Lone voices against Terror

13 February 2013

8:19 PM

13 February 2013

8:19 PM

I went to the Toynbee Hall, the meeting place for the radical East End, this week to listen to a debate many radicals would rather not hear.

British Asian feminists and their supporters had gathered to launch the Centre for Secular Space an organisation whose work I would say is close to essential. It is not fashionable, however, because its focus is the collusion between the Anglo-American left and the Islamist right, which has betrayed so many Muslims and ex-Muslims, most notably Muslim and ex-Muslim women. Gita Sahgal, Nehru’s great niece, became the movement’s figurehead and eloquent spokeswoman when the once respectable and now contemptible Amnesty International fired her for protesting about its promotion of supporters of the Taliban. She and her allies are now trying to stir Britain’s sleeping conscience.

The failure of Britain’s liberal establishment and white left to combat reactionary religion, or even call it by its real name, stuns them. I can say from experience that if I talk about the ‘American Christian right’ or the ‘Israeli right’ no one will blink. Nor should they, I am using specific terms whose meanings are clear. When I use equally precise language talk about the ‘Muslim right’, one of the great forces of reaction in the world today, my comrades either go blank, because I am using language they cannot understand, or accuse me of ‘racism’, lack of ’empathy’, inappropriate ‘language’ or some other gross offence against modern etiquette.

Meredith Tax, a battle hardened campaigner, has had the same experience

‘Nobody on the left ever objected when I criticized Christian or Jewish fundamentalism. But when I did defence work for censored Muslim feminists, people would look at me sideways, as if to say, who are you to talk about this? This tendency has become much more marked since 9/11 and the “war on terror.” Today on the left and in some academic circles, people responding to attacks on Muslim feminists in other countries are likely to be accused of reinforcing the “victim-savage-saviour” framework or preparing for the next US invasion. This puts anyone working with actual women’s human rights defenders in places like North Africa or Pakistan in an impossible situation.’


Other speakers were from Southall Black Sisters, Bengali secular campaigns against Tower Hamlets’ Islamist establishment and Iranian resistance groups – classic left wing figures, in other words. Yet they are ignored or in the case of Sahgal fired for speaking out.

All emphasized how many in the British state and British left were racists hiding behind liberal masks. On the left, the racism came in the constant postponement of campaigns to improve women’s lives whether they are immigrants or in the poor world. Their suffering must always be subordinated to the struggle against ‘American imperialism’. This would be bad enough if we did not see from the far Left way into the liberal mainstream supposed progressives allying with clerical reactionaries and clerical fascists. They ignore the victims of theocracy and accept their oppression.

You might think that Sahgal and her comrades would be inundated with offers of support. At one level they are. Politicians, journalists and honourable people from all backgrounds want to hear the arguments they are making. But they are desperately short of funds. The institutions of liberalism, which ought to be their friends and donors, have been taken over by anti-liberal men and women. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch look with horror on those who speak out about murder, mutilation and oppression if the murderers, mutilators and oppressors do not fit into their script. The Guardian, New Statesman and BBC turn away with embarrassed coughs. The police want to keep the natives of the East End quiet by cooperating with Islamic Forum Europe. Although Labour ministers, particularly Labour women ministers, tried to speak out against the double standards during the last government, the policy of the Labour establishment has been to do nothing to upset the ethnic block vote. The Liberal Democrats meanwhile are as reliably anti-liberal on this issue as on so many others. It tells you all you need to know about the debased state of liberal-left politics that Sahgal and Tax are more likely to get a fair hearing from Cameron than Miliband or Clegg.

To give you an example of how deep the rot has penetrated, take the behaviour of Human Rights Watch. Its executive director Kenneth Roth urged Western governments to support the Muslim Brotherhood governments in the Middle East. (Roth cannot, you see, confine himself to reporting abuses of human rights without fear or favour. He is too grand for that now, and issues orotund statements on foreign policy as if he were Henry Kissinger, a cynical old brute he is starting to resemble.)

Sahgal replied:

You fail to call for the most basic guarantee of rights—the separation of religion from the state. Salafi mobs have caned women in Tunisian cafes and Egyptian shops; attacked churches in Egypt; taken over whole villages in Tunisia and shut down Manouba University for two months in an effort to exert social pressure on veiling. And while “moderate Islamist” leaders say they will protect the rights of women (if not gays), they have done very little to bring these mobs under control. You, however, are so unconcerned with the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities that you mention them only once, as follows: “Many Islamic parties have indeed embraced disturbing positions that would subjugate the rights of women and restrict religious, personal, and political freedoms. But so have many of the autocratic regimes that the West props up.” Are we really going to set the bar that low? This is the voice of an apologist, not a senior human rights advocate.’

