's reactionary about them. In fact I don't have too much of an idea of what 'reactionary' means, other than that it's the opposite of radical or progressive, and these guys support things like non-exploitative trade relations, democracy, women's rights, freedom of speach and other things I would certainly consider 'progressive' in the widest possible sense.

And who on the left wouldn't be for these things for fucks sake! This section is the clearest possible indication of the intellectually shallow waters these men swim in: this whole "manifesto" is a reaction to a Nick Cohen straw man enemy of a villainous left winger so in love with anti-Americanism that they would pal up with even the most repressive Muslim extremist.

In terms of the substantive criticisms Tatarsky on the previous thread says everything that needs to be said.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Straw man, eh?

In general I respect Livingstone and would not call him 'hard left' - I certainly wouldn't lump him in with Galloway et al - yet he's been linked to this character:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4165691.stm

Galloway himself exhorted British Muslim soldiers to throw down arms in Iraq (which, whatever you think of the war, isn't exactly going to help anyone), a woman from the co-called 'Respect' party urged British Muslims not to cooperate with the police, full stop (to be fair, this is not even Galloway's official position), and there are people on the left in Britain and America who want to try and 'understand' al-Queda and the Taliban. I would say these people ceriainly aren't supporting democracy, women's rights and human rights in general in regions ruled by Islamic theocracy.

The point the Eustonites make is that you can be against both American imperialism AND Islamic fundamentalism, whereas the main thing these two ideologies agree on is that everyone who is not "for" us is "against" us. The real 'clash of cultures' I see happening is between moderate, liberal people on one side (be they Christians, Muslims, Jews or atheists) and fundamentalists on the other (be they American neo-cons, Zionists, al-Queda/Taliban or rabidly anti-American leftists).
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Counter argument is that who are the Eustonites themselves politically in bed with? Is it possible to be in politics to any extent without making alliances of convenience with unpleasant people.

I would also argue, and have done before, that understanding Al-Qaeda and the Taliban is essential if we are to make any headway in seeking solutions that actually work, rather than exacerbate the problems associated with these organisations. What would you have us do Mr Tea, deliberately not seek to understand the motivations and aims of these groups, for what purpose would that serve exactly??? Unless you understand what they are doing and why on an ideological level, there is no hope of ever removing these people from the global stage, and therefore no hope of ever helping to improve democracy, women's rights and human rights. Another issue is if we are to make the promotion of these values our primary goal what the fuck are we the "liberal" west doing about Saudi Arabia? A massively destabilising influence and repressive against all forms of human rights.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
OK, fair point, I meant 'understand' in the more active sense of 'attempt to empathise with'. I just think it's disingenous to think, as some people might, that Osama's crew are simply going to pack up their bags and get back to a peaceful life of poppy-farming and prayer if only America would force Israel to come to an equitable settlement with Palestine, close down Guantanamo bay and so on (not that both those things aren't extremely desirable in themselves).

Personally, I do think the Eustonites let America off too easily. I don't think the US is responsible for all the evil the world, as a minority of extremists might believe, but it's obvious to anyone with their eyes open that they've not exactly doing a great job as guardians of the world's freedom and prosperity, to put it lightly.

As the guy in the other thread says, the manifesto's lack of emphasis on environmental issues is also puzzling.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Until someone comes up with a better idea, it looks like capitalism is all we have to work with, I'm afraid.
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
It doesn't mean that its rules, terms and discontents cannot be questioned, inquisited and held thoroughly to account though! For example, how many dictatorships have been propped up historically by western governments for the sake of economic benefit? And how many democracies destabilised too? How do the Eustonites square radical interventionism with its background history of (mainly the US') murderous surreptitious meddling? And indeed from the longer history preceeding that of Colonialism?
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Maybe I'm giving the Eustonites too much credit, but what I see as their message is "the West (in the broadest sense) has a chequered history which includes good things (concepts like democracy, equality, freedom of speech etc.) as well as bad things (imperialism, slavery and so on), so why not try and build on the *good* Western traditions, and try to use them to oppose bad things, wherever they're happening, i.e. whether they're the fault of corrupt, greedy American businessmen or brutal third-world dictators (who are so often in league anyway)?". OK, that sentence sucked, but you get my point. Just because developed countries have a history of military intervention in their own interests, that doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible, even in principle, for them to do it for altruistic reasons, if that's what those countries' leaders really wanted to do.

