I'm now knuckling down for my journalism exams and so I will be putting my posts on hold until February 9. Although I would far rather provide all of you with entertainment, memorising phrases from law-books verbatim, the nitty-gritty of local and central government, and short-hand tapes will take up much of my time from now on.
To bid you adieu, I recommend the extracts from Nick Cohen's book. While the majority of you will disagree and be offended by his rather crude characterisation of the protests against the war in Iraq as vast swathes of people taking to the streets to defend a fascist state; I reckon some of you may find his criticism of the prosetylising "left" is spot-on. Obviously actively marching for a dictator is plain stupidity, yet the protesters were questioning a war that was sold as a pre-emptive strike. As has become plain the war was a case naked imperialism and furthermore poorly planned. I do however think Cohen is right to emphasise that given we've made things even worse for the people in Iraq, we shouldn't cut and run but instead do our utmost to help them build a decent democratic state. How this will be possible is anyone's guess, but I'd still say we have a responsibility to provide order from the chaos our leaders have created.
Yet I find Cohen's criticism of stereotypical "leftist" viewpoints convincing even if I hope that few people are committed to holding such extreme points of view. To me it seems clear people who support Islamic terrorism as a means of counteracting the power of capitalism and American imperialism clearly have some form of death-wish. Yet how many people really believe Al Qaeda are fellow travellers? We might try and understand the motives of an average Jihadi, but despite the crudity of the Western world's foreign policy the murder of innocents should still strike all reasonable human beings as wrong and also deeply worrying as a trend. Also, blind support for the Palestinians against the Israelis seems to be the wrong way of addressing the situation and I think there are definitely those who take sides over such an issue. Yet surely there can be a middle path: namely open support of a settlement to provide peace and fairness, instead of taking a partisan stance in favour of either side.
These issues are clearly too complicated to sum up in a paragraph, yet I think Cohen has tapped in to a rich seam of thought for a book: the attempt to move beyond left and right. To this topic a sensible addition would be a call for a modern humanism. The debates between left and right have become jaded and we must focus on an attempt to attain fundamental freedoms for all people in the world, encouraging them to use these responsibly and to encourage a dialogue about how to maintain peace, stability and the survival of our race whilst finding some way of co-existing with our surroundings and environment. Can we cease to be destructive?