I hope you could hear a lot more in that vein. The trouble is that because the Centre for Secular Space argues against our shifty consensus it has no money. They need everything from computers to wages for secretaries. If you can help at all, even by giving them an old laptop, please contact them via the link here

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Show comments
  • Chaotopia

    Let’s be absolutely clear – the Political Left is morally and intellectual bankrupt and in the public sphere it has been steadily reduced to being the mindless megaphone of the most backward, fascistic right-wing reactionaries imaginable.

    Hence, Amnesty International’s uncritical backing of Jihadists such as Moazzem Begg and secular institutions such as the UCL (that have historically prided themselves on their pioneering efforts on issues of equality) ending up deep over their heads in this dog’s breakfast:

    The Political Left can try and savage what very little is left of it’s reputation by abandoning the infantile, idiot logic of “my enemies enemy must be my friend” and actually recognising that majority of Muslims firmly belong on the Religious right.

    For example, those who are backward enough to actually believe that Sharia Law is “God’s Law” and, therefore. inerrant and unchanging have no need for democracy, after all, why would Democracy be necessary to elect legislators to update, change or even abolish God’s perfect law?. They also have the misogynistic believe that all women are mere second class chattel to be constantly covered up. They believe that all adulterers and homosexuals should be routinely stoned to death and that the sentence for apostasy is death. Everyday human pleasures such as alcohol, gambling and free expression would be prohibited ((there are blasphemy laws in every Muslim country) under pain of very painful execution and hard-fought for rights such as that for access to contraception and abortion would also vanish.

    Polls indicate that at least 60% want to implement Sharia Law in the UK:

    The Political Left need to unreservedly recognise that Islam in its doctrines, principles and core ideology is simply Fascistic and those who sincerely believe in it are Fascists – they are identical to the religious right-wing reactionaries in the US who bomb abortion clinics (they believe in different prophets but the attitudes, ignorance and need to control others is exactly the same).

    Cultural sensitivity should never ever to be an excuse for moral blindness or utter hypocrisy and instead of celebrating diversity for its own sake maybe they should just try being consistent in their philosophy (assuming, of course, they actually have one). Can anyone imagine the Political Left calling people “Naziphobic” in the 1930’s and arguing that “Little Englanders” were merely being intolerant of the sincerely held beliefs of the German people by condemning the Nazis?

    This is the pathetically perverse situation that the Poitical Left now finds itself.

  • GordonHide

    I agree with all this. If the world is to have a descent future it rests with educated and empowered women. But I apologise on your behalf to those on the right who agree with my sentiment.

  • Richard B

    Why have the islamists been so successful following the ‘Arab Spring’? There are probably many reasons. One is that they were seen as less corrupt that the overthrown dictatorships, less in the pockets of the neoliberal West and multinational corporations and the associated local elites that enrich themselves while the majority remain poor.

    Another is that they run effective networks of social welfare in countries that have no or very little universal welfare provision.

    The fact that they are islamist likely seems to people more of a background issue in a country where Islam is the norm. At least until the islamists take power and enforce their beliefs.

    The interesting thing is that here in the UK we are moving somewhat in the direction of the pre-Spring Arab countries: increasing wealth disparity, declining incomes, removal of the welfare safety net, eviscerating of democratic institutions. I would not be surprised to find extremists of all kinds exploiting the same gaps in this country as the islamists: not only in the muslim community but (perhaps) EDL-like groups in devastated working-class communities. Ironically, Cameron’s government is likely to encourage that sort of thing as the working of the ‘big society’. One of Popper’s unintended consequences.

  • Clap Hammer

    Great article. I have been horrified over the past few years with the conflation of ‘left’ with ‘extreme delusional irrational radical left’. And the really sad part is that the rational left, the vast, vast majority of ‘lefties’, are silent when they are ‘hijacked’ by people of extremist radical views, many of who are plain social rejects whose only claim to fame is being interviewed by other extreme delusional irrational radical left working in the BBC or The Guardian. Two media that seem to be connected by an umbilical cord.

