Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Thu Feb 10 01:55:39 2005
Hall of Expunged Records

I keep on thinking I've written about this, and perhaps I have, but I'm unable to find the entries where I have, so please bear with me if I repeat myself. I have always found it disappointing that some parts of the left, often especially fellow communists, have a very one-sided viewpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course, to briefly digress, the book I got in Amsterdam was aware and mournful of a general trend of wolly thinking in some Communist circles, pointing out that how some people, unwilling to accept that Trotsky predicted the Soviet Union would either fail or be reformed by the end of World War II, and was wrong in that prediction, instead decided that the war had not ended when it did, but had just entered a new phase. This trend is, alas, not unique to Communists, but is still a shame to see. While I think that Zionism is a poor fit with Communism nowadays, I find it odd that Communists find the idea of Palestinian nationalism to be in line with their position. The Shari'a (religious law) that is present in most Islamic countries (Turkey and Saddam's Iraq being exceptions) is not at all compatible with Socialism -- Marx's ideas on religion and ways to run a country place his ideas very distant from religious rule. It is easy to forget, when advocating a Palestinian POV, what kind of a state that would be. On my trip to Europe, in the Anne Frank House, was a wonderful exhibit discussing freedom of expression versus protection against discrimination. It involved a presentation of various situations where the two ideals conflict, and had all present in the room vote on which ideal was more important. The lights in the ceiling, red and blue, lit up with each button press, to illustrate where the consensus lay. It was made clear to me that the American way of looking at how these ideals interplay is just one perspective, one rather different from what might broadly be called the European perspective in some areas. It touched on a former politician in the Netherlands, Pim Fortuyn in one of the cases presented. To summarize the wikipedia article, he was someone who would be difficult to categorize in American left-right terms, or even the 4-poles system the Libertarians invented to handle their stand. His views on politics can broadly be considered very liberal, but not at all multiculturalist, instead pushing liberal values as things to be preserved at the cost of tolerance and neutrality towards conservative elements. He advocated changing immigration rules to bar immigrants, particularly Muslims, who would make the country less tolerant. In an interview showed in the presentation, he indicated that the hard-won rights of gays (he was openly gay) and similar groups must not be lost for the sake of immigrants. He was assasinated while running for office. In some ways, Fortuyn's stand can be compared to that of Stanley Fish. This connects to Israel, and to me, in that as I've become more educated on the specifics of modern Islam, I've slowly acquired a determination to go against advances of Shari'a or anything similar into western culture. This puts me at odds against the article in the picture above in the socialist newsletter. The headline reads, Islamophobia is Racism. I disagree -- while the tie of Shari'a and Islam is not watertight, it is fairly strong, and in any case, Islam represents a source of highly conservative values. Worrying about this, and the changes they bring in government is not racism, although it might rightly be called religious or political discrimination. One possible claim is that Communist systems, as well as europe in general, are opening the gateway to the destruction of their liberal culture by allowing immigration. A fully open and democratic society must, by some reckonings, make that invitation -- to discriminate and/or manage things of this nature is contrary to the ideals of democracy and liberalism. Israel's situation is additionally complex because there is the idea of a favoured people who the nation is for, rather than a favoured set of ideals that are to be preserved. Fish and Fortuyn suggest that the notion of universal tolerance is broken, and contains within it a recipe for an end to liberalism.

All of this touches lightly on one possible view of some general perspectives across the divide between the traditional left and traditional right. One side sees itself as the guardian/restorer of traditional values. It's end is to promote old, good culture, and to fight the other side's tug on society towards hedonism. Another side sees itself as the bringer of a new enlightenment, struggling to clear the barbarism of the past. Peacemakers like to pretend there's a way to synthesize these perspectives into a new vision, acceptable to both. I think it's a pipe dream that hopes to confuse people into agreement.