"Influential left-wing ideas"

Some weeks ago, provoked by a poll in LFF, I posted on “influential leftists”, listing five good influences, five bad influences and five who I wished were more influential. Flesh is Grass rightly noted that it might be better to think of influential ideas. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and decided it’s an impossible task.

What are “ideas”? Inventive solutions to society’s problems (anathema to someone who sees the whole of capitalism as fundamentally flawed)? Big ideas, isms like socialism (or is that too abstract and utopian)? Something in between?

Well, having been mulling it over, I’ve come up with my lists, even though looking at them they seem a bit ridiculous. Some of them are meant to be provocative, some are heart-felt, but I’m not going to tell you which are which.


Social justice – This is probably the idea that I hold most dear, and which ultimately influences more or less the whole left, but as I write it down, it seems pathetic, a platitude rather than an idea, and one that has been bent and abused by everyone from Bill Ayers to Iain Duncan Smith. Still, surely worth defending?

Internationalism – Arguably another platitude, and one that most of the left lays claim to. But I wish it was a little more influential, that people who pay it lip service actually worked out how to put it into practice, actually applied it, say, to the Tamils languishing in refugee camps in Sri Lanka’s interior, to the Chinese workers who make all the plastic tat we put in our kids’ party bags, to the women who are stoned for adultery in western Asia.

The one state solution – Many of my friends on the anti-anti-Zionist left think that the one state solution is essentially equivalent to the genocidal destruction of the Jewish nation. They argue that the Arabs (who have demography on their side, and formidable military allies in the form of the Saudis, Iran and so on) have proven themselves unable to share space with Jews. I reject this fatalistic view, and having recently been in Northern Ireland am more confident than ever that we can forge our own futures if we unshackle our imaginations. It feels to me that the idea of the one state solution is steadily gaining ground, not just among the hardcore advocates of a “free Palestine”, but among younger Jews in both Israel and the diaspora. This slow awakening comes with a growing sense that another Zionism is possible, and a recovery of the memory of pre-1948 Zionism, the Zionism of Ahad Ha’am, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Joseph Trumpledor, AD Gordon and Judah Magnes, which called for a “national home” for the Jews and not necessarily a nation-state. By the way, I have at various other times in my life called for a one state solution also for South Africa, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Ireland and Cyprus. 

Open source – I remember thinking it was one of the sillier elements of the Euston Manifesto that it filled a whole clause (no.14 if you're interested) with open source software: a complete distraction, I thought, from the real issues. But since then I’ve changed my mind as I’ve watched the rise of creative commons licensing, free and open source software, participatory media, citizen journalism and citizen scholarship. If you use Firefox or Wikipedia, for example, you will have experienced small-c communism in practice: voluntary co-operation and mutual aid on a massive scale, at the most sophisticated level possible, to achieve, well, not a common goal, but an endless multiplicity of projects, completely outside the logic of the market or the state.

Strangers into citizens – I think this idea is influential, as it has managed to mobilise thousands of church-goers, as well as both Red Ken and Mayor Boris. Although some of my comrades think it doesn’t go far enough, surely its influence is a good thing in itself?


National sovereignty – What is a nation? How can a nation have a “self”? How is that “self” supposed to determine itself? Why should that self-determination take the shape of a state? Why should we respect the systems of rule that history has randomly bestowed on other nations? Why should we go to war, for example, out of respect for some Kuwaiti hereditary monarch’s right to use his kingdom as a personal bank account? Equally, why should we “stop” a war out of respect for some national socialist or clerical-fascist’s right to use his country as a personal fiefdom?

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – It is now common sense in the liberal world to see Israel as a pariah state, the worst possible state in the world, as bad as apartheid South Africa, as bad as the Nazis already. The boycott, divestment, sanctions idea has zero chance of contributing positively to peace or justice in Palestine; its only role is to give liberals an outlet for their moral ejaculations and to engrave in indelible letters the idea that Israel is the last word in evil.

