Sunday, 18 October 2015

Nick Cohen - one of the finest journalists of his generation - has left The Left. Rejoice!

I know I'm a month late with this, but the news broke when I was changing computers, and this undoubtedly momentous and significant development simply slipped through the cracks. Here, Cohen discusses his decision on YouTube:

Like Orwell before him (and, of course, many others), Cohen's socialistic attitude to perceived social and economic unfairness in his own country hasn't blinded him to its considerable merits, or to the glaring faults of its enemies. In addition, he doesn't automatically dismiss all conservatives and right-wingers as wicked, and doesn't buy into the current left-wing narrative that the West is entirely responsible for the large number of foreign and home grown Islamofascists and their atheistic fellow-travellers who not only reject our liberal freedoms, but who are determined to destroy them here, at source. Unlike the hate-filled creatures of the Corbynist Far Left, he doesn't subscribe to the morally deranged notion that his enemy's enemy - no matter how evil, barbarous and just plain wrong they might be - should be seen as a "friend". And he has managed to reach this conclusion despite the considerable disadvantage of a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford. Respect! 

In the unlikely event that you've never read anything by Nick Cohen, I recommend his 2008 book, What''s Left?, in which he tore into his fellow-leftists for their insane, unstinting and utterly unprincipled support of any movement - no matter how disgusting its actions or how nihilistic its "ideas" - which claimed to be anti-West, anti-American and, of course, anti-Israeli.  (Sorry - anti-Zionist. Silly me.) If you want an example of Cohen's shorter writings, there's a 2006 New Statesman article in which he describes interviewing Ted Honderich, Grote Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at University College London. Ted (presumably not his given name) is now retired, but still keen to promote his views (he believes that Palestinians have a "moral right" to commit acts of terror in Israel - sorry, Palestine - because their murderous violence is apparently based on "true humanity" - okay, Ted sounds like a total nut-job, but I expect it makes sense if you're really, really clever). Presumably in order to further the cause of terrorism (as long as its aim is to terrorise Jews - sorry, Israelis) the Prof, it has just emerged, contributed £5,000 to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign. (I should point out - because everyone else seems to feel it's necessary - that the new Labour leader isn't it in the slightest bit anti-Semitic: he just spends a lot of time hanging out with vicious anti-Semites and can't bring himself to say the word Israel, even when addressing Labour's Friends of Israel group.) 

The whole of Cohen's Honderich article (which can be read here) is fascinating. Here's a key section:
Al-Qaeda isn't the fault of poverty, it turns out. It's the fault of the Jews. "With respect to 9/11, its prime necessary connection is neo-Zionism. Not the establishment of Israel but the expansion of Israel into the last fifth of historic Palestine and I stick to that absolutely."
I put the usual objections, that we've had Ba'athism, the Iranian revolution and al-Qaeda campaigns from the Philippines to his native Canada. Wasn't he worried that he was sounding a little anti-Semitic when he blamed all this violence on a filthy little war over a patch of land on the eastern Mediterranean? Wasn't he once again turning the Jew into a supernatural figure responsible for half the violence on the planet? He wouldn't accept that. Nor would he accept that he had switched from defending the far left to defending the far right. "There is a great deal of continuity in my work," he said with orotund satisfaction. "There is, and I'm perfectly happy about that." He was "delighted" not to be like "a lot of people, of whom perhaps you are one, who have managed, as you would say, to educate yourself and change your views under various pressures. One of them, by the way, is the pressure of being Jewish."    
Nope. Doesn't sound in the least anti-Semitic to me. No, siree! 

In case I'm giving the impression that Cohen (who has a decidedly Jewish name and doesn't exactly look as if his ancestors hail from Trondheim) is some sort of full-on Zionist obsessed by his racial roots - very far from it. It's just that, as he puts it, "From the far left to the Liberal Democrats, alleged progressives have Jews on the brain." The issue of Israel, by feeding the evident compulsion of political extremists to divide the world into Underdogs who can do no wrong and Oppressors who can do no right, has revealed large sections of the Left to be as irrational, hate-filled and racist as any of the fascist sects of the so-called Far Right. The Left may not be the masters now - but they're most certainly the fascists now. No wonder Cohen - who has done so much to call his former fellow-believers to account - has finally had bloody well enough.

Nick Cohen won't be joining the Conservatives or UKIP any time soon. There probably aren't many political issues  on which he would agree with a right-winger like me. But we have a lot more in common than either of us do with the shrieking, spittle-spraying horde of Nazis who did their best to disrupt the recent Tory Party conference - or than either of us do with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell. It'll be interesting to see if Cohen finds a new political home somewhere on the left of the political divide: I suspect it might take him some time. Anyway, good luck to him, and more power to his pen - he's one of the good guys, and far too good for the rancid shower he's left behind.  

1 comment:

  1. When I read the words of an arrogant clown like Honderich it really does make me wonder whether there is any sense left in our universities.

    Good luck to Mr Cohen. I hope he can survive as a lone yachtsman because I suspect it will take him a very long time indeed to find a safe harbour on the Left. He's clearly a bit too sane.