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The Euston Manifesto

There is much debate in the UK around the declaration by a group of bloggers and journos that calls for (yet another?) re-alignment of progressive forces under the heading of The Euston Manifesto. Life being what it is, the debate has been more around the "Elaborations" than around the "Statement of principles" - but are even the principles the right ones? To help you consider that question, here is the full text.

A. Preamble

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the "blogosphere". It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere — in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. It inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites that are behind this call for a progressive realignment.

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B. Statement of principles

1) For democracy.
We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures — freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.

2) No apology for tyranny.
We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3) Human rights for all.
We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

4) Equality.
We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations — as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round. We leave open, as something on which there are differences of viewpoint amongst us, the question of the best economic forms of this broader equality, but we support the interests of working people everywhere and their right to organize in defence of those interests. Democratic trade unions are the bedrock organizations 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 Organization 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 institutionalized abuse.

5) Development for freedom.
We stand for global economic development-as-freedom and against structural economic oppression and environmental degradation. 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. The benefits of large-scale development through the expansion of global trade ought to be distributed as widely as possible in order to serve the social and economic interests of workers, farmers and consumers in all countries. Globalization must mean global social integration and a commitment to social justice. We support radical reform of the major institutions of global economic governance (World Trade Organization, 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. Development can bring growth in life-expectancy and in the enjoyment of life, easing burdensome labour and shortening the working day. It can bring freedom to youth, possibilities of exploration to those of middle years, and security to old age. It enlarges horizons and the opportunities for travel, and helps make strangers into friends. Global development must be pursued in a manner consistent with environmentally sustainable growth.

6) Opposing anti-Americanism.
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

7) For a two-state solution.
We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

8) Against racism.
For liberals and the Left, anti-racism is axiomatic. We oppose every form of racist prejudice and behaviour: the anti-immigrant racism of the far Right; tribal and inter-ethnic racism; racism against people from Muslim countries and those descended from them, particularly under cover of the War on Terror. The recent resurgence of another, very old form of racism, anti-Semitism, is not yet properly acknowledged in left and liberal circles. Some exploit the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel, and conceal prejudice against the Jewish people behind the formula of "anti-Zionism". We oppose this type of racism too, as should go without saying.

9) United against terror.
We are opposed to all forms of terrorism. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime under international law and all recognized codes of warfare, and it cannot be justified by the argument that it is done in a cause that is just. Terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology is widespread today. It threatens democratic values and the lives and freedoms of people in many countries. This does not justify prejudice against Muslims, who are its main victims, and amongst whom are to be found some of its most courageous opponents. But, like all terrorism, it is a menace that has to be fought, and not excused.

10) A new internationalism.
We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law — in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the "common life" of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect".

11) A critical openness.
Drawing the lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats), we reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. 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 criticized 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.

12) Historical truth.
In connecting to the original humanistic impulses of the movement for human progress, we emphasize the duty which genuine democrats must have to respect for the historical truth. Not only fascists, Holocaust-deniers and the like have tried to obscure the historical record. One of the tragedies of the Left is that its own reputation was massively compromised in this regard by the international Communist movement, and some have still not learned that lesson. Political honesty and straightforwardness are a primary obligation for us.

13) Freedom of ideas.
We uphold the traditional liberal freedom of ideas. It is more than ever necessary today to affirm that, within the usual constraints against defamation, libel and incitement to violence, people must be at liberty to criticize ideas — even whole bodies of ideas — to which others are committed. This includes the freedom to criticize religion: particular religions and religion in general. Respect for others does not entail remaining silent about their beliefs where these are judged to be wanting.

14) Open source.
As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders. The open source model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open source collaboration have served human progress for centuries.

15) A precious heritage.
We reject fear of modernity, fear of freedom, irrationalism, the subordination of women; and we reaffirm the ideas that inspired the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the eighteenth century: liberty, equality and solidarity; human rights; the pursuit of happiness. These inspirational ideas were made the inheritance of us all by the social-democratic, egalitarian, feminist and anti-colonial transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — by the pursuit of social justice, the provision of welfare, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. None should be left out, none left behind. We are partisans of these values. But we are not zealots. For we embrace also the values of free enquiry, open dialogue and creative doubt, of care in judgement and a sense of the intractabilities of the world. We stand against all claims to a total — unquestionable or unquestioning — truth.

C. Elaborations

We defend liberal and pluralist democracies against all who make light of the differences between them and totalitarian and other tyrannical regimes. But these democracies have their own deficits and shortcomings. The battle for the development of more democratic institutions and procedures, for further empowering those without influence, without a voice or with few political resources, is a permanent part of the agenda of the Left.

The social and economic foundations on which the liberal democracies have developed are marked by deep inequalities of wealth and income and the survival of unmerited privilege. In turn, global inequalities are a scandal to the moral conscience of humankind. Millions live in terrible poverty. Week in, week out, tens of thousands of people — children in particular — die from preventable illnesses. Inequalities of wealth, both as between individuals and between countries, distribute life chances in an arbitrary way.

These things are a standing indictment against the international community. We on the Left, in keeping with our own traditions, fight for justice and a decent life for everyone. In keeping with those same traditions, we have also to fight against powerful forces of totalitarian-style tyranny that are on the march again. Both battles have to be fought simultaneously. One should not be sacrificed for the other.

We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11, 2001 were America's deserved comeuppance, or "understandable" in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that.

The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted — rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.

This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi "insurgency". The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.

Vandalism against synagogues and Jewish graveyards and attacks on Jews themselves are on the increase in Europe. "Anti-Zionism" has now developed to a point where supposed organizations of the Left are willing to entertain openly anti-Semitic speakers and to form alliances with anti-Semitic groups. Amongst educated and affluent people are to be found individuals unembarrassed to claim that the Iraq war was fought on behalf of Jewish interests, or to make other "polite" and subtle allusions to the harmful effect of Jewish influence in international or national politics — remarks of a kind that for more than fifty years after the Holocaust no one would have been able to make without publicly disgracing themselves. We stand against all variants of such bigotry.

The violation of basic human rights standards at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and by the practice of "rendition", must be roundly condemned for what it is: a departure from universal principles, for the establishment of which the democratic countries themselves, and in particular the United States of America, bear the greater part of the historical credit. But we reject the double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far. This tendency has reached the point that officials speaking for Amnesty International, an organization which commands enormous, worldwide respect because of its invaluable work over several decades, can now make grotesque public comparison of Guantanamo with the Gulag, can assert that the legislative measures taken by the US and other liberal democracies in the War on Terror constitute a greater attack on human rights principles and values than anything we have seen in the last 50 years, and be defended for doing so by certain left and liberal voices.

