Saturday, May 2, 2009

THE NEW MCCARTHYISM


Anti-Semitism is a sensitive topic for Americans. The suffering it has created is remembered as the worst atrocity in modern times, but the lessons of the militarized racism of NAZI Germany have been tragically forgotten, instead of standing as a monument to the evils of intolerance the legacy of anti-Semitism has been exploited to justify the militarized racism of another nation. The cry "Never Again" has been transformed from a sacred obligation to a perverse joke. The memory and the fight against anti-Semitism have been hijacked by ideologues who exploit its rhetoric while assailing its principles.

This campaign of intimidation has been so successful, it has so permeated the mainstream that even Jewish intellectuals and activists, continuing in the most admirable tradition of their culture, are routinely denounced as "self-hating". Being accused of anti-Semitism is like being accused of witchcraft, it is difficult to disprove, but the absurdity of these allegations is well illustrated by the number of Jews who come under attack.

The latest victim is University of California, Santa Barbara Sociology Professor William I. Robinson who wrote an e-mail in January comparing certain aspects of Germany's suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of its Jewish minority and Israel's policy towards the Palestinians. In response to a complaint by a Zionist lobby group, StandWithUs, the University initiated a probe of the Jewish Professor for anti-Semitism.

The validity of comparisons between the Warsaw Uprising and the Intifada is a sensitive issue among Zionist groups. An Israeli general created a stir among Israeli leftists when he revealed in an interview that he was studying the report issued by the NAZI General who crushed the uprising for tactics on putting down the Intifada. Marek Edelman, who is the last surviving commander of the uprising, outraged many in Israel when he sent a letter to the Palestinian resistance condemning some of their strategies, but also hinting at certain similarities between their struggles. Edelman is too revered to be accused of anti-Semitism, but many of his likeminded coreligionists are not. In the words of Meir Kahane "those who can't debate defame". Leveling accusation of anti-Semitism at critics of Israeli policy, even when those critics are Jewish, has become the favored method of suppressing what little criticism Israel receives.

Leading the campaign is the Anti-Defamation League, once a respectable civil rights organization, with its vestigial rhetoric about fighting bigotry the ADL, much like McCarthy in the 1950's, has advanced a supremacist ideology while making those with a genuine interest in combating anti-Semitism appear silly. The ADL maintains defamatory files on human rights activists and intellectuals interested in the situation of the Palestinians which it feeds to its public advocates. When a dissident ADL employee mailed Noam Chomsky, himself a victim of anti-Semitism a copy of his file, it contained more than fifty pages of defamatory and libelous material. Not surprisingly he is routinely denounced as an anti-Semite.

Chomsky is far from the only "anti-Semitic" Jew who has come under attack from the ADL. British academic Tony Judt had a speech at a diplomatic mission canceled due to ADL pressure, Professor Norman Finkelstein, whose parents survived the Holocaust, is routinely denounced, Heidi Epstein who survived the Holocaust herself has been dubbed anti-Semitic, among others. That the ADL can accuse Jews of being anti-Semitic and still retain its place as a respected organization is a testament both to the fear and normalcy of McCarthyisque allegation of anti-Semitism.

The targets of the smear campaign are unified by one trait; a courage to speak out against racism and its manifestations. Adam Shapiro was dubbed "the Jewish Taliban" for his role in co-founding the International Solidarity Movement, a joint Arab-Jewish-International organization that believes the solution to the conflict is human solidarity and non-violent resistance. Right wing Israeli demonstrators maligned journalist Arthur Nelsen, telling him they wished his parents had perished in the Holocaust, a jeer usually reserved for neo-Nazis, perhaps there is not much of an ideological difference between the two. In 2007 the South African Human Rights Commission was forced to address a complaint it received about the comments Jewish anti-apartheid activist Ronnie Kasrils "Mr Kasrils’ call for peaceful negotiations is not compatible with the interpretation that he is calling for the destruction of the state of Israel,"

Sadly, not all in the U.S understand that principle. After the 2006 Lebanon War Human Rights Watch's Jewish Director Kenneth Roth had to defend himself from accusations of anti-Semitism from NGO Watch, a report of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe concluded that anti-Semitism was everywhere, no wonder, they counted among the incidents the display of the Palestinian flag, the presence of a Palestinian scarf at the meeting of the Italian Communist Party, the invitation to Palestinian diplomats to deliver lectures, angry phone calls to Israeli embassies over massacres in Lebanon, and the distribution of pamphlets asking for a boycott of Israeli goods. It was reminiscent of the NAZI's accusation that any minority who refused to die quietly was anti-German. But there is a difference with anti-Semitism, and that is opponents of the NAZIs were not intimidated, they were never silenced by the fear that Hitler's propagandists would misconstrue their opposition to his racist ideology to sound insensitive to German suffering between the World Wars.

Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. It would be an insult to the victims of anti-Semitism to allow the memory of their suffering to legitimize the racism that has left another people dispossessed and brutalized. And silence is legitimization. “Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is to restate the obvious,” there is no new anti-Semitism, only a new McCarthyism. The emperor has no clothes the Palestinians have no rights.

21 comments:

Chet said...

Very well put!

Young Activist said...

Unfortunately this has become a major problem, or perhaps I'm just noticing it more, but I think these groups are endangering themselves when they start going after Jewish people. This is like McCarthyism, eventually McCarthy went after the wrong people and brought himself into disgrace.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bar Kochba said...

YA,

Criticism of Israel is not anti-semitic. I am very critical of the policies of Israel's policies, yet it would be ridiculous to call me an anti-semitic. What is anti-semitic is when Israel is delegitimized, demonized and applied to a double standard. To deny Jews to right of self-determination, which is a right for all other nations, is anti-semitic because it singles Jews out. Delegitimizing the national identity of the Jewish people is anti-semitic. And it is certainly absurd, cynical and obscene to compare 21st century Jews to our 21st century executioners. There is absolutely no comparison between the Nazi Final Solution and the democratic state of Israel, a country with free elections, media, speech and human rights. To suggest otherwise is to spit on the memory of the 6 million.

Young Activist said...

Thank you for your comments Bar.

First of all I think you can be given credit for not turning anti-Semitism into an ideological weapon against Israel's western critics. However, as I have pointed out here this is a major problem for Israel's mainstream apologists. My criticism was certainly not directed at everyone who has defended Israel.

I can't speak for other people, but I can say that my opposition to Zionism stems from an opposition to all forms of nationalism. Nationalism is a modern form of tribalism, one of the most barbaric human impulses and Zionism, originally an alliance between anti-Semitic European and chauvinistic "Jewish" atheists, is no more a national liberation movement than the 19th century American colonization movement. This however is a secondary and very minor issue, the chief issue is not the existence of nationalism or even ultra-nationalism, but the blatant racism and violations of human rights that have been spawned by it.

Every situation is unique, however there are valid comparisons between aspects of almost every two situations. This is especially true of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Intifada. There are also certain ideological similarities. I recall that one of the favorite election slogans of Israel's new foreign minister's party was "death to Arabs". Still I think the situation in Palestine much more closely resembled Tibet or apartheid South Africa than Nazi Germany.

Comparisons between Zionism and Nazism generally only obfuscate the discussion. I refrain from making them, what I am comparing here is not Hitler and the Israeli government, but rather the silent acquiescence of the world to Hitler's atrocities and its silent acquiescence to Israel's atrocities.

To ignore the victims of new manifestation of racism in the name of remembering the past victims of racism is the highest possible insult to the memory of the tens of millions of people who perished in the Nazi Final Solution. Hitler was also democratically elected, the method by which a government comes to power cannot excuse its excesses in power.

Bar Kochba said...

"I recall that one of the favorite election slogans of Israel's new foreign minister's party was "death to Arabs"." That is absolutely 100% false. Did you know that one of the Yisrael Beitenu MKs is a Druze?

Gaza is NOT the Warsaw ghetto. There are no death camps in Gaza, nor is there any plan for the genocide of Arabs. Between 1941 and 1943 the population of the Warsaw Ghetto dropped from an estimated 380,000 to 70,000 as a result of starvation, disease and deportations to concentration and extermination camps . The rate of starvation in the ghetto was over 4,000 a month. In 1942, mass expulsion of the ghetto inhabitants began at a rate of over 5,000 Jews a day. Is there anything comparable in Gaza? No!

Did any ghetto ever fire 10 000 rockets on German cities? The Gazans elected a terrorist organization as its leaders and Hamas has murdered hundreds of Israelis. I don't recall any ghetto resistance fighters blowing themselves up in German cafes or murdering German students. The Germans never provided Jews with food, unlike Israel allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, or treating Gazans in Israeli hospitals.

