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    It’s raining manifestos

    by Sunny
    13th April, 2006 at 3:12 pm    

    Manifestos are all the rage these days. First came the Manifesto Club earlier this week, and now the pro-war left have launched their own Euston Manifesto. On top of that, I’m working on my own one.

    I have a few comments. While I largely agree with the thrust of their proposal (except I always have been staunchly anti-Iraq-war), I cannot help but smell a faint whiff of hypocrisy. Complaints that the MSM does not adequately represent them can be easily dismissed and are as familiar as American neo-cons constantly complaining their media is too liberal.

    More importantly if they care about civil liberties so much, why do they studiously maintain a silence when draconian powers are used against anti-war protestors or during the ‘gloryfying terrorism’ legislation? I thought freedom of speech had no caveats? Will they be saying anything about Milan Rai’s court case for example?

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Civil liberties,Party politics

    23 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Robert Sharp » Blog Archive » The Euston Manifesto

      [...] The Euston Manifesto proposes a fresh political alignment. Their suggestion that their viewpoints are bing under-represented in the mainstream media doesn’t ring true for me: Everyone, of every political persuasion is saying that! Nevertheless, it is an interesting document with sentiments I support. [...]

    2. All About Nothing » Blog Archive » Thoughts on the Euston “Manifesto”

      [...] The problem is that BOTH sides sweep issues under the carpet. Israel’s reluctance to move towards a two-state solution (based on UN conventions)… the lack of freedom of religion in the Middle Eastern states, the support of the Neo-con right of the Middle Eastern dictatorships. And, as Robert Sharp points out, the biggest problem of our times - climate change. Link [...]

    3. Pickled Politics » The Euston Manifesto revisited

      [...] I think this is an important point. I frequently agree on issues with David T on Harry’s Place but there are reasons why I don’t want to sign the document. So what camp do I go in? The anti-war left, true. But do I align myself with religious fanatics? Erm, no. Do I have an irrational hatred of America? I don’t know, but given I recently enjoyed spending a month partying in LA and Las Vegas, I doubt it. Anti-semitic? I certainly hope others don’t think that. [...]

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    1. leon — on 13th April, 2006 at 4:42 pm  

      You’re writing your own manifesto?! *is intrigued*:)

    2. matt — on 13th April, 2006 at 5:38 pm  

      re: The Euston Manifesto

      All groups seem to feel under-represented by the media, claiming that the news is dominated by whatever group you happen to be opposed to. It’s certainly the weakest part of the manifesto. The anti-Americanism bit could have been more subtle as well.

      But aside from these minor quibbles it appears to be quite worthwhile.

    3. Steve M — on 13th April, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

      I think that the advent of the Euston Manifesto is a significant event in the political spectrum. However, to describe it as the voice of the ‘pro-war left’ is to sell it short.

      The ‘Euston Left’ is here for the long term and will, I believe, become more influential. So come on Sunny. Sign the damn thing and corrupt us from within. You know you want to. ;-)

    4. raz — on 13th April, 2006 at 8:17 pm  

      Reading the manifesto, once again I see more of this pathetic obsession with Israel/Palestine which is so prevelant amongst the opposing factions of the ‘Left’. Fuck the lot of them.

    5. Siddhartha Sinatra — on 13th April, 2006 at 9:26 pm  

      I found it to be a document of two halfs. The first half was brilliant. It was a true alignment with the Universal Declaration. Human rights for all, Equality, Development for freedom, No apology for tyranny. Nothing a sensible intelligent person can fault. I loved the inclusion of ‘Open Source’. I’m even willing to forgive the insertion of ‘Opposing anti-Americanism’ for its incongruity, in spite of which this can be the mandate for any Liberal movement within any country. And it is trully Internationalist in that respect.

      Then we come to second half which is like a proviso to the wonderful sentiments that have just been brilliantly elucidated in the first. The “Elaborations” section is the bit which gets bitchy, petulant and distinctly non-universal. This is the meat of the Euston Manifesto:
      1) We are unconditionbally pro-War.
      2) To be Anti-Zionist is to be anti-Semitic
      3) The crimes of the Iraqi War alliance and in particular America, which include Abu Graib, Guantanamo and “rendition” are merely “a departure from universal principles”.
      4) Iraqis who oppose the Invasion are “gangs of jihadist and Baathists”. And “gangs of jihadist and Baathists” are Iraqis who oppose the Invasion. There is no middle ground.