D. Conclusion

It is vitally important for the future of progressive politics that people of liberal, egalitarian and internationalist outlook should now speak clearly. We must define ourselves against those for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic "anti-imperialism" and/or hostility to the current US administration. The values and goals which properly make up that agenda — the values of democracy, human rights, the continuing battle against unjustified privilege and power, solidarity with peoples fighting against tyranny and oppression — are what most enduringly define the shape of any Left worth belonging to.

Notes for media

Solely for legal reasons this document is ©Norman Geras 2006. It will be made available under a Creative Commons licence.

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Civil society

This extract, from The Right Way to Promote Arab Reform (Steven Cook, at Council on Foreign Relations) got me thinking about the Manifesto again:

... "Civil society" is political science shorthand for private voluntary groups, including nongovernmental organizations dedicated to issues such as human rights and good governance. Within both the scholarly and policy communities, civil society is often seen these days as a leading force for democratization. As such groups proliferate, the argument runs, individuals become more assertive in demanding their political rights. Once these demands reach a certain pitch, authoritarian leaders are forced to make meaningful changes or risk being swept away. The policy implications of this theory are neat and tidy: to encourage liberalization in repressive states, simply encourage the growth of civil society. ...

If the assertion about this necessary condition for civil society is true, then, clearly, a society that wishes to sustain its ability to be civil must have an excess of people and resources, in addition to what is needed to keep creating wealth. It implies more than spare time, but independent means. It seems self-evident that a participant in 'private voluntary groups' must be either a public servant, or retired with a healthy superannuation scheme, or self-supported through ownership of assets, like negatively-geared property and shares. But it implies, for sustainability, that there are enough people whose kids are fed, clothed and educationally fulfilled, and who are content with the family home the way it is, and are not trying to commute to a $1000 job with $100 cost of petrol per week.

The arithmetic of sustainability strongly suggests the average number of children per couple is at least three, and I am not a follower of Peter Costello. A society with too few progeny will have fewer people to look after the children, the frail elderly and the sick, and will deteriorate, even if it turns to disposal of the "burdens".

Too many progeny, who are unfulfilled, results in foment.

A couple of paragraphs later:
... Washington's effort to promote democracy through civil society has run into another problem as well, one related to the United States' dismal image in the Arab world. Put simply, many local activists refuse to work with Americans. Washington's policies toward the region— from the Iraq war and the war on terrorism to its support for Israel— are so unpopular that Arab activists cannot embrace the United States, or even be seen to cooperate with it, without compromising their credibility within the communities they serve. ...

From that, I take another glance at the phenomenon of the Anti-American ideology. To give it local relevance, I think how awful it would be if Australian NGOs had gone to Aceh with disaster relief, and they were unable to help out because the locals refused to work with Australians.

This train of thought leads me to Abu Bakr Bashir, and his poisonous edicts. What's he really up to? Possibly, a response from Australia that, if Indonesia doesn't shackle his mouth, then American aid to Indonesia may be 'reviewed'. The Anti-American clause could then be rapidly invoked amongst the Indonesian masses, with a resulting steady decline in relations between Indonesia and Australia. It would seem very careless of Australia to run the risk of inflaming a split, over the mere words of a troublemaker.

Australia has a key role in making the power and wealth of US act as forces for good in this part of the world. The potential of US society, as patrons of the civil society, cannot be discounted.

In other words, if petulance or redneck reaction permits John Howard, or his mouthpieces, to condemn Indonesian society for the sake of one pot-stirrer, Bashir, then ordinary Indonesians will be the losers.

I, more or less, in Gaza


No offence, Geoff, but shelling Semitic kids and mums and grandparents picnicking on a Gaza beach is SURELY not terrorism.

The fact that the US garrison which did it has been carrying out similar ethnic cleansing and Schutzstaffel-style reprisals for decades is relevant; as is the fact that much of its rationale carries overtones of moral equivalence and race superiority.

We all know that Israel is the progenitor of our religious culture and that its does everything BETTER from irrigation to security to terror reprisal. And media. They even invented the Uzi, and have the Bomb.

But Philistines, unlike the Israelis, are an unattractive, dark skinned people, many of them fat. They wear sinister robes, for Gods’ sake. THEY HAVE BIG NOSES. So why shouldn’t we applaud the removal of such Untermenschen from our planet?

Now sing after me: “Die Fahne Hoch…..” But in Hebrew. Mr Keelty, as always, will hand out the songbook. And keep security on the door.

Rather a burka than a swazstike

That was unfair,Peter ,I cracked a rib and I need those ribs for the next generation . As I pull on my black Burka,nestling Marx' manifesto as I go off to my weekly "Down with intelligentsia" meeting, i pause,did I hear the Ministry of truth?

Yes Geoff, three bags full, Geoff.  I hide my badge showing "left wing membership" and wished I had not worn my hammer and sickle  underpants.

Yet ,we escape,to sing songs,chant chants,and call upon Karl to unbond us from Capitalists' fetters,sure he's dead,but as an aetheist anything goes,or doesn't but that is what is debated at length until the meeting ends and we all feel fulfilled. We know we are powerless but we remember for those who are gone. Never again will we forget.In peace we part,some to be bullied and beaten by waiting skinheads.

Echoes from the past come back from the cobblestones,how the NAZIs first came for the left-the trade unionists,the socialists,yes the academics who spoke out,and blood flowed that night. I guess if the left hold onto values like freedom,equality,liberty for all ,even the occupied then such organised groups will be first targeted by those not wishing accountability for their brutal deeds.

It is because the left is bringing to the world what is happening in Palestine and Iraq that it is being vicitmised by fascist silencers.History repeats.

I had a relative,distant,who stood up to the NAZIs ,who was an academic.the history of the German people has been lost from this time as it was written by the victors and reinforced by Holywood drivel propaganda.There were many victims of the time and it reflects how savage any war is to the people's who land has it run across. If we loose this war we are in the same position as the Germans but as the  Italians,allies to the war starters, agressors.What will history write of us? Only now we read of the terrible deeds done across Europe by the Allies and Soviets,as the archives are opened.that is what war is.Unfettered violence on both sides,a bayonette with a working man at both ends and "a racket" according to General Smedley that lines the pockets of a few profiteers.It was the left who were wiped out and silenced and now forgotten.No-one mourns for them do they,because the Soviets became the next monster immediately.

