Feb 18, 2007

No Fellowship with Tyrants

"There is no greater crime than to murder a fellowman, especially a friend. Still who would say that he commits a crime who assassinates a tyrant, however close a friend? The people of Rome, I tell you, think it no crime, but the noblest of all noble deeds. Did expediency here triumph over virtue? No, virtue followed in the train of expediency. . . . There can be no such thing as fellowship with tyrants, nothing but bitter feud is possible: and it is not repugnant to nature to despoil, if you can, those whom it is a virtue to kill; nay, this pestilent and godless brood should be utterly banished from human society. For, as we amputate a limb in which the blood and the vital spirit have ceased to circulate, because it injures the rest of the body, so monsters, who, under human guise, conceal the cruelty and ferocity of a wild beast, should be severed from the common body of humanity."
Cicero, from "No Fellowship with Tyrants"
Something about the supposed left wing and "liberals" that constantly disappoints me is how quick they currently are in jumping in bed with dictators as soon as they see they have a common enemy, usually in the current US administration.

Now, don't get me wrong. My sympathies lie with the centre left, economically, and most certainly with social libertarianism. If anything could be used to describe my political affiliation, it would most likely be unaligned liberal.

However, there are two problems with the left today which not only piss me off no end, but also make me ashamed to associate myself with such people. The first is the disastrous flirtation with Communism for the last 80 years, and the second is the current pre-occupation with a very postmodernist line of political thought.

Now, I'll agree that the socialist critique of liberalism at the start of the 20th century was vital in moving beyond simple political and economic liberty to understanding other barriers to personal freedom. But association with the Soviet Union, among the older elements of the left, was a huge mistake and nearly unforgivable. For example, one would have to think about the many campaigners within the CND over here, who were intent on disarming the UK of its nuclear weapons, without campaigning, like the noble END did, demanding the Soviet Union, with its history of state suppression and disregard for human rights, do the same. Or the Labour members who pressurised Parliament into recognizing the German Democratic Republic, with no conditions attached concerning its own human rights record.

Fortunately, the collapse of the Soviet Union helped to mostly halt this, though there is a disturbing trend of Marxism still present among Universities, as well as residual powers in the ideals of those early days, no matter how terrible they turned out.

The second problem, however, is far more subtle and relies on cultural relativism and the creeping movement of distinctly postmodern ideas concerning the truth and morality into the public discourse. To create a somewhat unrealistic strawman, the argument seems to go that people do things differently abroad and, being tolerant and liberal as we are of others lifestyles, we should not interfere. And I would agree, with a certain caveat that a lot of other people seem to have forgotten, so long as they do not bring harm or danger to others without their consent.

Stoning a woman to death for being raped is not right. Allowing a man to keep his wife in a state of near slavery is not right. Female circumcision is not right. Monarchy, despotism, racism, homophobia, sexism and state repression are not right, no matter who uses them and where they come from.

A perfect example of this mindset comes from French "intellectual" Michel Foucalt who, when asked about the bloody silencing of dissent in Iran under Khomeini, answered:

"They don't have the same regime of truth as ours, which, it has to be said, is very special, even if it has become nearly universal. The Greeks have their own. The Arabs of the Maghreb have another. And in Iran it is largely modelled on a religion that has an exoteric and esoteric content...It's often the case that people say something that, at a factual level, isn't true, but which refers to another, deeper meaning, which cannot be assimilated in terms of precision and observation."

Gotta love that, "they don't have the same truth as us", so its perfectly alright for the frothing lunatics decide to kill unbelievers if they want. I think I can hear Camus spinning in his grave somewhere....

And this has carried over, to the point that demanding other states respect human rights, equality and do not discriminate can be considered as "cultural imperialism". It actually strikes me as rather racist, that somehow human rights are only reserved for those who are white and of European descent.

Whats equally strange is that those who actually came up with the ideas of Universal morality going hand in hand with cultural relativism, originally, before it was perverted by those with an agenda, were the European philosophers of the Enlightenment, who were trying to use these as points to defend the people of the New World from imperial slavery and racism.

Ask yourselves this: why am I, and many others, outraged when we hear of American forces torturing prisoners or indiscriminately bombing civilian areas? Because they are against human rights, they are atrocities which we should rightly be disgusted with. So whats the difference when the Chinese try to enforce their hegemony over Tibet, or Putin suspends elections and sends death squads into Chechnya? Quite rightly, we should be more disappointed with the USA, who claimed to stand for individual freedom and human rights. But it is no less reprehensible when other do it too.

If the left is ever going to be taken seriously, it needs to shut up the idiots in its ranks who engage in pointless American bashing to score points with foreign dictators, who are often worse than the United States. While its a moral duty to oppose it when it does wrong, this duty should be extended globally. When it is not, it is shown as nothing more than hypocrisy.

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