That claim does not stand up to any scrutiny.

Bar Kochba said...

If you truly oppose all nationalism, then your opposition to Zionism would not be anti-semitic (although naive). However, you've yet to have spoken out against Chinese, or Tibetan, or Kurdish or Maori nationalism.

And the human rights abuses are a whole topic, most of which have been invented wholesale by Israel's detractors.

Young Activist said...

Understanding world views that differ from your own is important. It is important to understand the humanity of your opponents and it is important to understand what motivates them. It was difficult for me to understand what drives the nationalist and I suppose it must be difficult for the nationalist to understand what motivates me. But since you have already attempted various explanations I will save you further speculation on the topic.
I do not identify with a group or an ideology. I identify with humanity. All people are basically the same in that they seek happiness and the avoidance of suffering. I see the world and its inhabitants in that context. This is, like nationalism, a moral judgment and not an intellectual one. It is beyond debate because it has no truth value.
I oppose all forms of nationalism because nationalism is sectarian and divisive ideology that deprives both those included and excluded in it of their humanity. This is a philosophical objection, not a political one. Attempting to eradicate nationalism would be of no use, there is something much too primal about it. Furthermore, not all forms of nationalism create suffering, some forms of nationalism even have positive aspects for social development. It is much like Rabbi Kook had a philosophical objection to secular Zionism but set this opposition aside to support it politically because its objectives concurred with his own.
I don't ever recall specifically denouncing Zionism except when it has been defended in the comments section. I would either attack the concept of nationalism or specific abuses spawned by Zionism.
You point out that I have not denounced Chinese or Tibetan nationalism. This is true. I would denounce a specific nationalism unprompted like I have said. Additionally Tibetan nationalism has not produced massive abuses of human rights and the abuses created by Chinese nationalism are not enabled by the U.S.
I don't identify with the U.S any more then I identify with any other state, but being a white, English-speaking, native born U.S citizen I have a political relationship, a capacity to influence, with the U.S I don't have with other nations. My criticism is dictated by utilitarian motivations. I am just as concerned about the situation in Tibet as I am about the situation in Palestine, but I am not Chinese.
All of the attention paid Tibet and Darfur by western officials is a sanctimonious obfuscation. If the western governments had any concern for human rights they would begin by reviewing, not the actions of official enemies beyond their control, but their own actions. They would begin looking at what I have denounced on my blog: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, support for dictators, etc.
This worldview is shared by nationalists, but it is subordinated to nationalism. The nationalist will look at other societies like I look at my own. This will reinforce his view of the exceptionalism of his own nations. But when he looks at the abuses of his own he has a problem. It would be immoral to support abuses similar to those he has denounced when they came from elsewhere, but it would also be against his morality to support principled criticism of his own nation. The solution is to conflate moral and intellectual judgments. If he does deny or rationalize the abuse he will celebrate it, which is really just a form of rationalization. The illusion served by this conflation and necessitated by these moral contradictions and the has always intrigued me.
Let me offer two examples, the deaths of Muhammad al-Durrah and Rachel Corrie. In the face of overwhelming evidence no one of my worldview would deny that Durrah was killed by a shot fired by members of the Palestinian resistance. There is no tendency to assume that because the IDF abuses human rights on a massive scale every allegation is true or that because the armed resistance is concerned with destroying the occupation they are blameless. Acknowledging these facts poses no threat to our worldview. We look at the facts and then react to them. Emotions are dictated by facts, facts are not dictated by emotions.
Now in the case of Rachel Corrie, in the face of overwhelming evidence of the facts of her death, nationalists such as yourself continue to insist that she was somehow to blame for her death, but the IDF was without any blame. For those Zionists who would be troubled by what happened it is necessary to deny it. If an atrocity cannot be denied any longer then blame must be laid at the feet of "a few bad apples", but never a bad system. Offering principled criticism of one's own nation would pose a radical and disturbing threat to the nationalist's worldview. This conflation is also a major factor in principled criticism being interpreted as a personal attack on the essence of that nationalist's identity. The principled criticism of anyone else must either be attributed to misinformation, a barbarian culture, or hatred of the nationalist's culture. Don't you think it is absurd that a Jew can be anti-Semitic?

Young Activist said...

Oh and here is a link for the death to Arabs comments. Just google "death to Arabs" to see how enlightened Israel's fascist party is.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1061910.html

rebirthofzion said...

Young Activist,

I think that Rachel Corrie running in front of a moving bulldozer does constitute being responsible for her own death.

Or maybe think of the fact that her "friends" stood by and refused to help her as she slowly bled to death.

Meanwhile you've refused to respond to Bar Kochba's arguments.

It's interesting what you say though. That nationalists or patriots cannot relate to you but I think it's more a matter of you being unable to relate to anyone with national pride.

Because you don't understand what it is to love your own people, you will clearly be unable to empathize with anyone elses suffering.

Well as a proud Jew, let me tell you that until the day you realize what a great country America is (and it really is), you will not understand why we stand up for our own country.

When you're unable to appreciate the vastness of what you have, you'll be unable to understand why we love our country and why we dont wnat to give away half of it. Regardless of whether it's to our best friend or to our best enemy.

The Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel and we're not leaving. We're home.

Paul said...

Good debate. YA, your critique of nationalism is somewhat of a broad canvas and ignores two key points. Many of the world's best leaders were according to you nationalists. Examples would include Churchill, Roosevelt and certainly earlier Americans such as Jefferson etc. I understand of course you could not empathise with such people. You simply cannot understand why any individual would take pride in their country and seek to defend it.

Nor can you accept any criticism of factions opposed to the west. It all gets theorised away in relativity. An example of this is when you stated in a debate to me those Mullahs in Iran inciting a crowd to chant 'death to the USA' was the same as an American might say 'damn this traffic'.

Much as I enjoy debating with you, a point is worth considering. Your stance awash with smug morality as it is one of universalism. That is why you say ‘the world is my tribe’; or indeed call this blog one humanity. Yet look at the twentieth century, what killed and oppressed the most? Universalism or nationalism? I'll give you a clue, two examples of universalism are Marxism and in as far as it wanted to establish a 'third Reich' Nazism. Militant Islam too is certainly universal in its aspirations. All three such doctrines killed and in the case of militant Islam continue to kill and oppress. The biggest culprit however in the 20th century was Marxism which perhaps killed four times as many as fascism did.

For these reasons your criticisms of nationalism do lack a wider perspective. One question though would you ever defend America? Or would you like it to be replaced perhaps by 'one humanity'? My reasons for asking this latter point are if you cannot understand why people would seek to defend themselves against expansionist doctrines such as Marxism or Islamism. You can never understand Zionism.

What sickens me today is when people on the anti-Semitic left use terms like 'Zio-Nazi'. Yes Zionism is nationalistic, but over what a land the size of Wales? Surrounded by a land mass the size of Europe, which has repeatedly attacked it and still does. Supposing you lived in Israel, isn't it possible you could be a Zionist? However interestingly given the complexities of Israel's politics, you could be a left wing one, a feminist one, a conservative one or even a middle of the road guy who doesn't care less. Chas Newkey Borden in an article on my blog has summed this up even better. He describes a street scene he saw in Tel Aviv, an Orthodox Jew, an Arab and a mini-skirted girl all stood at a bus stop. You would not get that anywhere else in the Middle East.

http://amodernlibertarian.blogspot.com/2009/05/not-in-my-name-hypocrisy-of-anti.html


That is the great thing about democratic and introspective cultures. Such pluralistic cultures are notably absent amongst those who seek to destroy Israel.

Saying this reminds me of a wise SNCO I knew in the service. He was tough, but also kind and fair. Whenever he heard people speak ill of other nations or people including those we were on operations against, his response was 'ah but what if you were one of them?' I think you would have liked him.

Young Activist said...

Paul,
I don't have time to respond to this right now, but after reading your comments it is apparent that either I am terribly inarticulate you haven't understood anything I've said. I hope if the latter is the case it is simply an issue of comprehension and not the product of a necessary conflation of unrelated things. I'd encourage you to read everything over again and see if you can get a different meaning out of it.

Young Activist said...

I would also suggest you read and consider this defense of South African apartheid. The similarity between its rhetoric and your own is remarkable.

