Sometimes you do get presented with an open goal. Last night on Nolan Live, Angry Steve was discussing the credit crunch and made some remark about us all tightening our belts. The texters were mighty tickled at the image of the portly host tightening his belt.
And here’s Norman Geras:
What I think it’s at least partly about is having a ‘costless’ conscience. Over Afghanistan – as, for many of them, over Iraq – they do not count the costs of the policies they favour, only of the policies they oppose. The former costs have nothing at all to do with them. If what they recommend goes badly in some way, it’s just the way of the world; but if what they oppose goes badly then it has everything to do with those who supported it. It’s a fool’s method of political calculation: recognizing no hard choices, everything obvious and easy.
This is Norm’s response to peaceniks calling for the withdrawal of Nato troops from Afghanistan, whom Norm taxes with failure to take moral responsibility for the possible humanitarian disaster that might ensue.
One might ask whether this means the Decent Left are going to take moral responsibility for the actually existing humanitarian disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq, which do have an immediate connection with the wars that Norm has supported. But one would be mistaken. A basic tenet of Normism is that, if you’re Decent, the purity of your motives effaces the consequences of things you support. Which is nice. On the other hand, Indecent leftists like your humble host can quite easily be berated for things they didn’t support. Which is often quite aggravating if you’re on the receiving end.
It’s like judo. If you’ve ever thought that Norm’s strictures on international relations could be used to criticise Israeli actions, you very quickly learn that such an argument can be blown out of the water by accusing the UCU of being awash with anti-Semitism, or insinuating that present-day Venezuela is comparable to Stalin’s Russia, or some similar dodge.
Isn’t it cheering to see that Norm’s grasp of the dialectic remains as sound as ever?