If you're saying "just because capitalism doesn't look like going away any time soon, that's no reason not to question and challenge it", it seems reasonable to me to ask "just because interventions have historically been undertaken for ulterior reasons, that's no reason to assume that has to be the case in the future".
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
The problem comes in terms of:

(a) Who is to do the intervening
(b) Under what system of law
(c) Said system of law to be ruled on at which court

For nation states to be any of these actors will not work, because the historical pull of

(a) Imperialist colonialism
(b) Imperialist covert operations
(c) Recent disastrous post 90s interventions, and disastrous non-interventions...

are impossible to disentangle from those who took part in such operations. As such only independent/transnational bodies fit the bill. However the UN is at an all time weak point in its history, and its power is curtailed by the strongest of the state actors which make it up. Also there is no internationally recognised court or system of law specifically designed for interventions (outside of that overseen by the UN, which is widely discredited now).
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I guess what I'm really saying is "we need a UN that isn't a complete waste of time". But you've just succintly highlighted how far we are from actually having that.
 
Until someone comes up with a better idea, it looks like capitalism is all we have to work with, I'm afraid.

Until? ... [And what, per chance, are you afraid of, exactly?]

Capitalism is what we have to work against ....


Euston, we have a problem.

"Right, er, comrades. Ahem! Let's agree on the following:


1) We support human rights for all, regardless of gender, creed, colour, nationality, sexual orientation, gustatory proclivity, hair colour, height, mass, adiposity, nose shape, tooth length, provenance, sumptuary propensity, or indeed, comrades, any other kind of human variation.

2) Let's go kill some untermenschen.

This absurd 'initiative', based on the resentments of a collection of bloggers and journalists of the petit-bourgeois liberal-left (the introduction is co-written by Nick Cohen and Norman Geras), is quite possibly the most comically inept excuse for supporting imperialism that I have yet read. Identical in tone to the equally preposterous 'Unite Against Terror' statement, it retails the usual array of charges made by these purblind bigots. The anti-imperialist left is antisemitic, fascist, Islamofascist, totalitarian, anti-American, terrorist-loving or willing to accomodate all of these. Anti-Zionists are either antisemitic or tolerant of antisemitism. We are heterodox, while they - they Decent Left, the One True Left - are keeping it real." More ...



Not to also mention: "Schools Minister Jim Knight, writing for the Euston Manifesto website (yes, that augean stable of 'progressives') following the catastrophe in Lebanon, has insisted that the armed forces should sponsor schools, setting up what he called "Armed Forces Trust Schools". Gordon Brown wants more school cadet forces. Sir Ian Russell, the former head of ScottishPower, has been asked to look at involving "private benefactors and companies to help fund new cadet forces in state schools, particularly those in deprived areas." They're going after the working class kids who, failed by the system, will be used as cannon fodder to defend it and advance its aims. Earlier this year, a school in Scotland handed children over to the armed forces for the day - with no prior parently consent. They were "made to take part in exercises that included 'imagining they were in a minefield' and 'acting injured', and told by an officer that he was 'having more trouble with you lot than with Iraqi terrorists'."

All of which is designed to teach working class kids that 650,000 Iraqi deaths = fun, adventure, civic duty, humanitarianism and ethnic diversity." More ...

And, the Euston Manifesto's abuse of "liberation."
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Until?
2) Let's go kill some untermenschen.

Yes. Because the people behind the Euston Manifesto are secretly neo-Nazis. Well done.

Edit: you link to a blog that says "I'm not a good guy. I'll inject your new born baby with smack if someone pays me enough to do it: that's not a rash, that's track marks." Oh my gosh. How terribly edgy. How terribly now.
 
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swears

preppy-kei
Mr Tea: Don't you think there are some problems that maybe the west can't solve? That it's better to admit that policing the rest of the world is none of our business, and even with the best intentions in regards to human rights and defeating extremists, we're only going to cock things up beyond recognition with interventionist foreign policies?
That, ideology aside, on a purely practical level, these actions simply don't work?
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Ok so we're agreed that Euston manifesto is little better than a reactionary fig leaf for continued (accelerated?) western imperialism. Do they actually have any support beyond the list of signatories? The press profile of people like Cohen I suspect distorts the apparent scale-- is this not so much the birth of a vile new mutation in the "liberal" left, but rather the all too public death throws of a certain kind of Blairite media operator?
 
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