AT a time when South Africa, by reason of what are commonly referred to as its "racial" policies, has become the object of such universal censure, it behooves any thinking South African to examine for himself the anatomy of that program which is exciting so much dissent, and not simply to content himself with a public posture suggested by some climate of opinion, whether in South Africa or abroad. The fact that he may not have voted for those who sponsor the program should not prevent him from according it such merits as it seems to him to possess, independent of its parenthood. It need not prevent his seeing many of the strictures currently passed upon it as unwarranted and incorrect.

Of one thing he may be sure. The hostility of the non-white world can be explained without reference to the merits of the apartheid program. Indeed, for Afro-Asians the possibility that it has any merits can scarcely arise. It is the policy of white men governing black; and the only good thing that white men still wielding authority in Africa can do is to abdicate in favor of the non-white majority. Anything else they may think to do is by definition bad. In the eyes of the Bandung confraternity, South Africa ought never to have existed and ought now no longer to exist. It is not a question of whether she is meeting her responsibilities with humanity, wisdom, even a measure of self-abnegation. What in their eyes is wrong is not what South Africa may do, but the fact that she should continue in a position to do anything at all.

King Ahab, in the Old Testament story, was not interested in how Naboth was administering his vineyard. Hitler was not really much concerned with what Benes might be willing to do for the Sudeten Germans. The Addis Ababa powers are not interested in South Africa's current policy of home rule for all. If those powers have not consciously adopted Hitler's language, it must at least be admitted that Hitler did anticipate some of theirs.

Nor should it be beyond South Africa's comprehension that the major Western governments may in these circumstances shy away from identifying themselves with her position. In the world of tough diplomacy old friendships may have to be set aside in deference to new expediencies. At a time when even Emperor Haile Selassie is constrained to forget what he owes to South Africa, when Israel finds it necessary to ignore the analogy between South Africa's predicament and her own, and when Britain has to be cautious even in her support for Israel, it is easy to see why neither Britain nor the United States can be other than cautious in support of South Africa. Though the South African may not admire the posture of the Western powers, he can at least claim to understand it.

To understand the attitudes of foreign governments, whether at the United Nations or elsewhere, is one thing; to contrive to take them seriously, except in the sense that any unfriendliness must of course be taken seriously, is another. For the better the South African -understands the official hostility of his former friends, the less intrinsic importance is he able to accord it. And -at a time when little that South Africa may do can be expected to win approval-it certainly seems futile to allow the fear of disapproval to weigh against more substantial considerations in judging what policies for South Africa are well advised.

It is not as if it were open to South Africa to do just nothing. The situation in which she finds herself is a heritage from a complicated past. Where the irresponsible foreign onlooker has merely to insist that apartheid is "morally wrong," the responsible South African has rather to ask himself whether there is any less immoral approach to South Africa's problem. He reads, for instance, in the Tomlinson Commission's report that "a continuation of the policy of integration would intensify racial friction and animosity," and that "the only alternative is to promote the establishment of separate communities in their own separate territories where each will have the fullest opportunity for self-expression and development." And he remembers how, at the Savoy Hotel dinner in 1961, Dr. Verwoerd threw down his challenge to a fascinated company: "Ladies and Gentlemen, what would you do?" He remembers also how, although the so-called "native question" had been on the agenda for South African statesmanship since before the turn of the century, it was not until 1948 that the country had a government with the necessary electoral backing to undertake any treatment of the question at all. And he notices that, while the world's judgment on apartheid is commonly expressed in moralistic language, it was, by contrast, upon sociological appraisal that the architects of the program based their recommendations for the progressive bettering of a given state of things which mere condemnation would not cure.

Not that foreign censure of South Africa's policies is without effect upon the domestic situation. But the effect is the opposite of what is intended. As happened in the 1930s when, pressure from Geneva was put at one time on Japan and at another on Italy, pressure today upon South Africa from New York seems to increase support for those who, as the country's official spokesmen, are the immediate targets for the internationally orchestrated polyphony of execration.

International disapproval of South Africa, while more violent of late, has been at least audible from the early days of the United Nations. It was General Smuts who first had to bear the brunt of it; and he foresaw that his apparent impotence in the face of this disapproval might result in his defeat by those who could be expected to meet it in less accommodating language than he. As one of the authors of the Charter, he had emerged deeply disillusioned from debates in which he could detect little sign of any serious desire to understand the problems of a society not merely multi-racial, but multi-cultural as well. And it was Dr. Verwoerd, the present Prime Minister, who returned from the conference at Lancaster House in 1961 with a similar sense of disappointment, having said at the outset that he was ready to have apartheid discussed, though on the assumption that the discussion would proceed "in a mature manner." And in recent debates at the United Nations it has become increasingly difficult to impute much sense of reality to delegations which could join in a demand that South Africa take no action against those accused of attempting to destroy with high explosives the installations upon which the country's viability is dependent. Critics who see the defense of law and order as reprehensible merely because the government responsible happens also to be pursuing policies not widely understood are not considered by South Africans to have any qualification to pass judgment on what is being done. In a country where the least sign of official displeasure on the part of the Permanent Mandates Commission would at one time have excited grave concern, it is indeed a pity that the moral authority of the United Nations should have fallen almost to zero.

In few cases, if any, can a Communist-encouraged, if not necessarily Communist-inspired, campaign of systematic mood-engineering have met with comparable success in the Western world. Whether, for instance, the Communists should be described as having joined with the Western democracies in condemning the suppression of saboteurs in South Africa, or whether it is the democracies that should be said to have toed the Communist line, may seem an academic point. But it is not from Western propaganda that the Communist countries will have learned their hostility to a capitalistic South Africa. Who shall say that the converse is equally true? Is it the democracies that have deliberately set themselves to create chaos in South Africa? They may well appear to have been doing so; but it is hard to believe that they really have. Whereas, if the Communists have been striving to avert chaos, their efforts have been remarkably well disguised.

Someone has said that if South Africa did not exist she might have to be invented. What other target could have provided so unifying an emotional focus for the Bandung world? And it now begins to took as though South Africa were supplying the basis on which the two sides in the global ideological conflict may at last find themselves linked in a kind of uneasy partnership.

It is indeed typical of the spirit in which the anti-South Africa campaign is being conducted that crisis measures there are commonly condemned without any reference to the existence of a crisis; and that the crisis, if ever mentioned, is represented as being of the government's own creation-when the whole effort of so much of the outside world has seemed directed to bringing it about. South Africans are not blind to the fact that the defense of law and order is incumbent upon any government, and that in South Africa its neglect would be a betrayal of the law-abiding, both black and white. They know that the powers which governments give themselves in times of crisis are always subject to possible criticism as being unnecessarily drastic. But the key word here is "unnecessarily" and not "drastic."

II

In attempting to evaluate the policy of apartheid and, more important, the philosophy which underlies it, the troubled South African must be struck by something rather commonly over-looked -- namely, the importance of differentiating between the standpoint of the sponsors of the program, on the one hand, and the public psychology which makes its application feasible, on the other. Color prejudice, so evident in parts of the United States, and not absent even in Britain, has long been endemic in South Africa; and those South Africans who believe in "keeping the native in his place" may be expected to approve a program of separate development whether they fully understand it or not. But to say this is not the same as saying that at cabinet level the policy is grounded in unfriendliness toward the non-enfranchised majority of the population, for whose welfare the white minority has borne responsibility since 1910.

In any assessment, it is also necessary to differentiate between the electorate, the parliament, the government and the majority party. Pressures upon the South African people, to induce them to support some alternative set of policies, may be a rational undertaking-though politically not very sophisticated. Pressures upon the South African Government, to induce it to pursue policies not accepted by the people, would be less sophisticated and certainly less rational. To inveigh against a government for not attempting the politically impracticable may be emotionally rewarding. But it is otherwise rather pointless-particularly when it results in strengthening rather than weakening that government's position at home. If outside pressures are to produce in South Africa the allegedly needed "change of heart," it is in the electorate and not simply in the government that that change must be effected. If integration, against which the Tomlinson Commission gave warning, is, as it appears to be, the only thing that the world will accept, it is on the few local advocates of integration that the world must rest its hopes. There is little realism in supposing that, in a country whose constitution is based upon the Westminster model, the government could in deference to foreign pressures adopt a principle whose exponents have almost without exception lost their deposits when running for a parliament seat. It is true that at the last election some 70,000 voters supported the Progressive Party, which now has one member in the House; but, except as proving that political opinion in South Africa is sufficiently free, this could not in itself give much encouragement to those who want an early change.