World war 2 was started by Right wing fascists.but they were able to because of deception and propaganda against and controlling the German people.Those who challenged this were not debated but silenced . Worth considering. 

Open debate,accountable government,loss of freedoms and rights,centralisataion of power and militarisation of daily events. We have nothing better to do than have a ceremony for the46 yrs aniversary of something the other day,a shelling of somewhere or such,so what? has nothing else happened to remember and celebrate more important? The militarisation creeps on.Note the billabong fashions etc. It is the glorification without  reality that is the dangerous tendency now.

And we have an unelected  G-G that is ex SAS that just over ruled an elected government's legislation and no-one blinked,cos gays are minority aren't they? Not us.How close are we to losing accountability power? But no it is the left wing that are to be silenced.

But while I still have the power , tiny as it is,to call to account the atrocites of nations using their military might against people I Shall and it is my Christian duty to do so,but as gently as possible,and where I see people victimised and dehumanised I will speak out and no amount of bullying will silence me.Just as I hope that I would have had the courage ,as yes many bravely  did,to speak out for the socialists the unionists the Jews and the Gypsies when Hitler began his regime of hate..No doubt they were called self hating Germans too at the time.

I would rather wear a Burka than a swaztika. Nice bumper sticker.



Guilty Until Proven Innocent. Then Still Guilty.

No offence taken, Peter.

As I have noted on another thread, I do not know what happened on that Gaza beach beyond the self-evident. Nor does anybody else around here. Nor do any of the news outlets.

Some innocent people minding their own business have been killed and injured. That must be thoroughly investigated. It will be.

As far as I can tell, the killing and injuring of innocent people minding their own business in this world is being investigated with less frequency. And I would be more impressed with the moral case of those who are so quick to shout "war crime" or "ethnic cleansing" if so many of them didn't so frequently call the murderers "freedom fighters". 

Roots of despair

The Manifesto should have something useful to say about a phenomenon like the recently deceased murderer, who adopted the name Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This person, or someone of his ilk, was responsible for the death of Margaret Hassan. In itself, this was a monstrous act, let alone the destruction of countless other civilians swept away in the violence.

The measure of al-Zarqawi's stature as folk hero may become apparent in the names given to Arab boys who were born on the day of his death. Being born in poverty, as was this particular Ahmad Fadeel, does not set a person on a path of cruelty and mayhem. But an environment of deprivation and despair makes fertile ground for predators like al-Zarqawi to nurture poisonous ideologies.

It's certain that many developing nations harbour pockets of intense anti-American sentiment. It's as certain that anti-Israel sentiment finds easy expression in some countries of the Middle East. But, the way the Manifesto brackets the two antagonisms, and sets them apart as cornerstones, as a mistake. Instead of unifying, the tactic will only enhance perceptions of specialism.

It may have been more productive, for the cause of social democracy, to scrape away those two obvious corrosions, to expose what lies beneath. A global manifesto would major on matters that concern the South, and not just the northern part of the Anglosphere.

We should be able to find natural application of a universal manifesto in the conditions that beset Australia. What, for example, prevents a kid born in a camp in Pitjantjatjara country from becoming vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, or the national Treasurer? We do know, from recent misfortune, that obstetric services in remote Australia are in serious decline, so rectifying that is part of the solution.

We could examine the impediments to a fair go for every child, and do our best to remove them. That, I think, is a way that is consistent with the aims of social democracy. At the same time, policies and practices that lead only to selective advantage, should be inspected and dissected under bright lights. It would pay to take the same careful, painstaking and deliberate methods of hunting down the al-Zarqawis of this world, to the exposure of those who rig the system to their own profit.

The Manifesto speaks of the excesses of a "small corporate elite" as though they were mere aberrations of the free market system. That aspect of it should be harder and sharper. Lust for power, corruption and greed are as fundamentally evil as tyranny and terrorism. More than that, they are bedfellows.

Little Ahmad's father may have hopes of the boy becoming an engineer, but only if they migrate to Europe. Australia has a place in fulfilling similar aspirations, by making sure our educational institutions do not become cloisters for the rich and privileged. Since many of the signatories to the Manifesto hold academic posts, maybe they are in position to know which direction the latest reforms will head.

A Crisis In The Left.

The Manifesto is not a new political party with international ambitions. At least not at this stage. But it is a work in progress. Those who criticise it because of its narrowness and omissions miss the point.

For years now many who otherwise would have natural sympathy for the aspirations and ambitions of the "left" have been appalled by the direction of the "left" parties. Some are worse than others but all have come under an influence that is an outright affront and threat to the basic principles of democracy, human rights and freedom from prejudice. The "left" parties now harbour hate-filled, anti-democratic, anti-liberal and indeed outright racist demagogues in the same way they were once a feature of just about, say, every Country Party and Liberal Party branch meeting. (Speaking of which, I note in passing that miserable old hate-peddler, Eric Butler, is finally dead at last. My epitaph for his grave stone? A life lived in a rage of hate; appropriately punished by being long.

In the past few weeks on this site we have seen terrorists and murderers championed as "freedom-fighters" and "partisans", bitter attacks on the US as "the greatest threat to peace" in the world, attempts at testing and circumventing the site's "No Holocaust-denial" policy, the retailing of anti-semitic slurs, a brutal fascist killer threatening genocide supported or excused on spurious claims of "mistranslation", pathetic and dishonest claims of "pacifism" and a hostility to Israel that did not fall short of actually advocating military attack.

All the people responsible for this claim that they are of the "left". No one has disputed that claim.

There is a crisis in the "left".

And that is what the Euston Manifesto is all about. 


The Euston manifesto is way too narrow to be anything other than the opinions of people in the blogosphere that have spent months, or years rabbiting on about the same old subjects.

The document is against tyranny yet it only discusses two such instances, Iraq and Israel/Palestinians. I think this demonstrates fully the lack of vision that most such writers have. There are one or two other small problems around the globe but they don't get a mention. Why? Simply they are forgotten in the obsessions with the two countries/wars named.

As pointed out by others  the document is contradictory about who they are, those that wrote this. They start out by saying "we" includes many from the Left but later in the document it simply comes out as "we" now all being of the Left. Seems the others got ditched during the writing of this document.

It claims to hold to the traditional values of the Left. What values, where's the definition of these values? They are assumed which is a basic failure of the document. It is actually saying we believe in what we believe in but we aren't going to discuss those values as we disagree on many parts of such.

They are for democracy and go on to claim the US is "a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it". Pardon me but what noble traditions? Slavery? McDonald's? As to being a strong democracy, what a load of rubbish. Even the kindest critics acknowledge Dubya cheated his way into office. Democracy? I thought that meant that all the people had a say and the government acted in the interests of all the people, for the people. Doesn't gel with actions from Dubya's administration at all.

