Distinctions and nihilism – Saul

Last night I was watching “Have I got news for you”.  One of the topics discussed concerned Nick Griffin’s proposed appearance at the Queen’s garden party.  One of the panelists repeated an idea that I have heard increasingly often amongst those who identify with left politics, that taking account the normal composition of the invitees, what is the big deal about Griffin not only being invited but also attending; after all, it is implied, the garden party is emblematic of British racism; so, what’s the difference. And, in support of such a thesis a joke about the racist comments made by Philip inevitably follows.

What struck me last night was the lack of political understanding of both racism and the BNP.  More specifically, that there is no analytical distinction  (nor complex links) between the inherent,  casual and unpleasant racism of the British establishment and that of a political party whose entire philosophy, existence and attempts at mobilisation centres on racism, racist exclusions and the denial of not only rights but also the very humanity of individuals, who are reduced to abstract and negative evaluated collectivities  (i.e. Jews, Muslims, Gays, Lesbians, etc. and so forth).

Unfortunately, it is not only this issue that illustrates the current bankruptcy of contemporary and populist left thinking.   In the opposite direction, one can see it at work also in discussions of Israel and of antisemitism.

It is as a consequence of this failure of thought that the nature of Israeli racism against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and in Israeli society is reduced to the fatuousness of a comparison of Israel with Nazi Germany, Zionism with racism and Gaza with the Warsaw Ghetto.  It is similarly at play not only in the inability of the left to confront and analyse the antisemitism that establishes itself within much antizionist rhetoric and practice, but also in its hackneyed responses of “Zionist manipulation” and bad faith to those who dare raise the issue.

In times gone by, the left sought to offer an analysis and critique of its times. Now, as the points above illustrate, some on the left have reduced themselves to nothing more than a radical expression of the nihilism that as both discussions around the BNP and of the situation in Israel and Palestine illustrate, characterise the political landscape of contemporary Britain.


5 Responses to “Distinctions and nihilism – Saul”

  1. Linda Grant Says:

    There was a very different response when the same question was put to representatives of the three main parties plus the Greens on Any Questions last night. Have I Got News For You hardly represents the left but stand ups looking for a quick laugh.

  2. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Those people who point a finger at the Jewish Democratic State and accuse Israel wholesale to be racist point three fingers at themselves.
    The qualifying of Israel as an “apartheid state” goes together with denying racism and antisemitism in Europe. Not only is such a left incapable to analyze the situation in their own country but it is also incapable to recognise the facts at home.
    This is the sure way to self-marginalisation.

  3. Saul Says:

    Thanks for your comment.
    However, I never dismiss humour as a baromter of the times.

    I am pleased to hear of the responses but the main parties, but they were not the subject of my comment.

    My concern is with populist (left) radicalism that thinks there is no difference between Obama and Bush (a common populist left position), who think that there is no difference between the Queen and a neo-nazi, who think that breaking the windows of a bankers house or a starbucks is “radical” action.

    That’s all.


  4. Ignorance is bliss Says:

    If I recall, a similar response was made on the News Quiz.
    I think that Saul has picked up something of the cynicism that is currently part of the popular zeitgeist – especially in its crude official politics bad/cynical criticism bad – that infuses popular culture at the moment.

    I, for one, have often wondered of the coincidence between the success of the Da Vinci Code and the acceptance of the “Israel Lobby”.

    But, yes, at the moment, it is the main parties making the stand; it is the cynicism of popular opinion that is undermining it though.

  5. Ignorance is bliss Says:

    crude official politics bad/cynical criticism bad

    should read,

    crude official politics bad/cynical criticism good.


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