I am a life-long Leftist. I have been a bitter and persistent critic of Israel's occupation and settlement project for the past half century (and continue to be)--but like so many others, I do not consider the vicious and murderous attack by Hamas on Israeli citizens (and others) this past Oct 7 to have any excuses. And the torrent of Hamas-worshipping this whole event has unleashed among so many supporters of the Palestinians, along with the celebratory attitude of the world's "anti-imperialists" and "anti-colonialists" to reclaim all of historic Palestine, has been just as foul.

No one takes note that the Jews who established the state of Israel were not colonizing in the name of some mother country or locus (as per normal colonization), but were part of the flood of new national groups operating in the first half of the 20th century all over the world as old empires crumbled and newly emerging religio-ethnic-national groups from within those falling empires rushed to areas they deemed their historical territory and threw out, or massacred, all others in the dash for independence. Strange that the big anti-colonialists/anti-imperialists of today have nothing to say about all that violence and its lingering bitterness among many groups. Only Jews come to merit opprobrium for any of that. Strange that we all rue Columbus' start of Western colonization of the Americas in 1492 but have nothing to say about Turkish takeover of Greek/Christian Constantinople in 1453, nor do we hear any complaining of the Turks turning Agha Sophia (property of the Greek Orthodox Church) into a mosque.

And while we are on the subject, how did it come to pass that the Temple Mount--the major Jewish holy spot since deep into antiquity, came into the hands of non-Jews for so long--all the while the Jews had not disappeared from history? What do we call it when someone takes over some other group's holy site? Is that also colonization if the victims are not now classified as "people of color"? 

The real phenomenon going on here, in this obscene and hypocritical selectivity of victim "support", is that only those deemed "people of color" merit this support. In the promotion for a single state of Palestine, there is blithe ignorance of all the Islamic or Arab supremacy that riddles the entire Arabo-Islamic world. (And I once was the only person screaming when a Palestinian woman was killed in an honor murder by members of her family--that was a Palestinian life that no one but me seemed to care about). The Turks are as "white" as the Greeks and Armenians they slaughtered--but the Turks are Muslims--so that makes them "people of color" in this weird calculus. Greeks and Armenians don't matter. Jews, of course, are also not "people of color" (even though they were long unaccepted in American university eating clubs which did accept Palestinian Edward Said, as per his memoirs of life as a Princeton student).

There is no principle here among the (often-white) anti-colonialists/anti-imperialists--just the quest for the feel-good sensation coming from taking part in beleaguered solidarity. It all feels good to be a part of a great (and now mindless) cause. It is a complete betrayal of socialist and Left-wing principles which I have always supported. I will continue to protest Israel's relgious/Right-wing travesties--but not with the mindless virtue-signalers I used to think I was a part of.

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And I'm a lifelong Centrist/Liberal Republican and your piece speaks for me, too, beginning to end. Thanks!

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The world needs more reasonable, respectable conservatives, no less than it needs reasonable, respectable progressives. The ones are the checks and balances of the others.

A Reason Manifesto is overdue.

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Oct 28, 2023·edited Oct 28, 2023

As another man of the liberal left, I am in full and complete agreement with you. Unfortunately the tendency towards historical presentism and a belief in the eternal war of oppressed against oppressor (a political version of the struggle of Light against Darkness) has existed well over 100 years in a certain left -- the one that takes class warfare as the explanation of the whole of reality and therefore looks at problems in a mechanistic, abstract way, searching for a resemblance to the polarities described in the holy scrolls of Marxism-Leninism, grabbing the one that may fit, pruning it of all contradictions until it becomes a pure disembodied entity, and then endorsing it with the passion of a thousand suns and no doubt whatsoever.

If you want to look at an excursus by the very voice of one of these believers, read this:


The author is a fellow with whom I often crossed horns many decades ago. An apologist of terrorism? But of course! Read his reasoning and learn to recognise it -- for this is how the Left destroys its own principles and turns into Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot.