  • Ian Young

    I profess ignorance to the various shades of Islamists politicis but I don’t always find Nick Cohen’s analysis on these issues helpful when he invokes Godwins Law to justify anyone he doesn’t like; Support war against secular Ba’thist Sadam- he’s like Hitler, oppose his bitter enemies Islamic fundamentalists- their like Hitler as well.

  • jnk9

    Please don’t dignify the madness of Islamism by calling it the “Muslim Right”. It has nothing to do with our understanding of the political terms “left” and “right”.

    The Wahhabist position on, say, adultery, has nothing in common with that of right-wing parties, for example the Conservatives or the Republicans.

    We simply don’t have meaningful language to describe a belief system that is so far outside our own historical and political experience.

  • Dani Levi

    Judith Butler would be a prime example of the Left in this article.

  • Chaiya Eitan

    It’s because this doesn’t fit in with their ‘anti-American/Israel/western imperialist agenda.’ They are the most useful of useful idiots.

  • Reborn

    In UK politics the idea of a defined Left/Right evaporated with communism & Its murderous legacy.
    There have been & still are, deniers, persons like self loathing Westerners including the wretched Hobsbawm, who thought there was some virtue in being “left wing”.
    However, the dichotomy is crudely used by the BBC/Guardian to define virtue & anything not “left” in this simple world is “right” or occasionally “centre”
    It is generally accepted that Hitler was a right wing socialist, & also that his policies were generally vile failures. His favoured religion for the non arian races was Islam, & Hitler happily recruited islamic regiments & murdered Jews at the personal request of the Grand Mufti.
    Islamists occupy an extreme position which is totally inimical to any Western ideal of civilisation. If we must use out dated terms, most Islam, even moderate, is well to the “right” of Nazism.
    Compare the life of a German woman in 1937 with that level of serfdom forced on muslim women today, including in the UK, & Nazism emerges as enlightened.
    Relative to Islam, & only to Islam.

  • Graeme Thompson

    Mr Cohen, why dont you just face up to the fact that so many on the left make common cause with Islamofascists because they share their commitment to totalitarian evil?
    The ‘religious right’ are democratic. That is why so many of your comrades on the left hate them. Islamofascists represent their best game in town for achieving their totalitarian aims on their backs.
    Until those on the democratic left are prepared to mount a unified democratic opposition to the evils of the left-islamist fascist alliance, instead of just a left wing opposition, your barking in the wind.
    Put democracy first before leftism, align yourself with the ‘religious right’ against totalitarian evil, then some headway can be made.

    • GordonHide

      The religious right are democratic? Oh. I hadn’t realised that wanting to force your social values on everyone by use of the the law was democratic and non-totalitarian. Thanks for straightening me out on that.

  • Terence Donaldson

    wow – sexy

  • Prawn of Prophecy

    I have tried contacting the CSS through their contact page to offer donations but all links apppear broken, if any of their staff are reading this they may want to check the functionality of the website.

    • Simon Morgan

      Me too. Hope they read your comment and fix asap. These women are brave and deserve all the support we can give them.

  • MohammedTheTeddyBear

    The Western left and the islamists have similar goals: murder of the innocent and non-believers, and complete and total control of individuality, culture, economies, and government. Not to mention, their shared hatred of Western civilization and Jews.

    • Troy Gavazzi

      You mean the Western right, don’t you? The Right-Wing and extremely fundamentalist Christian republicans (at least in my own United States), ironically has more in common with Muslims than they do with any non-believer such as myself.

      • MohammedTheTeddyBear

        Gosh, Troy, you’re so, SO “CORRECT” on this! I had no idea that Code Pink, ANSWER, ISM, Jimmy Carter, Cynthia McKinney, George Galloway, Keith Ellison, Fritz Hollings, Louis Farrakhan, Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, Huffington Post, Cindy Sheehan, and Hugo Chavez were actually either conservative, Christian Republicans or their supporters……..

        Thanks, old man, for educating me about that!

  • Daniel Maris

    Is this the most censored thread ever on Coffee House?

    • Mr Crisco Pope

      Looks like it. I attended the event at Toynbee Hall, voiced some criticism of the anti-American tone of one of the speakers and posted a link to a dubious article by Meredith Tax, whose book was launched at the event. My comment was deleted.

  • Daniel Maris

    I think I got censored on PC grounds. Maybe because I referenced the founder of the religion in question…

    • Daniel Maris

      …not sure how you can discuss a religion without referencing its founder from time to time.

