I had a heated discussion with an acquaintance, a former ‘friend’, after the Brexit poll that recently took place. He is a life-long Labour Party supporter who acknowledged the futility of electing Jeremy Corbyn (JC) to the post of party leader while at the same time being exhilarated by the result. We have not been comfortable together since he told me (just prior to one of my many family trips to Israel) that one mans history is another mans mythology. From there it was clear I was dealing with someone of ‘easy’ personal ethics, someone who chooses sides based not on historical relevance but on ideological preference. His justification is never swayed by either reality or counter-factual evidence. In retrospect, he was a perfect JC disciple.
We are all products of our identity. We learn from our parents, our peers, from the education system and from society – social media, television, community. We absorb many lies and half truths. What we have learnt from our growing up years helps us to turn away from that which is not congruent with our own belief system. A well oiled propaganda machine can change hearts and minds; it can reroute our emotional response to input data simply by repeating its message and intimidating those people who refuse to listen, thereby silencing any counter argument. It can work slowly or quickly depending on the strength of the message, its frequency of transmission and the opposing response (or lack thereof).
The Muslim and fascist Left’s “Boycott Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) campaign is an excellent example of this. If you have ever tried to have a rational discussion with a proponent of BDS you will be shouted down, intimidated, threatened with violence, accused of war-crimes or simply ignored.
And thus are today’s wars eventually won.
I have always valued education and appreciated the truism that you never stop learning. There are always at least two sides to every narrative no matter how unequal they may initially appear to be. And this is the problem that the Left has with any conflict. I will explain. The political Right developed from entrenched ruling elites. They evolved, they adapted over centuries to changing circumstances. If the Shoah taught the political Right wing anything it was that defeat was painful and maybe, just maybe, that using people as pawns had terrible consequences. They may not have cared, but technology had developed to the point of making conflict uneconomical for every one, including the winners.
Except that the unfortunate truth about people is this: time, given the opportunity, forgives and even more important, forgets everything.
In contrast, the political Left was born of ideology and of original sin. Its ideas were grafted onto a social backbone imbued with poisonous hatred of the other. In order to facilitate acceptance Karl Marx as well as many who came after him on the political Left plagiarised the most heinous prejudices of the society they inhabited. The British Labour Party has never fully explored, repudiated or banished its anti-Semitism. Followers could choose to disregard party rhetoric at their peril. After all, a winning meme will help to elect candidates to office. Acceptance in a monolithic movement means unquestioning obedience. The Left has rarely had a need to justify its behaviour. It has usually practiced cognitive relativism which places morals in the area of human invention; do not reflect universal truths and are subject to social and cultural considerations that override the laws of society. Put another way (according to Marcel Stoetzler “Antisemitism and the British Labour Party”) the meta-politics of anti-Semitism is in its simplistic but transcendent appeal.
The Left’s universalism and its opposition to ethnic discrimination is tempered by its need to attract converts in a world that is increasingly unstable while also being more prosperous and therefore less likely to listen to its message about the underdog. Devoid of “us and them” rhetoric the Left has difficulty attracting voters to its message of class struggle and has an even greater issue justifying its “Other” particularism. The latter, empowers a perceived underclass even when that underclass is racist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and imperialistic. These are crimes of which the Arab and greater Muslim world is guilty. But when Jews are viewed as part of the greater Western or American (capitalist) project they become a conduit for all that is wrong with the world. How else to justify choosing a racist Arab Particularism over a flawed Zionist Utopianism?
There is another issue that afflicts society today. If in the past, we were taught that to win was not the most important thing but how we “played the game,” today we are told that there is no respect, there is no honour, there is just winning. In the short term that may be a useful yardstick for success but it is a corrosive attitude that kills innovation and destroys relationships at every level of society. It means that long term planning is unnecessary and even uneconomical. We live in a society where if results are not rapidly achievable then either other options should be explored or the journey itself cancelled. It has made us for the most part ungracious winners and poor losers.
Think of the British campaign to exit from the European Union. The campaign was intemperate. It was unlike any I had previously encountered because usually both sides attempt to woo their opponents’ voters. This time they oozed contempt for those voters. That disdain followed through when the losers demanded a rerun. It was often expressed that the democratic will of the people was of no consequence because the winners were clearly too stupid to appreciate the gravity of their error or because of their advanced age, either too infirm or too greedy to understand the important issues (such as cheaper British holidays to Europe). That contempt is an impulse towards fascism but equally, it is an intolerance that is spreading even as we pray at a multicultural altar.
To return to my acquaintance, his logic cannot be faulted for the following reasons:
- If only he is ever right then his opponent is only ever deluded, misguided, uncaring and wrong.
- If only his vision is clear, then anyone who fails to share that vision is blind (or in theological terms his soul is corrupted).
- If his narrative is the only history of consequence then everything else must be invalid, invalidated and expunged from the historical record.
It is a very dangerous mindset and one that explains our inaction when confronted with the wrong kind of genocide. Genocide is political and therefore unexceptional, even irrelevant. It is why the world did (does) nothing about the Syrian civil-war and its’ almost half a million dead until its instability and fragmentation negatively impacts homeland Europe.
It is why George Orwell’s concept of brainwashing, a central theme in ‘1984’, has always been with us. It just takes longer to impact society than the book portrays.
We have been too gentle with our fascist friends. Their life is filled with the absolute certainty of their cause and it is only by rudely exposing their collaborationist philosophy that we can prevent a dystopian future. We will not be thanked for exposing the bedrock of their beliefs to ridicule. Their indifference to you will remain unchanged and their hatred will help them to overcome any doubts that may linger on the margins of their minds-eye. The Jeremy Corbyn’s of this world are the perfect example of a grotesque political phenomenon. They possess an unwavering certainty in the justice of their cause alongside of an inability to comprehend their opponents’ humanity. Their incapacity to change direction and a lopsided intellect that can explain and justify anything is buttressed by a lack of emotional facility to intuit any countervailing possibilities.
As a politician there are some things you should not do. One of those things is to be caught out with a contemptuous / idiotic response to an obvious question. When Jeremy Corbyn had only recently been elected leader and given his controversial associations he was asked if he was anti-Semitic (see “Jeremy Corbyn and a Case Study for Fascism”).
His answer was to ask the following question: How could I be? My father fought at the Battle of Cable Street (a legendary anti-racist fight against black-shirted fascists, fought in 1936, thirteen years before Jeremy Corbyn was born). It makes a thief of the leader of the nation’s main opposition party – to steal someone else’s virtue as a means of disproving ones own iniquities is however, worse than theft because it sullies the memory of an honorable past with the duplicitous and detestable present.
That is what makes for a conflict between good and evil.
I feel sad. On a personal level I now realize that someone I once called a friend, perhaps because of his life-long ideological commitment to ‘liberation theology’ (just not Jewish) or an Arab fascist agenda (Pan-Arabism), he would have as easily stabbed me in the back, as betray me to the KGB or the SS. For my kind, is there a difference?