I suppose though that what is espoused as democracy is taken to be democracy today simply because it's an improvement on what nations under tyrants suffer. But it ain't democracy!

I think the value of the document is overshadowed by the attitudes of many who descend into bickering about one word here or one word there. As usual, it comes down to bloody Iraq and Israel. Is there any other part of the world worth thinking about? Except for a couple of mentions for Timor and the Solomons on this thread, apparently not.

This manifesto is way too narrow as I said and is misleading in that it assumes things which aren't fact. A far better manifesto would be the principles that religions are based on. Not what religions practice, the basic principles each religion seems to have in common with each other. In other words, keep bloody politics out of government. It's there to administer, not lead and mislead.

Whoever put this document together cannot have read it before publishing as it fails even the most basic editing through contradicitions and omissions. But I suppose it's something, better than nothing, or is it?

Tony Blair, too?

It seems Tony Blair fulfills one of the key criteria for signatory, if Rupert Murdoch tells the truth. From Blair attacks BBC for 'anti-US bias'  (Sep 2005):

... Murdoch, a long-standing critic of the BBC, was addressing the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. Chuckling, he said: 'I probably shouldn't be telling you this' before recounting a recent conversation with Blair. He said the Prime Minister was in New Delhi when he criticised BBC coverage of the catastrophe in New Orleans: 'He said it was just full of hatred of America and gloating at our troubles.' ...

But, then, Guardian is saying some rude things about Mr Blair, Blair is only as guilty as the party that puts up with him:

... "So why does Mr Blair soldier on?" asks Daniel Johnson in the rightwing New York Sun. "There is a one-word answer: Iran. Mr Blair sees it as his mission to help President Bush remove this third deadly threat (following Afghanistan and Iraq) to Israel and the west." That might well be right: Blair is pursuing one more object he cannot avow. On his - and Labour's - previous form, who is to say he won't get away with it again?

Can a full-blooded repudiation of 'anti-Americanism' (not to be confused with anti-Antarcticism) morph into support for military action against Iran? 

I signed it

I hope a political force can rise whilst maintaining all of the principles of the Manifesto.

It is a powerful and coherent statement of intent..

UN vs US

In Bolton Calls on Annan to Reject Aide's Remarks:

... It is highly unusual for a United Nations official to single out an individual country for criticism,

"Much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News," Mr. Malloch Brown said. ...

The local response to this will be interesting. I wonder if Alexander Downer has been reading his incoming mail.

It comes at a delicate time, with requests from our government for more UN involvement in the policing of East Timor. If Alex defends John Bolton, the UN may find it impossible to finance another peacekeeping operation in our region.

Invaders Are Not Peacekeepers

Mike, you can answer your own questions and more if you read my previous comment and honestly consider the following...

Why are there no Indonesian "peacekeepers" in East Timor?

One man's "peacekeepers" are another's "invaders"

John, one man's "peacekeepers" are another's "invaders." Its just a matter of one's perspective......right??

What the heck are foreign troops doing in East Timor? I'll bet some of those "gangs" regard the Australian forces as "invaders" or "occupiers."

Are there Indonesian "peacekeepers" in West Papua?

Dictionary time

Mike, it's probably dictionary time. When a nation invites another nation, or nations, to bring military forces in to assist them it is not an invasion.

East Timor following independence and now, has invited Australia and other nations to assist them. That's a peace-keeper.

Those who invite themselves are invaders. The Americans and their allies, including us, invited themselves into Iraq, hence invader; the Indonesians invited themselves into West Papua, hence invader; the Israelis invited themselves into Palestine; the Germans invited themselves into Poland, France etc.......

Now can you see the difference?

Or to put it another way if you cannot ..... when you invite someone home they are a guest, when they invite themselves into your home they are a home invader. All very simple really.

Roslyn, to use your analogy:

What if some, but not all, of the people in your family invite someone over as a guest? Home invader or not? That applies to all your examples, e.g., there were certainly plenty of Iraqis lobbying hard for the Iraq invasion. And not all East Timorese want Australian troops there.

Consensus is needed

Mike, there were actually some Brits who wanted the Germans to win and probably some Japanese-Americans who wanted the Japs to win but the vast majority of Brits and Americans did not want this just as the vast majority of Iraqis, those actually living in the country, did not want to be invaded and occupied.

Personally, I think if the Americans had been smarter, or perhaps more competent and less greedy, they could have gotten away with it if they had not completely trashed the place other than the oil industry and then set about establishing their own comfortable nest while Iraqis live without power and water half the time; not to mention Abu Ghraib and various massacres..... but, if the Americans had had a jot of integrity and actually improved the lot of Iraqis I think they might just have gotten away with a short-term occupation and achieved what they said they wanted to achieve.

But it was never about the Iraqis, only ever about oil. So there you go.

And if you want to take the hypothetical to a family ..... sure one person can invite someone to visit, but not to move in and take over the whole house without the permission of everyone in the house.

You need consensus for invasions, home or otherwise.

Roslyn, believe it or not

I actually agree with most of your latest post here. As you know, I fervently opposed the Iraq invasion from the very beginning. But I'm not sure the US has actually "moved in and taken over the whole house" in Iraq as you assert. I think they are just trying to get the country moving into some sort of constructive direction at present, and failing miserably. Which is one reason I opposed the invasion in the first place. I didn't see this as an easily accomplished goal.

Common ground

Mike, there you go, common ground somewhere. The trick is to find it.

The US may not have moved in and taken over the whole house and that is not exactly what I meant but it certainly planned and plans to control the oil. Personally I don't think it can be done and like you believe it was doomed from the start. I am not sure just how much of the US failure in Iraq is due to incompetence or ignorance and arrogance. Probably a mixture of all of it. Then again, there's another theory that the plan is for civil war because a divided Iraq will be easier to control oil wise than a unified one.

I believe in an American best of worlds they would have a puppet government which looks good but does what it is told. Then they would happily help the Iraqis to have a better life but oil for America comes first.

However, another Iraqi rumour is that the Americans want to reduce population numbers through war, disease and malnutrition so that the country is even easier to control. The Iraqis are also seriously spooked by the number of Israelis who have come into the country and who are operating businesses and as advisers. They see it as a plan to seed the place with Israelis.

Whatever the truth one would have thought the Americans would have had more sense than that. That's like occupying Israel and inviting ex-Nazis in to do business and advise the military on 'winning hearts and minds.'

