Much of the Left has been eaten alive by Islamism. This truly regressive and oppressive political philosophy has all but destroyed a movement that once desired nothing less than the emancipation of the human race. The campaigns for equality that were right and good and brave in the 1960s have been exploited to within an inch of their lives, and actually probably far beyond that, by a political movement that hates everything those campaigns were fighting for. Women’s rights, children’s rights, gay rights, free speech, rejection of religious power over our lives, integration, free expression, music, art, freedom, love: the defence of every one of them given up bit by bit by a Left which has ceased to be worthy of the name.
It’s true that some on the Left, including many in the Labour Party and the Parliamentary Labour Party, watched this journey with horror, then dismay, then, to be honest, resignation. Thank goodness for Nick Cohen and Christopher Hitchens – they gave us some hope that everyone hadn’t gone completely mad. The entirely right instinct to protect people became an instinct to protect culture, however anathema, which then became an instinct to protect the political beliefs of those who deliberately appropriated the perceived innate vulnerability of minorities – what Nick Cohen called ‘the superior virtue of the oppressed’. Criticism of anything associated with a minority group became more and more wrong until, Lo and behold the Left became the chief moral defender of Islamism, when it should have been its most fervent opponent.
I have friends who are refugees from Iran who have been begging the Left in this country for years to recognise Islamism as a political ideology and to support them in its denunciation. They were consistently ignored, dismissed as Islamophobic and racist. Stop the War, Unite Against Fascism and other bastions of Left-wingery have shared panels with Islamists for years, providing sympathetic platform after sympathetic platform and enabling them to further cement their relationship with the Left. They were never there to debate, they were always there as allies. In a meeting earlier this year at London Met, an Iranian human rights activist challenged a panel on this point. The Chair responded by apologising to the man representing Islamism, telling him she was really sorry that he had to listen to this, and insisting that the Iranian human rights activist left the meeting. We’re not even outraged by this stuff anymmore. It’s just the way it is.
As well as the ‘superior virtue of the oppressed,’ for years the Left has been in thrall to the idea that cultural relativism, (where “it’s their culture” trumps “it’s wrong”), is a great principle, and not an affront to the very notion of an equal human race. For at least 20 years Left wing students across the land have been immersed in cultural relativism and the belief that the primary aim of the Left is to defend other people’s beliefs. It now runs incredibly deep. Add to that the other dominant strand of Left-wing thought, that everything can be blamed on the West, and we see a Left that is now utterly unprepared – both intellectually and emotionally – for the fight against ISIS. Even the moderate Left has struggled until now to see Islamism – up to and including ISIS – for what it is, as evidenced by the response to the Charlie Hebdo murders – “Well, they shouldn’t really have been drawing those offensive cartoons.” As this article says, ‘It should have been obvious all along that the cartoons were merely an excuse’.
Even now much of the Left can’t bring itself lay the full blame on the men who detonated their suicide vests and pulled their triggers in Paris. They cannot accept that when they say they hate us, that we are prostitutes who deserve to die, that they are doing holy work by exterminating the Kuffar, the apostates and the Jews, this is exactly what they mean. They can’t accept it. It has to be ‘our’ fault, somehow. But if the French are ‘reaping’ the consequences of their foreign policy, what does that mean for the Yezidi women found yesterday in a mass grave in Syria?
I had by and large stopped wondering about what this part of the Left thought about anything really, but with the change in Party leadership, and the fact that Parliament will now vote on whether to support sending military help, suddenly this Left matters again. Unless Labour MPs are willing defy the whip, we could very well see the Parliamentary Labour Party blocking Britain’s attempts to help the global effort to defeat ISIS. This would be a betrayal of just about everything Labour should stand for – solidarity, internationalism, equality, freedom, to name just a few. And it will simply postpone the inevitable. ISIS are not stopping until they’re stopped, and unless you’re prepared to negotiate away freedom and life itself, “peace talks” are unlikely to succeed. On this one, I sincerely hope Labour MPs will follow their conscience, not their Leader.