Blood for oil/the Israel lobby/the shock doctrine – These ideas are probably incompatible at some level, although that doesn’t stop them from being held equally true by the same people. They are examples of vulgar or arrested materialism. They are attempts to explain the world through its underlying material/economic forces, but fall short. They fall short because they have no way of explaining the link between material interests and political or geopolitical effects, so end up as versions of conspiracy theory

Foreigners are stealing our jobs – this sounds like a right-wing idea, but it has been repeated over and over again on the left by Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians, from Ed Balls to Phil Woolas to Ed MiIliband. And the left has so far failed to respond to this, except in the form of moralistic hand-wringing.

Second Campism – Imperialism was one of the great evils of the last few centuries, so it is to its credit that the left has historically opposed it. But nowadays, the power cartography of the world has been so re-calibrated that the whole notion of imperialism makes little or no sense, and the concept of anti-imperialism becomes more and more attenuated. It seems to me that most self-proclaimed anti-imperialism these days is better described as Second Campism – that is, supporting the other camp over one’s own. Thus leftists once flocked to Cuba and the Viet Cong as the enemies of Amerikkka; now they flock to “anti-imperialist” dictators who have even less connection to the left’s core values, simply because they are the enemies of Amerikkka.


Mutualism, co-operatives, self-management – It is bizarre to see Conservatives talking about mutualism and workers’ co-ops, as these are historically very much a part of the heritage of the left, and especially the British left. The co-operative movement is intimately tied up with the history of the labour movement. Both express, if in different ways, human desire for autonomy and self-management. It is tragic that the left has vacated that territory and left it for the right to claim. In the year that Ken Coates and Colin Ward died, it is time for these ideas, the legacy of people like William Morris, Murray Bookchin and Daniel Guerin, to be influential again. (See also Will Davies on this.)

Small government – The Tory claiming of mutualism is a symptom of a bigger failure of the left: its abandonment of the larger ideal of liberty. For the last century, the century of the Bolsheviks and the Fabians, non-state socialism has been eclipsed, and the right has claimed the mantle of the party of the small state. Time to take it back.

No borders – The abolition of borders is, of course, an impossibilist demand, a utopian dream. There is no way a single country can abandon its borders: the call for no borders is immediately a call for a totally transformed world, a world with no borders. This is not something we can work towards in a practical way, but rather a way of imagining the world, and thus making our world different. 

Class analysis – This used to be one of the most influential ideas on the left. Far too influential, arguably, as the trad left was blind to anything other than class: blind to sex and sexuality, to culture and morality, to psychology, to the sacred, to other axes of identity like gender and race, to patriotism and kinship... But the post-1968, has gone too far the other way. Only the most tedious and dogmatic of leftists talk about class these days. But without that anchor, the value of social justice goes adrift, and the left just surfs every passing wave, from Third Worldism to identity politics, from Gaia to Wahhabism.

Agnosticism – I don't mean agnosticism about God (although that seems the only sensible option to me) but rather agnosticism about religion. The chattering classes seem increasingly encamped in the culture wars over evolution and God, the Eaglefish versus the Hitchkins, each equally narrow-minded and obsessive. It seems to me that religion has a track record of contributing an enormous amount of good to the world, and an enormous amount of evil – and the same can be said of atheism. Enough already; let’s just get on with it.

Despite the signal lack of success of my last memething, I am tagging, if they feel up to it, the following: Flesh, Modernity, Norm, Carl again, Darren (because of this) and Sarah. Any ideas? P.S. please don't feel obliged to stick with the 5-5-5 formula or to write overlong essays at each bullet point like I did.

UPDATE: A rejoinder from Eamonn on the one state solution, and a response from Norm on national sovereignty, class analysis and one state.

Update 2: Sarah serialises her responses: 1, 2, 3. Flesh responds here. And Waterloo Sunset on what's wrong with the liberal left.
Update 3: Carl's entry.