Not that Americans seem to do subtlety..... as George W. said. We don't do nuance! Clearly.

Roslyn, Further Information Please.

The Iraqis are also seriously spooked by the number of Israelis who have come into the country and who are operating businesses and as advisers.

Now Roslyn. You did not report this as a "rumour". You reported it as fact. Do you have any evidence at all that any Israelis have entered Iraq and opened businesses? Or acting as "advisers"? Any at all? Even Israelis of Iraqi origin?

I am genuinely curious. I am not ruling it out. Afterall there are many Iraqi Jews who fled the country decades ago, escaping brutal persecution, and who are now Israelis. It is just I have never heard of this, I doubt its truth and I agree it would be a very interesting development.

Your sources please?  

More on Israelis in Iraq

Geoff, more on Israelis doing business in Iraq; and military guidance: Send in the bulldozers. Israeli tactics. Israeli and US officials acknowledge strategic co-operation.

Excerpt: "In a tactic reminiscent of Israeli crackdowns in the West Bank and Gaza," reported the Detroit Free Press on November 18, "the U.S. military has begun destroying the homes of suspected guerrilla fighters in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, evacuating women and children, then leveling their houses with heavy weaponry...Family members at one of the houses, in the village of al Haweda, said they were given five minutes to evacuate before soldiers opened fire."

How to win hearts and minds in Iraq? Bring in the Israelis???

thanksfor the links

Hi Roslyn,the Israelis are also credited with helping the US with deep agents somewhere amongst the baddies there. We know this because Negroponte was heavily criticised for publishing the letter in English and Arabic that was given by the Israelis ,the letter to Al Zarkawi from Zawahiri,mate to mate,about how to defeat the baddie occupier.

So Israeli agents in Al Qaida too, helong the wareffort. And the Maverat whatuis were active in the Iraq war too according to the Australian reporter from Jordan at that time.

Israel has done it's bit and shouldered it's burdened for a country so small compared to the US. I am sure now that they too know that Alqaida wants the US to fail by fighting Iran those loyal to their ally will encourage diplomatic means to solution. We don't want to do things that give aid and succour to Al Qaida do we? That gets Prosribation by the ministry of Peace.

Again thankyou for your links,some I had missed.


Geoff:    These are

Geoff, these are very quick links but you can do a search yourself.

My original comment was meant to reflect Iraqi concern at the activities of Israelis in Iraq since the invasion and occupation as I picked up on Iraqi blogs.

The point is that however true or not true it is and I don't think there is any doubt about the Israeli activities with the Kurds in northern Iraq, any Israeli acitivity is a red rag to a bull and a slap in the face from the occupiers. Iraqis already equate American with Jewish so any involvement by Israel seems insane or stupid.


Israeli activity in Iraq

How to harden minds

Geoff, Mea Culpa. Yes, sloppy of me. I am doing too many things trying to get away. I should have said, going by some of the things I have read on Iraqi blog sites ...... etc.  Although, it is common knowledge that the Israelis play an active role in advising the US on tactics. God knows why, given the mess in Palestine but there you go.

I shall have to chase it up when I get back in a week or so. I read it quite some time ago and don't have the time to trawl through blogs now. But it was in regard to the fact that the Israelis were particularly active in Kurdish Iraq.

But yes, I should have realised it would be controversial and should have sourced it when I first said it. My apologies in that regard.

I must admit when I read it I was somewhat astounded because it just seemed so incredibly dumb on the part of the Americans. How to harden hearts and minds I would have thought.

Mea Culpa?

Roslyn, thank you for your links. I have read them all.

I note:

  • None of the linked sources could be remotely regarded as recent.
  • One is a description of the prevalence of primitive antisemitism in Iraq and elsewhere, including mindless rumour mongering about the "Jews being everywhere".
  • None in anyway support your assertion about Israelis flooding in to open up businesses or act as advisers. Not even the usual Guardian nonsense. Not even that propaganda site you linked.

It seems to me that you have picked up a bit of typical Israel bashing or straight-out antisemitic malicious rumour mongering that drenches that part of the world and reported it as fact. As I expected.

Don't bother with any Mea Culpa. It would have little significance to me. A straight-forward unqualified retraction will do. 

My case stands

Geoff, that's neat, you use the word 'flooding' and attribute it to me and then dismiss everything as propaganda. Cute. The links stand. I said they were quick. It was that easy. The fact that they are from earlier is irrelevant. Why on earth would you assume that things had gotten better not worse? The Iraqis don't. Or do you dismiss Iraqi comments as propaganda? Probably. I included the 'Jews everywhere' one, recongising it in that light, because it reflects and substantiates my comment in regard to how Iraqis see things.

Wonderful the way you dismiss clear evidence of Israelis acting as advisers and doing business. But then you and some others seem to consider argument to be denial, dismiss, misquote, misinterpret, misrepresent and plain old fashioned micomprehension.

My case stands.

Once Again Roslyn

OK. I amend my description of your odious claim from "flood" of Israelis to "given the number" of Israelis.

Your assertion is there for all to see. Do you retract? Or not? Are you claiming that your links support your claim? What "evidence" are you referring to? Do you agree this is a major or material issue? Do you accept that in the event that this assertion is wrong or substantially wrong, then it may fairly be seen as the product of antisemitism? 

Peacekeeping Is Not War

Mike, peacekeeping is not war. Australia's role in East Timor and the Solomon Islands is specifically for peacekeeping and the restoration of law and order. Australia is neither a party to, nor a direct contributing factor in these conflicts.

Australia also plays small peacekeeping roles in the Middle East (the UN Truce Supervision Organisation and the Multinational Force and Observers), and in Sudan (the UN Mission in Sudan).

Following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, Australia helped to provide much needed humanitarian relief to Indonesia.

Yes to legally sanctioned peacekeeping, No to war. Invaders/occupiers can never be effective peacekeepers because they are a major part of the problem.

Yes to genuine humanitarian relief in response to natural disasters, No to creating and perpetuating man-made disasters.

John, what about the "liberation" of East Timor?

Did you support Australian involvement in that? Look at how it has turned out.

Certainly the US presence in Iraq at present could be considered "peacekeeping" and "helping to maintain law and order" as well.

Note too that Vietnam was also called a "peacekeeping" operation,  though you may be too young to remember that. The US never declared war on Vietnam.

"Left" Lecturers Lying Loud And Lazy.

This "Boycott" is something that stinks to high heaven. We need no further evidence to establish that there is a crisis in tertiary education. The "teachers" have exposed themselves for what they are.