Different policies might be adopted tomorrow, but at present it is separate development that is being tried. To understand it, one must, of course, examine it in its historical and sociological context; for to study apartheid in the abstract would be as inept as to study the policy of desegregation in the United States in the same restricted manner.

"Ours," declared George Kennan in referring to the defensive nationalism of the American people, "is not the imperial frame of mind." At the root of the separate development program lies the nationalism, equally defensive, of the Afrikaner volk. It is indeed an error to see apartheid as expressive only of an attitude of the white man toward the black. For nationalism as such is not a question of color feeling, and it is nationalism, rather than racialism, that the honest inquirer has basically to comprehend. In the first place the nationalism we are speaking of is not that of all South African white people. Rather it is the nationalism of the Afrikaner volk, a majority indeed, but by no means the whole, of the enfranchised population. It is easy for the foreigner to deride a nationalism which he does not share; but nowhere in human history has nationalism ever been destroyed by foreign scorn. Admittedly, Afrikaner nationalism is a form of collective selfishness; but to say this is simply to say that it is an authentic case of nationalism. For what is nationalism anywhere if not collective self-love? What underlies apartheid is at bottom an attitude not toward the black man, but toward the forefathers -- and the future -- of the Afrikaner people. It is to these that a responsibility is felt. to conserve a cultural heritage in defense of which white men fought against white men from 1899 to 1902.

In a parliamentary political system it is always possible that the electorate may be persuaded to withdraw its support from a particular party. What is well nigh inconceivable, however, and presumably without example, is that a party should abandon its constitutive principles at a time when these principles are winning it ever increasing support at the polls, The apartheid program is the program of a particular party-the National Party; and it is germane to reflect in what circumstances that party had its birth.

The idea that English-speaking and Afrikaans-speaking South Africans might merge together into a single people had been the basis of tile Union and the accepted ideal of the Botha Government in 1910; and when in 1912 General Hertzog broke away from the Botha Cabinet, it was in anxiety lest the spiritual patrimony of Afrikanerdom should suffer in competition with a more potent and by no means inferior, but importantly different, cultural heritage -- that of the English-speaking world. The Europeans who in the 1600s had come to settle in southern Africa, as others at about the same time were settling on the eastern seaboard of America, felt themselves different from the indigenous inhabitants they encountered on arrival. And their sense of having a distinctive cultural heritage worth preserving reasserted itself in the 1800s against the outlook of the English, from whose domination they presently sought to escape. A party formed specifically to preserve the integrity of Afrikanerdom against the danger of obliteration by a culture which was seen not as inferior but as different is hardly of a kind to opt for the merging of white society into a culturally uncongenial and in principle homogeneous all-African mass. Thus in the context of any discussion on alternatives to apartheid, the raison d'être of the National Party needs to be seen and appreciated for what it is. And if apartheid is to be understood, it should be studied in terms of the assumptions on which it is practiced by the National Party, rather than simply in the light of those prejudices which ensure its acceptance by enough of the voters to permit its resolute application.

When, for example, it is said that people are being penalized for the color of their skins, this is a crudely tendentious way of putting the position where, the whites having a monopoly of political responsibility, and power having passed into the hands of a party dedicated to the preservation of Afrikanerdom, things are done for the sake of this over-riding ideal which works to the disadvantage of those without a vote -- who happen to be black.

Given, therefore, that the only program with any immediate prospect of going into operation in South Africa is that of the party in power, and given that an insistence on the differences not merely between the whites and the non-whites but to some extent even between the Afrikaans-speaking and the English-speaking elements in South Africa is the root principle of National Party policy, it is this philosophy of differentiation that has to be inquired into if the changes now being effected in South Africa are to be understood. Just as the National Party originally had its rationale in a danger to the Afrikaner volk, so today its apartheid policy has its justification in a threat to the European-type civilization which has in the course of three centuries been so hopefully built up in the South of Africa. And, as the party's original preoccupation with the needs of Afrikanerdom implied no necessary disrespect for British culture as such, so now its concern for the safeguarding of what white men have created in South Africa need imply no reflection on the quality of African civilization in itself. For the European to see African culture as something essentially other than his own is by no means necessarily to hold it in disesteem. And in so far as the declared intention in the creation of the Bantustans is to provide for the several peoples within the Republic at least as good an opportunity for progressive self-fulfillment as is presumably now assured to the peoples of Tanganyika, Ghana and Kenya, the charge that apartheid is meant to hold the African indefinitely in a status of inferiority is without foundation.

Nor is it pertinent to depict apartheid as being based on the now no longer reputable American concept of "separate but equal." Separate but equal meant equal though separate, the context being a specific constitution under which the equality of all men was required to be affirmed. No such political system was ever established in South Africa. There it was white men's societies that the migrant Boers established; and at most what could be claimed for apartheid might be that it accepts as its criterion the formula "separate but reasonable" -- reasonable, that is, in the given situation in which the future of the African is admittedly a responsibility of the whites. It is simply not conceded that there ever has existed in South Africa a single community comprising 16,000,000 souls, a community now to be divided into parts, each with its claim to a proportionate share of the country's total wealth. When the principle of Irish home rule was accepted in Britain it was not "a fair share of the United Kingdom" that was proposed to be allocated to the Irish; it was merely that to that portion of the country which was historically the Irish part a new status was to be given, in enjoyment of which it might presently emerge into membership in the League of Nations, into sovereign independence, into equality of nationhood among the peoples of the world.

True, it is not full sovereign independence that is now being conferred on the Transkei; but today's developments are declaredly no more than a phase in a process, the speed of which it will be partly up to the several Bantu peoples to decide. When therefore it is asked, "What is to be the ultimate outcome, what the final pattern, in South Africa?" the very question reveals a lack of understanding of apartheid. Apartheid means the granting of autonomy -- the enthronement, that is, of communal wills independent of that of the existing white electorate. Purportedly to give autonomy to others, while at the same time prejudging issues in respect of which their autonomy should be promising them a say, would be somewhat contradictory. The definitive blueprinting of South Africa's future is not being attempted now. There is no way to know what choices the Bantu may make in the situations of tomorrow. It is a liberal fallacy to suppose that those to whom freedom is given will use it only as foreseen by those who gave it.

Conceivably there could even today be found individuals who, regretting Britain's renunciation in 1922 of the vision of a single "British" community, would question the virtue of preserving the traditional identity of either the English, or the Irish, people, And some might even condemn as defeatist Britain's final abandonment in 1947 of her vestigial hope that, when she eventually withdrew from India, India might persist as a single whole, But Britain was sufficiently realistic to see that neither Islam nor Hinduism was digestible by the other, nor Irish nationalism assimilable into the nationalism of the British people. When, in 1910, South Africa was established as a single country, no attempt was made to fuse its many peoples into one. Such a fusion was attempted only for the two originally European, white-skinned, Afrikaans-speaking and English-speaking elements. And today, after more than So years of that experiment, it is more than ever obvious how enterprising a concept this was, and how marked are the persisting incompatibilities between two living cultures, neither of which is disposed to lose itself in the other. It is similarly easy to see the differences between the Zulu nation on the one hand and the Asian community, or communities, on the other -- as indeed between the Zulus and any other of the major ethnic groups which together make up the African majority of the total population. Were the complete fusing of all South Africa's peoples to be proposed, and the constitutional framework for realizing it devised, and were the resulting battle for ascendancy to bring peace at the end, what is wholly unpredictable is whether it would be the Zulus or some other of the African peoples, or whether it might not after all be the Europeans, who would survive as "top dog" nation, imposing their solutions upon what might remain of the rest.

In 1909, the British Parliament could of course have rejected the formula which placed a virtual monopoly of responsibility so securely in the hands of the European element. As that element forms so small a minority of the total population, it is somewhat as if Britain, in giving self-determination to an unpartitioned India, had placed power in the hands of the Muslims, and as if subsequently the world had directed its disapproving attention to the way in which the Muslim minority was safe-guarding its identity by refusing to introduce majority rule. A case could doubtless be made for the swift liquidation of Pakistan, or of Israel, or for the incorporation of Basutoland in South Africa, or of Gibraltar in Spain, Or Similarly for the displacement of the whites in favor of the Africans in South Africa. It has even been suggested that Algeria provides a pointer to the future of South Africa; the fact overlooked is that the vital decisions on Algeria were made in Paris and in Evian, and were not made by a white community in Algiers. But in South Africa, which has long been self-governing, the relevant decisions must be made in Pretoria, or Pretoria and Cape Town. If the colons of Algeria have indeed been expended, this was not of their doing. The liquidation of white South Africa would require, constitutionally, an act of collective submission -- a manifestation, perhaps we should say, of that sacrificial love which is the very essence of Christianity. But, if it is only by such collective self-immolation that a people can reveal itself as Christian, never since the coming of Christianity has there existed a Christian people, as distinct from a people composed in part of Christian individuals. Not only is it difficult to conceive of a Christian nation, in the sense of a nation capable of giving its all for others; it is even difficult to argue that the democratic system of government is a Christian system. For here, too, collective selfishness is enthroned; it is assumed, correctly of course, that men in general, when given a vote, will use it to suit themselves, to suit their group, their section of society; they will not use it to manifest sacrificial love.

