Half the sites on my blogroll have quoted the magnificent peroration to Martin Kettle's Grauniad piece on the 50th anniversary of Khrushchev's secret speech. So why should I be left out?
But it was the secret speech and Hungary that together, as Judt says, shattered the mirror in which the European left had always seen itself.
But it shattered something else too. After 1956 it was no longer intellectually honest or true (if it had ever been) to use the cold-war syllogism that my enemy's enemy is my friend. Those who saw history as a long war between good (the left, socialism, the future, the Soviet Union) and evil (the right, capitalism, the old order, the United States) were no longer entitled to swallow their doubts. It was no longer sweet and noble to kill for the cause. A few, of course, still said it was. Even to this day one occasionally encounters the old lie that the Hungarian rising was a counter-revolution.
But the cold-war syllogism lives on today in a new guise. Too many haters of capitalism and the United States still cram everything into the frame of untruth and self-deception that says my enemy's enemy is still my friend because, even if he blows up my family on the tube, murders my colleagues on the bus or threatens to behead me for publishing a drawing, he is still at war with Bush, Blair and Berlusconi. It is 50 years this month since that simplistic view of the world lost whatever moral purchase it may once have had. It is time such thinking was, to choose a sadly appropriate word, purged. Too long, my brothers and my sisters, too long.
The trouble is that however much moral purchase it may have lost, its appeal is perennial. And of course the logic is extensible: if my enemy's enemy is my friend, my enemy's friend is inevitably my enemy, and my enemy's friend's enemy is my friend. Insert the words America, Israel and Hamas (or Ahmadinejad) in the appropriate slots and you have the left's orthodoxy on the Middle East.
Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog
Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid
Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic
Saturday, February 11, 2006
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