Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nick Cohen: What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way

Nick Cohen's new book comes out next month.

Amazon's review,

From the much-loved, witty and excoriating voice of journalist Nick Cohen, a powerful and irreverent dissection of the agonies, idiocies and compromises of mainstream liberal thought. Nick Cohen comes from the Left. While growing up, his mother would search the supermarket shelves for politically reputable citrus fruit and despair. When, at the age of 13, he found out that his kind and thoughtful English teacher voted Conservative, he nearly fell off his chair: 'To be good, you had to be on the Left.' Today he's no less confused. When he looks around him, in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, he sees a community of Left-leaning liberals standing on their heads. Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam that stands for everything the liberal-Left is against come from a section of the Left? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the Left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal-Left, but not, for instance, China, the Sudan, Zimbabwe or North Korea? Why can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a liberal literary journal as in a neo-Nazi rag? It's easy to know what the Left is fighting against - the evils of Bush and corporations - but what and, more to the point, who are they fighting for? As he tours the follies of the Left, Nick Cohen asks us to reconsider what it means to be liberal in this confused and topsy-turvy time. With the angry satire of Swift, he reclaims the values of democracy and solidarity that united the movement against fascism, and asks: What's Left?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Shimmy said...

The NYTimes has killed 3,000 soldiers in Iraq. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

What is the gist? Liberals don't support Iseral?


Shalom,
---Leland Milton Goldblatt

The Reverend Leland Milton Goldblatt one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Over the past fifty years he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. Reverend Leland Milton Goldblatt has been called the “Conscience of the Nation” and “the Great Unifier. --

Bill Baar said...

I doubt that Milton... I think Nick Cohen got it best in this tribute to Maryam Namazie,

Namazie is on the right side of the great intellectual struggle of our time between incompatible versions of liberalism. One follows the fine and necessary principle of tolerance, but ends up having to tolerate the oppression of women, say, or gays in foreign cultures while opposing misogyny and homophobia in its own. (Or 'liberalism for the liberals and cannibalism for the cannibals!' as philosopher Martin Hollis elegantly described the hypocrisy of the manoeuvre.) The alternative is to support universal human rights and believe that if the oppression of women is wrong, it is wrong everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Nice. I found your blog looking for reviews of Nick Cohen's book. And I know where you are--I taught at NIU for a year (and liked Dekalb)

The essence of Left as I understand it is: (1) support for a cradle-to-grave welfare state financed by high taxes and (2) social engineering, in particular, affirmative action to alleviate discrimination in employment. Hey, that's all I want! Wars come and go. International alliances shift. I don't care one way or the other about Israel. Gimme Sweden--now!