Fortunately, the Africans in South Africa have in general not as yet become impatient of European rule. Indeed, there is a considerable reservoir of good will toward the whites, and certainly a disposition to look to them for much of the leadership, the enterprise, the initiative, the giving of employment. And maybe it is this comparative absence of hostility on the side of the Africans that explains the sense of responsibility with which they still are generally regarded by the whites. Individually the behavior of white men may in many instances be unforgivable. But collectively and officially the Europeans still reveal a sense of paternalistic concern which could all too easily be lost if the non-whites should be seen by the whites as potential political rivals, and therefore eventual rulers. No one who questions the sincerity of the white leadership to "do the right thing" for the African can hope to understand the philosophy of apartheid; and it is presumably the fact that so many do seemingly doubt that sincerity which accounts for some of the incomprehension with which current policies are viewed.

III

How else is one to explain the apparent incredulity with which the simplest facts with respect to Bantu education are commonly received? Since white men, allegedly hating black men, must presumably be unwilling to seek their advancement, it is seen as inconceivable that Bantu education can have any object except to hold the Bantu down. What apparently is not believed is that the white man can possibly see that in the interests of his children an African élite must be created if the program for the Bantu homelands is to succeed. Yet, to doubt the sincerity of the program is becoming daily more difficult; so it is the feasibility rather than the sincerity of the program which has to be called in question instead. This is done, not infrequently, by ascribing to it objectives which have never, in fact, been a part of the plan.

Were the Bantustans program inherently and obviously unfeasible, this could hardly have gone unsuspected by its more intelligent exponents, in which case the whole thing must after all be an elaborate bluff-though it is hard to see who was to be deceived. And the truth is that, if the plan did not offer any serious promise of providing an answer for South Africa's possibly, but not certainly, insoluble problem, it could scarcely be receiving the support it does. Even doctors cannot always know that their patients will recover; but the belief that they possibly might do so is the basis on which they typically proceed; and for South Africans it may well be sufficient to believe that apartheid might possibly prove the answer for them to be willing to give it a trial. And this goes for black South Africans as well as for white.

One thing at least is certain: the homelands program, if patently unworthy of Bantu acceptance, will be rejected by the Bantu. They are not rejecting it yet. This must be irksome to South Africa's enemies and may explain the vehemence with which they are now demanding that it be frustrated from abroad. Were they really quite so certain that the program was a bad one they might be content simply to sit back and see it fail on its own demerits. But the trouble with just waiting for it to fail is that it might succeed and be seen by the world to be succeeding.

The fact that the Bantu have been so prompt in participating in the work of the new Transkei Parliament is not, of course, a guarantee of their love of the program as it stands. There is such a thing as joining in an enterprise with the intention of making it fail. But it surely is a form of color prejudice which simply takes it for granted that the African of the future, unlike some Europeans, will be quite incapable of moderation, of humor, even perhaps of fair play. Anyone with any faith in the good judgment and good nature of the Bantu will prefer to assume that there may be enough of them who will choose to adapt themselves to the realities of political life as they find them. They do not despair of seeing some of the best of the new generation active in the politics of the Bantustans. Extremism there will doubtless be; that one must indeed accept. And should the extremists "get on top" the program may very easily fail. But it also offers worthwhile possibilities for the less extreme; and it seems reasonable to hope that these, too, may have a role in the running of the new Transkei. Like Basutoland, the area must long remain economically dependent upon the good will of Pretoria; and it is not by immoderate gestures that African leaders will be in the best position to retain that good will.

Not the least among the many disservices that some of the black man's self-styled friends have done him is to have encouraged in him a disposition to ask for the moon. White men know better than to train their own offspring to expect the impossible, to suppose that the world owes them a living, to believe that if things happen to go ill with them it is because there is a conspiracy against them. All too commonly non-whites are tempted to believe that, were it not for their pigmentation, life might for them have been relatively free from ups and downs. All too readily are they given to suppose that when once they have won their independence paradise will be theirs, and incidentally that paradise is the least for which they can be expected to settle. All too often some sensible suggestion is disposed of with the comment that "the African would never be content with that." Too seldom is it asked with what the white man might not be content. Too seldom is it conceded that in the world as it is peace may well be dependent upon black and white alike adjusting themselves to conditions with which no one is entirely content.

It is no kindness to the African to convince him that his grievances are more serious than they are -- to tell him, for instance, that the area of the Bantustans, barely 13 percent of the Republic, is insufficient for his needs and plainly inequitable as the portion for 66 percent of the population. There is no reason why further land, if needed, should not eventually be added to the Bantustans. Already they are larger than England and Wales with their population Of some 45 million. That the Bantustans, when rehabilitated and industrialized, should accommodate, say, 10 million people does not seem an unreasonable estimate. And again, on the question of South Africa's wealth, it is difficult to maintain that the Bantu have in any consequential sense been partners in the development of the country. Labor they may indeed have provided, on terms sufficient to draw more and more of them in from the outside every year. But if by their physical exertions those from the Transkei have earned a proprietary interest in the gold mines, for instance, why not also those from the Rhodesias and Mozambique, or the coolies that Lord Milner imported from China, for an agreed remuneration, in a time of exceptional dearth?

Apartheid is sometimes referred to as an "ideology;" and, since it is on the face of it inconsistent with Western liberalism, it is seen as in principle wrong. But it is wiser to recognize it as simply an expedient, an exercise in social therapeutics. It is a remedial treatment for a state of things deriving from the past. In part it is, of course, dictated by a passionate concern for the future of a European-type white society, and no doubt that society's right to self-preservation is itself a matter for debate. But it is this, and not the principle of apartheid, which thus is the matter for debate. Concede to the white man a right to preserve his achievement, and some such policy as apartheid may well appear as an inevitable corollary. Deplore the white man's collective self-concern, and you may equally well damn every other example of nationalism, white or black. It is absurd to assume that nationalism is nice, or nasty, according to its color.

It is possible of course that the Afrikaner, strict legalist that he is, may exaggerate the moral importance of constitutional right. Contrary to what his detractors imply, he shows little disposition to seek his objectives save through the methods of the constitution. What cannot be done constitutionally cannot, in his philosophy, be done. But conversely what can so be done, it is technically his right to do; and he is prone to bold that he is therefore right to do it. He has little patience with those who brush his constitutional arguments aside, even censuring his reliance on them -- and this in a period when it is from people's disregarding of their constitutions rather than from their using, even manipulating, of them that mankind has probably the more to fear.

It is perhaps propitious that everybody should think of his own political system as about the best there ever could be; but if each wants to impose the principles of his own on all others, the outlook for peace is poor. Honored voices have lately proclaimed the ideal of a world made safe for diversity. What else is this but the very principle of the apartheid program? Just as in the world as a whole there are many societies, each distinctive in its peculiar culture, so also within the confines of geographical South Africa there are more than one or two societies. That very self-determination which his fathers fought for is what the Afrikaner now envisages for each of the African peoples still subject to the white man's rule. The philosophy of separate development implies a rejection of the fallacy that wherever a single system of government is in operation, there do the governed compose a single people. Were the critics of South Africa to accept squarely the fact that South Africa comprises more communities than one, their admonitions would be more persuasive and their proposals more to the point. As it is, what many of them keep calling for is something which they might well know to be impossible -- the inauguration, namely, of a system in which South Africa's many peoples would resolve themselves unreluctantly into one.

