“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, April 16, 2006

the yevtushenko gambit

LI was moved to comment on the current mini-affair revolving around the Euston Manifesto. It was published in the New Statesman (apparently, Nick Cohen has a Svengali like power at that magazine, making it publish any trash he dreams up) and was assassinated in the Guardian. This is the comment I put over there. And it being a day of work for yours truly, this is also today’s post.

Although the Euston manifesto will remain in the memory of mankind for about a nano-second, still, its existence poses an interesting question: why would any anti-war “leftist” in his or her right mind sign the thing?

If the supposed anti-war person is at all sincere, it is hard to see what they gain from this document, which is written as though the disaster of the Iraq war never happened, save for some boilerplate references to Abu Ghraib. Nowhere is there a consciousness of the rules and forms of “intervention.” Nowhere, for instance, do the signatories caution the rulers of the great powers who will, presumably, “protect” the peoples of inhumane states from campaigns designed to mislead their populace. Nowhere do they support punishment for those who lead such campaigns. Nowhere do they even touch upon the rules for the ‘protective occupations’ enacted by these powers. For instance, should the economic rules in occupied territories be changed to advantage the occupying states? Should there be transparency in the seizure of the funds of such states, and their use? Shouldn’t occupying powers be condemned for using excessive force, and in particular, from making examples of cities and towns? Shouldn’t there be a blanket condemnation for occupying powers encouraging militias, and cherrypicking the leadership of the occupied state? Shouldn’t such occupied states be unoccupied as quickly as possible? Shouldn’t all coalitions, to be legitimate, clearly devolve political power to all members of the coalition, making them multinational in reality, instead of concentrating power in the hands of the Americans, and using other nations simply as advisors, to be ignored at the pleasure of the Americans?

To sum this up: shouldn’t the anti-war signatories have demanded a more rigorous laying out of the rules that legitimate intervention as a whole process, rather than vaguely referring to the initial conditions that might justify making this or that country a target of such occupations?

Of course they should. But, as such anti-war intellectuals know, the manifesto only real function is in the game of one upsmanship, in which one can keep one’s credentials writing in the mainstream press as a mock dissident, a purveyor of ineffectual and timid protest against the scandalous use of power by the powerful all the better to serve as an attack dog against real dissidence that threatens the powerful. If intellectual gamesmanship were a board game, I’d call this the Yevtushenko gambit, named for the Soviet poet whose dissent from the Brezhnev regime gained him credit outside the country, all the better to undermine real dissidence inside the country.

No comments: