The Euston Manifesto
Posted to www.marxmail.org on April 17, 2006
No matter how badly things have turned out in
It should be added that these individuals are in an alliance with other leftists who, while offering pro forma opposition to the war, reserve most of their time and energy to castigating the antiwar movement. They are the heirs of what Lillian Hellman referred to as "anti-antifascists" in her memoir "Scoundrel Time."
This loosely knit group has almost no ability to actually move people into action, as the real left does. When they get involved in rallies or demonstrations, the results are generally pathetic such as the actions that took place several months ago on behalf of the Danish government's right to humiliate Muslims. However, through their media connections and a network of like-minded blogs, they maintain a steady drumbeat of support for imperialist war abroad and racism at home.
Their most recent undertaking has been to produce something
called the Euston Manifesto (http://eustonmanifesto.org/),
a document that will generate much more controversy than actual mobilization.
One can't imagine a group of undergraduates at a British or American university
becoming inspired to actually *do something* after the fashion of SDS's founding documents in the 1960s. For that matter, the
only youth who would seem to be acting on the precepts of Euston are in uniform
right now patrolling the streets of
One of the prime movers behind the Euston Manifesto, which
takes its name from location of the
AN OBSCURE Marxist professor who has spent his
entire academic life in
Despite his leanings Norman Geras,
who writes a blog diary on the internet, has praised President George W Bush
and says the invasion of
His daily jottings have brought him the nickname of “Stormin’ Norm” from the title of his diary, Normblog. The Wall Street Journal has reprinted one of his articles in its online edition and American pundits often cite his words.
But the British left has turned on Geras, a veteran of demonstrations against the Vietnam war. He has been denounced as an “imperialist skunk” and a “turncoat” in e-mails to his blog, which has up to 9,000 readers a day.
Most mornings Geras, 61, the
author of such obscure books as Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind:
The Ungroundable Liberalism of Richard Rorty,
sits in the upstairs study of his Edwardian semi in
Last week he gave thanks to Bush, quoting an Iraqi who wants to build a statue to the American president as “the symbol of freedom”.
One of the pro forma antiwar figures endorsing the Euston
Manifesto is Marc Cooper, who unabashedly identifies himself as a Nation
Magazine contributor while violating practically everything that this bastion
of left-liberalism stands for. On www.marccooper.com,
you can find a qualified endorsement of the manifesto from the dyspeptic critic
of the left: "Even as loose as it currently stands, it's still a bit
rigidly 'progressive' for me." It is difficult to imagine what makes
Cooper feel this way. Perhaps the declaration that "We uphold the traditional
liberal freedom of ideas" was seen as contrary to his own inclination to
browbeat or purge any commenter who strays too far to the left on his own blog.
One imagines that if Cooper ever got in a position to wield real power, Amnesty
International would have its hands filled. (Speaking of which, Amnesty
International gets castigated by the Eustonians for
having the temerity to link
Most of the Euston Manifesto consists of bromides about the need for "egalitarian politics", "good governance" and "global economic development." Who can be opposed to such things? Since this document is really not about challenging the main obstacle to such noble goals--namely US and British imperialism--there is every reason to suspect that this is mere window-dressing. If such words are meant to gull the innocent, there is little proof that it has succeeded. Just about everybody who has signed the manifesto is a case-hardened anti-Communist or Islamophobe, including the following:
--Kanan Makiya: ex-Trotskyist who is closely connected to Ahmed Chalabi
--John Lloyd: Financial Times writer whose only connection to the left was informing his bourgeois audience how to combat it when he was the paper's East European correspondent.
Such people hardly seem the sort to go out and build support for their cause in the real world. Their role is mainly to provide free public relations (or perhaps paid, judging from the record of Frances Stoner Saunders's "Who Paid the Piper") for the real institutions acting on their beliefs, namely the Pentagon, the IMF and multinational corporations.
Lord knows that such institutions need protection from the
blind rage of the non-Euston left. As they put it, "That US foreign policy
has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported
regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice
against either the country or its people." Yes, one has to stand guard
against the xenophobic mood that gripped the world after it was revealed that
the CIA was spiriting people to secret prisons where they would be tortured for
months on end. During that mean-spirited time, it was impossible to sing "
Once you get past the empty generalizations of the Euston
Manifesto, you find a number of talking points that keep coming up on blogs
like "Harry's Place." We are warned that anti-Zionism leads to
anti-Semitism. We are also told that the antiwar movement must renounce the
Iraqi resistance with as much vigor as it denounces