The Euston Manifesto spreads

The Euston Manifesto — a statement of principles by a new coalition from the left in the U.K., with an American version here — got a ringing endorsement this weekend from Roger Cohen of the International Herald-Tribune, writing in The Times (behind the damned pay wall). He says:

These outlines of liberal principle – liberal in its best Enlightenment sense rather than in its debased Fox- News guise of insult – constitute a solid foundation for debate of Iraq and the struggle against terrorism that the White House now calls “The Long War.”

The statements are signed by backers and opponents of the Iraq war who, despite their differences, are united by strong support for freedom of speech and ideas, democracy and pluralism, as well as by unqualified opposition to all forms of terrorism and totalitarianism. . . .

The American supporters of the manifesto, who include the historian Walter Laqueur, several journalists from The New Republic and Michael Ledeen of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, reject “the ossified and unproductive polarization of American politics.”

They deplore the tendency on the left to substitute hatred of Bush for thought about fighting jihadism. Why, they ask, is the left more incensed by America’s errors in Iraq than “terrorist outrages by Islamic extremists?” . . .

Taken together, the two statements set out core principles of the Anglo-American liberal tradition, bringing Europe and the United States together at a time of apparent ideological divergence. As the U.S. signatories note, the Euston Manifesto hews to “the traditions of American liberal anti-fascism and anti-totalitarianism.”

If you’re tired of sterile screaming in the wilderness, tired of the comfortably ensconced “hindsighters” poring over every American error in Iraq, tired of facile anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism masquerading as anti- Zionism, try the Euston road in 2007. It might actually lead somewhere.

I agree and wrote a Guardian column about the Euston Manifesto here.

  • http://www.cincomsmaltalk.com/blog/blogView James Robertson

    You might try giving a listen to Dan Carlin (http://dancarlin.com) who does two podcasts – “Common Sense” on current events, and a history podcast. He calls himself a “neo-whig” – and while I don’t agree with everything he says, I find him to be thought provoking.

  • Hasan Jafri

    Norman Geras, the Manchester University professor who wrote some of the Euston Manifesto and is rightly its theoretical guru, in a column in The Guardian put a more prosaic, and realistic, spin on this than either you or Roger Cohen. From his description, Euston preaches to the converted (right-wing) by building an anti-left consensus.

    To wit:

    “On a Saturday last May, two days after the general election, there was a meeting in a pub in London of 20 or so similarly minded people. We had no very specific agenda, merely a desire to talk about where things were politically. Those present were all people of the left, some of them bloggers or individuals running other websites, their readers, a few with labour movement connections, one or two students. Many of us were supporters of the military intervention in Iraq, and those who weren’t – who had indeed opposed it – were nonetheless finding themselves increasingly out of tune with the dominant anti-war discourse. They were at odds, too, with how that discourse was now being related to other prominent issues – terrorism and the fight against it, US foreign policy, the record of the Blair government, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, more generally, attitudes to democratic values and to movements that reject these.

    It was our common sense of discord with much current left-liberal thinking on these issues that was the focus of discussion on that Saturday.”

    There are problems with such a broad-brush, scattershot approach. Using “much current liberal left-liberal thinking on these issues” as an apology for the war in Iraq is, as Euston’s critics say, a little like saying “I woke up on 9/11 to find the world changed, am no longer a Democrat, and now have very strong views about Chappaquiddick.”

    I like parts of it, and you and Roger Cohen make some great points, but Euston ultimately is a feel-good manifeso of tenuous connections and broad generalizations.

    Happy New Year.

  • Jimmy

    OK, I certainly see nothing wrong with this “manifesto,” but I think saying that Liberals and Democrats are more angry at Bush than they are with terrorism is not only absurdly wrong, it’s an over-simplification of real and worth-noting mistakes of what I believe is the worst president of my generation. Moreover, I’ve never met a Liberal or Democrat who supported tyranny, but unlike this administration, or the fools at PNAC, I don’t believe invading every country ruled by some Tom, Dick, and Harry dictator is the way to deal with the problem; especially, when we are more than willing to support and look the other way when those dictators are willing to do our bidding. And if I see “anti-Semitism masquerading as anti- Zionism” in another sentance I think I will puke. This very “manifesto’s” statement of a two-state solution is considered by some to be anti-Semitism. Come on, just because Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist sons of bitches doesn’t mean Israel hasn’t made mistakes with their handling of the Palestinian question; and pointing that out is not anti-Semitism. It is, instead, counter-productive.

    Yes, this “manifesto” makes some important points we should openly discuss, but the people on this side of the pond embracing it are engaging in the very name-calling and generalities it is supposedly against.

  • http://kalipuna.blogspot.com Dr. Mathews

    a statement of principles by a new coalition from the left in the U.K

    from the left? … Ridiculous!

    By the way, I’m surprised you haven’t placed at least a reference or link to Zayed’s compilation of Iraqi bloggers’ reactions to Saddam’s hanging

    http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

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  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    This manifesto feels to me more like something some conservatives would write if they were pretending to be leftists for an afternoon. A new left manifesto is probably a good idea; this isn’t it.

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  • http://www.hossohbet.net Sohbet

    Norman Geras, the Manchester University professor who wrote some of the Euston Manifesto and is rightly its theoretical guru, in a column in The Guardian put a more prosaic, and realistic, spin on this than either you or Roger Cohen.

  • John Coelho

    It’s time to move away from the oedipally fixated “hate Daddy” left while promoting those aspects of leftism that have worked: access to education, equality of opportunity, an industrial policy, gender equality and so on. The Left, so often identifies with Third Worlders no matter how retrograde their world view to the expense of sensibilities that took 2,000 years to develope in the West and which are the envy of the sentient habitants of the Third world.

    In the US we need an organization to support the ideas of the Euston Manifesto and I would like to communicate with anyone here in that regard.

  • http://www.dhuni.co.uk stan

    Personally, I think ‘the Anglo-American liberal tradition’ is getting harder and harder to remember.