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Marx and other Manichean religions have never really worked out. The idea of a world divided between oppressors (who can do no right) and the oppressed (who can do no wrong) is sterile and unproductive. This has come into stark relief in the Hamas genocide of Israelis as all subtlety, history and context is tossed aside in the mania to divide the world between good and evil. I should add that while I consider Marx failed political economy, I am impressed with its staying power as a religion.

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It is not Marx per se (whose contributions to modern thought in economics, sociology and history no serious scholar discounts or denies -- and who was a man of his time, and a philosopher who made predictions based on an all-encompassing theory much like the one of his former master Hegel) but Marx in the political/revolutionary aspect of his thought: the Communist Manifesto, frozen in its grandiloquent 1848, is more mystical than Marx would, I believe, ever have wanted to admit.

The Communist Manifesto is a messianic text that, under a varnish of rationality, projects the wrongs and inequalities of the present into a vision of redemption, a Revelation only slightly less delirious than St John's, where the righteous triumph and the wicked are annihilated. The advent of Communism is a Final Judgement. The entire text of the Communist Manifesto is a succession of apodictic statements that read like the revealed truths of dogma, based on no practical examples or experience, on no evidence. It is a promise of redemption, not a path to transformation or change -- in fact, Marx always was extremely unwilling to specify details on how the final stage of classless, stateless bliss could be reached. But the vision of that vague paradise was enough.

And it drives still. It is religion indeed. "By any means necessary", to obtain the Communist rapture, which will come naturally so long as the proletariat (later morphed into the generic oppressed) wins the war against the bourgeoisie (later morphed into the generic oppressor). "Todo modo para buscar la voluntad divina" if you wish.

True dreams of redemption cannot tolerate finesse, they need stark opposites in antinomy, and they tend also to need mighty abstraction. From there all the most repulsive moral failings descend.

It is, I fear, not at all surprising. Mankind, as a whole, has never encountered a promise of redemption that it did not want to embrace. And having science made religion a mostly private thing, this crave for dogmatic truth and righteousness has latched on forms of disguised religious thought -- like revolutionary Marxism and its multifaceted spawn.

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Oct 27, 2023·edited Oct 28, 2023

"... both determined to learn from the political disasters of the 1960s."

Except clearly they (we) didn't. Why? Can we admit that we are just as much influenced by (quasi-religious) ideology as "the other side"? That in the end it's just about "our side" (virtuous and diverse and equitable, though we are; except for whoever is at the head of the "oppressor" line in whatever drama is before us) gaining power and "oppressing" someone else? That like any believer we eschew and rationalize away any evidence to the contrary, any obvious illogic that arises if we actually think through the consequences of our ideologies...

I've been growing so weary of "our side" for so long, since early on with the Emperor's New Clothes-level insanity of transgenderism and then the demeaning race essentialism of DEI... And I was really hoping we could have some insight into what happened to us, and be "determined to learn" how there's probably something fundamentally wrong with our position for it have gone SO wildly off the rails (without sliding over into equally - though in different ways - whack-a-doodle and harmful conservatism).

But we appear to just be doubling down on the dumbassery, and now are into just complete "anticolonialist" psychopathy. I honestly don't know any solution to this. It's appalling.

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My own take is that DSA is neither Democratic of Socialist. The Democratic is most important to me in that in the same way that they apologize for Hamas they do for Maduro, Castro, etc. and that however they value democracy it runs second to their fight against business.

As to the socialism, which I dont support either, but socialism was never the social democracy strong welfare states as Bernie likes to offer Denmark as an example of, a capitalist country, but as an anti capitalist philosophy that calls for removing private or corporate ownership from industry. That is just Merriam Webster, although the right wing has labelled every social welfare project since FDR as socialism it wasn't until Bernie that this idea was taken up on the left, because there is little public support for nationalizing General Motors

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"that doesn’t account for the singularly important role of Palestine in DSA’s rather short list of international concerns"

What does account for that, obviously and perfectly, is the fact that the level of support the United States gives Israel is literally unprecedented in human history, which makes it a unique priority of all Americans to stop enabling the racist oppression of 5 million people who are being held in apartheid cantons. You know this.