For years there has been anecdotal evidence that students and teachers must display a certain political alignment to avoid victimisation. There can now be little doubt that the lickspittle "Left" has the universities by the throat. Unless you are prepared to get down on your knees and lick the spittle with the best of them you have no future in most humanities departments in the Western world.

This is by no means unprecedented. German universities had little difficulty adapting to Nazism. Water off a duck's back as far as most of the academics were concerned.

The Defence Manifesto

The only war worth fighting for, is a war that's worth dying for.

The only war worth dying for, is a war of self defence.

Put the "Defence" back into the ADF.

Bring Aussie Troops Home!

Self defence the only justified war.

Well said John. Unless we are willing to die for the cause don't ask anyone else to die for you. As an ex serviceman I believe most servicemen would agree with you.

Willing to die for East Timor?

John Pratt wrote: "Unless we are willing to die for the cause don't ask anyone else to die for you."

So John, are you willing to die for East Timor?

No I'm not ready to die for East Timor

No I am not ready to die for East Timor are you?


Definitely not.

Nor for Iraq either. Or the Solomons.

John, what about East Timor?

The Solomons? Do you think humanitarian interventions are ever justified, or do you advocate a purely insular, self-centered Australia?

In the Guardian

More on the Boycott at Don't get mad, get even, and a robust exchange of views, like this one:

David, how on earth do you get so much space in a national newspaper to put forward your single issue politics? If you had any aspiration to union solidarity, you'd be writing about the real issue for lecturers at the moment and that is the current industrial action which is reaching crisis point. Your inflated idea that the Euston Manifesto will be remembered beyond its coterie of assorted has-beens is a fantasy of a man who thinks that anti-semitism is one of the key problems of the contemporary world. I'll start to believe in Jewish conspiracies if the Guardian continues to allow this drivel to be printed....

The Boycott

Phillip Adams had the The Euston Manifesto on Late Night Live, and one of the proponents is Rai Gaita. Pause.

Could it be a reaction to the boycott of Israeli academics, being organised by the UK's National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education? If so, that gives a different complexion. I'm not an academic, but I can understand why many would find the idea of an 'academic boycott' to be stupid, at best, and possibly downright offensive. 

Re: The Boycott

Trevor Kerr notes: "I can understand why many would find the idea of an 'academic boycott' to be stupid, at best, and possibly downright offensive." All of the above.

Thanks, but no thanks

"... the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure ..."

No-one with genuine concern for the future of the people of Iraq could seriously argue with that. But then comes this: "... rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention."

Now, hang on, even if one was "for" intervention, or even in principle not absolutely opposed, the arguments over intervention have a way to go. These are bloodywell important because (ahem) those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it. Sure, that's cliché, but true nonetheless.

The way this war was drummed up and sold to the Free World was diametrically opposed to the some of the key values espoused in this document, e.g., international law, critical openness, etc. Consider the "administrative" lies and deceit, and the intelligence "failures" that inexorably supported a forgone policy of invasion.

Consider especially the murderous "shock and awe" mode of engagement that has resulted in catastrophic civilian losses and damage to infrastructure, the rights of non-combatants to protection under the Geneva Conventions wilfully trashed.

The fact that Darfur, the most severe humanitarian crisis of recent times, is still awaiting the good graces of our noble interventions - along with Burma/Myanmar, a regime every bit as odious as Saddam's, to single out another glaring example - begs questions that remain unanswered.

I'm not wanting to turn this into another Iraq war thread, however the subtext of this document would seem to be that the background to, and execution of that whole disgraceful debacle should be put to bed. But like I said, the truth telling has a way to go. Lest we forget.

There's much in this document that I can and do support (without having to sign), but this key theme seems overwhelmingly problematic to me. So I can't and won't sign. (And I'll bet that'll be a real blow to the framers of this document, eh?)

I echo the qualms of others on this thread that this manifesto seems to codify a certain orthodoxy or approach, at least to this issue in particular. And what a grand thing: a manifesto, no less!

What after all is the point of yet another manifesto? Is it meant to be a code of conduct for "the left"? Will there be a complementary manifesto for "the right"? Does this signal a new front in the culture wars? The battle of the manifestos? What's going on here?

It's also rather superfluous, as another commenter has suggested, since there's no end of internationally agreed declarations, covenants, conventions, etc. etc., that cry out for more than lip service from the Free World.

On a more positive note, if this document opens up discussion about, and gives impetus towards giving effect to those lofty principles that, I think, we all champion, that couldn't be a bad thing.

The gender manifesto

Will, you write, ‘So Jane, would you like to see a more direct statement on gender equality? Rather than the implicit endorsement embodied in the parenthetical phrase "until full gender equality is achieved?" Is that what you're saying? What would your suggested wording be?’

OK. My suggested wording is this:

Opposing anti-feminism: We reject without qualification the anti-feminism now infecting so much right-wing (and some left-wing) thinking. This is not a case of seeing feminism as a model for gender equality. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with the entire developed world. Feminism is a great political movement. It is the foundation of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its adherents have produced a vibrant, egalitarian society that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. Feminism has never opposed progressive movements and governments and never supported regressive and authoritarian ones. Because of this, it should not go on attracting the considerable generalised prejudice against either the movement or its followers.

How’s that?

I would add

"The ultra-far-right Arab-Persian Islamic axis must be thoroughly condemned for its misogynistic cultural practices and gender apartheid, which far exceeds in severity and brutality the apartheid for which South Africa was previously (and correctly) condemned. Israel, on the other hand, should be praised for its commitment to gender equality."

Down With Lickspittleism!!

The Manifesto is a well overdue blast from what was once the "Left" at the fascist lickspittles and fake "pacifists" who have grabbed their colours from the battlefield and are now prancing around in them like a coven of satanists at midnight.

I signed it without a moment's hesitation. I too do not regard myself as either "left" or "right".

Enemy of my enemy?

Commentator Ian Buruma discusses the tendency for Western "progressives" to become enamoured of "anti-Western" or "anti-American" autocrats. In Thank you, my foolish friends in the West, Buruma begins:

"When the Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas managed to escape to the US in 1980, after years of persecution by the Cuban government for being openly homosexual and a dissident, he said: 'The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream. And I came here to scream.' "

"One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury."

"Last year a number of journalists, writers and showbiz figures, including Harold Pinter, Nadine Gordimer, Harry Belafonte and Tariq Ali, signed a letter claiming that in Cuba 'there has not been a single case of disappearance, torture or extra-judicial execution since 1959 . . .' "

"Arenas was arrested in 1973 for 'ideological deviation'. He was tortured and locked up in prison cells filled with floodwater and excrement, and threatened with death if he didn’t renounce his own writing. Imagine what it must be like to be treated like this and then read about your fellow writers in the West standing up for your oppressors."

