Comrades Fall Out

Interesting. Eric at Drink-soaked Trots notices an early stirring of (let us call it) Eustonism, in an article called ‘Afghanistan: a Just Intervention’ that appeared so long ago as 2002. He helpfully highlights some passages.

The attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 were terrible events, they were also acts of barbarism…In attacking New York, the Islamo-fascists of Al Qaeda attacked one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world…Moreover, it was an attack mounted by people who hate the United States of America not only (and probably not even mainly) for its inequality or its acts of injustice in the world or for its place in an unequal international order, but rather because of its democracy, its pluralism, its sexual libertinism, and all the other things that the left ought to like about the United States. By and large, the left discredited itself by its reaction…Some on the left, have gone even further, appearing to urge backing for the radical Islamists…Why then, did the British left react in such a manner? Partly, it did so because of an ingrained cultural anti-Americanism…But the moral stakes are now very high and many of the ‘facts’ deployed by the left in recent debates are, at best, of dubious character. (They are the kind of ‘facts’ that support conclusions people have already reached.)

The surprising thing about that is who wrote it. It’s surprising because the author, who is a blogger, frequently writes posts about Eustonism which seem to betray (before reading Eric’s post I would have said simply ‘betray’) intense hostility and anger. For instance there was this post a couple of weeks ago on Ted Honderich’s tv appearance (a discussion of which among a few Bristol philosophers will appear in the next TPM), which included this bizarrely (I thought) gratuitous remark:

Honderich repeatedly tells the viewer that 9/11 was a crime, but rather gives the impression that this is because people were killed without his pet principle being advanced…The whole thing ended up being rather a gift to the Euston Manifesto crowd. God knows whether any of them watched it, but it will have given them no end of material to moan about: endless whataboutery and apologetics for appalling acts. Just what we don’t need, in fact.

The same person wrote those two passages. That surprises me – indeed, it puzzles me. Why the contempt for a ‘crowd’ that would endorse everything in that first passage? I don’t know. The hostility to preEuston Eustonism (let’s call it) has puzzled me for a long time, and now it puzzles me even more.

Read the comments on the Trots post, too; they’re very meaty.

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