      So its not universalist and internationalist at all. What it is is exclusivist and partisan.
      So to be Eustonian is to be a Muscular Liberal Pro-War-Non-Stopper.

      If you’re writing a manifesto too Sunny, I’d use the first half of this. The Eustonists should not mind because these are not ideas exclusive to “Muscular Liberals” only. They apply to everyone. And in any case, they’re pro-Open Source.

    6. Siddhartha Sinatra — on 13th April, 2006 at 9:28 pm  

      Oh and,
      5) Don’t critique Israel. It is anti-Zionist to do so. See above (2) for definition of anti-Zionism.

    7. Fisking Central — on 13th April, 2006 at 10:21 pm  

      The Manifesto Club:

      “2. We support experimentation in all its forms - scientific, social and personal.”

      Not sure about that. Two words. Josef. Mengele.

    8. leon — on 13th April, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

      I don’t think it’ll last, well not as a campaign. Where is the office, the staff, the resources a politcal campaign needs to run? What events will it hold? What right do they have to speak on behalf of the entire left (I’d like to see some Anarchists faces at the thought of that!)?

      The EM looks like some inverted mirror image of the SWP from I stand…

    9. matt — on 13th April, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

      The Manifesto Club seem to be affiliated with the Spiked-online ex-Living Marxism lot (Frank Furedi, Josie Appleton, Brendan O’Neill, etc). While a lot of what they say can make sense, they do have a tendency to take things too far down the libertarian, free-market-solution-to-everything route for my liking.

      More info on them can be found here:

    10. Jay Singh — on 14th April, 2006 at 12:50 am  

      Bloody hell - just clicked on matt’s link - didnt realise there were so many revolutionary communist parties around the world - and not one single revolution happened heh

    11. Steve M — on 14th April, 2006 at 1:15 am  

      Siddhartha, Your critical facilities seem to be rather dull. Having read the Euston Manifesto carefully I can’t recognise what you describe as its ‘meat’.

      Absolute nonsense.

    12. Sunny — on 14th April, 2006 at 1:18 am  

      I guess my main problem with the manifesto is that it takes certain people too seriously. Yes, some idiots on the left have suddenly become best friends with theocrats. This is best evidenced by a pamphlet that the Hizb ut Tahrir front magazine New Civilisation published, titled - Why the Left Should Support The Caliphate. I had never heard of a more ludicrous thing for a long time…. but its shows the religious right is clearly trying to exploit the radical left, and vice versa.

      A marriage of fools… but one that we can largely ignore. George Galloway will hopefully be out on his ass by the next GE when the Bangladeshi residents realise he has done nothing for their constituency.

      Surely the bigger problem for the Left is the dominance of the Neo-con Right and how its tried to hijack the same progressive agenda (“we care about establishing democracy”, “we care about poverty in Africa”) for their own ends. Unfortunately the Left seems to be forever fighting itself. I don’t really want to get involved in such a fight. All of us seem to be progressives, we all want the best for Iraqis etc etc…. so we at least agree on the bigger issues.

      The problem is that BOTH sides sweep issues under the carpet. Israel’s reluctance to move towards a two-state solution (based on UN conventions)… the lack of freedom of religion in the Middle Eastern states, the support of the Neo-con right of the Middle Eastern dictatorships. And, as Robert Sharp points out, the biggest problem of our times - climate change.

    13. Sunny — on 14th April, 2006 at 1:20 am  

      Oh and the Manifesto Club launch was quite interesting… Munira Mirza seems to be heading it, though I don’t know if she’s just a figurehead for what is essentially Frank Furedi’s newest vehicle. But she’s a nice gal, Munira.

      Leon - as for my own efforts… well, all will be revealed in good time ;)

    14. douglas — on 14th April, 2006 at 7:03 am  


      Looking forward to your manifesto. If it comes across anything like the way you post, I for one, will sign it.

      Please try to avoid the mistakes that the Euston Manifesto makes. Particularily’

      “The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted – rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.”

      Whilst I largely agree with the sentiment, it is frankly an apologia for the post war - as in Bush’s ‘we’ve won’ statement - and does nothing to address the barbaric behaviour of the US both in Iraq and globally. i feel at liberty to criticise the US for their failure to apply the Geneva Convention to the prisoners at Gitmo, it was within their power to have acted differently, they did not need to get barbaric lawyers to justify their position. As for rendition, it is a complete denial of democratic principles, and it is difficult to see how they justify it to themselves.