Eamonn said…
maybe I'm not able to read but it's not clear whether you write in favor of the one state or two state solution. The title indicates the former, one particular line in the text the latter
kellie said…
It's funny you mention having previously called for a one state solution for Ireland. Do you mean a one state-one island solution? The Irish Sea can create an illusion of simplicity. Ignore the water and it becomes clear that a 32 county Republic of Ireland would be just another two state solution with the dividing border moved a bit to the east, still with minority populations on both sides of that border having some allegiance to the other side.
kellie said…
Having said that, there are aspects of the current two state Irish solution that it would be lovely to see applied to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement: freedom of movement without visas or passports, and full voting rights for citizens of either state in whichever state they're living.

Though I can see the potential complications . . .
Terry Glavin said…
"Only the most tedious and dogmatic of leftists talk about class these days."

I deeply resemble that remark. . .

Wonderful stuff here, Bob, though not at all sure about the one-state solution bit (and not just because, like Eamonn, I'm weary of the Israel/Palestine - Ireland/Ulster analogies, or because, unlike Eamonn, I tend to see the denouement of the "troubles" as rather more of a civil-rights victory than a nationalist defeat).

I wonder whether the "One State Solution" might properly fall in your impossiblist category with "No Borders," a necessary hope and bold imagining, but in the case of Israel/Palestine a hope and imagining that cannot be expected to come except at some distant remove, long after the Palestinians have embraced a statehood of their own that does not require assimilation, expulsion, annexation or total war.

That's the only prospect for a One-State solution that makes sense to me or leaves me with any hope. I can imagine maybe a generation or two away, maybe not even, maybe a confederation of the Levant, uniting the provinces of Palestine, Jordan, Israel and the Lebanon, with arrangements of the sort Kellie notices viz Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht, and a hope for the "nation state" further withering.

But it is, for now, dreaming, no? It is, for now, two states, I'd say, and even that is beginning to look like a distant hope.
Fabián said…
I agree with the one state solution. Britain and the 22 Arab countries should unite. The 22 Arab countries will have a vote regarding, among other things, the language spoken in Britain and where should Britain spend its national budget. Arabic will become the language taught at school for all subjects and Cairo and Damascus' poor will get the money you planned to inject in London. It is so easy to spend other people's money! You just need to call it: "support for the one-state solution".
bob said…
Thanks for the comments, all of which I enjoyed. Eamonn: well spotted my embarassing typo now corrected.

My ACTUAL position, I guess, is: no state (and no borders), but in the absence of that possibility one state, but in the absence of that possibility two states, which I hate to admit is the only realistic solution in the shortish term.

If we take these "British" isles, the complexity of the forms of citizenship and sovereignty we have here - Commonwealth and Irish citizens vote in the UK, the border between Northern Ireland and Eire is meaningless, significant sovereignty is devolved up (what's the word for that?) to Brussels and Strasbourg, Scotland has a whole different legal system, Wales the same legal system but its own legislature, London its own legislature but with no power, the UK shares a queen with fifteen other Commonwealth realms - seems to me to show that the idea of one-nation-one-state is actually completely redundant and unnecessary.
Eamonn said…
I should say that, apart from the one state pie in the sky, there's a lot of good stuff in this post, In particular I agree with Terry regarding the importance of class.

@Terry. I haven't said anything about civil rights in my repeated Z word writings about the NI analogy because I don't think the Provos were fighting for civil rights, they were fighting for national rights and they lost. A happy result of the GFA is, of course, that civil rights in NI have been reinforced for all.

