Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I shall in the next week or so read Nick Cohen's book What's Left? How Liberals Lost Their Way. But, for now, the gist of it is that the British left was utterly outflanked by the fall of communism and the success of the market and, as a result, fell back on reflex anti-Americanism and a sinister sympathy for fascist Islamism. Socialism is dead. For the most part, this seems to have produced sad nods of agreement from others on the left, but today John Harris bites back. For Harris, Cohen's left is a straw man, the real movement is 'more Methodist than Marxist, and replete with its own sacred tenets - equality through redistribution, internationalism, a gentle faith in Fabianite gradualism.' This left's antipathy to the invasion of Iraq was based on memories of colonialism rather than anti-Americanism or fascist sympathies. This is a theological dispute, and none the worse for that. Socialism is the mutually agreed god and America and the free market constitute the faith-corroding onrush of science. Cohen once believed in the immanence of his deity, but now finds He has been exiled from the material world by the sheer success of unbelief. Harris embraces a 'god of the gaps' argument - God lives on in the spaces still inaccessible to science, in the interstices of the American ascendancy and the market. Theology still exposes the structures of human thought, it should be taught to children from the age of five at the latest.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:05 am