Thursday, April 13, 2006

Euston Manifesto

Just posted on Normblog amogst others is a document called the Euston Manifesto - a Renewal of Progressive Politics. It appears to be written by Nick Cohen and Norman Geras and looks like a manifesto by the democratic/rational/non-stupid Left.

There is a lot to like.

i) no apology or attempt to understand tyranny and terrorism
ii) a complete rejection of knee-jerk anti-Americanism
iii) a rejection of cultural relativism in favour of universal human rights
iv) a scathing attack on Amnesty International and its appalling comparison of the US with the Russian gulags
v) a complete rejection of racism. And, unusually for the Left, to include anti-Semitism
vi) the acceptance that a country's sovereignty is not sacrasanct. ie there are situations that justify invasion.
vii) a defence of freedom of speech (though they understandably do not get drawn into the cartoon debate)

However, there is also a lot of woolly thinking and the inevitable platitudes

i) the very strident anti-terror language is softened by a predictable sop to the Muslim community, "this does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents". If only this were the case.
ii) it is very unclear from the document where they stand economically, "we stand for global economic development". Yes, but who doesn't. "Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice". Sounds nice but what does it mean? I think they mean that they accept that globalisation has pulled millions out of poverty but they don't like the fact that the rich have benefited disproportionately. Well i dont either, but it comes with the turf.
And "we support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History" could have been written by Bono. More aid? Really? Even though study after study has shown that it perpetuates not alleviates poverty. And why fair trade and not free trade? What is fair trade exactly?
iii) they completely ignore one of the biggest issues of the day - welfare - and they fail to answer the question, as Michael Collins so succintly puts it, of "why the white working class have gone from salt of the Earth to scum of the Earth in a little over sixty years?

However, i nitpick. This is a massive step forward for the Left at a time when they seem to have simply run out of ideas.