Something similar has gone on with discourses of what happened in Argentina in the 1970s. The struggle of the various Peronist/Communist guerrilla groups has been reinvented by the present govt. as a struggle for human rights as we now understand that term when it was in fact to overthrow a democratic goverment first (73 to 76) and then a military dictatorship (76 to 83) and replace them, in the case of the ERP, with a Cuban style communist state or, in the case of the Montoneros, a national socialist (yes, their own words)popular dictatorship.
bob said…
I'm trying to compose my response to your Eamonn's post at ZWord now, but one thing that prompted this post was my recent very brief visit to Belfast, only my second visit to Northern Ireland, so I can't claim to have come away with any deep understannding of the Troubles. But I was struck by the number of people, from both communities, who spontaneously told me how much things had changed for the better, and how hard it would have been just a short while ago to believe it could be so. One man, a working class Republican in his sixties, said "Don't get me wrong, I still want to see a united Ireland, and I think it will come, if not in my lifetime. But I'd never give this up to go back to the struggle." The situation in Is-Pal is in no way analogous to the situation on the emerald isle. But what is the same is the humanity common to Protestants, Catholics, Arabs and Jews.
"They argue that the Arabs (who have demography on their side, and formidable military allies in the form of the Saudis, Iran and so on) have proven themselves unable to share space with Jews. I reject this fatalistic view, and having recently been in Northern Ireland am more confident than ever that we can forge our own futures if we unshackle our imaginations. "

"WE" can unshackle our imaginations to concoct any number of unrealizable utopias. I find the idea objectionable, especially, Bob, my dear friend, coming from you. Why is that? Because you don't dare to go into that hostile territory, even when it's only an internet blog. I recall a few times when you registered genuine dismay and shock at what you read coming out of these (English written) Arab blogs when I report about my visits there.

I have come to believe that Arabs and Jews can no more live as equals in any state in which Arabs are the majority, than Jews and German Nazis would in 1939. It's beyond pie-in-the-sky. You have to go into those message boards and blogs to get a feel of the hatred, loathing, contempt and fear. It is an incurable pathology. Why even bring it up? Hussein Ibish, no lover of Israel, dismissed the idea of the one-state solution.

"The fundamental argument that the one-staters seem to be making, which is that we can't possibly get Israel to end the occupation and relinquish their control of the 22 percent of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) but we will inevitably succeed in getting them to relinquish one hundred percent of the territory under their control. This is a problem of logic. The second thing is that once you've realized this, obviously what you've done is set yourself the task of convincing Jewish Israelis to voluntarily do this. The idea of coercing the Israelis into this through military force is absurd, and it could only really be done through voluntary persuasion. What the one-staters argue, actually, is that they don't have to do that. What they're going to do, they say, is bring the Israelis to their knees."


A one state cannot be brought about without the world becoming complicit with Palestinians to destroy Israel. It can be done, by force, by breaking the spirit of Israeli Jews (we can already see those broken spirits, for example, here: http://blog.z-word.com/2010/12/gurvitz-the-progressive-blogger/).

Similar enterprises were carried out with some success in history. Like the mass conversion of the Spanish Jews in 1387, followed a century later by the expulsion of the remainder of unconverted Jews. Or in more recent times, the exhausting of Jews to the point where no solution but flight or death was available. It can be done, never doubt that. The one state solution can be realized, if the world is willing to accept and assist in unshackling its imagination just long enough to facilitate such a solution.
bob said…
I have come to believe that Arabs and Jews can no more live as equals in any state in which Arabs are the majority, than Jews and German Nazis would in 1939. It's beyond pie-in-the-sky. You have to go into those message boards and blogs to get a feel of the hatred, loathing, contempt and fear. It is an incurable pathology.

The German Nazis, sure, but the whole German people? The Nazis had the support of the overwhelming majority of the German population - and yet no-one now would say that Jews cannot live as equals of Germans in Germany. Germany is not 100% hospitable to Jews, but it's probably one of the better places today to be a Jew.

My point is that people change. Anyone reading the equivalent of the message boards in 1939 Germany would see it as an incurable pathology - yet it has, to a large extent, been cured there.

By the way, I have written a much longer comment over at ZWord http://blog.z-word.com/2010/12/bob-from-brockley-goes-ones-state/
Waterloo Sunset said…
My ACTUAL position, I guess, is: no state (and no borders), but in the absence of that possibility one state, but in the absence of that possibility two states, which I hate to admit is the only realistic solution in the shortish term.

