Thursday, January 02, 2014

Nick Cohen on Left Fascism

Nick Cohen
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In his review of Hans Kundnani's Utopia or Auschwitz: Germany's 1968 Generation and the Holocaust, Nick Cohen ("Meeting the Nazi parents -- my political book of 2013," The Spectator, December 31, 2013) offers some intriguing remarks on the German leftists of 1968:
On first reading, the West German left of 1968 should have been anti-fascist. But it was not so simple. Although Kundnani has some sympathy with students confronting a brutal police force and unpunished war criminals, he rightly sees their belief that fascism grew out of capitalism as dangerously idiotic. The ideology had two consequences. First it downplayed the responsibility of the German people for Nazism and ignored the specifically German features of the European fascist movement -- most notably anti-semitism and Auschwitz. Second, by seeing West Germany as a continuation of Hitler's Germany, and all capitalist states as potentially fascist, it authorised violence . . . . [Despite] the quasi-Marxist ideas of the Frankfurt group . . . . Theodor Adorno . . . . saw "left-wing fascism" in the student movement -- and was screamed down by juvenile revolutionaries for his prescience. So it proved at least with some. The German terrorist groups despised democracy, glorified murder and targeted Jews -- just like their parents. (Although this time around they said they were fighting the "imperialist Zionist conspiracy" rather than the Jewish Bolshevik conspiracy.) Meanwhile Andreas Baader led a genuine cult of the personality. In true Hitlerian fashion, he persuaded his gang to commit suicide in their prison bunkers rather than submit.
Cohen's words on the terrorism of the sixty-eighters help illuminate the sympathy that too much of the current-day left seem to have for Islamists and the terrorism that the Islamists inspire. Mervyn Bendle would likely find Cohen's column (and Kundnani's book) worth reading.

As for Cohen, he has been labeled an "Islamophobe" . . .

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At 10:57 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

What are your thoughts on John Pepple's theory of the relationship between the left and Islam?

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

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 . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Camille Paglia, Nick Cohen favors polemics over factually supported arguments. I could not easily locate any English-language texts to verify what Larsson actually said about the killings. I want to share with you a quote recently added to my favorites: Communication is the transfer of emotion, not information,

I do agree that globally leftists gloss over violence by Islamists while bashing right-wing fundies for mostly non-violent offenses and have voiced dissenting opinions in online forums.


At 5:53 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sonagi. I don't know much about Cohen. I found interesting that he self-identifies as a Leftist but is critical of the Left's views on Islamism.

Mostly, I was interested in his review of Kundnani's book. I was a bit surprised to see that the book was published a few years ago since Cohen referred to it as his "book of 2013." I guess he was referring to the date of his reading it, not its publication.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Cohen is no more leftist than you are. In fact, he is a longtime, loud critic of the European left. Prior to his death in 2004, Larsson was not only a successful novelist but also a die-hard leftist who spoke out against new-nazism and racist violent attacks on non-European immigrants in Sweden. Of the two murders of Kurdish women alluded to in Cohen's post, Larsson was dead by the the the second one occurred a few years ago. Of the first murder, Larsson stated, "Both cases involved older men with a need to control younger women who were in the process of breaking free,” I do not share Cohen's interpretation of this statement as expressing tolerance of Islamist violence.


At 6:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Are you sure he's not on the Left? This implies that he is.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Save for support for the US-led invasion of Iraq, I agree with everything else in the manifesto. How about you, Jeffery? Are you as leftist as Nick and me?


At 4:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

On the Leftism of the Euston Manifesto:

"The manifesto is strongly supportive of egalitarian principles. While they intentionally do not specify their preferred economic system, they say that a fundamental tenet of left-liberalism must be economic and social equality between people of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. Within this, they say labour unions are 'bedrock organizations in the defence of workers' interests and are one of the most important forces for human rights, democracy-promotion and egalitarian internationalism.' They also say 'labour rights are human rights' and single out different, less-commonly represented people, including children and the sexually oppressed.
As part of promoting economic equality, the authors call for supporting increased development in poorer nations in order to alleviate extreme poverty. Their prescription for this includes greater distribution of wealth within the trading system, and the radical reform of the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. They also call for fair trade, environmental protection, debt forgiveness, and more aid. They support the campaign to Make Poverty History."

I think their Leftism is to be found in the way they would unpack these above remarks on economics. By "egalitarian" they seem to mean "greater distribution of wealth."

As for Iraq, did they take a position on that?

"The manifesto takes no position on the invasion of Iraq."

They seem to have allowed for differing opinions on the war.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct, Jeffery. I had confused Nick Cohen's support for the invasion with the neutral position taken by the manifesto.


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