Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Decline and Fall

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for providing a portal into the almost alien, yet horribly recognizable world of the European Left. The Weekly Standard's account of recent political realignments within France is a tale of armies marching and countermarching, feverishly vying, each under its own strange banner, for the levers of French state power. But as always with the Left, it is really the future of the world they want to decide. And the venue in which it is being decided is the European Social Forum. This massive conclave, with "55 plenary sessions and 250 seminars" was attended by 50,000 hard-eyed, unsmiling militants meeting for days at a stretch under joint chairmanship of "the 'peasant' leftist José Bové" and that representative of the Global South, Tariq Ramadan.

Yet the admission of Ramadan into the Social Forum, at first a mere gesture of Leftist solidarity towards Islam, showed instead how far the equilibrium between them had shifted. Ramadan, far from acting the part of the token Ayatollah, swiftly proved he had the power to rearrange the agenda of the Leftist forum itself. The grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and linked by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon to Ahmed Brahim, the Algerian financier of al Qaeda,  Ramadan's brother, Hani, advocated "the lapidation (stoning to death) of adulterous women in Nigeria". Acting entirely within character Tariq Ramadan proceeded to immediately cast out the Jewish devils from the Leftist temple. He began by circulating an editorial accusing Jewish French intellectuals of being Zionist stooges, including one, Pierre-André Taguieff, who turned out not to be a Jew at all.

The expostulations of the traditional Left protesting this monumental breach of "solidarity" towards Jewish comrades was silenced by support for Ramadan from the hard Left. These began to stage massive demonstrations, culminating in a riot, demanding the expulsion of the more moderate Socialists from the "pluralist space of meetings and debates", to which the moderate presence was an affront. Faced with a choice between humiliation and alienating "those Trotskyite and Communist parties that won 10 percent of the vote in the first round of the last presidential elections, and which the Socialists will be counting on for their margin of victory in elections for the foreseeable future" they naturally chose humiliation.

But none of this ... was enough to satisfy the radicals at the Forum. On the second day of the gathering, at La Villette in Paris, protesters threw tear-gas bombs in the course of a "demonstration against the presence of the Socialist party at the European Social Forum." During the November 15 closing march, hostile protesters surrounded the Socialist delegation. They accused the party of collaborating with capitalism, threw bottles, and (according to the later account of one Socialist marcher) yelled, "Lynch them!"

The Belmont Club has long argued that "the hollowing out of the Left -- the death of its Bolshevik core -- is one of the great unwritten stories of the late twentieth century" (from Islam and the End of the Left).

The decline of the cadre of professional revolutionaries at its center was simultaneously matched by the inrush from the periphery of the network of sympathizers, fellow travelers and "useful fools" which it once adopted as protective coloration. It was a classic case of the inmates taking over an asylum from which the keepers had fled.

Belmont Club argued that the Left, now consisting of soft elements without a real core of professional revolutionaries to anchor it, would gradually lose its membership, beginning with its most radical wing, to Islam.

Islam ... will gain membership largely at the expense of Left ... That market share will be dominated by the party with the better product and the most competitive advantages ... Leftist attempts to compensate by allying themselves with Islam will only accelerate their downfall as the madrassas cannibalize the faltering socialist base. The weaker the Left becomes, the more dependent it is on alliances with Islam. The closer its alliances with Islam, the weaker the Left becomes. By and by, the Left will have nothing left to offer their allies. The Taliban did not even make a pretense of sparing the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women from persecution.  

That describes almost word for word, the fate of the Socialist moderates at the European Social Forum. And it will describe, even more accurately, the destiny of the European Left, which once proudly styled itself the "Vanguard of History", and which now finds itself staring up at a patch of ceiling from the bottom of an Islamic dustbin. Those who would inquire into the state of the Leftist church would do well to ask one of its saints, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as "Carlos the Jackal."

He has just published a book in French to announce his conversion to Islam and present his strategy for "the destruction of the United States through an orchestrated and persistent campaign of terror." Entitled "Revolutionary Islam" (Editions du Rocher, 2003) and published under the name Ilich Ram?rez S?nchez-CARLOS, the book urges "all revolutionaries, including those of the left, even atheists," to accept the leadership of Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and so help turn Afghanistan and Iraq into the "graveyards of American imperialism."

The Communist enemy against which we fought; for which Rosenberg betrayed his country; for which Giap's legions marched, fallen to this.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.