In the current political context, one state strikes me as more impossiblist than no state, not more. Apart from anything else, the social institutions that a no state solution already exist in both Israel and Palestine. I'm less convinced that's the case for a one state solution.

In terms of realistic solutions in the shortish term, I think this converges nicely with your point about class. One noticable thing about much analysis of Israel/Palestine, is that neither Zionists nor anti-Zionists start from a class analysis position, even those who would do so with pretty much any other country. Apparently we should believe that Israel/Palestine is the one place in the world where the class war is not the most pressing issue. There are times the ultraleft position is actually the most realistic one...
"My point is that people change. Anyone reading the equivalent of the message boards in 1939 Germany would see it as an incurable pathology - yet it has, to a large extent, been cured there."

But at what price? And who paid that price? Your response only confirms my conclusion: that it can be done.
Fabián said…
"My ACTUAL position, I guess, is: no state (and no borders)"

I wonder why you don't try it in Britain first.

You have, what? 5% Muslims in your population, and already your streets are exploding with hatred, and shouts of sending the immigrants home. Imagine the government saying to the British people: in the next five years 60% of our population will be Pakistani, we will bring as much as we can, as fast as we can. I would love to see the faces of the non-racist British proletariat.
kellie said…
I liked Norm's concise and reasonable response.

I also like this talk from Terry and Eamonn of civil rights supplanting national rights, which links to Norm's response on national sovereignty, and reminds me of a line from Joe Sacco's Palestine where someone says something like "what's the difference between two racist states and one racist state?" In other words, the more important issue is civil rights rather than where you draw the borders.

Still I think it's premature to talk of one-nation-one-state being redundant, even in the UK with all its complexity, at least as an idea with symbolic force - witness the darker side of the last election campaign. And many of the various political subdivisions in the UK are also invested with qualities of virtual nation and state-hood in political rhetoric, even down to the city level in London.
kellie said…
On Fabián's 'try it in the UK first' comment, I'd argue that the EU is an incrementalist no borders project, and so it is being tried in the UK first.
bob said…
Thanks Kellie. I agree.

My comrade Angelus Novus says, Israel IS an apartheid state, but so are all states.
Fabián said…
Kellie, there is an evident difference between what the UK has done until now and what is being proposed for Israel. My analogy of the 60% of Pakistanis as British citizens in less than 5 years is more close to what some people are proposing for Israel than whatever Britain has done or plans to do.

It entails Israel's dissapearance as a State, as it is certainly obvious that no country with an Arab majority would retain the name "Israel" past the first Parliamentary session. I wish people would take more seriously political matters. Of course that if people took them seriously, they wouldn't argue for a "solution" that would instantly lead to civil war and genocide.
Waterloo Sunset said…
What's noticable about this post is the way that everyone, myself included, has talked about the "Israel" part to the near exclusion of anything else. I can't help feeling that's part of the problem. (Fabian escapes this criticism, assuming he's the Harryite of the same name. As an Israeli citizen, his interest in the matter makes sense).

For everyone else though, perhaps treating Israel as 'just another state' means not constantly fucking banging on about it? And that applies equally to both sides of the argument.

Shut the fuck up and go and do something useful. There's a whole world of class struggle out there. 99% of it is nothing to do with Israel.
bob said…
1. It is often said that Israel with its current borders can either be a democratic state or a Jewish state. In a sense, all liberal democratic nation-states face something of this dilemma. In Biritain, for example, the legal doctrine of the "patrial" embeds a version of the Law of Reutrn in our immigration law - citizenship based on ethnos rather than demos, common to many European contries (e.g. Germany) which operate ius sangiuonis, the law of blood, in determining nationality. On the other hand, the logic of liberal democracy and the civic idea of citizenship pushes us towards a notion of Britishness in which it is perfectly possible to be British and of Pakistani descent, and this is to the good. My belief is theat it would be a lot better if all states moved in that direction and not in the direction that Israel is increasingly moving in, towards nationality defined by blood.