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And you should know that your assertion of “apartheid cantons” is an anti-Semitic trope. Then again, you’re what passes as a public intellectual, so I suspect you already do.

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There is a form of actual apartheid in Israel. No need to deny it. It has developed over decades and has its very logical reasons to be -- it is the result of living surrounded by enemies who will use civilians as living bombs. It is wrong and hurtful, but at the present time it is unlikely to be dismantled, although it could be made better INSIDE Israel -- and there are large sectors of Israeli society that push for this.

The use of the apartheid dog-whistle, though, is objectively antisemitic.

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Bad take. US aid is a totally insignificant factor in this analysis. The most significant factor in any of this is anti semitism in the Muslim world. Grotesquely enough, everyone knows this...

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Freddie, your knee-jerk old Marxist-Leninist, or Trotskyist, whatever, reflex is painful to see.

This kind of anti-capitalist revolutionary thought is one of the cancers of the Left, which social democracies mostly avoid, but seriously infects those who believe in the old, forever set Marxist categories, passionate activists incapable of seeing things except through their ideological OLD lenses, in black and white. There are many kinds of Marxism, and this strain is awfully bad: for it makes people who subscribe to it suspend reason. You just stop thinking and just repeat trite slogans. You look where the American Establishment puts money and support and judge it bad by default, because Bad Capitalist Imperialist America supports it.

I avoided reading your article about the situation in Palestine because I had no desire to see an otherwise intelligent man eating metaphorical shit and serving it around as a healthy dish. I keep financing you and believing that you should be free to say whatever you wish -- but I do too, and on this, you are despicably blinded by ideology.

It is good that you say openly what you wish for, painful but enlightening to understand that you care nothing for people, but just for the people on whom you project your idea of righteousness (no matter their actual reality), and are ready to undersign the annihilation of the people who do not fit your idea -- because without the support of the West, and especially of the USA, dear Freddie, Israel would have been wiped out long ago. I am sure that it would fit well into some sort of socio-political Darwinism to which perhaps you subscribe. But it is good to know where you stand on this, what kind of Marxist you are.

Also sorry to break it out to you, but much though you keep it alive in your imagination, the Proletariat is gone. A technological revolution created it, a technological revolution destroyed it. Classes have not disappeared but have split, branched and diversified -- they cannot any more be understood with the tools created in the 1800's. And the working classes in the West are drifting increasingly to the right, because lefty intellectuals like you, who rant against the elite while being part of the elite, have become unable to speak their language. This is why your kind of Left adopts distant, simpler and more homogeneous groups to represent the eternal pet category of "the oppressed" -- groups that very often are the stark opposite of democracy and socialism or even communism. You are just desperately groping to find something that allows you to continue to wallow in your outdated categories, rigid mechanistic analyses of socio-political situations, and the feeling of being on the "right side of history".

I suggest adjusting the lenses and fostering a more complex understanding of human interactions. Maybe even avoid dehumanisation of the chosen enemy, for once.

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@Freddie deBoer:

This statement is misleading:

“the level of support the United States gives Israel is literally unprecedented in human history, which makes it a unique priority of all Americans to stop enabling the racist oppression of 5 million people who are being held in apartheid cantons.”

The implication here is that “Israel” is equivalent to nothing more than “racist oppression.”

And such an assertion, however implicit, can easily be construed as antisemitic.

Are all attacks on Israel antisemitic? Of course not. But what about a dangerously simplistic accusation that “Israel” is nothing more than a “racist” entity? Is that antisemitic? It sure sounds that way to me. There’s nothing measured or well reasoned about that assertion.

And if you don’t realize that you’re presenting a complex subject (Israel) in a comically reductive manner (racist oppressor), then you’re an idiot. And I’m genuinely surprised. But, then again, it turns out Hamas has a lot of useful and supremely well-educated idiots on the Left.

Or, you do realize what you’re doing. In which case your behavior is arguably evil.

So, stupid or evil? Care to clarify which one?

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