Tuesday, April 18, 2006

That Euston Manifesto thing

Via this by Garry I come to this by Sunny (and I really must add PP to my main feedreader). They're both, tangentially, discussing this.

It's been reasonably well shredded already, my main problem with it is that it tries to do too much, lumps many different issues together, many of which I agree with, others I distinctly do not, and, well, it's a bit verbose.

Actually, it's very verbose. I mean, I go on a bit, but this? Paulie, respect the opinions and all that, but couldn't you have trimmed it a little? Any decent radical knows that you need 6 key points that can be summarised very quickly. This just goes on and on and ... You get the point. Daniel, in rather hyperbolic fasion, made me laugh the most though.

Biggest problem? So many words, so few specifics.
We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.
  1. name one where you believe there truly is a legacy of 'good governance' within a 'liberal, pluralist democracy'
  2. This seems to imply a liking for aspic. Yet you describe yourselves as progressives.

Constitutions and institutions evolve, adapt, and change. Currently, in this country at least, they're being abused, and have been for some time. I had hoped Blair's New Labour would improve things. They've actually made things worse (constitutionally, anyway).
The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy
OK, the first bit, I can't disagree with. The second? You can't get elected without a bankroll that makes the loans for peerages sums look like pocket change. Hanging chads, dodgy Diebold, a two-party duopoly in which both are to what us Europeans would describe as the Right. Incredibly low turnout figures.

That's not a healthy democracy. It's not a strong democracy. It's most certainly not the beacon of truth and justice the Founding Fathers meant it to be.

Criticising the US Govt isn't "anti-Americanism". It's pro-America. You lost me on this one I'm afraid, telling me to accept the way the best challenge to Bush was from a boring patrician with a bank balance larger than many small countries is the sign of "strong democracy"? No. It isn't. Ths US system of govt is failing the people of America even more than the UK system is failing us Brits.

Respecting traditions is fine. When they work. When they don't, we need to change and update them.

The great shame? I agree with all of this:
10) A new internationalism.
We stand for an internationalist politics and the reform of international law — in the interests of global democratization and global development. Humanitarian intervention, when necessary, is not a matter of disregarding sovereignty, but of lodging this properly within the "common life" of all peoples. If in some minimal sense a state protects the common life of its people (if it does not torture, murder and slaughter its own civilians, and meets their most basic needs of life), then its sovereignty is to be respected. But if the state itself violates this common life in appalling ways, its claim to sovereignty is forfeited and there is a duty upon the international community of intervention and rescue. Once a threshold of inhumanity has been crossed, there is a "responsibility to protect".
It's a damn shame that our Govts do not.

I supported intervention in Afghanistan. I opposed Iraq. For many many reasons, mostly the mess they made in Afghanistan, and the very low priority Saddam's regime was compared to, for example, Burma and N. Korea. Also, of course, effectively abandoning Afghanistan has meant the Taliban are still there, the warlords are still there. The intervention I supported failed, and mostly because it was abandoned in favour of an easier target.

The manifesto; some fine ideals, hidden between lies, half truths, and turgid prose. Shame.

I should be right in the middle of their target audience.

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Paulie said...

You are right in the middle of the manifesto's target audience. And it doesn't matter whether you opposed or supported the war in Iraq. You can still sign it.

I'm surprised that you take criticism from Dave Osler, Mike Marqusee or 'lenin' seriously. None of them are - by their own definition - even advocates of liberal democracy.

And I'm astonished that you could say ...

"name one where you believe there truly is a legacy of 'good governance' within a 'liberal, pluralist democracy'"

Liberal democracies (in most EU countries, for instance - perhaps every one bar Italy) may not be perfect. But they are better than the alternatives. You're the one who actually CALLS himself a lib-dem - not me. I call myself a Socialist, but I was highly critical of the 'actually existing' models pre-1989 for reasons that I know you'd agree with. I'd prefer liberal democracies to them.

And whatever you think of Blair and Bush, remember that if you start claiming that they are actually destroying democracy, rather than tainting it (a charge I would agree with) then you are left with no-where to go when you come accross political movements that really DO want to destroy the very essence of democracy.

The Manifesto was written because there are seriously people out there who would urge you to identify with theocrats and dictators against liberal democracies.

My only criticism of the Manifesto is it's blandness.

I know that you aren't a blind oppositionist Matt. But this post makes you come across as one.

Jim said...

A good post, and about the only one on this wordy and overhyped manifesto actually worth reading. I too find the slightly clingy defence of America a little odd - I don't feel the need to explicitly state all the countries I like (and a good thing too, I'd be here all day). But mostly, manifestos aren't really my thing.

chris said...

I'm not even close to the manifesto's target audience, but there where things in it that I agreed with. Such as suporting theocrats is not a good idea, especially if you like equality or democracy. Also the knee jerk reaction of what calls itself the Left of 'It is American, therefore it is bad' is simply depressing.

However Iraq was a mistake. They should have sorted out Afganistan first, and actually got Bin Laden. Saddam needed to be dealt with but he could wait. Especially when there is Kim Jong Il who both has nukes and will use them, for no other reason than he thinks explosions are cool.