Monday, September 06, 2004

Investigating the pro-war 'left'

Posted by Scott

Have submitted the following abstract for this year's conference of the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand. Haven't written the thing up yet (the conference's in late November), so any info is welcome. I'm particularly interested in tracing any local strains of this strange disease.


The global political left has been united as seldom before by opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Twenty million people protested the invasion,and the runaway success of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 shows how strong anti-war sentiment remains.

A tiny but noisy section of the Western left has dissented from this anti-war orthodoxy. Invoking George Orwell and Karl Kautsky as well as Tony Blair and George Bush, ‘pro-war leftists’ have offeredtheir ‘critical support’ to a ‘war against fascism’. Eschewing traditional models of left-wing agitation, the ‘pro-war left’ has created a network of internet‘blogs’ in an effort to influence the mass media andgovernment policy-makers. Pro-war writers like Christopher Hitchens and philosopher Norman Geras have attracted considerable attention.

But the problems encountered by the occupiers of Iraq have increasingly haunted the pro-war ‘left’, making its argument for the compatibility of progressive politics and Bush foreign policy extremely difficult to sustain, and pushing its members towards an uncomplicated neo-conservatism. Written from a Marxist perspective and using Imre Lakatos’ model of theory formation and change, this paper analyses the social basis, intellectual genealogy, and self-presentation of a quixotic but instructive political movement.


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