It is this cult of unreality in the assumptions of her critics that has given South Africa her now, alas, almost habitual indifference to what they may choose to say. When, for instance, they affect to see in the Transkei experiment a device for providing a reservoir of cheap labor, they seemingly forget that that is just what the Transkei has traditionally been, and that the granting to it of autonomy, with the creation of thousands of local opportunities both in government and industry, must tend, if anything, to make the territory's manpower less rather than more plentifully available for service in the white man's system. Or again, when they dismiss primary school instruction in the "mother-tongue" as a stratagem for barring the Bantu's access to the cultural resources of the West, they overlook that degree of proficiency in both English and Afrikaans which the Bantu child has concurrently the opportunity to achieve before moving up from one standard to the next. When they hail as a "setback" for the apartheid policy the success of possibly awkward candidates in the Transkei elections, they only show how apparently defective is their conception of what may be expected to occur in free elections. When they complain that the autonomy now being accorded is incomplete, they ignore the object lessons offered by Belgium's precipitate withdrawal from the Congo. And when they question the capability of the Bantustans to stand economically on their own, they neglect to ask themselves whether even Britain's Basutoland will ever be able to do that either.

The philosophy of apartheid is the standpoint of politicians who, having no mandate for effecting the liquidation of so-called white supremacy, must do the best they can, in circumstances where nothing they may realistically contemplate can be expected to win them the approval of the world. It is the philosophy of patriots who, while aware that certain powers could presumably choose to destroy them tomorrow, do not therefore feel free to abandon their tasks of today; and who, though charged with despising their African fellow-citizens, have more occasion to contemn their erstwhile Western friends who, for fear of the displeasure of the Afro-Asian "Establishment," can seemingly no longer afford to have eyes and minds of their own.

South Africa knows that it is not she that has lately changed; that never at any time were her peoples a single community or her constitution other than oligarchic, and that it is nevertheless essentially for this that she is now being blamed. And, from the fact that in their reviling of her, critics rely so largely on misconceptions as to what she is doing, she can draw a measure of hope. For perhaps it will not be too long before persons of independent outlook, who as of now are apparently accepting the fashionable evaluation of her policies, will begin to perceive and to appreciate those policies for what they are.

Paul said...

'I do not identify with a group or an ideology. I identify with humanity. All people are basically the same in that they seek happiness and the avoidance of suffering. I see the world and its inhabitants in that context. This is, like nationalism, a moral judgment and not an intellectual one. It is beyond debate because it has no truth value.'

This is not true such sentiments do have a truth value as they can manifest as Marxism. If you (of course you may not be a Marxist, Islamist or whatever), were to apply your views to a political model what would it be? Mine is one of secular, pluralistic democracy as I have said.

The problem in this and other debates is your withdrawal into rhetoric. This is not a safe haven, it is however a convenient one for someone facing difficult questions i.e. avoid giving an answer. Lets deal with facts, proposed ideologies and referenced arguments then. Can you please point out where I supported apartheid? You can't of course because I haven't, it was a cheap insult. However there was a logic behind it of sorts, I support Israel so therefore I must be racist. You can do better than that YA.

On a separate note it seems a tad illogical to criticise nationalism and then support the 'Palestinians'.

Or do you believe their struggle to be Islamist in nature and not nationalistic? My observations would be that elements of both ideologies have been present in the region, with militant Islamism now in the ascendant. It doesn't matter whether you actually answer any of these other questions. My point is that unless your talk actually mentions policies and your own ideology then you appear to be merely engaging in opportunistic sniping. Quite often when you have actually got around to proposing solutions to the problems we all face you have come unstuck. An example would be your hypocrisy over Geert Wilders. You stated on my blog he should be prosecuted; now however you state that Iqbal should not be that's inconsistent. Having said that I'm sure you would fit in fine with the UK Labour party, a career as a socialist politician beckons.

Bar Kochba said...

YA, so you can copy paste. I'm not convinced.

Young Activist said...

Bar,
I can copy and paste? Please, show me where I have copied and pasted from. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, I'm only trying to explain where I'm coming from, so I'm not sure what you aren't convinced of.

Paul,
It is impossible to debate you if you can't even understand what I am saying. You normally misread what I say, but here you've set a new record. For example you suggest that my belief in the universal value of all human being is somehow tantamount to Nazism, militant religion, and the abuses of Communist regimes. I think you forgot to mention earthquakes, global warming, and HIV. This is the most laughable attempt at apologetics since I heard someone suggest that the extrajudicial torture of an Iraqi proved that nation was a democracy. I'm going to try one more time to explain this and if you still aren't able get it I'm going to give up.

First, it makes much more sense to look at specific actions of an individual then the entire individual. Secondly, being able to "empathize" with historical figures seems like a somewhat silly way of assessing history, thirdly just because I have a philosophical disagreement with someone doesn't mean I can't understand them, fourthly what did you mean when you said the "world's best leaders", that's a somewhat vague assertion. Fifthly, I can accept criticism of factions opposed to the west, but when those criticism are motivated by nothing more than bigotry they deserve to be summarily dismissed just as Nazi "outrage" at the very real crimes of certain members of the resistance deserved to be summarily dismissed because it was a shabby attempt to conflate the crimes of the "other" with validation of their bigotry. Of course I will accpet criticism of those opposed to the west, and I often have criticism of my own, much like I would have accepted criticism of the excesses of the anti-Nazi resistance, so long as it was sincere and not a thinly veiled expression of bigotry or affirmation for the Nazi cause.

You once again misquote me with regards to Iran. Let me summarize for you what I said. In Persian saying "death to. . ." is an expression of annoyance directed against almost every irritation from traffic to American foreign policy. It is not meant to be taken literally. In English a comparable word would be "damn" which literally means for something to burn in hell, but is used to express annoyance and not meant to be taken literally.

I do not think we need to create one humanity by imposing some universal standard on everyone, I think there already is one humanity whether we like it or not. Nazism, and all brands of fascism for that matter, are a combination of totalitarianism and nationalism, so I don't see where you are getting your argument from. In suggesting there is a connection between Nazism and universalism you are only making yourself look extremely silly and very hysterical. Likewise with, Marxism, you obviously understand neither Marxism or universalism. Marxism is a sectarian ideology that emphasizes class struggle, divisions, and in some of its uglier manifestations totalitarianism, the subordination of the interests of the individual to the interests of the state. I am a universalist and I think the state should be subordinated to the interests of the individual. This conception of universalism of wanting to impose a unifying factor on everyone instead of accepting people's differences is much closer to your thinking than my own. Jefferson, for example, who you mention as a great nationalist wanted to impose American culture on the native Americans. But perhaps this was a more enlightened position than the other founders who simply wanted to exterminate them.

I have really no clue what you mean when you say my opposition to nationalism lacks a broader context. This sounds like an obfuscation. But let me be clear about abuses by regimes which describe themselves as Marxist, I am a universalism, I oppose all violations of human rights with an equal vigor. I am just as opposed to totalitarianism as I am to nationalism, perhaps even more so. Your criticism of my position lacks the broader context of what my position actually is.

I cannot understand why people would seek to defend themselves against expansionist doctrines so I cannot understand Zionism? Please give me a break Paul. I oppose Islamic totalitarianism and I oppose Marxist totalitarianism, and they oppose each other. Defending oneself has nothing to do with embracing a racist ideology, which is essentially what most forms of nationalism are. But do the Palestinians not have a right to defend themselves against the expansionist ideology of Zionism that demands an ethnically pure state, one which they contaminate with their presence? Why don't you read this post and then talk about the glories of nationalism? http://masada1234.blogspot.com/2009/05/loyalty-fallacy.html
Its a little ironic that you are accosting me for an ideology, which I have no connection to, for its human rights abuses when you yourself have said that you believe the British government should advance Britain's national interest without any consideration of the human rights implications. It's a bit sanctimonious for you to prattle about the abuses of others when you would support any abuse if it advanced Britain's national interest, when you would back a dictator to advance Britain's national interest, when you would advocate a genocide if it advanced Britain's national interest, when you vale the power and prestige of your state over the lives and the freedom of anyone not fortunate enough to be born British.

Of course I would defend specific actions of American if they came under attack from reactionaries such as yourself. For example I would defend not having a national language if you attacked it. I would also defend America from attacks by bigoted reactionaries. Believe it or not Paul your ideology is very popular in the third world. The only difference is that the names have changed, instead of condemning Islam people condemn westerners. Instead of talking about Israel's right to defend itself by attacking civilians they defend bin Laden's right to defend himself by attacking civilians. So yes, as I have defended Palestine I would also defend America. And no I would not advocate the abolishment of the nation state. I would just like to see it transformed into a merely political entity in charge of administration, providing social services, etc. much like townships, just on a larger scale.

