Friday, November 04, 2005

The Betrayal of the Radical Left...

In a blogpost by David Zarnett entitled The Betrayal of the Radical Left the author provides a well written but in my view also rather old fashioned analysis of the historical drivers of the radical left and in particular that section which David labels "neo-Marxists".

The central tenets of David's piece can be summarised as follows:

1. Fundamentalist Islam is out to seek world domination,
2. The radical left is allying itself with this enemy of old, to further its own objectives.

As regards the first point, I'm not going to waste an awful lot of words on it. I believe the whole idea of Islam's perceived objective of Global Domination to be no more than the religious Far Right's wet dream of an all-ending clash with a centuries old nemesis, a modern day Armageddon, which speaks to the imagination of simple minds and is exploited by those who have vested interests in mobilising the cannon fodder for wars like Iraq and future ones to come.

That there exist within each religious group extreme elements dreaming of global domination cannot be denied but the fact that there numbers are too small to realistically wage such a conflict, is in my view hard to dispute.

Further elaboration on why I find the "Clash of Civilisations" idea rather laughable, although possibly a self-fulfilling prophecy, if we keep preaching and believing it, can be found at
bin Laden and the Swedish Connection, How the West has Won the World, How the West was Wrong and Neo-conservative Nonsense.

So, it's really the second point that merits most of my attention. Again,
my rebuttal of David's position can be found in the exchange of comments on his blogpost.

Let me first state that I'm not "radical left" (a long time ago, "radical chic" perhaps but that has nothing to with politics). Nonetheless, I feel that David is confusing issues here. The fact that many on both sides of the political spectrum reject the legitimacy of the war on terror as it's being fought in its present form, that they believe the idea of an impending International war between Islam and Christianity to be no more than a mirage and that al-Qaeda has far different objectives than to seek global domination for Islam, does not constitute a betrayal by the Radical Left, in the form of an alliance between the former and Islamist fundamentalism.

David appears very much stuck in "Cold War mode" in that respect.

Despite a rather amicable exchange of views, David then decided to unilaterally end the discussion, for reasons that remain unclear as yet. I can only say that the same once happened in a private exchange of views by email, which David also terminated without a further peep.

This is therefore my only opportunity to set the record straight and end my frustration with someone who writes in his closing statement:
I may be discussing this with someone who may be more radical and close minded than I initially believed.

I can only guess at David's reasons fro suspecting me of radicalism. Perhaps it was the mention of Zionism? It's my experience that those Jews living outside of Israel, for some utterly bizarre reason take exception to being called Zionists, when their brethren in Israel wear that term so often as a badge of honour. Call a spade a spade, and get called anti-spade as thanks for your trouble.

Perhaps I'm wrong and you're not Jewish, David, but if you are I see no reason for you to take offence at my referring to your perspective as "Zionist". Your views on Israel and Iran don't lie and you're perfectly entitled to them. And even if I'm wrong I see no need to apologise: Zionism and Jew aren't swearwords in my book.

Finally, your assertion that:
Experts on terrorism will tell you that terrorism and media technology go hand in hand. They are masters of spin and PR no doubt - like all political groups they must do this to spread their message. Radical Islamist groups in Iraq have a large internet presense to diseminate their ideas.

is risible. Who are the masters in media spin here: Al Jahzeera and al-Qaeda? Or the West. Oh, OBL spins very well indeed but in terms of media coverage the West can drown out just about anybody. And they do so.

And Iran's Internet presence? Well let's swap numbers about US/UK/European Internet presence and Iran's counter-offensive in that part of the world...

Keywords:
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8 Comments:

At 2:44 AM, Anonymous Inquisitor said...

Good discussion.

Personally, i don't see much of a point to the term 'radicalism' where it is used as an all-encompassing term denoting anything that has yet to meet with the approval of the Oligarchs of the day. If those who tend to utilise the word look closely enough, they would find that the 'rationalism' underlying the current system is the produce of the radicalisms of the past. If that isn't a good 'ad' for the virtues of 'radicalism', i don't know what is.