    • mikemcl

      Try replying using a Mac

  • Hugh

    To define any group that’s socially conservative as “the right” seems a bit daft. By that token libertarians are solidly left-wing.

  • Chris Bertram

    Why doesn’t Cohen link to what Kenneth Roth wrote, which is that governments with a democratic mandate merit support IF they respect basic rights?

  • BenSix

    When I use equally precise language talk about the ‘Muslim right’…

    It is beyond me how Islamic supremacists can be classified as “the…right”. They are not traditionalists. They are not nationalists. They have no care for free markets or economic prudence. Does “right” just mean “bad”?

    Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch look with horror on those
    who speak out about murder, mutilation and oppression if the murderers,
    mutilators and oppressors do not fit into their script.

    No. No they don’t. Officials within Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have done this but your blanket condemnation of these groups is contrary to the facts and unhelpful for anyone who would like such organisations to be reformed rather than abandoned. Who considered the plight of Ismail Rasheed, who was arrested, stoned and stabbed for speaking his mind in the Maldives? I don’t see a mention of his name in the Spectator. Amnesty International spoke up for him, though. Who campaigned for the release of the Iranian filmmaker Behrouz Ghobadi? Again, I see no mention of him in your magazine. Amnesty International mobilised a response to his arrest, though.

    I am in no position to be pious myself because I was blind to the scale of the danger posed by Islamic totalism for too long. It seems to me, though, that pieces such as this are inspired less by a concern for its victims as a desire to take a self-righteous stand against liberals.

    • Daniel Maris

      Excellent comment Ben.

    • Mr Crisco Pope

      Yes. “Right” means “bad” for these people. While I agree with Nick Cohen that any leftists are to be commended for taking on Islamism, I was at Toynbee Hall too and the speakers and audience were leftists who were careful to differentiate themselves from the Right/bad guys. One speaker came up with the nonsense that the US is to blame for the hijacking of the Arab Spring by Islamists as it’s using Islamist puppets to suppress the desire of the Arab working classes for socialism.

    • Richard Armbach

      Nick doesn’t like Amnesty or HRW because neither are big fans of the brutal illegal occupation of Palestine.

  • david.geddes1

    Could someone link or briefly and simply explain to me why in the UK the left are sympathetic to Muslims/Islam.

  • Mathias Broucek

    Keep up the good work. Am continually stunned at how many on “the left” are driven by tribal allegiances (US=bad, Muslim=good etc) rather than principles (oppression of women=bad, fair treatment of minorities=good)

    • david.geddes1

      In ‘oppression of women’, ‘women’ is a tribal loyalty.

  • Mr Crisco Pope

    I was at Toynbee Hall too and it was an interesting evening and refershing to hear such rare denunciations of Islamic fundamentalism from the Left. The examples Nick Cohen relays of Amnesty and HRW lining up with repressive Islam are truly shocking, but that said, I had some concerns about the nuances of some of the speeches. For example Pragma Patel from Southall Black Sisters rightly condemned such human rights organisations for swallowing the line of fundamentalists that they are undertaking “defensive jihad” against the West, but was keen to equate the killing of American citizens by drone attacks with the activities of Islamist murderers. I don’t see any moral equivalence here – the American citizens who have been killed in drone attacks, for example in the Yemen, have been active jihadists fighting against the US and Western interests. Would the US govt have been criticized for targeting US citizens fighting for the SS in WWII? Patel is right that the jiahdists are NOT fighting a defensive war – but the US and the West ARE defending themselves from a death cult bent on the destruction of Western civilisation. To equate the use of drones against jihadists who have been tracked relentlessly by intelligence agencies with the random slaughter of innocents by Islamic terrorists is just bullshit.

    Also, “battle hardened campaigner” Meredith Tax has a surprisingly censorius view of the Innocence of Muslims movie and the riots it supposedly provoked, which blames the film-makers and absolves murderous Islamist rioters of responsibility for their actions. Judge for yourselves here

  • zanzamander

    deleted by poster.

  • andy_gill

    “When I … talk about the ‘Muslim right’. .. my comrades either go blank, … or accuse me of ‘racism’.”

    I dread to think what happens when you talk about the Muslim far-right or Islamofascism.

  • Michael Varian Daly

    The Father/God of The Christians and The Jews is the same one as The Muslims. And as Mary Daly said, “If God is male, then the male is god.”

    • zanzamander

      God of The Christians and The Jews is the same one as The Muslims.

