Friday, January 03, 2014

John Pepple on the Left and Islamists

John Pepple of the blog I Want a New Left has a theory on why the Left aligns itself with Islamism. Kevin Kim drew my attention to Pepple's theory:
What are your thoughts on John Pepple's theory of the relationship between the left and Islam?
I clicked and found that Pepple traces the Left's orientation toward Islamism back to Vietnam:
I suggest that the left-Muslim alliance was the result of leftist fears that they would have to admit they were wrong about Vietnam. Let me note that Vietnam represents a huge mental investment for baby-boomer leftists. It was the most important issue of their youth in the sense that it generated the biggest protests and probably caused the most leftist ink to be spilled during that period compared with other issues. In addition, as nothing about the situation changed as time went on, young liberals and leftists became more and more radicalized. Admitting to being wrong about Vietnam, then, is tantamount to admitting that one's life as a leftist has been a waste of time, and almost no one on the left will admit that (while remaining a leftist). Even today few on the left will admit that they were wrong on Vietnam, and at the time of the relevant year in question, which is in fact about 1980, Vietnam was still fresh in everyone’s mind. Baby-boomer leftists thought, "We were right about Vietnam, and the conservatives were wrong." From this they generalized to, "We are friends of the Third World, and they [i.e., the conservatives] are their enemies."
Pepple then explains that 1980 was important because the Shah of Iran was overthrown that year, and the Left generally supported those who opposed the Shah, mainly Muslim opponents, because these opponents were of the Third World, and the Left maintained its support even when the Islamists in Iran began killing Liberals and Leftists. There may be something to Pepple's theory, but I see a different way, as I explained in a reply to Kevin Kim:
First, I've never before heard of Pepple's views (unless I've forgotten).

Anyway, Vietnam may have played a big role in the American Left's tolerance for Islamists, but that wouldn't explain the Euro-Left's tolerance.

I think the tolerance of the Left is rooted in its support for Palestinians, even to the point of justifying Palestinian terrorism.

Support for Third-World movements and anti-colonial movements also played a role, but support for the Palestinians' resistance turned into support for Islamist attacks on authoritarian regimes.

Something like that, I reckon . . .
I probably should fill that out some, but I'm too busy teaching an intensive writing course to take the necessary time, so I'll just have to leave my hypothesis suggestive rather than persuasive . . .

Labels: ,


At 2:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How were the left wrong about Vietnam?

The roots of leftist sympathy for Islamist causes does seem to trace back to Third World independence movements.


At 4:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"How were the left wrong about Vietnam?"

I also wondered.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home