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(Update) Dissent on the Left: The Euston Manifesto

7:17 PM, May 31, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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(The Euston group formally launched on May 26 in London. Several members have also written op-eds -- see here -- as part of the roll out. Norman Geras, a government professor at the University of Manchester, has been particularly insightful, including this piece in the Guardian:

Within the large "middle" sector of left-liberal opinion opposed to the war there has been, from the start, a differentiating subdivision - between those who opposed the war without being in denial about the considerations on the other side of the argument, and those who precisely have been in denial about them. This latter group extends well beyond the far left.

The signs of denial are abundant in the recent public life of the western democracies: in the banners and slogans for that Saturday on February 15 2003, from which one would never have known that Saddam's Iraq was a foul tyranny; in the numbers of those on the left unwilling to allow, many indeed unable to comprehend, why others of us supported a regime-change war; in a constant stream of comment in liberal daily papers and weeklies of the left; in the excommunications issued and more recent calls for apology or recantation; and, most seriously, in the perceptible lack of interest in initiatives of solidarity with the forces in Iraq battling for a democratic transformation of their country, part of a wider lack of enthusiasm for the success of this enterprise given its origins in a war led by George Bush.)

Posted on April 17, 2006:

Though it hasn't garnered much media attention, there has been an interesting fight brewing within the political Left. Britain's Oliver Kamm got the ball rolling by writing a provocative piece in Progess, a journal published by British Labour Party members, arguing that the Left has abandoned its anti-totalitarian roots. Now, a "new democratic progressive alliance" has come together in the blogoshere to challenge others on the Left who are consumed with anti-Americanism and have a soft spot for tyrants. Kamm and many others have signed The Euston Manifesto.

Drawing on the "lesson of the disastrous history of left apologetics over the crimes of Stalinism and Maoism, as well as more recent exercises in the same vein (some of the reaction to the crimes of 9/11, the excuse-making for suicide-terrorism, the disgraceful alliances lately set up inside the "anti-war" movement with illiberal theocrats)," the Manifesto's preamble states:

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the "blogosphere". It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere - in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.

The broad statement of principles that follows is a declaration of intent. It inaugurates a new Website, which will serve as a resource for the current of opinion it hopes to represent and the several foundation blogs and other sites that are behind this call for a progressive realignment.

Stay tuned...