      No he, most absolutely, is not! Muhammad, over 600 years after Jesus concocted this lie order to appease Christians and many fell for the ruse then and still do now. However many Jews at the time saw through this and had the temerity to say that he was talking rubbish with the result that the men of one particular tribe (Banu Qurayza) were butchered by Muhammad’s army, women and children taken in as slaves (no compulsion to religion there, folks!).Therein lay the foundation of Jew hate that still persists today in the Muslim world (and absolutely nothing to do with Palestine, as professed by the Left).

      And I agree with posters above who object to conflation of the Right with Islam. This is an insult to us on the Right. There is no such, left-right in Islam. This pigeonholing is done by Western minds for their convenience and political agenda.

      I wish Centre of Secular Space all the best.

      • zanzamander

        The loudspeaker at your local mosque proclaims from its roof top, five times a day, that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is the only Messenger of that Allah. There is no room for any other prophets, past or present, and certainly no god except the one called Allah. This to me is an insult to all those who follow other faiths and have gods whose name is not Allah or whose prophet was not Mohammad. To say that Muslim’s god is the same as everybody else’s is ridiculous.

    • Albert

      Definetly not.

      • MohammedTheTeddyBear

        Indeed not; allah is the idol of piglets, murder, and feces…….which is why Western leftist dhimmis kowtow to islamofascists.

  • Shazza

    Why do you equate Islamism with the ‘right’? It is an ideology which is totally compatible with authoritarian leftist thinking as in National Socialism, Communism – in fact, I would suggest that the left is responsible for most of the 20th century suffering and death caused by left wing dictators eg., Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot all socialist authoritarian leaders/dictators and never forget New Labour and Iraq. I challenge you to name any so called ;right wing’ dictator who can match the destruction and death that the Left has inflicted on the world recently. Never forget that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem assured Hitler that he would finish the job on the Jews. Just look at the destruction of freedom of speech that goes hand in hand with Islam and Socialism. I keep waiting to hear from the Left decrying the misogyny, sharia imposing hate filled filth that spews from the religion of peace. Any freedom loving person who wishes to decry this vile ideology is shot down in flames as an ‘islamophobe’ and branded a ‘racist’ and the full weight of the race hate laws descends on them. The gross hypocrisy of the Left is breathtaking.

  • jeremy norman

    I would like USA and UK to define the so called “War on terror”. Terror is a feeling of fear that is common to all humanity. If they mean a war on Terrorism, them let them define it so we all know what we are talking about. Were the IRA terrorists so readily received at the White House terrorists? Was the ANC when it killed civilians in hamburger bars?

    • Grrr8

      This is the million $ question, and one to which there is likely no satisfactory answer. There is the old trope that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It’s certainly worth questioning whether the ANC would have succeeded solely as a non-violent movement.

      One way around this question would be to stop the pretence of the “war on terror” being some sort of moral cause. If it were called a war against enemies who want to destroy us, all sorts of other problems go away. At the same time, certain defences go away too (e.g. the defence that $10B of US aid to Israel is to defend the sole democracy in the middle east).

    • GordonHide

      Yes, it would be better if the word “terrorist” had never been invented. All military men who know their job want to instil fear into their enemies. It’s a very cost effective way of winning a conflict.

      And all those who take up arms against much larger and better equipped enemies confine themselves to guerilla and raiding tactics. They attack undefended or poorly defended targets. This last may be brutal and uncivilised but it’s common to all insurgent groups of every political flavour. They are only limited in this when the bad press which results starts to affect their support or when their enemies turn to equally brutal reprisals against insurgent supporters.

  • BillH

    The issue as always is that “group rights” must always trump individual liberty, in today’s race obsessed society. Martin Luther King dreamed of his children being judged by the “content of their character” , but today we appear to have the precise opposite where society judges you on your physical or sexual characteristics and assigns you a role of victim or oppressor on that simplistic basis. Shades of oppression within a designated victim group simply do not count.

  • sir_graphus

    I take issue with you grouping all the bad guys together and calling them “the right”.

    You can sort of make a case for it with Communism and Nazism (and it’s arguable), but somewhere around centre-right, and I object to you lumping me in with Islamic fundamentalists

    • Daniel Maris

      Yes, right-left only has meaning in democratic capitalist societies. It’s primarily about attitudes to wealth distribution and traditional social institutions.

