Friday, June 02, 2006

"Decents", "Stoppers" and all that

As a complete newcomer to the world of blogging, it's struck me that there's a real difference in terms of political alignments compared to the real world, and an even bigger difference in terminology.

It will no doubt come as some surprise to Euston Manifesto types who read this blog - and also probably internet-literate members of the SWP/Respect, but I initially found it really hard to understand this thing about a pro-war and anti-war left, one of which seems to include people who are anti-war even though it's called the "pro-war" left, and the other of which seems to include people who are in favour of wars all over the shop (as long as they're fought against the USA), in spite of calling themselves "anti-war".

Then I realised, we're back in the 1970s. It's the old neocon and new left thing again, only now they're called "Decents" and "Stoppers".

The heritage of what we today call "neocons" is actually a liberal one, and comes from the tradition of a strand in the US Democratic Party (visible in Truman and Kennedy, and especially embodied by Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, in whose office several prominent neocons worked) which believed in the export of liberal values and western democracy, if necessary by force of arms. Which is remarkably similar to the views of the broad majority in the Euston Manifesto millieu, whether they be ex-trots or long-time social democrats.

The neocons slowly became disillusioned by the Democrats, who they believed had been overly influenced by the new left that grew up around the movement against the Vietnam war. This left was chaotic, and included a wide variety of views ranging from mainstream liberals , via social democrats, through Trots, Stalinists and Anarchists, to Maoists who would say the sky was pink, if the USA said it was blue. Which patchwork movement closely resembles today's "Stoppers", not least the SWP in their current "USA says cat, we say dog" incarnation.

So there it is, history repeating itself. Except this time it's all on the net. Whether that makes this the tragedy or the farce, well I guess that remains to be seen.


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