Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Children of '68 (3)
Here's the third, and concluding part of my American Conservative essay on the longer term implications of the 1968 Paris riots. For those who missed them, Part One can be read here, while here is a link to Part Two.
In 1968 the fault lines became clear: on the one side the sovereigntists—a coalition of conservatives like De Gaulle and traditional leftists—on the other the globalists, socially and economically liberal, bent on destroying the nation state, national culture, national identity, and any links with the past.
Although De Gaulle’s party won a resounding election victory in June 1968, the tragedy is that it’s Cohn-Bendit’s pernicious ideology that dominates today.
Tony Blair may have attacked the excesses of the 1960s social liberalism, under which : “a society of different lifestyles spawned a group of young people who were brought up without any sense of responsibility to others," but in many ways the intellectual guru of “New Labour”—and the 21st Century “New Left” in general is Cohn-Bendit.
An obsessive hatred of conservatism- and conservatives- is a hallmark of both New Labour and Cohn-Bendit. “The one striking new paths in politics will always be accused of something: conservative thinking is always taking revenge“ he complained in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica earlier this year.
In a 1999 speech to his party’s conference, Tony Blair ferociously attacked “the forces of conservatism” a group that included everyone from fox hunters, hereditary peers, and the medical profession to left-wing supporters of nationalization and “those who yearn for yesteryear,” who stood in the way of the brave new globalist future.
New Labour severed Old Labour’s strong links with the indigenous and staunchly conservative working class and instead forged a new alliance with the global moneymen. It rejected the old left’s distrust of military adventurism and respect for the sovereignty of nations and instead embraced a militant interventionism, beginning with the illegal “humanitarian” attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, and culminating in the debacle of Iraq. “Old leftist friends of mine from the 1960s are now on Labour’s frontbench and staunchly defend the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,” boasted Christopher Hitchens.
New Labour and its imitators define their progressiveness not in terms of redistribution of wealth—the gap between rich and poor in Britain is now at its greatest for more than forty years—but in their support for gay marriages and other “liberalizing” social reforms. “From the cultural point of view, we won,” declares Cohn-Bendit today, and of course he’s right.
Cohn-Bendit’s militant ideology has infected not only the Left, but the Right too.
John McCain’s advocacy of a more liberal immigration policy and his championing of a “League of Democracies,” with the right to intervene in the affairs of sovereign states the world over, owes more to Red Dany than it does to Russell Kirk.
Forty years ago, Red Dany lost a battle. But the sad truth is that he won the war.