Blogging from where I am, I only get to certain things late in the (UK) day, if I get to them at all. But I won't pass up the brief chance I have to comment on the piece of muck by Richard Gott published in today's Guardian. It has many of the now standard anti-liberation left identity marks: the Nazi Germany analogy, with the US as 'evil empire', and 'an unbridled country that presents a global threat similar to Germany in the 1930s'; Tony Blair 'a war criminal who should be locked up behind bars' (in which one must be grateful for the clarifying detail 'behind bars'); and a vote for Respect countenanced as a way of trying to secure 'an anti-war majority in parliament', this in complaisant silence about the filthy political associations with which that particular organization is tainted.
In connection with Tony Blair's alleged criminality Gott makes reference to 'history's hall of infamy'. Well, he and the rest of his present-day ilk are set fair to join that very hall in their own right: those senior figures on what once saw and represented itself as a new, democratic, anti-Stalinist left, but who have lately caved in and gone politically berserk; people who have been on the wrong side of nearly all, or indeed all, of the key international conflicts since the first Gulf War, resolutely anti-American and ready in this with cheap and grotesque Hitler-Nazi references, but somehow a little bit less resolute in what their alignment might mean with respect to the likely future of the most noxious movements and lethal regimes there are; 'democrats' in everything except a proper recognition of the democracy that exists in the US and other Western nations, and of what the absence of democracy means for those peoples for whom it is in fact - daily, ruinously - absent; loud denouncers of the abuses and crimes or alleged crimes of the US, or the UK, or Israel, but more tactful and tactical in relation to other and much worse; people for whom George W. Bush is a more hated figure than Saddam Hussein or anyone else is or was, and for whom the discontinuation of that monster's rule in Iraq today seems to be of less importance morally than the failure to find WMD there or an 'international law' to which many of them have never shown any visible attachment hitherto.
What is it that has led to this intellectual and political debacle of so much of the left of (roughly) my own generation? The pathology of anti-Americanism? The failure to call certain political phenomena by their proper names? A loss of nerve and/or moral perspective in face of a capitalism seemingly everywhere triumphant? Perhaps (three times). But a debacle is what it is - the loss to progressive opinion of half a generation or more of those who might otherwise have been expected to pass on a mature wisdom to younger others. Instead, this shameful legacy.
Update April 27th: This post was written somewhat hurriedly while I was making preparations to leave Washington DC yesterday afternoon. Re-reading it now that I'm home, I see that I was too kind in the enumeration which makes up the second paragraph. I failed to note - as I had intended to note when I first sat down to write the post - how many within this left have come out either in open support of, or with some form of apologia for, an 'insurgency' in Iraq that is in full opposition to any democratic project there and willing to spread chaos and murder other Iraqis in pursuit of that opposition.