Euston Meets The New World


Chris Bertram notes that the "Euston Manifesto" movement "a British-based initiative by various self-described leftists some of whom were big supporters of the Iraq war and all of whom share an obsession with the idea that 'Enlightenment values' are under threat from a nefarious coalition of Islamists, postmodernists and Chomskyites" has launched an American outpost featuring -- naturally enough -- a new manifesto (or perhaps it's a meta-manifesto) on the subject of "American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto." The curious thing, as Chris points out, is that:

[The list of signatories] contains figures not usually thought of as having much to do with the left as traditionally construed. They include Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Walter Laqueur, Martin Peretz and Ronald Radosh. Laqueur has become the victim of a Mark Steyn-like obsession with demography and recently gave a positive review of Michael Gove’s execrable Celsius 7/7 in the the TLS, Peretz – a member of the pro-war “Democratic Leadership Council” – has just joined the advisory board of Lewis Libby’s defense fund, and Radosh is a regular writer for David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag.

As a point of correction, let me note that Peretz is the owner/editor of The New Republic and has nothing in particular to do with the Democratic Leadership Council. Signatory Will Marshall is the head honcho of the Progressive Policy Institute which is the DLC's think tank. The leadership of the DLC/PPI nexus is, however, composed of people who self-consciously identify as progressives and really ought to be viewed as such. Peretz and Radosh, however, are different cases. Much the same could be said of signatory Fred Siegel who's not a hawkish liberal or a moderate liberal -- he's just not a liberal. You can ask him about that if you'd like. One searches in vain through his c.v. that signatory Robert Leiken is any sort of liberal. At any rate, I don't recognize a lot of these names, so I'll stop.

The combination of the roster of signatories with what can only be called the remarkable vacuity of the text suggests that this is another signpost on the road during which a certain number of liberal intellectuals will become conservatives. The doctrine spelled out explicitly -- that fundamentalist Islam provides a poor basis for governance, that terrorist attacks are immoral, that it would be better if Iran didn't build a nuclear bomb, that anti-semitism is bad, and that an Iranian nuclear first strike against Israel would be a very bad thing indeed -- is almost frightening in its banality. The inference that the reader is plainly intended to draw from the statement -- that those of us who've been agitating against those who are agitating to start a war with Iran are anti-semites, apologists for terrorism, and perhaps eager to see the population of Israel wiped out in an unprovoked nuclear first strike -- is offensive in the extreme.