A new day breaks on the left

April 14, 2006

At last there’s a new left — still nascent, but decent, principled, brave, admirable — breaking like a new dawn over the abyss of these past, dark, hateful years.

A group of liberal bloggers hubbed out of the UK have put together The Euston Manifesto, a powerful statement of concepts and principles that nonetheless reduces — as it seems to me — to a single elemental: we owe it to ourselves and our fellows to be decent human beings. We expect it of ourselves, we expect it of others. That’s all it takes; that’s all it was ever going to take. When was it the left was last reminded of that?

Christ, what a relief. It was a long time coming. For how long have we had to endure the left’s hijacking by the Pilgers, the Fisks, the Chomskys, the Road to Surfdoms, the Larvatus Prodeos, the jackals that tore apart the carcase of one we once loved and left it for the wolves who wait to devour us?

Perhaps now we can begin to make a stand. To be part of the left’s new renaissance. To reclaim its self-respect. To redeem it for liberty, its ancient bellwether. To rescue it from the strutters and poseurs, from the academy, from the institutions and the bureaucracies, and return it to the real people it sprung from, and for whom it meant things so very different.

Once the left spoke near to the best part in us; now it speaks very close to the worst. It’s time to bring it back.

More at normblog, Harry’s Place.

You can sign the Manifesto here.

Update: Sorry if that sounds a bit hyperbolic (thanks, Jason). It was born of a rare moment of passion which I hope to repeat within the next year or two.



  1. Yawn.
    What is there in the Manifesto that social democrats haven’t been banging on about for years?

  2. You signed it then, Liam?

  3. Why the hell would I sign it? It’s a totally pointless document. They say they’re very concerned about the consequences of ostracising people if they splinter or deviate from any ‘line’ then produce a manifesto. Bah.
    Signed your Loyalty Oath Rob?

  4. So the principles of social democracy have become ‘totally pointless’, Liam.

    I’m glad you took the tourble — apparently — to read it, anyway.

    As good a time as any to remember the words written last October by Pamela Bone, the former Age journalist currently under sentence of death from cancer:

    ‘”A move back towards the left for you?” a regular correspondent emailed, in response to a recent column. “I never left the left. The left left me,” I replied. “The left I thought I was part of didn’t make common cause with fascists.” This did not please him.’

    Nor you either, Liam, I suspect.

  5. Thank you for implying Rob that I make ‘common cause with fascists’ for not signing a manifesto. Charming.
    Any left that enforced a moral duty to keep within political boundaries—especially one set by the middle-class, affluent opinion pages of the Age—isn’t one that’s worth the time.
    As far as I’m concerned, le gauche, c’est moi.

  6. Is that gauche or just gauche, Liam?

  7. Take your pick, I’ll answer to either.

  8. Rob. I studied India, politics history etc, at a Sydney university under an old leftist who had documented the whole leftist movement in India from every angle for the past 50 years. His views confirmed my own observations on visits to India and interactions with Indians over 30 years.
    To summarise, every leftist idea has been tried in India, many times in fact, and they all failed. The only thing which brought a sustainable increase in the living standards of most Indians was freemarket capitalism. The opening of markets in 1990 led to a sudden jump in income for one 3rd of the citizens, the new middle class, whose taxes boosted govt revenue to the point where they can now pay pensions and even unemployment and disaster relief to every Indian citizen. Social democratic programs only became possible with capitalism!
    The same is true of China. Between them we have almost half the world’s population, the greatest rise in living standards in the world’s history, thanks to open markets.

  9. Thanks Rob. Sounds like the last chance for the honourable Old Left to be revivified. I’m not optimistic, though. (See above). There seems to be just too much craziness to turn around. Still, the initiative deserves promotion.

  10. “Sounds like the last chance for the honourable Old Left to be revivified.”

    FMD. If it was honourable, it probably wasn’t “Left”. Fuck revivification. I say drive a GMO t-bone steak through its black heart, cut off its eight heads and stuff them with $ bills.

    Apologies for being grouchy, again, Rob, but what is so impressive about a grab-bag of PC bullshit and motherhood statements? A cursory glance shows a number of internal contradictions, so the document’s a recipe for splittism.

    I mean, it’s not exactly the Declaration of Independence, is it? As far as mission statements go, that was a far less crap example, and has done far more for liberty, equality and fraternity than anything these mysterious “social democrats” [ever met an anti-social democrat?] produced.

  11. Bruce, I agree the command economy is dead and India and China (and perhaps more latterly Vietnam) have only been able to prosper and progress to the extend they ditched the socialist model. If anyone doubts that socialism has really failed, they should ask themselves where China would be today if it had not fallen to Mao’s forces in 1949.

    As I wrote somewhere or other, socialism is a marvellous idea that doesn’t work, and capitalism is a terrible idea that does.

    I don’t think economic socialism will ever come back from the dead. I’m just hoping hoping that The Euston Declaration may come to represent a turning point which marked the beginning of the recovery of the left’s moral compass.

    Like C.L., though, I am not all that optimistic. Still, we ought to spread the word.

  12. You are being grouchy, Fyodor, and I don’t know why. I wholly agree with your last paragraph, if you will be kind enough to allow me to say it.

  13. Absofeckinlutely.

  14. Trackback.

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