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The Euston Manifesto

Posted: Sat May 27, 2006 8:17 pm
by jack stowaway
The news clipping below (UK Guardian) is the first time the Manifesto has come to my attention.

Following the news clipping is an extract from the Manifesto including a link to the full document. I applaud the inclusion of a clause condemming the mindless Anti-Americanism so rife in the Left-Liberal media and the balanced approach to the Israel-Palestine question.

All roads should lead to Euston

Last thursday, I chaired the official launch meeting for the Euston Manifesto, which I played a tiny part in writing. The Euston what? Come now, surely you must have heard of it. There have been 300,000 mentions of it on the internet and it has provoked rave reviews and splenetic denunciations in the mainstream press. If you don't believe me, type 'Euston Manifesto' into Google and see if your computer can cope with the workload.

Yet its success is puzzling. Academics, journalists and bloggers, who met in a pub in Euston, produced it and, at first glance, their work seems nothing more than a straightforward restatement of obvious leftish values. You should not allow cultural relativists to persuade you that brown-skinned women should not enjoy the same rights as white-skinned women, for instance. There should be no excuses made for fascistic religious movements and totalitarian states.

Yet you only have to look at the Liberal Democrats, read the liberal press or turn on the Today programme to realise that these values are no longer obvious.

It is not at all clear that modern, middle-class, liberal-leftists are either liberal or left wing in the old senses of the words, although they will always be middle class to their bones. Many of them are becoming little Englanders, all for human rights and democracy at home but not abroad.

I guess this is why an obscure manifesto has created such a fuss, not only in Britain, but in the United States and Europe. Many people have had an uneasy feeling that the mainstream liberal-left is going badly wrong. The manifesto explains why and, in doing so, puts its finger on a very raw nerve.

A. Preamble
We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

2) No apology for tyranny.
We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy — regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3) Human rights for all.
We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

6) Opposing anti-Americanism.
We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. This is not a case of seeing the US as a model society. We are aware of its problems and failings. But these are shared in some degree with all of the developed world. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the source-book and the envy of millions. That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

7) For a two-state solution.
We recognize the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There can be no reasonable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that subordinates or eliminates the legitimate rights and interests of one of the sides to the dispute.

Forgot to add the link. Here it is: ... &Itemid=38

Posted: Sat May 27, 2006 10:03 pm
by Barry
A friend sent that to me last week. It's heartening to see such talk coming from those who have traditionally identified with the left.

Posted: Sat May 27, 2006 11:25 pm
by Ralph

Posted: Sun May 28, 2006 3:00 pm
by Corlyss_D
I salute them. I think it's right in line with the Cri de Coeur thread I started. Western civilization is in a fight for its life and these people should not be sitting on the sidelines. Alas, I fear the Euston folks have an horrifically uphill battle against the empty-headed.

Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 1:19 pm
by Barry
June 1, 2006 Edition > Section: Opinion > Printer-Friendly Version

To the Euston Station
June 1, 2006

Query: Who wrote the following paragraph? The Heritage Foundation? Some fundamentalist neo-cons? The Weekly Standard?

"We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal thinking. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name. Its peoples have produced a vibrant culture that is the pleasure, the sourcebook and the envy of millions".

This is a quote from a manifesto launched recently by liberal and progressive personalities in the United Kingdom. It is part of the Euston - after a pub near the famous station where the authors met - manifesto, published in London's New Statesman, and making waves among England's left and liberal circles. For anybody who is even slightly familiar with current public opinion in Britain's left, this must be seen as an extremely courageous statement.

It is not an endorsement of American foreign policy; indeed, the document contains a strong condemnation of American support for regressive regimes; it blasts Guantanamo and objects to "renditions." Some of its authors opposed the invasion of Iraq. However, the Euston document is a breath of fresh air seeking to bring the British left back to normalcy. It reiterates the belief in the tenets of Western liberal democracy - freedom of expression, equality, and social justice - and rails against racism and bigotry. But it also says some unfashionable things about current fads that dominate the liberal and leftist discourse:

It comes out explicitly against the new strain of anti-Semitism, "not yet properly acknowledged," masquerading as anti-Zionism and as a protest against "excessive Jewish influence"; it condemns bigotry and discrimination against Muslims, but does not hesitate to point an accusing finger at Islamist-inspired terrorism; it even blasts Amnesty International - is nothing sacred? - for making a "grotesque" comparison between Guantanamo and the Gulag.

It decries leftists who support the "right" tyrannies and who, under the guise of multiculturalism, support cultures that oppress human rights, and, finally - a real sacrilege - it rejects the "double standards by which too many on the Left today treat as the worst violations of human rights those perpetrated by the democracies, while being either silent or more muted about infractions that outstrip these by far."

Such chutzpah would be audacious in any European country; in England it is heresy. Ever since the Iraq war, defending America or Israel has become a hazardous undertaking among English progressives. Worst of all is London, where the theater scene is replete with bash-America, bash-Israel plays. Characteristic was David Hare's hare-brained "Stuff Happens," which was a hit at the National Theater and depicted the whole American leadership as a bunch of evil morons. In this atmosphere, it really is courageous to include the following words in the manifesto:

"We repudiate the way of thinking according to which the events of September 11, 2001 were America's deserved comeuppance, or 'understandable' in the light of legitimate grievances resulting from US foreign policy. What was done on that day was an act of mass murder, motivated by odious fundamentalist beliefs and redeemed by nothing whatsoever. No evasive formula can hide that".

Indeed, the importance of this manifesto cannot be exaggerated: It is an open defiance aimed at journalistic-academic self-righteousness; it strikes at the very heart of British intellectual political correctness; it seeks to revive the truly liberal traditions of the left and base them on authentic democratic principles, and, above all, it seeks to avoid the past pitfalls of the very same left during the years of the Gulag, when scores of progressive intellectuals were kowtowing to Bolshevism and sang Stalin's praises. It is an attempt to save the English left - and through it the European left - from its suicidal instincts.

Almost a hundred years ago, another railway station - the Finland station in St. Petersburg - played a decisive role in establishing the brutal Bolshevik dictatorship in Russia. It was in that station that Lenin arrived in a sealed train from Zurich to instigate a revolution against the newly formed Russian democracy. It was the beginning of a process that finally destroyed communism and weakened the left everywhere. Euston station is as far from the Finland station as conceivable. The manifesto that bears its name may yet usher in a revival of the democratic, sane, and balanced left.

Mr. Rubinstein is president of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.