Israel's landmass has nothing to do with its human rights record. The use of the term Zio-Nazi is inappropriate and I would avoid it because it only inflames passion and ends discussion. But I do understand it as an expression of extreme frustration and not an anti-Semitic slogan. No doubt anti-Semites have used the suffering of the Palestinians to attack Jews, but this is irrelevant to the morality of what Israel has done to the Palestinians. Much like anti-Teutons used Hitler's abuses to further their ideological agenda. Only bigots from all sided will attempt to conflate the two. With Israel the allegations of anti-Semitism betray their absurdity when one considers the large number of Jews included.

What if you were them? Well, that is an excellent question. For me I am a universalist, I reject all nationalisms. I am an American who rejects American nationalism if I were an Israeli I would no doubt join the thousands of my countrymen who have rejected Jewish nationalism. You see because I am a universalist my political views are not based on what country I was born in, what color skin I have, or what language I speak. However, let me ask you this. What if you were a Palestinian? What if you were an Iraqi? What if you were an Afghan? No doubt your views would be very different. You would probably be an Arab or Pashtun nationalism and you would love to talk about Israel's abuses of human rights, the U.S's abuses of human rights, and Iran's abuses of human rights, not because you really care about human rights but because it would offer ideological validation of your prejudices.

The diversity of Israel's population has nothing to do with its abuses of human rights. Many of its soldiers are actually Bedouin Arabs, this once again has nothing to do with the human rights issue. Hitler has Jewish police men in his pay, South Africa has black collaborators, China has Tibetan administrators, Stalin's empire was extremely divers, this does not absolve them from abusing human rights. If you are really concerned about anti-Semites using the Palestinian issue much like you have used the issue of human rights abuses in Muslim countries the best thing to do would be to denounce Israel's and show that you understand that there is a difference between Judaism and Zionism. If however you are only looking for an insult to hurl at people who speak against racism then go find another one because its not very convincing.

I am not a Marxist, Marxism is an ideological belief, it attempts to conflate a means with an ends, I think means and ends need to recognized as separate. Not believing in holding an ideology cannot manifest itself in an ideology this is sheer stupidity. That is precisely it Paul, I would not try to apply my beliefs to a political model. I believe that the rights of all people are unlimited insofar as they do not interfere with the greater rights of others, and where people have their rights violated I seek to dismantle whatever is enabling that abuse. This is a negative model in that I am more concerned with solving problems with the existing system than creating a new system.

I never said you supported South Africa apartheid Paul. I don't where you got that from. My argument came from an assumption that you likely oppose South African apartheid (everyone does in hindsight), I was trying to point out the similarity between the way apartheid in South Africa was defended and the way Israel's apologists defend Zionism.

Pleas go back and read my comments on nationalism again. I said I opposed it philosophically, but not necessarily politically where its objectives coincide with my own. Supporting an end to Israel repression of the Palestinians has nothing to do with supporting Palestinian nationalism though, so I'm not sure where you got that from. I think once again you are reading into my comments your preconceived notions and not what I am actually saying.

Please go back and read my comments about Wilders again. I said my first impression was that hate speech should be illegal, but that was not a position so much as much as an impulse and that it could very easily change. When I thought about it more and realized that banning hate speech would empower the state to determine the appropriate parameters of debate I changed my mind. I don't think considering an issue is hypocritical Paul and I hope you don't either. As it happens though, you seem very much selectively outrage in that you ranted about the restrictions being placed on a reactionary bigot whose bigotry is congruent with your own, but none of the other restrictions of free speech in the western world. My position is only inconsistent in that it is inconsistent over time, not that it is applied differently to different individuals.

Now, before you go off and angrily denounce some point I didn't make please drop your preconceived notions about my positions and go back and read this again.

Paul said...

'Its a little ironic that you are accosting me for an ideology, which I have no connection to, for its human rights abuses when you yourself have said that you believe the British government should advance Britain's national interest without any consideration of the human rights implications. It's a bit sanctimonious for you to prattle about the abuses of others when you would support any abuse if it advanced Britain's national interest, when you would back a dictator to advance Britain's national interest, when you would advocate a genocide if it advanced Britain's national interest, when you vale the power and prestige of your state over the lives and the freedom of anyone not fortunate enough to be born British.'

I am not willing to enter into further debate with you. You have merely issued insults in this last diatribe of yours. I have never been disrespectful to you and yet virtually everything you have said here is either a clumsy attempt at revisionism (your bit about death to USA in Iran) or a simple lie. It is a shame as I usually find your arguments challenging and enjoyable.

I will leave it to you to find references from my blog that support your the quote I have highlighted. It is rude and disingenuous and for that reason I will not provide quotes to validate my own position. However I could do so with ease, I could show how you did state Wilders should be prosecuted. Also I could expose your clumsy attempt to revise your position Re Iran and its hysterical crowds. You are on thin ice at the moment YA, your arguments re Wilders and Iran carry no weight and I can easily demonstrate what you DID actually say. Perhaps that is why you choose to be rude. Keep it civil and honest and we can carry on. For now I must cordially request you withdraw that comment or at least substantiate it, best wishes Paul.

Young Activist said...

"We may for once be very close to actually agreeing without realizing it. What I meant by the Kissinger approach was to put our security paramount of all other interests."

Paul, you are in a better position to explain your view than I am, but my comments you have quoted are merely a summation of the "Kissinger approach" you have said you favor. Kissinger overthrew a democratic government in Chile to install a fascist dictator, he supported many other dictators, he actively supported and perhaps even enabled genocides in East Timor and Guatemala, all to advance the U.S's national interests. This is the Kissinger approach, so forgive me if you didn't understand what that meant when you said you favored it.

Paul, you have called me a hypocrite, a conspiracy theorist, a liar, and an anti-Semite, you have suggested that my way of thinking is responsible for the Holocaust as well as Marxist dictatorships. You have repeatedly misquoted me and distorted my comments. You have indeed insulted me and you have done so repeatedly. I think you will find that I have been very patient in explaining to you why these charges are baseless where as most people if similarly subjected to such silly and baseless accusations would have just told you off. You say you could document my lies and hypocrisy but will chose not to. Please Paul, show me where I have lied, show me where I have been hypocritical. Give me the quotes, this is more than open for debate. But please, if you are to insist that I have lied and been hypocritical please back it up with evidence, quotes of mine, and facts. I would challenge that you could not do this.

Paul said...

'We may for once be very close to actually agreeing without realizing it. What I meant by the Kissinger approach was to put our security paramount of all other interests."

Indeed I did but read the context of that discussion. It was about piracy off Somalia. I never said 'for its human rights abuses when you yourself have said that you believe the British government should advance Britain's national interest without any consideration of the human rights implications.' Quite simply I never said that, so you have failed to validate your argument. Understandably you may have felt that I was providing some kind of blanket endorsement for everything Kissinger did. The fact remains that I never did so the discussion was in regards to piracy. I felt your approach was idealistic and unworkable without massive intervention. My approach was pragmatic and simpler.

Right firstly lets deal with anti-Semitism which I have accused you of after I believe you blamed Iraqi Zionist elements for bombings in Iraq c1950. I will take back that comment. I don't feel you referenced your argument correctly but it doesn't matter for now, I do not believe you are anti-Semitic. Some of the individuals you discuss with are very close to that position but it does not cover you. Besides you yourself have frequently accosted me over what you see as an association with Bar Kochba. Well it’s similar in your case with some of your associates. As the English say 'what's sauce for the Goose is sauce for the gander', meaning the same applies to you.

As to you being a liar, well I will reiterate what you said earlier 'you yourself have said that you believe the British government should advance Britain's national interest without any consideration of the human rights implications'. The fact remains I never said such a thing, you falsely drew such an inference form a discussion re Somalian piracy.

Now hypocrisy well lets look at the discussion on my blog Re Wilders. You said 'As for religious law, there is a difference between criticizing a religion and criticizing the idea of religious law. Wilders does not make that distinction. While Christianity is not a legalistic religion like Islam Judaism is. If Wilders were making these statements about Judaism he would rightly be denounced as anti-Semitic, but he does make them about Judaism or Jewish law, he singles out Islam for criticism.'

Later on you said 'There is a clear difference between theological criticism and bigotry. Wilders is obviously not a theologian, he is a petty nativist, and very close to being a fascist himself'. Also you said 'There are drawbacks to any approach, but my first impression is that it would be healthy for a liberal democracy to prohibit a very narrowly defined definition of hate speech'. I think that is a pretty clear indication of your thoughts at that time. You also pilloried me for 'associating with' Wilders and all I said was that he should have a right to say what he wanted to say. Now of course you have revised your position due to the case involving Iqbal. Before then it seems you were quite content for individuals who made certain comments to be prosecuted. We can clear this up easily though, do you want both Iqbal and Wilders to be free to say what they say or do you just favour Iqbal? Certainly your about turn on freedom of speech could suggest hypocrisy.

