Nick Cohen may be a man of the left, but he does not subscribe to the old notion that there should be “no enemies to the left”. Writing in the latest Standpoint, he takes aim at the principled/authentic/sincere (choose sycophantic adjective of choice) Jeremy Corbyn, the Chavez wannabe who may shortly become Labour’s new leader. I don’t agree with everything Cohen has to say (about UKIP for example; as I said he is a man of the left), but this article is powerful stuff, and worth reading in full.
Here’s an extract:
Jeremy Corbyn encapsulated everything that was deceitful about his campaign to be leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition when he claimed he wanted to prioritise “the needs of the poor and the human rights of us all”. From the point of view of the poor and the oppressed, his words were a grim joke.
Like many from the Left’s dark corners, Corbyn does not believe in the human rights of “us all”. He is concerned only with the rights of those whose oppression is politically useful. If the oppressed’s suffering can be blamed on the West, he will defend them. If not, he is on their enemies’ side.
A short and far from comprehensive tour of the regimes Corbyn has supported includes the geriatric Cuban dictatorship, the corrupt and extraordinarily incompetent Chavistas who have come close to bankrupting oil-rich Venezuela, and Russian imperialists who have used force to redraw Europe’s boundaries.
… Not just Corbyn and his supporters but much of the liberal Left announce their political correctness and seize on the smallest sexist or racist “gaffe” of their opponents. Without pausing for breath, they move on to defend radical Islamist movements which believe in the subjugation of women and the murder of homosexuals. They will denounce the anti-Semitism of white neo-Nazis, but justify Islamist anti-Semites who actually murder Jews in Copenhagen and Paris. In a telling vignette, Corbyn himself defended a vicar from the supposedly liberal and tolerant Church of England who had promoted the conspiracy theory that Jews were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Opponents who called for the church authorities to discipline him were not anti-racists fighting an ideology that had led to the murder of millions. On the contrary, said Corbyn, the vicar was the victim, “under attack” because he had “dared to speak out against Zionism”.
Now read this, and reflect on the leftism of so much of US media or, for that matter, the crackdown on free expression defacing American universities (my emphasis added):
Friends and comrades have ignored those of us who warned for years about the ugly turn much of left-wing thought has taken. Why, they ask, should we waste our political energies on minor Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs who pander to anti-Semitism or writers who cheer on Islamists while hounding Muslim liberals? Real power, the power that mattered and needed opposing, lay elsewhere.They did not understand that cultural power will eventually become political power, if no one takes the time to challenge it.
The rise of Corbyn represents the…failure of a generation of moderate centre-left politicians and activists to recognise that ideology matters, and that if you do not take on your opponents’ ideas today, your opponents will take you over tomorrow.
Cohen goes on to lambast Tony Blair and other ‘New Labour’ luminaries for the lucrative post-political careers they have made for themselves in sometimes unsavory company, but adds this:
Jeremy Corbyn has never pocketed thirty pieces of silver. He says what he says because he means it, not because he has been paid to say it. This does not make him morally superior in my eyes. I distrust a convinced fanatic far more than I distrust an averagely compromised man.
This cannot be said enough. When it comes to politicians, give me the cynic over the true believer just about every time.