There’s a very kind review of What’s Left? in this week’s Economist. It ends, though, by saying that I don’t explain why betrayal is so endemic at the moment. Perhaps I should have put a list in the conclusion, but I hoped that the explanation ran through the book. It is four pronged.
1. The reviewer quotes the first himself or herself (this is the Economist so I don’t know) earlier in the review. Socialism is dead and this has freed the far left to abandon its old taboos and form alliances with or make excuses for the ultra-Right. The Economist could be forgiven for not knowing it, but in moments of crisis many otherwise sane liberal people can embrace the far Left’s slogans and postures while all the time pretending that they remain sane and liberal while they do it.
2. In the chapter on post-modernism I explain how the idea that it was somehow culturally imperialist to criticise reactionary movements and ideas, as long as they aren’t European or American reactionary movements and ideas of course, gained hold. This delusion is everywhere now. It lies behind the extreme form of multi-culturalism we have in this country.
3. And I hope I never underestimate it in Part Two, justifiable horror at the disasters of the Bush presidency.
4. The argument Martin Kettle touches on below. Middle class liberals don’t know what to do now and have an uneasy relationship with democracy. This is the hardest point to pin down. But you only have to look at their willingness to use the courts to enforce their will or to restrict freedom of speech to realise that many liberals are falling out of love with the free elections and robust debates that define liberal democracy.
Anyway, you can read the review here but only if you are a subscriber.
Oh yes, and 5, as the reviewer suggests, fear. When confronted with a psychopath, one tactic is to blame yourself for his rage in the hope that your admission of guilt will pacify him.