'As it happens though, you seem very much selectively outrage in that you ranted about the restrictions being placed on a reactionary bigot whose bigotry is congruent with your own, but none of the other restrictions of free speech in the western world.' Well again that is something you said about me. Please look at what I said Re the laws concerning holocaust denial and indeed albeit conditionally (I don't know enough about the case) the case of Iqbal. I supported free speech for both of those cases and thus your claim that I support Wilders as a fellow 'bigot' is groundless.

Finally you really seem to have thrown a complete Mickey with ' you have suggested that my way of thinking is responsible for the Holocaust as well as Marxist dictatorships.' Again I did not actually say that did I? In responding to criticisms you had made of myself and Bar Kochba as 'nationalists', I pointed out a few of the problems associated with Universalist doctrines. Marxism which in its governance killed approximately 125 million, Nazism whose racism killed between 25-54 million and Islamism another Universalist doctrine. There are differences of course between all three of those doctrines but all have killed. Now of course you may not and indeed I hope not associate with any such Universalist approach and I said so when I said 'If you (of course you may not be a Marxist, Islamist or whatever), were to apply your views to a political model what would it be?'

You see I was simply pointing out that taking a Universalist stance was not more moralistic than being nationalistic. I also gave you room to manoeuvre and outline your approach and accepted you may have nothing to do with universalism in some of its violent manifestations. 'You have suggested that my way of thinking is responsible for the Holocaust as well as Marxist dictatorships.' The fact remains is that it could be (if for instance you were a Marxist) and yet I accepted that it might not be if you were not.

Of course only a fool would exempt western democracy from the list of killers but it does in governance have a redeeming feature. The fact remains that in history no two democratic countries have gone to war with one another. If any exceptions to this list have occurred they are certainly exceptions to the rule. Such possible exceptions are usually examples of demagoguery.

Anyway good night it's late here. You can have a cut out and keep apology from me for suggesting earlier you were an anti-Semite. I refuse to withdraw my criticisms of universalism. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to how your universalism is so much more benign than other approaches?

Young Activist said...

Are you saying you favor a Kissinger approach to Somalia, but not elsewhere? I have a certain degree of respect (though certainly not admiration) for Kissinger. He thinks very much like I do, he just serves different objectives. Kissinger did not support any of those things because he agreed with them ideologically. He supported them because the interests of the state he was serving coalesced with the interests of the dictators. The Kissinger approach does not vary from area to area, so I don't understand how you could support it in Somalia but not elsewhere. Perhaps you could elaborate on that.

If you could provide evidence that anyone I have associated with has made anti-Semitic statements I would gladly disassociate from them. I am equally opposed to all bigotries.

If I misinterpreted what you said, which prior to your clarification was a reasonable interpretation, I do not see how that could be classified as a lie since a lie involves a willful attempt at deceit.

The discussion we had about Wilders prompted me to further look into to the issues of free speech and I was persuaded, like I said, by the slippery slope issue. Keep in mind that I did qualify those statements by saying that those positions were tentative. So yes, I now oppose prosecuting Wilders as well as Iqbal.

With Marxism and fascism fascism is certainly not a universalist ideology, it is based on extreme nationalism. Marxism is not a universalist ideology either in that it emphasizes class struggle and division. Just because it does not make distinctions along the lines of nationality does not mean it isn't a sectarian ideology. The regimes to which you alluded however can hardly be described as Marxist, although they applied that label to themselves (they also called themselves "democratic"). I do not believe those regimes were universalist in that their rhetoric was still us vs. them in nature, us and them were just filled by different players. But even if they were universalist, their most offensive characteristics come from a different ideology; totalitarianism. Just because there are ideologies other than nationalism that have fostered human rights abuses does not in any away mean that nationalism is absolved. As I see it the problems of nationalism and totalitarianism are separate issues, but since we seem to be in agreement about totalitarianism there is little use in discussing it. Islamic extremism is not universalist either. Universalism, or at least my conception of it, I do have an interest in linguistics, but the semantic issue is irrelevant to this discussion, mean the universal respect for the human rights of all people. In short a recognition of the universality of human rights and dignity based on the fundamental similarity of people everywhere accompanied by a toleration of differences. When you talk about universalism you seem to be thinking of an ideology that seeks to impose itself universally. As I mentioned, this was actually a key tenet of Jefferson's, whom you described as a great nationalist.

As far as any ideology I may have, let me reiterate that I have none. I view ideologies as the counterproductive conflation of moral and intellectual judgments. I told you I think like Kissinger, I have my objectives, but I think the best way to achieve them is by adapting to the present situation and not engaging in some utopian fantasy. I don't want to radically reconstruct any society, this would be untenable and ultimately unsuccessful, I want to fix problems in the existing system.

Indeed western democracy has a channel available for correcting its abuses that are not open in totalitarian regimes. Unfortunately the system is extremely flawed in that the government often represents neither the interests or views of the populace. Furthermore, there is the issue of the media which serves as cheerleaders for the official line. We can discuss this further if you'd like an example of how this works. I do support democracy, so please don't construe this as an advocacy for a different political system, but there are serious flaws. In the end the state, whether democratic or not, is an instrument that those who control the direction of policy use to advance their interests.

I used to hold your idealistic conception of democracy. Unfortunaly democracies do go to war with each other. I found an interesting article about this, although this is a very far from complete discussion of the topic, which we could discuss at greater length after you take a look.
http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/demowar.htm
Furthermore we can say that the U.S has actively subverted democracy in the third world when a democratic government, which depending on the country would have emerged were in not for Washington's meddling, would have advance the interests of its populace in conflict, and yes perhaps armed conflict, with the U.S would have broken out. In fact this did happen in Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Iran. The issue of democracies going to war with each other is a very interesting topic. In fact, I'll challenge you to a formal debate on the issue much I like I challenged Bar Kochba (and later you after he conceded the issue) to debate the Gaza onslaught.

Paul said...

'I found an interesting article about this, although this is a very far from complete discussion of the topic, which we could discuss at greater length after you take a look.
http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/demowar.htm'.

That is indeed not a bad website. It of course makes the point that nominally democratic nations have gone to war with one another. Again though I would qualify my point by looking at the twentieth century. The big killers were the autocrats, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and communist China. Not to mention the numerous revolutions etc. Of course along the way famine and pestilence (usually caused by war) exacted a toll as well. The reason I mention the twentieth century is that proper pluralistic democracy did not exist before then it was evolving.

I can't be bothered with this debate over nationalism/Universalism any more. That was my point there is nothing superior morally in taking a Universalist view. Certainly both have killed and it is clear to me that nationalism can be just as bad in some guises. Indeed a certain nationalistic terror campaign I can think of killed several people I knew.

'Are you saying you favour a Kissinger approach to Somalia, but not elsewhere? I have a certain degree of respect (though certainly not admiration) for Kissinger.' Well perhaps I should have clarified that position further. With Somalia I can see there being no prospect of achieving anything other than using the world’s navies to stop piracy. Also it is possible for them to enforce fishing quotas and stop illegal dumping. I can't envisage anything else being possible. I did feel that you were too idealistic when you mentioned something like helping the economy or whatever. I simply focused on what I felt could actually be done. I feel Kissinger would have done the same, although come to think of it he was perhaps just as likely to bankroll a suitable Somalian despot. I would ring fence the country with a naval blockade that stopped pirates but allowed Somalian fishermen that is all.

Young Activist said...

It makes no sense to equate the belief that all people have inherent basic rights, as encapsulated by the word universalism, with the belief that a totalitarian ideology is applicable to all people, because it could also be described as universal. These are two entirely different concepts, they are not different conceptions of the same belief, they are entirely different and entirely opposed, perhaps it would be helpful to come up with another term for one of them to avoid confusion, because they have nothing to do with each other.

With Somalia I don't see why the west would be concerned with stopping illegal fishing and dumping unless a backlash from it posed a serious threat to their security, which at this time it does not. Perhaps a little short sighted, but that's the way government is designed to work. I think many bureaucrats would be inclined to dismiss your proposed solution as too idealistic as well. Why would the west want to hamper the profitable activities of western firms? I've heard reports from Somalis that the western navies have even been protecting the illegal actions of the foreign firms in addition to preventing the illegal actions of locals. Its a topic I'd have to look into further before coming up with any detailed opinion though.