 
At 6:31 PM, Blogger J.UL1R4 said...

Well I don't know much about the radical left, and the original article by the guy posing in his photo didn't seem to offer a lot of evidence that there was this specific component attaching itself to al-Qaeda. But it did remind me a bit of similar painstakingly detailed essays designed to bogg down anti-globalization (anti-globalism) currents. I'm struggling to read the piece Gert was responding to as much more than a well-read, convoluted way of restating the:

"you don't like the wars and torture and a more and more repressive state then you are with the terrorists" argument.

Similarly there was an opinion article I read this weekend called "Who will be responsible for the next 9/11 ?", blaming those who criticize American past alliances and activities in the Middle East, torture policy etc".

I do agree with inquistitor as well, that there is a concerted effort to keep people within a kind of hyper-rationalist dogmatic box that they can't opt out of. It's pretty worrying

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Inquisitor:

The radical left of yesteryear are indeed the "caviar socialists" of today.

And even the "commie-hating" American Far Right does perhaps not realise that even the US embraces some very old Socialist ideas...

j.ul1r4:

I'd love to see the article you're mentioning: that would really be worth rebutting...

 
At 6:50 PM, Anonymous David Zarnett said...

Gert, I am some what flattered that you wrote a whole piece dedicated to mine. The reason I ended our dialogue was simply because of your condescending tone in the sense that you "pitied" my viewpoint and "laughed" at my argument. You are entitled to do both things of course. I prefer to discuss issues with those who do not agree with me . Yet I tend to discuss such serious topics with those I feel are considering (not necessarily agreeing) the validity of my argument rather than those who sit on top of an intellectual ivory tower and scower down at those who disagree.

I am unsure when I terminated our exchange via email - if I did, for that I apologize.

 
At 12:36 AM, Anonymous G-RAY said...

WOW!

I keep tabs on both Gert's and David's websites. I am no expert on politics, but David's article makes sense to me. Gert, you seem to be asserting that those who take an Western view on the subject matter are automatically Jewish. This seems very unscientific. While you claim that Jew is not a swearword, the way it is used in this context seems to be offensive. Pigeonholing someone into a category because of their views is certainly prejudice, and also seems somewhat anti semitic. Are all Jews right wing? I don't think so. Jewish academics are amongst the most liberal thinkers in the world. Because Israel aligns itself with the U.S, does not mean that every Jew personifies 'right wing' ideals. You say that we should not typecast all Muslims as wanting world domination, and I agree. But you contradict yourself by assuming David is Jewish. Stop allowing your ideas to be clouded by prejudice views.

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Gert said...

David,

I was referring to an earlier email exchange which you broke off, regarding another post of mine. There is no need to apologise but I found it a rather "closed" way of ending a discussion.

Thanks for your comment.

g-ray

Thanks for your comment.

You wrote:
I keep tabs on both Gert's and David's websites. I am no expert on politics, but David's article makes sense to me.

My reply:
It does also in many respects to me but I don't agree with some points David raises.

You wrote:
Gert, you seem to be asserting that those who take an Western view on the subject matter are automatically Jewish.

My reply:
Where on Earth do I assert this??

You wrote:
While you claim that Jew is not a swearword, the way it is used in this context seems to be offensive. Pigeonholing someone into a category because of their views is certainly prejudice, and also seems somewhat anti semitic.

My reply:
You're making my case for me: I call someone Jewish (I have believed David is of Jewish extraction from earlier exchanges we've had) and you call me anti-semite!
By way of extreme "Political Correctness" you're actually accusing me of something I'm not.

You wrote:
Are all Jews right wing? I don't think so.

My reply:
No, neither do I. Again, where did I say that? Read this other post.