      Islam has a much more fixed nature. Mohammed was a businessman, a trader, a slave owner and Mohammed is supposed to be the perfect example. Thus it is very difficult for any devout Muslim to argue that wealth redistribution above and beyond the rules laid down in Sharia is required. To the extent that some Muslim groups do show particular concern for equality, they tend to be the most traditionalist in terms of their view of social institutions like the family, Sharia punishments and religious observance.

      Islam is its own universe, at least ideologically. What one can talk about is Islamic totalitarians – Muslims politicians and warriors determined to put Islam into practice.

      But I prefer to place the emphasis on Sharia. The real differences in Muslim political practice are between those who want to implement Sharia in full and those who take a more pragmatic line.

    • Reborn

      My response to this appears to have been censored

    • Robin Ashe

      Communism is left wing…

  • robheggie1

    Very good article. This is the most important issue of the day IMO.

  • AY

    it looks like everything worth paying attention in the world today is spinning around islam, eternal and saint issues of non-white people, “left and right” (who TF can tell difference) – all that tribal, low, shameful zero-sum crap with proven credentials of lies, intellectual mediocrity and moral misery.

    every piece of news in the UK looks like pakistan (or syria or egypt or worse) is already here.
    I’m not sure British people deserve it.

    it is time to abandon stupid practice of professional activism and start judging people strictly by merit of what they are doing, and by the amount of empathy to others they are capable of showing.

    there is absolutely no need for another “colored” activism tribe. civilized norms should be applied uniformly, and those who don’t comply should be peanlized for their behavior – by contempt, by boycotts, by exposure, by all-out pressure on personal level, from each and every of those who decide to stand for humanism and humanity.

    not a penny to another whining nation.

    you want to win the battle against retrogrades Nick – start thinking about CONCRETE program of action that EVERY normal Westerner would understand and agree upon.

    • David Lindsay

      The Right is in crisis following the collapse of the neoliberal economic order and of its neoconservative geopolitics. The Left is in crisis due to the second collapse of Marxism in as many generations, namely that of Trotskyism in the form of neoconservatism.

      No one seems to know how to address such questions as the global economic crisis that began in 2008, the prolonged aftermath of the events of 11th September 2001, the rise of Asia, the redefinition of the European Union and of the United Kingdom’s relationship with it, and the redefinition of the United Kingdom and of the identity of each of its constituent parts.

      However, attendance to what were once the largely ignored and marginalised phenomena of environmentalism, feminism, Third World liberation movements, the influence of tendencies such as Black Power and Black Consciousness, and the use of homosexuality as a mark of individual and collective identity, has opened up the space for attendance to what are largely ignored and marginalised phenomena today.

      “Identity politics”, as if there could ever be any other kind, are being appropriated, deployed, transformed and transcended by heterosexual males, by Christians, by the White British ethnic group, by those who identify specifically as English, and by people of mixed ethnic heritage. It is now possible to listen directly to the voices of all parts of the world.

      The old have never been so energetic, their numbers and expectations having increased enormously. The young are as energetic as ever, and politically more so than in at least a generation, technology having made them better-organised than ever before, while other trends have greatly disadvantaged them compared with their recent predecessors.

      The mass anti-war movement has also become the mass anti-cuts movement, both of which are anchored on the Left but reach deep into Tory Britain on conservative principles of foreign policy realism and the use of State action to defend organic communities against unbridled capital.

      This list is very far from being exhaustive.

      The United Kingdom is uniquely well-placed to host these discussions, being the bridge between Europe and the English-speaking world, being the heart of the Commonwealth, being the home of the British Council and of the BBC, and being possessed of the world city.

      By never compromising either the theoretical or the practical, and by drawing on the fine arts and on the humanities, on the social sciences and on the natural sciences, on elite culture and on popular culture, on “religious” material and on “secular” material, engagement with these and related ontological, epistemological, ethical and aesthetic resources will help to restore the possibility of an economy and a society, of a common culture and a polity, of a Right and a Left.

  • David Lindsay

    if I talk about the “American Christian right” or the “Israeli right” no one will blink

    We certainly would if you did it these days. And you remain unrepentant about clearing the space for the Islamists in Iraq and Libya. You want to do the same thing in Syria.

    Iranian resistance groups – classic left wing figures

    At best, that depends which ones.

    the most basic guarantee of rights—the separation of religion from the state

    So, no Tory campaigns against the slave trade and for factory reform, then. No Liberal action against opium dens and seven-day working weeks. No Labour Movement at all. No simultaneous holding of the line against the Soviet Union and apartheid South Africa.