What's wrong with the left, etc (Dead Bloggers Society special edition)
First, Sarah Ditum on why displaying our own liberal cleverness is always a worse strategy than sharing human stories. Ditum exposes the left-liberal intelligentsia's masturbatory performances of smartness as bad politics in a human world, suggesting that such performances won't win people over even when the facts are on our side, as with welfare reform and migration. In relation to migration, this is a point Jill Rutter has made recently too:
"economic arguments will not persuade a sceptical public about the merits of immigration... most of the UK-born do not see immigration in terms of its economic benefits. Most people I interviewed struggled to articulate the benefits that immigration might have brought them, even those from higher income brackets.The economic impacts – for example – on food prices, or fiscally, are abstract and difficult to quantify. At the time of a squeeze on living standards, most people do not ‘feel’ the benefits of immigration to their everyday lives, except on a superficial level in relation to a wider choice in food or cursory gratitude to migrants working in the NHS."what's wrong with the anti-liberal left: Goldberg analyses the converse, anti-intellectual folly of the new illiberal left and its culture of "repressive tolerance". By this she refers to the use of trigger warnings, call-outs and no platforming to deny free expression in the name of some spurious idea of social justice: the politics of the hashtag attack dogs.
The liberal fallacy and illiberal folly they invoke have this in common: both dis-engage the unconverted from politics; both play to a gallery of clued-up insiders. And thus both help maintain the disenchantment and sense of hopelessness of the majority, and both help maintain the grip of elites on our body politic. (See also James Bloodworth (☚): Want to defeat UKIP? Then get more working class people into politics.) And the repressive tolerance Goldberg describes also plays into something Nick Cohen and Kenan Malik have written about many times: the culture of taking offence that has gripped our world.
Nick Cohen (☚) recently wrote a superb deconstruction of Noam Chomsky's position on Crimea, showing how Chomsky's take exemplifies the double standards of the "anti-imperialist" left. Somewhat updated, but still very incomplete: this long resource list includes several texts on left antisemitism, conspirationism and left-right convergence, and a few on philo-Islamism, vicarious social patriotism, Third Worldism and the anti-imperialism of fools. Some of the more recent ones include: Nick Cohen How the left turned against the Jews (2012), Sean Matgamna The SWP and Israel (2013), Colin Shindler The European left and its trouble with Jews and The Left and Israel: A Tortured Path (2012), Pham Binh The Anti-Imperialism of Fools and the Syrian Spring (2012), Allan Massie Israel, Palestine and the anti-Semitism of the Left (2012). (Here's a couple more, not on that page: Padraig Reidy on Katy Perry and the Illuminati.)
"anti-establishmentism of fools" (illustrated by the alliance around the quenelle). Paul Evans (☚) linked to that piece back in January, along with a great article by Sean Wilentz on the cross-party cult of Assange/Snowden/Greenwald. Paul suggests that perhaps the old disciplined orthodoxies of Leninist democratic centralism were in some ways healthier than today's believe-in-anything political culture. I fear he might be right. Or, as Public Enemy puts it, 'If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything'.