Leftists Critique the Left

by Lorna Salzman

Lest readers think that I am a lone neo-con wolf in green clothing with nothing better to do than rant about the left, I would like to direct their attention to other commentators, journalists and historians who have taken on the issue of the neo-fascistization of the left before I did and in a far more comprehensive manner.

In 2006, UK historian and ex-Marxist Fred Halliday wrote an article in Dissent, our best and most impartial left journal, entitled "The Left and the Jihad". In 2007, Nick Cohen, writer for the Observer, New Statesman and Evening Standard and TV commentator in the UK, wrote the latest of his books, entitled "What's Left? How the Left Lost Its Way". Christopher Hitchens wrote numerous critiques of the left for The Nation before it kicked him out, and has written many articles for Vanity Fair as well as expanding on his theses in "Terror, Iraq, and the Left ("Christopher Hitchens and His Critics"). Most recently, political and social author and theorist Paul Berman, author of "Terror and Liberalism", issued his latest book, "The Flight of the Intellectuals".

The phenomenon of the left's betrayal of its purported principles has precedents, most notably in its unquestioning loyalty to Stalin and the Soviet Union from the 1930s through the 1950s. Some of these recanted: Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Richard Wright, Andre Gide, Louis Fischer, Stephen Spender, in the book "The God That Failed". Today, the American and west European left (those in eastern Europe know better) have again aligned themselves with the 21st century equivalent of 20th century fascism: radical Islam, apparently unaware that Islam historically and presently considers the left - because of its secularism and traditional support for individual human rights and civil liberties - anathema and an enemy.

The left remains unaware of the direct connection of Muslim leadership in the middle east that personally supported Hitler and the Nazis in their campaign to massacre the Jews. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the propaganda arm of radical Islam, Hassan el Banna, the grandfather of the feted (fetid?) Tariq Ramadan, was a close associate of Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who personally visited Hitler to offer help in killing the Jews. Notwithstanding this interesting and crucial bit of history, Tariq Ramadan, at the recent Cooper Union forum that featured him as its centerpiece, was called to account by New Yorker writer George Packer, for failing to mention this relationship at all in his book about his grandfather.

But one need not spread guilt by mere association with regard to the left, even though the evidence is quite clear. The left has, on its own, provided explicit proof of its authoritarian tendencies, starting with the arrival of post-modernism on our shores of academia in the 1960s, continuing with the spread of Political Correctness, cultural relativism, Identity Politics, and the virus of Post-Modernism that has banished the notion of truth, facts and impartial scientific discourse to the woodshed, in favor of an ideology that haughtily dismisses the notion of universal human rights and values.

Its adjunct strategy is now utilized routinely on campuses to silence any and all criticism of Islam, Islamism, sharia law, the enslavement of women under Islam, honor killings, anti-Semitism, the atrocities of Hamas and Hezbollah, etc, and to tar those who dare to voice such criticism as psychotic right-wing neo-conservatives, thus neatly slicing the jugular of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights in its campaign to suppress dissent in precisely the same manner as Stalin, and, today, Chavez and Castro.

This silencing of dissent is strengthened by a virulent anti-Americanism, articulated by Noam Chomsky most fervently, in which American "imperialism" is blamed for each and every instance of ethnic, religious and civil strife abroad as well as for each incidence of terrorist bombings. This theme is crucial to the left's campaign; were it to acknowledge the religious roots of Islamist terrorism and jihad, its anti-Americanism would be exposed as mendacious, and it would be forced to confront the stated objectives of jihadists and Islamists: the establishment of a Muslim caliphate under sharia law worldwide, using all means necessary.

My recent exchanges with Chomsky, the eminence grise of anti-Americanism, on this topic were not pleasant, but I realized that being one unknown mortal, my opinions carried little weight. And so I am printing below some direct quotes from Nick Cohen's superb book "What's Left? How the Left Lost Its Way" because he beautifully summarizes the surrender of the left and its relinquishing of the democracy and human rights banners they pretended to wave for so long.

"Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal-left is against come from the liberal-left?"

"Why will students hear a leftish post-modern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don?"

"After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the Left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps?"

"Why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders?"

"Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal-left but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea?"

"After the 9/ll attacks on New York and Washington, why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet?"

"And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?"

"..its (socialism's) failure ..has freed (the left) to go along with any movement however far to the right it may be, as long as it is against the status quo in general and, specifically, America....intellectuals in particular are ready to excuse the movements of the far right as long as they are anti-Western".

"Despite their talk of supporting equality, mainstream liberals found it uncomplicated to make excuses for anti-liberal movements ...they could be all for the emancipation of women in London, Paris and New York whiLE indifferent to the misogynies of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia".

"Democrats, feminists and socialists in the poor world, who are suffering at the hands of the extreme right, turn for support to the home of democracy, feminism and socialism in the West, only to find that the democrats, socialists and feminists of the rich world won't help them or acknowledge their existence".

Cohen then describes the rest of his book: "..a critical history of how the symptoms of the malaise began in obscure groups of Marxists and post-modern theorists; how the sickness manifested itself in the failure to confront genocide in the Middle East and Europe until it grew into the raging fever of our day. It is also an argument for recovering the best of the liberal-left's democratic and internationalist traditions that have been neglected for too long".

Please read this book, as well as Paul Berman's "Flight of the Intellectuals", just released; they shine much needed light on the neo-fascist left and its retreat from the human rights and civil liberties issues.

© 2002 Lorna Salzman. All rights reserved. Material may be quoted with permission.