2. WS's last point: absolutely right. Am dissappointed noone has any comments on the 14 other points I made!
Waterloo Sunset said…
My last disappeared point.

Wordpress. kthxbi :-p
bob said…
WS: last comment restored - that's a new Blogger.com comment madness, publishing something and THEN sending it to spam later. Maybe the swear word...

Fabian: The history of Pakistan and that of Britain are of course closely intertwined. We were over there for a few centuries, so it is no surprise that some of them are over here. To become a British citizen, you have to pass a test of English language and of knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of British citizens, as well as swear allegiance to the crown. A fair number of Pakistanis pass this test every year (I think they are outnumbered right now by Philippinos, Indians and Bangladeshis, and slightly outnumber Chinese.) Note, problematic as some aspects of the citizenship test may be, they are not required to swear allegiance to Britain as an ethnically white English state. That would be inconcievable in Britain, which is a mark, in my view, of Britain's relative maturity as a liberal democracy. There is nothing that makes being of Pakistani descent incompatible with Britishness, and I think you're wrong to suggest that large numbers of Pakistani-descended people would pose some sort of threat to Britishness, just as you would be wrong to suggest that large numbers of Jewish immigrants would. At any rate, of course, Palestinians in Israel are not immigrants, so even making the comparison is ridiculous.
Fabián said…
Bob: it is all a question of numbers, and again I remark that because it is continuing getting lost in other people's argument.

Take a country like Britain. Very liberal and advanced as you say. Tell the people (your mixed people) that in five more years, 60 or 70 or 80% of its population will be Pakistani, will have a very lousy command of English and will speak as mother tongue Urdu or Pashtun or some such language in which you don't even know how to say "Mom". And I am not even getting into the problem of a different religion, etc. You will get the advanced and liberal British people to riot instantly (except for, maybe, that >5% of Pakistanis you already count among your citizens.)
It is the same as if you asked Argentinians (who BTW have no ius sanguinis but strictly ius solis as a reason to obtain citizenship), that in five years the country will give citizenship to 50 million Chinese. What do you expect? People are willing to add some measure of exotism to their food and stuff. They are not willing to change their national culture totally and abruptly for a foreign culture. Not even the civilized British people, who still have a monarchy and make people swear allegiance to institutionalized inequality.

One other thing: Palestinians living in Lebanon, Jordan, etc, would be immigrants to Israel. Except a tiny %, most have been born in Arab countries, not in Israel.

And I am indeed, Fabian ben Israel from Harrys Place.
Terry Glavin said…
Just to lighten things up a bit, my main objection to an "open borders" policy arises from its implications for the country where I live. Within a year, we'd be swamped and ounumbered by rich white American hippies.
kellie said…
Fabián, the way you make your argument, with a scare scenario of mass migration to the UK by one nationality which you name, rubs me up the wrong way. I think it should be possible to make and test the argument without the dodgy rhetoric.

So, shutting my eyes to that, yes you have a point. Overnight open borders would be impractical, risking too much instability. That's why I like the incrementalism of the EU project with no open borders before taking steps on economic harmonisation, development of democratic and legal institutions, and minimum standards of civil rights.

If I were to make my own list I would put democratic consent as an idea not influential enough on parts of the left. On the Northern Ireland agreement, democratic consent within the six counties was central. Likewise democratic consent within Israel should be considered essential for any peace proposal. If we can take that as read, then an awful lot of things would have to happen before the electorate would accept anything like an open borders policy.
Fabián said…
"Fabián, the way you make your argument, with a scare scenario of mass migration to the UK by one nationality which you name, rubs me up the wrong way. I think it should be possible to make and test the argument without the dodgy rhetoric."

So in the case of the UK is dodgy rhetoric, but in the case of Israel we must accept with ecuanimity all those talks about "one state solution" and the "right of return" to the Palestinians (who are also one nationality people "name"). British people express desires to flood Israel with Arabs, but when I reverse the argument for their country, it suddently turns "dodgy".

