MacLeod on Norway By Roderick on July 25, 2011 9 See Ken MacLeods discussion of the Oslo/Utøya massacre. Labortarian, Left and Right, Left-Libertarian, Terror
Despite my lack of sympathy for “the mainstream right,” I can’t get myself to take Macleod seriously when he tries to associate this attack with mainstream anything, let alone the mainstream right. It also seems a bit, well, reductive to see it all that ideology as a mere epiphenomenon of an attack on “the organized labour movement.” I post these reflections here because I not only can’t make much sense of the discussion in his combox, but also don’t think I’d find much sympathy there. Am I missing something, or is Macleod’s analysis just boilerplate vulgar Marxism?
It doesn’t seem specifically Marxist to me.
I couldn’t make sense of it either.
It’s not specifically Marxist but it is silly and wrong. And frankly the way some leftists are reacting to this (insist on blaming “the Right” no matter how many people on the right denounce the violence) is reminding me unpleasantly of the anti-Muslim demagogues who insist against all evidence to the contrary that no Muslims anywhere (or at least not a large number of them, or at least not prominent ones, or at least not religiously devout ones, or when all else fails at least not slimeball Muslim dictators and hardcore Wahabist clerics) ever oppose terrorism. Left vs. Right, even of libertarian or supposedly philosophically rigorous forms, looks more and more to me like a clash of tribes than a clash of ideas.
I don’t see what’s “silly and wrong” about it. And it doesn’t seem that much of a stretch to put some of the blame for private-violence-motivated-by-ideal-X at the feet of those who advocate state-violence-motivated-by-ideal-X.
What seemed rather vulgarly Marxist about it to me was the suggestion that ideology is merely a superficial mask worn by a fundamental struggle between a movement of workers sufficiently unified to deserve a definite article and a reactionary, anti-worker force that morphs into whatever shape is most effective for undermining that movement. I called it vulgar for a reason.
What I haven’t seen yet is any indication that there is anything like a coherent or even familiar ideology behind these attacks. There’s a lot of apparently incoherent ranting about Muslims, European identity, Christendom, and anti-socialism, sure. But all that I’ve read looks more like a caricature of the mainstream right serving as a veneer for a questionably sane man’s rage and ethno-religious hatred. If you really think everyone in the mainstream right is questionably sane and wants to kill Muslims and anyone who allows them into “our” countries, then I’m not sure whether to conclude that you’re inexperienced or uncharitable.
I doubt whether it’s worth going much further on this without saying more about what “the mainstream right” is supposed to be. All I can say is that I know many Americans and Europeans who self-identify as conservative and who wouldn’t go anywhere near the guy’s ideology, let alone his acts.
It makes perfect sense to criticize right-wing demagogues on the grounds that they advocate state violence. And it certainly makes sense to call out the cognitive dissonance inherent in advocating state violence while denouncing non-state violence. I’d agree that advocating violence (state or other) against anyone who isn’t actively violent is blameworthy in itself. And certainly, anyone who advocated violence (state or other) against state-leftist youth groups and random people going about their business too close to car bombs, or whatever, ought to be made very uncomfortable. But blaming “the right” (however defined) for the massacre? I guess that makes sense in the same sort of Randian way that Iraqis were responsible for 9/11 or Reason Magazine was responsible for Loughner’s rampage (and probably for Oslo too, while we’re at it).
Of course the commentary on fascism is also silly. Fascism is against non-state labor unions, sure; so is actual-world communism. That’s not what makes it fascism (fascism is against a lot of things, naturally, as is any worldview or political ideology; it’s better to define them by what they’re for, not by what they’re against).
That post would have been a lot clearer if instead of ‘the mainstream right’ I had written ‘those parts of the political establishment, whether “right” or “left”, that have promoted or colluded in the promotion of hostility and suspicion towards Muslims in general, and in the framing of the freer movement of people of Muslim origin into Western Europe as an ongoing Muslim conquest of Europe’. Or something like that.
Re ‘the labour movement’: nothing fancy intended. The parties of the Socialist International and the unions affiliated to the ITUC and WFTU have between them a couple of hundred million members.
Perhaps you could explain how relatively prosperous, peaceful Lebanon turned into a civil-warring, fractious state when it went from supermajority Christian to supermajority Muslim?
Obviously you have your own over-arching theories about these matters. But the amusing part is your veneer of a Holy Priest, guarding society from wolves like me who dare hold “bigoted, fascist, right wing” blah blah opinions. It is always easy to psychoanalyze your opponents in your own cocoon than it is to confront them or understand them. Obviously, you have determined that people like me are genocidal maniacs that must.be.stopped and we have no rational arguments at all. Therefore you may learn nothing from cockroaches like me. You, sir are nothing but an unreconstructed Marxist. This is because you construct meta-narratives to demonize people who hold a certain view with no attempt to grapple with their arguments. Granted, they may be 100% wrong, but it still requires an honest appraisal, no matter how much you detest the substance. I come here looking for libertarian opinion, but, amusingly some Marxist bullshit gets filtered down as well. You are free to debate Islam and multiculturalism with any of us bigots, racists, fascists, etc without any name-calling. But I hear you may be incapable of it, solid in your own righteousness and pathologically incapable of understanding, for example, Geert Wilders’ admirers.