Signatories to the following are sought, for release as soon as possible, and very preferably by the evening of Sunday 29th April 2007. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The list is as given on the website of the Euston Manifesto. General comments also welcome, of course:
To Norman Geras, Damian Counsell, Alan Johnson, Shalom Lappin, Jane Ashworth, Dave Bennett, Brian Brivati, Adrian Cohen, Nick Cohen, Anthony Cox, Neil Denny, Paul Evans, Paul Gamble, Eve Garrard, Harry Hatchet, David Hirsh, Dan Johnson, Gary Kent, Jon Pike, Simon Pottinger, Andrew Regan, Alexandra Simonon, Richard Sanderson, “David T”, Philip Spencer, Jeffrey Alexander, Paul Anderson, Joe Bailey, Ophelia Benson, Paul Berman, Pamela Bone, Robert Borsley, Michael Brennan, Chris Brown, Julie Burchill, Mitchell Cohen, Marc Cooper, Thomas Cushman, Heather Deegan, Jon Fasman, Luke Foley, Raimond Gaita, Marko Attila Hoare, Quintin Hoare, Anthony Julius, Oliver Kamm, Sunder Katwala, Jeffrey Ketland, Matthew Kramer, Mary Kreutzer, John Lloyd, Denis MacShane MP, Kanan Makiya, John Mann MP, Jim Nolan, Will Parbury, Greg Pope MP, Thomas Schmidinger, Milton Shain, Hillel Steiner, Gisela Stuart MP, George Szirtes, Michael Walzer, Bert Ward, Morton Weinfeld, Jeff Weintraub, Francis Wheen, Sami Zubaida, and every other signatory to, supporter of or sympathiser with the Euston Manifesto.
First, you suggest that your “constituency is under-represented” “in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.” We find this suggestion laughable and insulting. In fact, your “constituency” is massively and dangerously over-represented in “the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.”
Secondly, you profess yourselves “committed to the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion.” If either of these separations had ever applied in Britain, then none of the achievements of the Labour Movement would ever have been possible, indeed neither it nor either of Britain’s other two principal political traditions could ever have arisen in the first place.
The desire for “the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers” is in fact the desire for a judiciary still drawn almost entirely from your own upper middle (if merely middle) class to have the final say, over and above a Parliament in which the final say has, since 1911, resided with the House of Commons, a House which has itself come to be elected by universal adult suffrage. The only other possibility is that you desire the Executive to have the final say. Both of these trends towards tyranny have accelerated markedly in Britain since 1997.
Furthermore, “the separation of state and religion” would have precluded not only the emergence of any of the three British political traditions, but also tthat of the movements to abolish slavery in the British Empire and in the United States, the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, the American Civil Rights Movement, great swathes of opposition to the Soviet Union and to its satellite regimes, the opposition to apartheid in South Africa, the resistance first in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and now in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, huge amounts of work currently being done in China, and so much else besides. More to your point, it would preclude the re-emergence in Britain of morally and intellectually serious political movements and parties, commanding the support of large numbers of morally and intellectually serious people.
Thirdly, when you distance yourselves from “those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for [tyrannical] political forces,” whom do you actually have in mind? We submit that this is just code for those who opposed the Iraq War and who (although, of course, it gives us no pleasure to say so) have been proved right in that opposition.
Fourthly, what does “progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved)” actually mean? It sounds like the 1970s “interchangeability of men and women” argument, which feminism itself has largely given up. Similarly, what of progress in relations “between people of diverse sexual orientations”? How “diverse”, exactly? And what would such “equality” entail in practical terms?
Fifthly, we wish to echo you in full when you say that “we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organise in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organisations for the defence of workers' interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism. Labour rights are human rights. The universal adoption of the International Labour Organisation Conventions — now routinely ignored by governments across the globe — is a priority for us. We are committed to the defence of the rights of children, and to protecting people from sexual slavery and all forms of institutionalised abuse.” We ask you which side you are on when this clashes with either or both of feminism and homosexualism, neither of which is very much, if anything, of a movement either arising out of, or especially sympathetic towards, the aspirations or culture of the working class, including the aspirations or culture of working-class women, and including the aspirations or culture of working-class people of homosexual orientation.