Double standards.
kellie said…
I'm sorry Fabián, you're not getting what I say, and you're ascribing things to me that I never said.

1) I find you going on about Pakistanis offensive, and unnecessary to making an argument against immediate open borders.

2) I have never argued here or elsewhere in favour of a right of return, nor have I expressed a desire to flood any country with people of any ethnic group.

Really, think about how you're coming over. Is it your intent to persuade or just offend? You have an argument worth making. Why spoil it by acting like a jerk?
Waterloo Sunset said…
So in the case of the UK is dodgy rhetoric

No, what's dodgy rhetoric in the UK is anybody who talks about "swamping" of the UK by immigrants. That kind of language has a specific (far right) pedigree over here.

If anything, Kellie is being softer on you than most of us would be on a Brit using the same kind of arguments. Is that a double standard you'd like us to rectify?
Noga said…
"what's dodgy rhetoric in the UK is anybody who talks about "swamping" of the UK by immigrants. That kind of language has a specific (far right) pedigree over here."

Someone please explain to me how the objection to the idea that Israel should become home to 7-9 million Palestinians is now a "far right" position around here?
Fabián said…
Noga, they just don't get it.
They object to the language, but express certainly crazy political ideas about my country, which would never entertain about theirs.

I made the argument with Argentina too, because I am also Argentinian. By Argentinian standars I am a strong anti-racist, but it has never been proposed nor is it on the cards that suddenly 50 million Palestinian Arabs, or Chinese, or Germans will be added to the Argentinian population effecting a complete demographic change. If it were propossed (as is being propposed or suggested for Israel among some of you), nice anti-racist Argentinians like me would simply riot, because our country would not be Argentina anymore, but something else.

You want to call me far-right because you cannot understand in your little heads the real result behind what you advocate for Israel. It is much more easy to call me a racist than to think. I simply don't care about politically correct language, and you wouldn't either if you were asked to absorb 50 million Iranians, Chinese or Russians as British citizens by tomorrow morning.
Fabián said…
Is it ok to say "absorb"? Is it a civilized and liberal word to use?
Waterloo Sunset said…
Someone please explain to me how the objection to the idea that Israel should become home to 7-9 million Palestinians is now a "far right" position around here?

We were talking about the UK, no? And I was saying, specifically, that anybody in the UK who talked about (as in Fabian's example) the UK being "swamped by Muslim immigrants" would be considered suspect, to say the least. In the context of the UK. Is that clear enough?

They object to the language, but express certainly crazy political ideas about my country, which would never entertain about theirs.

I support open borders for the UK. As, I believe, does Bob. (Not sure about Kellie). You may consider that utopian, as is your right, but it's hardly the case that it's specific to Israel.

And the vast bulk of my campaigning is on UK issues. Indeed, I do think it's entirely valid to question the motivation of people who go on constantly about Israel on their blogs, despite not actually living in Israel.

But, to the best of my knowledge, you're the only Israeli citizen commenting here. If you actually look at my blog, there's no posts about Israel at all. Bob has some. Kellie has none on the first page at least. If you want to look at Israel obsession by people who don't live there, I'd suggest you're looking in the wrong places . As I said before, I actually think it would be healthy if both sides of this argument stopped with the overfocus on Israel, to the exclusion of all other discussions.

You want to call me far-right because you cannot understand in your little heads the real result behind what you advocate for Israel.

I'm merely saying that you're aping BRITISH far right themes about the UK being under threat from the "Mooslim hordes". You were the one that brought up the UK as a specific example, so you can't complain when I respond to you on those terms, surely? Are you now arguing that I should treat Israel differently in discussion than I would any other state?
kellie said…
Fabián, language is important if you want to persuade. If you are careless and offensive in your language you alienate people. If your choice of language is imprecise and distracting from your main argument, then you weaken your argument. If you attack people on the basis of arguments they haven't made you lower yourself in their estimation. There is a very valid and important point behind what you say, and you are totally screwing it up in presenting it in a hamfisted and offensive manner. If your intention is to persuade you need to raise your game. If you're not here to persuade then we are just witnessing a narcissistic and timewasting braying.

