Waiting for the Etonians: Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England

Nick Cohen
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This is a "clerical fascism" that has "swept the Muslim world".

turisticnakmetijaslemensek.si/sites/default/files/230/soba-copiare-rubrica.html There are "gangs of totalitarian fanatics" who want to run things "according to the barbaric principles of medieval religion". Iran is in the grip of "the messianic ideology of religious fascism". Saddam Hussein was "from the classic fascist tradition" and his "extermination of the Kurds" is comparable to Hitler's "extermination of European Jews".

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Even Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian theologian with mad views on wife-beating and homosexuality, is compared to Hitler. Sometimes, Cohen takes leave of reality altogether.

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In the introduction, he writes of the "growing availability of weapons of mass destruction" and today's "nightmare of relatively small bands of psychopathic men obtaining and detonating armaments that had previously been the sole possession of superpowers". What, like aeroplanes? Or Semtex? No wonder Cohen describes the psychopathic use of WMDs as a "nightmare", because that's what it is: an event that has occurred only in his feverish, fearful imagination. The writer's promiscuous use of the F-word, "fascism", quickly becomes grating.

Waiting for the Etonians

They insult the memory of six million dead Jews. Cohen seems unaware or maybe he doesn't care that accusing authoritarian third world movements of being the New Nazis and labelling their sympathisers as the New Appeasers is old hat. What's more, left-wing anti-imperialists have long been denounced as colluders with fascism. Stalin himself invented the term "Trotsky-fascists" to discredit those who dared criticise his foreign policy in the s.

Finally, to paraphrase Voltaire, those who believe absurdities can end up supporting atrocities.

Nick Cohen

Cohen describes the Afghan War - that eight-year mess of bombing, fatally misfired missiles and intra-western squabbling that has intensified bloody separatism and warlordism - as a "liberal struggle". It strikes me that Cohen, along with other liberal and left-wing writers who have signed up for the war in defence of western civilisation against "militant religion", is pursuing a pantomime Enlightenment.

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In place of a proper analysis of contemporary politics and world events, he gives us fantasy fascists and New Nazis to boo and hiss at. And, in presenting the threat to Enlightenment values as something external - the WMD-wielding barbarians are at the gate, apparently - he obscures the fundamental fact that, today, Truth, Liberty and Faith in Humanity are corroding from within; it is inside the west's own increasingly relativistic ivory towers and misanthropic political movements that the Enlightenment outlook is being snuffed out.

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The Making of Modern Liberalism. The British dreamed their dream under a relatively honest, social democratic government, many of whose members had been fiercely sceptical of finance capital. Few cared. See more items. They talk of manias, lusts, fevers and delusions in make-believe lands that people take to be real until the sound of the roof falling in wakes them to face a bleak new world. Across the centuries, historians of bubbles have reached for metaphors from fantasy worlds and lunatic asylums when they have tried to describe how crashes twist the linear progression of past to present out of shape. Ok, I'm exaggerating slightly but I think this is what Cohen does also to make a point.

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