Buruma goes on to note: "The common element of radical Third Worldism is an obsession with American power, as though the US were so intrinsically evil that any enemy of the US must be our friend, from Mao to Kim Jong-il, from Fidel Castro to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And if our 'friends' shower us with flattery, asking us to attend conferences and sit on advisory boards, so much the better.

"Criticism of American policies and economic practices are necessary and often just, but why do leftists continue to discredit their critical stance by applauding strongmen who oppress and murder their own critics? Is it simply a reverse application of that famous American cold war dictum: 'He may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard'? "

Smoke and mirrors

Roslyn, methinks I see-eth what you mean!

Until I read your post, I had taken this manifesto at face value, particularly the opening statement: 'Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive'.

Intrigued by your post, I then checked into the manifesto’s background. After perusing some of the many blogosphere sites it claims to represent, I’ve come to the conclusion that these people are about as left-wing as a cabinet meeting of the Likud Party!

This is the oldest right-wing-think-tank trick in the book – getting a bunch of right-wingers together to pose as disenchanted lefties, so as to give fake credibility to a lot of anti-left dogma.

The magicians of public opinion know full well that left and right are just illusions. To them, power is the only solid matter.

Substantive engagement with the piece?

I don't care if the authors of the Euston Manifesto are Left, Right, Centre, or none of the above. They have written a policy piece with much that makes sense and appeals to me.

Jane, I couldn't agree more that "left and right are just illusions." I would like to see the manifesto drop this system for labelling the political spectrum, as I think it would attract more broad-based support from people like me who consider ourselves neither "left" nor "right."

Jane, Roslyn, do you have some substantive criticism of the piece? Remember Webdiary rules, we're meant to play the "ball" not the "man" (you know, "man" in the gender-neutral sense of the word). So far you have dismissed this piece as some sort of right-wing Likud "trick" but I would like to see you engage with the substance of the piece.

Roslyn, here's your dismissal of the piece: "You could almost believe the Euston Manifesto was put together by a CIA-Israeli lobby-Rupert Murdoch 'think-tank,' and people have been paid handsomely to put their names to it."

Do you believe this? Do you have some evidence to back up this insinuation? What is the point of making this comment? I have other criticisms of my own: for example, I agree with you, Jane, and other critics that the Manifesto is too light on what it's for rather than what it's against. I'd like to see it evolve into a more positive and proactive statement. But I think it is an evolving document.

OK, let's take a couple of issues the Manifesto brings up, and to which you've both alluded.

Jane, you wrote "While espousing equality, the document capitulates to the right-wing backlash against feminism, by giving almost nil space to gender inequality"

The Manifesto says on the topic of gender equality: "We espouse a generally egalitarian politics. We look towards progress in relations between the sexes (until full gender equality is achieved), between different ethnic communities, between those of various religious affiliations and those of none, and between people of diverse sexual orientations — as well as towards broader social and economic equality all round."

So Jane, would you like to see a more direct statement on gender equality? Rather than the implicit endorsement embodied in the parenthetical phrase "until full gender equality is achieved?" Is that what you're saying? What would your suggested wording be?

Jane and Roslyn, you have both alluded to Israel, by name or via the Likud Party. The Manifesto says on this topic: "We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute." This topic is alluded to again in noting the "legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel." Do you disagree with these statements? Roslyn, as such a strong advocate for the right of the Palestinian people to a state (a right which I too support), I would have thought you would welcome these statements. Do you have some suggested re-wording of your own?

Hollow at best

Will:  My substantive criticism of the piece, as given before, is that it says nothing new and says nothing better than countless others say in various UN and human rights groups.... in terms of the 'best' that it is. In addition, it seems to take a position contrary to itself, when it singles out certain forms of criticism as not being acceptable; criticism of America, Israel and Jews for instance.

I find it difficult to see what it is trying to do except to say that 'we are Left but we'll be good,' and all those nasty unreasonable Lefties just hate America and Israel and are anti-semitic so you should not listen to them.'  As I said, methinks they protest too much.

My comment in regard to the 'think-tank' was tongue in cheek although of course, nothing would surprise me. There is a ring of artifice about this 'manifesto' and a smack of the apologist. When I first read it I merely thought, okay, if that is what they want to do, that's their business but what is the point? The only 'point' I could see was to chide others for their criticisms of the US, Israel et al.

They are suggesting that criticism of America is anti-America, when, in the minds of most informed people of reason, criticism of America is simply criticism of America. When it can be validated, as it can most of the time, it is not anti-American, merely the truth. Ditto for Israeli and Jewish behaviour, Chinese behaviour, Russian behaviour.... any behaviour really.

Where were the calls during the Cold War that we were being anti-Russian when we criticised Russia? Where are the cries now that we are anti-Muslim when we criticise Muslims or anti-Arab (anti-semitic) when we criticise Arabs?

I could have greater interest in this manifesto, although I still fail to see the point of it .... who are these people anyway? ..... if it had called for accountability from critics for all subjects which came under criticism.

Why single out America? Surveys show that while most people in the world consider America the greatest threat to world peace they do not hate Americans nor things American. They may hate, but mostly they fear, actions taken by the American administration. I know many Americans who are even more passionate and bitter in their criticism of their country than any outsider ..... does that make them anti-American? Are they also to be pulled into line as Israelis and Jews try to pull dissident Israelis and Jews into line, those who criticise Israeli policy, by calling them 'self-hating Jews'? Do we now have 'self hating Americans’? What a ridiculous terminology and what an indication that it is truth which is being denied not dishonesty revealed.

Surely what any manifesto should be supporting, as they claim to do, is freedom of expression, with freedom from vilification or retribution for those who speak out. Of course people should be accountable for what they say..... of course they must substantiate their criticisms.

But, what we see in the world are labels of anti-semitism for people who point out the human rights abuses and injustices, which we know the Israelis inflict on the Palestinians, and labels of anti-American for people who point out the human rights abuses and injustices perpetrated by the US. The invasion of Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, now Kaditha, and the loss of individual freedoms from the Patriot Act ..... how is it anti-American to criticise such things? Most Americans are saying the same thing. That means, on the manifesto criteria, that most Americans are anti-American.

Jane: was spot on with her comment: "While espousing equality, the document capitulates to the right-wing backlash against feminism, by giving almost nil space to gender inequality".

