One of the conclusions reached in Unholy Alliance is that contemporary leftism is, in fact, largely a nihilism. Since the collapse of socialism – and really since the collapse of the international Communist monolith after the Khrushchev Report – the left hasn’t had a coherent unifying agenda. It has been split into many protesting factions with no common remedies for the ills they see, a left balkanized by “identity politics.” This is a consequence of the decline of Marxist class politics, which subsumed all radical agendas in regard to race, gender and ethnicity, into universal formula of socialist revolution. The elimination of private property and the rule of the working class would create a universal brotherhood of man that would resolve also serious social conflicts. Few leftists, even, believe this destructive illusion anymore.
What is left is nihilism – anti-globalization, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia form the legions of the left in our time. As a result, as a recent article on the devolution of the left by an academic Marxist concludes, the “twin pillars” of leftwing unity now are its hostility to Israel and the United States. It is negative inspiration that explains the unholy alliance between American and Islamic radicals, despite all their obvious differences. The enemy of my enemies is my friend.
The importance of the negative in understanding the construction of the left can be seen most clearly in regard to the war in Iraq. Most leftists who are not of a totalitarian persuasion deplored the Saddam regime. Nonetheless they acted to save it. But the bottom-line in politics is not what your good intentions are, but what are the consequences of your actions. Opposition to the war, if it persists through the war, and despite the fact that it is a liberating war, links leftwing critics of Saddam with Islamic radicals who supported him. As Osama bin Laden himself put it in a fatwa on al-Jazeera TV just before American and British troops entered Iraq: “The interests of Muslims and the interests of the socialists coincide in the war against the crusaders.”
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