Some unacknowledged assumptions of standard left and liberal opinion are worth acknowledging – David Hirsh

1. Israel is so powerful that it could, if it chose, simply by an act of the will, make peace or defend itself without hurting anybody. That it doesn’t do it is an indication only of the malice and stupidity of its leaders.

2. America is so powerful that bad things happen in the world only if America wills them, or if America is so utterly negligent as to allow them.

3. Yet America is not sufficiently powerful to act for the good or in the spirit of its stated values and norms.

4. These are fundamentally the assumptions of conspiracy theory. We’d rather believe that the bad people were flying the plane, in their own bad interests, then that nobody is at the controls.

5. It is self-infantilization dressed up as skeptical and mature wisdom. We put ourselves in the position of children, powerless next to the grownups. We relieve ourselves of our share of responsibility for what happens in the world by positioning ourselves as victims of the adults. We oppose, we rebel, we speak truth to power, we have tantrums, we declare “not in my name”, but we never take responsibility.

6. Our only anger is with our own adults, who are responsible for everything bad; we have no anger for others, who are fundamentally driven by passion, incapable of reason, victims of circumstance and who are successful in frightening the grown ups more than we can manage; this gives us a frisson of excitement.

7. Sometimes when things go badly it is appropriate to be angry with those responsible, to denounce them and to demonize them; othertimes when things go badly it is appropriate to empathize with perpetrators and to understand why really our own “grownups” are responsible. Which of these two responses is required depends on whether we wish to punish our enemies or whether we wish to infantilize them and find somebody else responsible.

8. If you want to unsettle the grown ups, be nasty to the Jews.  Jews are “us”, “our grownups”, but not quite “us”.  They’re a bit “other” too.

9. There is no legal, moral or political distinction between intentional killing and other sorts of deaths which are deemed to be avoidable. This is also conspiracy theory; if our grownups willed it, deaths by smoking, sugary drinks, poverty, AIDS, war, disease would all be stopped. Our grownups profit for these deaths and so decide not to stop them. This is the same as murder, genocide, crucifixion and ethnic cleansing.

At the demonstration for the Yazidis at the weekend in London there were about 300 people. There was a chant: “Who are the terrorists?”.

Normally, this question is understood as “Who are the REAL terrorists?”. The answer is Israel or America.

At this demonstration, the answer was “ISIS”.

Q. “Who are the Terrorists?”
A. “The Terrorists are the Terrorists”.

A radical subversion of the dominant paradigm.

David Hirsh

Goldsmiths Sociology

3 Responses to “Some unacknowledged assumptions of standard left and liberal opinion are worth acknowledging – David Hirsh”

  1. east1956 Says:

    An excellent article.
    I remained perpetually amazed that outwardly intelligent people are unable to see beyond the here and now and work out the consequences of the things that they demand. They not only infantilise themselves but those around them.
    The BDS movement is one, where surely if the EU / world applies sanctions against Israel, the consequences for the Palestinians would be catastrophic. Can no one work out what Israel would do if sanctions were applied? Would it really facilitate the landing of UNRWA cargoes; or collect tax for the PNA; allow continue to allow serious Palestinian medical cases to have access to the Israeli health care system; supply utilities if the PNA doesn’t pay the bill? (I have yet to hear of one of the BDS people decline to accept “Zionazi” generic drugs that are widely dispensed on the NHS – but that’s another kettle of fish.)
    The same goes for the Single State cheer leaders who seem unable to comprehend that Israelis and Palestinian societies are so different that attempting to force them together would be a recipe for catastrophe, mainly I suspect for the Palestinians in terms of loss of life.
    Sometime I think that these people really are only compost in a temporary state of animation, as an old acquaintance has a wont to state all to often.

  2. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Further, such people prefer that inconvenient truths (such as this, from The Times of Israel: don’t get published: an Israeli Arab surgeon (head of surgery at Hadassah Hospital) not only saves the life of the Israeli soldier shot by an attempted assassin, but sees this as no big deal. He’s a doctor, that’s what he does. That’s he’s a Israeli is irrelevant, although he’s proud of the fact and that his son served in the IDF tho’ he didn’t is also relevant.

    But most relevant is that he’s a medic doing his job (unstated,like those Israeli Jewish doctors who treat Palestinians/Syrian, etc, who come across the borders). He does wish for a solution, without stating what his preferred one is “Guys, settle it already”.

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