It is so mealy-mouthed compared to their demands, or calls, for action in regard to what they define as anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism.

In regard to: "We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute." This topic is alluded to again in noting the "legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people under occupation by Israel."

Of course I do not disagree with this statement. As I said, there was quite a bit in the manifesto with which one would agree ..... but none of it is new, or different to that put forward by the UN and various peace groups.

What is 'different' and what brings the manifesto crashing down, are the statements as discussed above. 

Yes, they say some supportive things in regard to the Palestinians but then, on the other hand, they limit this fight against injustice by inferring that criticism of Israel, or the part the US plays in it, or the part that Jewish groups play in it, is bigotry.

If they really and truly believed in this sort of justice then it goes without saying that for justice to be done the truth must be told. Those behind the manifesto appear to have a selective approach to truth and for that reason their statements are hollow at best and dishonest at worst.

Do you disagree with these statements? Roslyn, as such a strong advocate for the right of the Palestinian people to a state (a right which I too support), I would have thought you would welcome these statements. Do you have some suggested re-wording of your own?

A socialism of fools

From Shalom Lappin’s talk on the Euston Manifesto at the Manifesto’s launch:

In large parts of the developing world the failure of the secular nationalist groups that secured independence from colonial rule to deliver either prosperity or democracy has produced a deeply reactionary response in the form revolutionary Islamist movements seeking to establish a universal caliphate. In the West a significant part of the radical left has embraced these movements as agents of anti-imperialism. They have substituted the advocates of jihad for the working class as the vanguard of the revolution. In so doing they have exchanged a programme of class struggle for the politics of cultural identity and created a new socialism of fools. Not a small part of the liberal-left has indulged in a more nuanced version of this bizarre alliance.

More at Normblog.

or "the Confusion of the Left"

The Euston Manifesto could be more accurately called the ‘confusion of the left’. Like the much vaunted UN Bill of Rights it tries to combine positive and negative rights without understanding that they are in the real world incongruent.

I prefer the Bill of No Rights from Lewis Napper a self-described amateur philosopher and from Mississippi who ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2000 as a Libertarian:

"We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt-ridden, deluded, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights."

You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone — not just you! You may leave the room, change the channel, or express a different opinion, but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

You do not have the right to free health care That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

You don't have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and won't lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you'd like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat.

You don't have the right to a job. Sure, all of us want all of you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness — which, by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.’

Sense and prejudice

Rob: Some of these ‘articles’ are simply common sense and some are simply prejudiced.

You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

The US differs from Australia in one major respect and that is, in
America, the common belief is that those who are unemployed or poor are so because it is their own fault. In
Australia we look at our society, and our Government, and some even at themselves. As a result
Australia has a far higher quality of life and far less people living in poverty.

American poverty levels are truly appalling given that this is the richest country in the world and those levels are on the increase. And yes, most of them are not ‘white guys.’

Excerpt: Yes, poverty is a reality in
America, just as it is for millions of other human beings on the planet. According to the US Census Bureau, 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in
America), including 12.9 million children.

Those ‘couch potatoes’ are often people who get retrenched …. Privatization, the global economy …. and who only receive unemployment benefits for a limited time, unlike
Australia.  No job, no benefits means appalling poverty and that leads to crime.

You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

US now has more than 2 million people in jail … or one in every 136 Americans ends up behind bars. At what point does one look at the system and fix the real problem?  And given the inhumane nature of US prisons and the human rights abuses carried out inside them, one doubts that a big-screen television is the first thing on the minds of most of those who go there. Most of those in prison are not murderers and most of them, surprise surprise, are not your all-American Anglo either.

You do not have the right to free health care That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

45 million Americans do not have health cover because they cannot afford it. That is criminal in the world’s wealthiest nation.

You don't have the right to a job. Sure, all of us want all of you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

Those would be the education opportunities and vocational training, which, in the land of the car, are miles away from where people live and the people who need them do not have a car, and if they do, cannot afford to put petrol into it.
America is the land of no public transport so there is no cheap way of getting from A to B. In addition, when people are putting all of their effort into merely surviving, and may well be ill at the same time ….. remember, most of them have little or no health care …it’s kind of hard to throw yourself into a six-week retraining course. Even harder when you have lost a manual labouring job and have minimal education anyway.

The US has
Third World illiteracy rates and 1 in twenty, a study shows, are illiterate. Some 29 percent of the population has only basic reading and computer skills.

The question for the author of the Articles is: Do people have a right to an education even if they do not have a right to a job?

Do people have a right to health even if they do not have a right to health care?

And do people, in the world’s richest nation, have a right to live a life free of poverty?

Clear and present bias

Methinks they protest too much!

I read this some time ago and re-reading it now, don't get any different impression.

You can't disagree with a lot that they say, and in fact, I heartily support much of it, but the question arises: Why the need to say it when so much of it exists already as part of United Nations resolutions and forms the foundation for countless peace, environmental, human rights and justice groups?

As others have pointed out, the only difference in their Leftish inclination, seems to be a position which says it's okay to be Left as long as you don't criticise America or Israel. And the inference here is that criticism equates with anti-Americanism or anti-Semitism.

The chaps behind the Manifesto have not explained exactly how one monitors and edits criticism, which they, in general, say they support absolutely. On the one hand they advocate freedom of expression as a must and on the other, only if it 'fits' into a defined space.

You could almost believe the Euston Manifesto was put together by a CIA-Israeli lobby-Rupert Murdoch 'think-tank,' and people have been paid handsomely to put their names to it.

In truth the only thing I think this Manfesto will manifest is a short life as dustbin fodder. Which is a pity, because beyond the clear and present bias in their agenda, there's a lot here which is worth defending.

Cosy nook

Hullo, Bryan Law, this is a pleasant little spot, and I think you and I are kindred spirits. So, quickly, before the rednecks and incandescent Scots drop in to kick the sand about, why don't we get to know each other a lot better?

I'll start, with the usual touchy-feelies - tune of the moment, favourite film, best book: Odetta's 'He had a long chain on'; 'Last of the Mohicans'; Huntington's 'The Clash of Civilisations ...'.

(Mind you, I could be lying, and a mole from the CEC posing as an ardent Bush-lover.  :)

I am hanging it out like this only because I have a cold in the head and feeling fuzzy. So I don't expect anyone to reciprocate.

And, yeah, I've managed to hang onto an original Bob Dylan 45rpm EP ('Times they are ...', bought when I was about 18, the price was 15/6). The arithmetic (or "math", for the arselickers) will indicate a certain venerable crabbiness.

Have a lovely evening!

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