Sixthly, it will not do to say that “The current expansion of global markets and free trade must not be allowed to serve the narrow interests of a small corporate elite in the developed world and their associates in developing countries,” since it has never had any other purpose, nor can it have. “The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade” simply cannot “be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries.” And, in any case, what are those “benefits”? What you are proposing is not only impossible and self-contradictory, but a regression from Socialism to Whiggery and Jacobinism, its archenemies far more than any paleoconservative tradition, including Toryism.
Seventhly, then, globalisation simply cannot “mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice.” When you say that “We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund, World Bank) to achieve these goals, and we support fair trade, more aid, debt cancellation and the campaign to Make Poverty History,” then, while of course we agree with you (except in so far as we regard the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as irreformable), you have contradicted everything that you have already said about economics.
Eighthly, in rightly condemning racism, you pointedly make no mention of the demonisation of the white working class, a trend at least as pernicious in Britain today, and far more prevalent and respectable.
Ninthly, while it is of course perfectly true that “prejudice against the Jewish people” is sometimes hidden “behind the formula of anti-Zionism,” why mention this at all, if it “should go without saying”? And are you really saying that all anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, in which case are you simply defining as anti-Zionist, and therefore as anti-Semitic, any criticism whatever of the State of Israel?
Tenthly, while “Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology” is indeed “widespread today,” Islam itself is the problem, not because all Muslims are terrorists, but because of what Islam, as a body of thought and belief, has always been, since its very earliest days. You will not admit this, because you do not like the obvious Western answer to Islam, and because of the long neoconservative alliance with Islam: in 1980s Afghanistan, in 1990s Yugoslavia, and today in Chechnya, in Saudi Arabia, in Pakistan, in Iraq, at least putatively in Syria, and by means of the unrestricted immigration necessitated by the capitalist system to which you have now subscribed, all with a view to re-creating for neoconservatives the privileged dhimmitude that existed in Moorish Spain.
Eleventhly, what do you mean by “an internationalist politics and the reform of international law — in the interests of global democratisation and global development”? Based on the foregoing, “global development” seems to mean “global capital.” As for “global democratisation,” liberal democracy can only arise out of, and be sustained successfully by, the Biblical-Classical synthesis that is Christianity. Japan will discover this eventually. So will India, which is arguably in the throes of discovering it anyway. Later (having started later), so will Iran. And so forth. Why will you not admit it?
Twelfthly, in “Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism,” your Marxist roots stand duly exposed. Those in the Labour tradition (not now, nor ever, the same thing as simple membership of the Labour Party) have no such history, but the very reverse. The fact that you feel any need to mention this as if it were anything to do with you speaks volumes. Having made this apology that only Communists (within or beyond any Communist Party as such) need make, you strikingly make no apology for Trotskyist support for the American-led wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the key moment in the emergence of neoconservatism.
Thirteenthly, we concur with you in saying that “we reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticised in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.” Of course, this is nothing new to us, since we are not of the sectarian Left.
But to which “conservative” voices (we have far more doubts about “liberal” voices), exactly, are you willing to listen, and why? For us, this means the conservative critics of capitalist, libertine, decadent, philistine warmongering: the High Tory traditions in the United Kingdom and the Old Commonwealth (and perhaps especially the Red Tory tradition in Canada), paleoconservatism and Agrarianism in the United States, Gaullism and French monarchism, Catholic Social Teaching and Distributism, and so forth.
These at least ask the questions to which the answer is the universal and comprehensive Welfare State, and the strong statutory and other (including trade union) protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, the former paid for by progressive taxation, the whole underwritten by full employment, and all these good things delivered by the partnership between a strong Parliament and strong local government. Do you subscribe, as we do, to this definition of Socialism (since your Manifesto offers none of its own), which is in fact the political position of the overwhelming majority of the British People, but which no party in Great Britain now represents or articulates? Or do you prefer some Marxist (including neoconservative) version? It matters.
And fourteenthly, these authentically conservative traditions are as one with the pioneers of the Labour Movement, and that for the same reason, in rejecting the theory of the perfectibility of human nature by its own efforts alone and in this life alone. This rejection, so staggeringly vindicated in the twentieth (as every previous) century, is perhaps the most important conservative insight of all. Have you attended to it?
The Labour pioneers certainly did so attend. That is why they, like anyone else who so attends, could not possibly have had any part in the attempts to make the world anew advocated by the likes of the American Enterprise Institute or the Project for the New American Century. In a word, neoconservatism.
So, what say you?