December 7th, 2003

breaking bad

Various evils

I haven't ever posted much about the Iraq war, because I reckon that you are all perfectly capable of making up your own minds, and I didn't have anything original to say. I'm just taking this opportunity, though, to link to a Ken McLeod post, which he seems to have put up about 3am last night.

Anyway, it's a fair (IMHO) overview of the four main stances in relation to the war, the two most common being left/anti and right/pro. However we know that there are people on the left who are pro the war (Christopher Hitchens and my brother for example) and people on the right who are anti (Peter Hitchens, amusingly, for example, and various religious types).

Ken touches on something of great interest to me: that we on the left are constantly forced to choose the lesser of two evils ('McWorld over Jihad', The British vs the Ottoman Empire and so on back through history). It is a sad thing. In a way it's the story of my poitical life. The current Labour government is just such a lesser evil for me.

On the other hand I think that to repudiate such a choice, to refuse to support the lesser evil, when it comes to the crunch, is a big mistake. Because it is putting one's own moral purity over the suffering of other human beings.

So what of the anti-war left? Have we therefore been stripped of credibility? I'll not quote his arguments, because if you are interested you can read them yourself. I like these two quotes though.

If the fight were really one of Jihad versus McWorld, I'd take McWorld every time. But Al-Qaeda and its ilk are not a reaction against McWorld, they're a product of it.

I admit to being one whose thinking was formed, not only by the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s and 1990s, but by the historical memory of the 4th of August 1914, when the War to End All Wars began, and a world ended. As my oldest surviving uncle once said: 'I haven't believed in God since the First World War.' Most of the left, Marxist and liberal and anarchist, backed one side or another in that war too.