The psychology of such accommodations

Jonathan Derbyshire’s interview with Nick Cohen is very good.

‘I realised that people on the left who had once supported Iraqi socialists were going to dump them. That’s when the iron entered the soul. That’s when I thought something is going very badly wrong and that I need to write about it.’Instead of supporting socialists and trade unionists in Iraq once Saddam had been overthrown, some on the left went so far as to romanticise the insurgency launched by Baathist irregulars and radical Islamists, declaring it to be a movement of ‘national liberation’…‘To say it’s left-wing to turn your back on Kurdish and Iraqi socialists is to throw the best traditions of left solidarity out of the window. What kind of left is it that betrays its comrades?’

A very confused one, at any rate.

‘What’s Left?’ is not a book about the rights and wrongs of the war in Iraq but rather an attempt to answer the question of betrayal…[H]e compares the strenuous act of historical forgetting involved in seeing Islamism as authentically ‘anti-imperialist’ with the mental gymnastics demanded of Communists and their fellow-travellers in 1939 when the Nazi-Soviet pact was sealed. Cohen is interested in the psychology of such accommodations.

Yeah. So am I. I always have been, for some reason – I spent most of my twenties reading about the mental gymnastics of the left in the 30s. I’m very interested in the psychology of such accomodations. And the weird gymnastics of today are indeed reminiscent of those of the 30s – Nick and I did some muttering about that while he was writing the book.

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