A New Pro-Imperialist "Left" Manifesto

by JOHN W. FARLEY

A group of left intellectuals have recently issued The Euston Manifesto. The signers are mostly British, and the American signers include both editors of Dissent magazine (Michael Walzer and Mitchell Cohen), a member of the Dissent editorial board (Paul Berman), a Dissent contributor (Kanan Makiya) and a contributing editor to The Nation (Marc Cooper).

The Euston Manifesto consists of (A) Preamble, (B) Statement of Principles, (C) Elaborations, and (D) Conclusions.

(A) In the preamble, the signers declare themselves "democrats and progressives," proposing a "fresh political alignment". The identify themselves as people on the left, reaching out to others (whether leftist or not) who have "an unambiguous democratic commitment".

(B) The 15-point Statement of Principles is a catechism of positions:

(1) For democracy,

(2) No apology for tyranny,

(3) Human rights for all,

(4) Equality,

(5) Development for freedom,

(6) Opposing anti-Americanism,

(7) For a two-state solution (In Israel and Palestine),

(8) Against racism,

(9) United against terror,

(10) A new internationalism (in favor of "humanitarian intervention"),

(11) A critical openness,

(12) Historical truth,

(13) Freedom of ideas,

(14) Open source, and

(15) A precious heritage.

In part C, "Elaborations," we finally we get to the point: support for the US occupation of Iraq.

The signers explain that "the founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted–rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention."

Translation: the signers proclaim that the Left should be helping, not opposing, the US occupation of Iraq. After all, teaching the backward natives the art of self-government is part of the White Man’s Burden!

(D) Conclusion, quoted in its entirety: "It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic ‘anti-imperialism’ and/or hostility to the current US administration. 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."

They have not noticed that some of their principles are contradicted by their political positions.

For example, consider Principle #8, "against racism". The signers write that "the recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of ‘anti-Zionism’. We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying."

The manifesto signers do not consider that the "legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel" arise because the Palestinians are the victims of Israel’s racism. In this connection, what about Principle #3. "Human rights for all"? Do they really mean all, even including Palestinians? In that case they would be severely critical of Israel, but they are not. Dissent magazine’s editor, Michael Walzer, actually endorsed Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon! To the manifesto signers, anyone accusing Israel of systematic racism against the Palestinians is guilty of "anti-Zionism", and of course this equals anti-Semitism. So there you have it! Anyone accusing Israel of racism must be an anti-Semite!

Among the Statement of Principles, there is no mention of opposition to war or imperialism. There is only a passing mention of colonialism in point #15, "A precious heritage":

"We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries–by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women."

Finally they mention the "anti-colonial transformation." But isn’t the US invasion and occupation of te Persian Gulf (today Iraq, and tomorrow Iran?) a modern form of colonialism, motivated by the US desire to control the oil of the Persian Gulf? Aren’t the efforts of the Iraqis and Iranians to resist US imperialism therefore an anticolonial struggle? Of course, the signers of the Euston Manifesto have absolutely nothing good to say about the "the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance."

The Euston Manifesto was written by social democrats who support the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are pleading for support from other leftists and from the broader community of liberals. I predict that this manifesto will fail to rally pro-war sentiment. It’s too late, and opposition to the war is by now nearly universal among the people they hope to convince. Instead, the likely effect will be the political isolation of the signers.

John Farley lives in Henderson, Nevada. He can be reached at: johnwfarley@yahoo.com


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Jeralynn Bluford
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America