You wrote:
Jewish academics are amongst the most liberal thinkers in the world. Because Israel aligns itself with the U.S, does not mean that every Jew personifies 'right wing' ideals.

My reply:
Who's prejudiced here? There is no reason to believe that Jewish academics are in any way more liberal than any other group of academics. Nor did I say anywhere that: "Because Israel aligns itself with the U.S, does not mean that every Jew personifies 'right wing' ideals".

You wrote:
You say that we should not typecast all Muslims as wanting world domination, and I agree. But you contradict yourself by assuming David is Jewish.

My reply:
No, this isn't the point I was defending. I believe that even extremist Islamists aren't seeking world domination, I believe they have other, more tangible objectives than the establishment of a "Global Caliphate".

You wrote:
Stop allowing your ideas to be clouded by prejudice views.

My reply:
Stop telling me what to do.

Thanks for keeping "tabs" on my blog.

 
At 5:10 PM, Anonymous G-RAY said...

Gert,

Again, I'm no English major, nor am I an expert in persuasive writing, but, I believe I can help you form a better argument in the future. I am a Law Student so I tend to think I know something about arguing. I'm sure you will come up with a clever quip chastising lawyers, but that I can handle. When you are arguing against a point, like you did admirably at the beginning of your reply to my comment, you should always be weary of jeopardizing it later on. People’s memories work in interesting ways in that they usually take away the last part of a statement. This is why closing statements made to a judge are crucial. When you said, "stop telling me what to do", you're entire premise lost its meaning. It was a facile way to reject out of hand the exact point in my message, that you are in fact prejudice. Those who are prejudice do not use fact to argue but rather perverse beliefs. 'Its Gert's way or the highway' seems to be an apt way to categorize your style of argument. The lip service you pay to 'peaceful' Zionists is more garbage, along with your 'blog' on Zionist niceties. Try using cold hard facts next time and not useless rhetoric and maybe someone will believe you.

 
At 6:58 PM, Blogger Gert said...

g-ray:

Firstly, the more I reread your initial comment, the more I'm convinced you've read my post and my argumentation with David (over at his blogpost) with less than half an eye. You seem to have missed the points I made entirely and limit your "arguments" to the assertion that I'm prejudiced and anti-Semite. Some case you've built! Remind me to never ask for your services as a defence lawyer...

You wrote:
When you said, "stop telling me what to do", you're entire premise lost its meaning. It was a facile way to reject out of hand the exact point in my message, that you are in fact prejudice. Those who are prejudice do not use fact to argue but rather perverse beliefs. 'Its Gert's way or the highway' seems to be an apt way to categorize your style of argument. The lip service you pay to 'peaceful' Zionists is more garbage, along with your 'blog' on Zionist niceties. Try using cold hard facts next time and not useless rhetoric and maybe someone will believe you.

My reply:
My "stop telling me what to do" was indeed nothing more than a quick quip. Anything wrong with that? This wasn't a closing statement to a jury, it was a mere sound bite, countering your own "stop.." statement.

And "Those who are prejudice do not use fact to argue but rather perverse belief". Ah, I see it clearly now, QC... my opinion is a perverse belief. Dear me. Do you consider anyone who doesn't agree with you as holding "perverse beliefs"? If so, that might make your future career in Law rather difficult...

"Try using cold hard facts next time and not useless rhetoric and maybe someone will believe you". As a Law Student you should understand the problematic nature of any kind of evidence. I write mainly about world affairs and try to underpin these pieces with sources which upon my own scrutiny I consider reliable. But I'm well aware of the fallibility of these sources and therefore the opinions I base upon them. I realise wholeheartedly that my pieces are no more than, at best, the opinions of someone who is reasonably well informed whilst accepting that I have no access to the facts on the ground of e.g. the war in Iraq or bin Laden's latest state of mind. If that were a prerequisite for forming an opinion we might all of us as well stop thinking or writing at all.

I like to think that on the whole I defend my positions fairly well.

Thanks for your comment.

 

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