The certainty of your virtue will lead you into cruelty

Ah the way the left loves to devour its own. Nick Cohen says it has to do with the left’s self-image as the home of all righteousness.

Anyone who saw Gordon Brown and his aides in action, or watched the student left ban speakers for disagreeing with them, has found the myth of leftwing decency hard to swallow. But it has taken the triumph of Jeremy Corbyn’s “new politics” to finish it off.

Police are investigating a death threat madeagainst Neil Coyle, the Labour MP for Bermondsey, after he voted to allow the RAF to attack Islamic State in Syria. His colleague Diana Johnson said the abuse of Labour MPs who supported the action was horrendous. “‘Murderous cunt’ is one of the terms I have seen.”

Corbyn has ensured that everything the left once said about mainstream conservatives can be thrown back its face.

You want sexism? Long before the Syria vote, Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper complained of misogyny, and not just from the Mail, which was more interested in Kendall’s “lithe figure” than her politics. You expect that from the Mail if you are a woman on the left. Indeed, you expect it if you are a woman on the right or any place in between. Cooper spoke with feeling at the Labour women’s conference about the shock she and Kendall felt at finding it in the one place she never expected it: the left, whose decent adherents called them “witches” and “cows” for opposing the great Corbyn.

Why? Self-righteousness, Nick says.

Brecht understood that the certainty of your virtue will lead you into cruelty. Leftwing men can treat women appallingly and leftwing agitators can mimic the language and tactics of the far right. They are so convinced of their righteousness they cannot admit their faults.

Leftists would behave better if they stopped acting like teenage vegetarians and found the honesty to acknowledge their kinship with the rest of compromised humanity. The Corbyn generation shows no sign of doing it. And it ought to be obvious by now that Labour people will be their targets.

Brecht’s communists spent as much time fighting social democrats as Nazis in the 1930s. The Corbynites’ real enemies are not Tories, whom they rather respect for standing up for the interests of their class, but Labour MPs who fail to show the required radical virtue and betray the leftwing cause. They don’t mutter darkly that there will be “no hiding place” for Tory MPs who voted in favour of bombing Isis. They don’t scream that Conservative women are “witches” and “cows”. They don’t deliver death threats to David Cameron.

Their virtuous hatred is righteously reserved for their own side and its ugliness will destroy the myth of leftwing decency more thoroughly than the right ever could.

 It sounds right to me, given the quantity of words I’ve seen devoted to ostracizing and libeling people for minor deviations from putative orthodoxy.

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