You're amongst a small group of people, at least some of which have a long history of changing positions on various issues. It would be useful to argue with the points people actually make rather than treating us all as the worst kind of kitsch-left know-nothings.
kellie said…
Damn, Blogger really hates you, WS! I see another substantial comment from you is in my email feed but not showing on the page.

For the record I am pro open borders in the incremental way described earlier, and personally a benificiary of the UK-IRL open border.
bob said…
WS's lost comment reinstated. No idea why that went to spam. Blogger also killed my comment last night, which was that the Palestinian/Pakistani analogy is not relevant anyway, because Palestinians are not immigrants in Israel. The fact that they come from there should count for something shouldn't it?
Sarah AB said…
I found both your post and Norm's response interesting and sympathetic. And I've finally responded (in part)to your challenge over on Harry's Place.
bob said…
Thanks Sarah. Good list! (I commented there.)
Sarah AB said…
Thanks Bob - I've posted the other two elements now. I think your own point about the potentially good influence of cooperatives emerged as a positive strand on one of the discussions, something which commenters coming from different sides might agree about.
Norm's defense of national sovereignty was outright terrible.
He writes "Pending the discovery of some better way for groups of people to band together for mutual protection, the sharing of other social aims, resources and facilities, and the voluntary pursuit of common cultural ways, states based on national (or sometimes multi-national) collectivities are the best way we have."
It would have been more honest to start with an observation of how national sovereignty fails to achieve any of those listed objectives. The incredible gulf between rich and poor of "the same nation" is only the most obvious example to look at to see it's failure, but many more come to mind, say the incredible disproportion of poor, blacks, latinos and immigrants whose only opportunity for social advance is to put their lives at risk in service of the military.
Norm and other social democrats would plea that these examples are simply "problems to be fixed" within the given framework of nations and nation-states, as "issues" which require "progress," and would fail to see how inequalities are produced and perpetuated through societies built on national principles.
His only way out is to go the route of the "global community." As someone who is influenced by Arendt, he would do well reading her critical work on sovereignty, and her critique of the "global community." For her the issue is the reclamation of politics, not of preserving "national cultures." Her rejection of Marx is much more interesting than Norm's. At least she admits she doesn't seek social equality.
bob said…
SL, I agree completely. I will write a response to him at some point.

Sarah, Flesh, thanks for your entries! I will link to them soon.
fulloyun said…
kellie you are right man have a nice day
Where do you plan to respond to Norm? His blog doesn't have comments. Otherwise I would have responded there.
bob said…
SL- I'm planning to write something about national sovereignty and the one state solution, reflecting on Norm's comments and my argument with the folks at ZWord. I hope to post it within a week.
I like Carl's list, very much. Except for that Marxist Darwinism thingy which I don't understand so cannot say if I like it or not.
Terry Glavin said…
I'm kind of liking Carl's list too. His observation on Pannekoek's Marxist take on "Darwinism" is fair enough, but the notion itself fails to take into account that evolution by natural selection - the Darwinian epoch, if you like - actually ended for homo sapiens some thousands of years ago. It's over. It still occurs, but human evolution has long been driven mainly by forces more properly classified (although probably as unhelpfully) as "artifical selection," which unfortunately makes us sound like potatoes. Better "cultural evolution," but in any case the process resembles the pre-Darwinian mode of horizontal gene transfer as much as it does evolution by natural selection.

This is why "social Darwinists" will always lose, by the simple function of human evolution itself; it's a idea that is organically selected for extinction in civilized human societies. Cultures that advance and prevail won't abide that sort of thing, which is another reason for the radical optimism Carl counsels, I might also notice.

Cheer up comrades!