      It is also clear to me that wrapping up the invasion of Iraq in some catch all ‘War on Terror’, was a lie told by politicians to their electorate. Whether there was a better case, as Harry’s Place has convincingly argued, is beside the point. It ought to be a given that politicians do not lie, or wind their electorates up, with shit like 45 minutes, weapons of mass destruction, etc.

      I, for one, was particularily enraged by the early use of extreme force against children, that seems to have characterised the heavy handed nature of the US intervention. I know it is just a single incident, but it is representative of a mind set. When a Bradley was attacked by insurgents, it was left as a smouldering wreck by it’s crew. Subsequently children, as they do, ran to the wreckage. The US military, in their wisdom, decided that enough was enough and sent in an Apache gunship which murdered not only the kids playing on the Bradley, but also the cameraman who was filming it. This is a matter of no importance to US electors, has been suppressed in the press, although in MVHO it is a continuation of the contempt that the US brings to foreign relations, exemplified by My Lai, but by no means exclusivelly.

      It is the inability to address the wrong headedness of the US, both the administration and it’s public, and their willingness to countenance a foreign policy based on the ‘illuminated parking lot’ principle, which means nukes, which I find deplorable.

      Please avoid these pitfalls when you write your own.

    15. Sunny — on 14th April, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

      Well, you put it better than I did Douglas. Plus, the implication that anyone anti-war is automatically going to become best friends with Hizb ut Tahrir types, that annoys me too. Though I’ve pretty much given up on the Stop The War people.

      My own manifesto has nothing to do with the war etc, that much I can assure you guys. :)

    16. Robert — on 14th April, 2006 at 3:48 pm  

      Siddhartha - The Euston Manifesto does not say that if you are anti-Zionist, you are anti-semitic. Instead, they say that ant-semites hide behind the anti-Zionist banner.

      “Anti-zionism, anti-semitism”. The line between these two is blurred by both sides of the debate. However, even a cursory, critical glance at the Euston Manifesto suggests to me that this is not happening there. The order of words matters, and is quite clear.

      Indeed, surely ‘a two state solution’ is an anathema to the true Zionists who believe in Greater Israel.

    17. Steve M — on 14th April, 2006 at 8:27 pm  

      ‘True Zionists’ believe in a Jewish state, not a ‘Greater Israel’. You’re getting Zionists confused with Jewish religious fundamentalist nuts.

    18. douglas — on 17th April, 2006 at 1:41 am  


      Thanks for your comment, I was beginning to think I was the only person who thought like that.

      You are quite right to avoid the darkness of the other side. It is a given that when two sides go to war - where have i head that before? - that the common ground is cut out from under us.

      There was a very amusing ‘Dads Army’ episode when Captain Mainwairing was given slides of Germans, so that we could identify the ‘Hun’. He exclusively pointed to their ‘red necks’, or their ‘close and buldging eyes’ and completely ignored their uniforms.

      Whilst the analogy is imperfect, I do think the US has a self centred viewpoint that demonises the ‘other’.

      Their publicity machine is quite unstopable, at least in terms of US public opinion. When that engine get’s wound up, for example over 9/11, it’s consequences are imessurable. The publicity machine walks over anyone who disagress, demonises them , even. So the enemies without, and the enemies within are evil, demons even.

      This seems to be the American psyche, until finally good people stand up against it. I would prefer if good Yanks did not need to go through a catharsis before they went ‘Woops, there goes Asia’. And then they realised they didn’t actually mean it, sorry, we’re really good guys really, etc. etc …..

      Anyway, love your blog, it is a breath of fresh air.

    19. Siddhartha Sinatra — on 17th April, 2006 at 11:59 am  

      Sunny, lets be clear and stop falling for the confidence trick that the ProWar Left is Left. They mark a break from the Left plain and simple.

      This OUTSTANDING comment by Mark Marquess on CIF on the Euston Manifesto is clear, calm and angry and, I hope, it finally marks the actual Left Getting its Groove Back on the issue of the War.

      When I read this I had to stand up and applaud my monitor. It is a complete dismantling of the Euston Manifesto’s illusion of the what it thinks is the moral high ground. Do yourselves a favour and read it. Its fookin’ excellent!

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