Friday, April 29, 2016

Ken Livingstone's Blind Spot


Labour MP John Mann confronts Ken Livingstone outside TV studios in Westminster today
I can't help thinking Jeremy Corbyn is rather like Pope Francis, trying hold things together but in reality is presiding over its fragmentation, God promises the survival of the Catholic Church but not the Labour party. Corbyn's election like the Pope's was a harking back to a time that many had thought had past, an attempt at popularism. The problem for both is the political environment they now face is not that of their youth.

Watching Ken Livingstone being confronted by John Mann seems to demonstrate how the 'Left' cannot hold. Limestone's defence too is bizarre, "Hitler was a Zionist", he says. It is half remembered and reinterpreted history, seen through a certain lens. Yes, Hitler certainly wanted Jews to have some kind of homeland, many politicians of the time did, suggestion ranged from Palestine, to a bit of Australia, to Madagascar and eventually to 'the East', and history reveals the atrocities that happened there. Hitler's 'Zionism' was borne out of a deep hatred for Jews, and a desire to enslave, and ultimately to destroy them.

I really do not think that Livingstone wants to apply any sanction to 'the Jews', the problem is one of modern intellectuals inability to understand that someone's religious identity, might actually have a social and political dimension. Livingstone's 'anti-Semiticism' is on the same level as his anti-Christianism, more specifically his anti-Catholicism, it is shared by the rest of the Guardian reading establishment. It stems from an inability to realise that a religion has a certain cultural impact that overreaches ordinary politics and claims an affiliation beyond national borders. Religion, politicians on both the left and right fail to understand, binds people together, it has a super-social dimension, it unites people to a history beyond a merely national one, it has a political vision beyond the narrowness of contemporary politics.

For post holocaust Jews the State of Israel has replaced an international Jewish fraternity that followed the diaspora caused of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Jews were a distinct group marked not only by belief but by a distinct culture: kosha food and dress, the need to live together and separated from those they lived amongst, and their internationalism and their shared history of persecution make them distinct. The problem is that politicians like Livingstone underestimate the importance of this. In the same way they are incapable of realising the distinctiveness of other groups, like Catholics, whose vision incorporates the social Kingship of Christ.

The blind spot for people like Livingstone is their failure to understand the social, cultural and political significance of Islam. For them Islam merely represents potential Labour votes. Naz Shah whose unguarded pre-election comments started this brush fire for Labour probably do not represent the views of most Muslims but they do represent of some and I would suggest not an insignificant 'some'.

There is an inability of the 'Left' to recognise how distinct the culture of the Judaism makes Jews and also fails to understand how the culture  Islam makes Moslem distinct. Livingstone and his ilk believe in assimilation, they cannot recognise that religion makes people distinct. Jews look to Israel, Christians to the Kingdom of Christ and Muslims to the Ummah. The failure to bother to understand and to take seriously the significance of the theology which underlies religious groups at the moment is a catastrophe for the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.

In France, in Belgium, in Germany and through out Europe I am sure that most politicians believe that assimilation will eventually change immigrants but the truth is that religion is actually a much stronger bond than passing political parties, religions endure politics and politicians pass.

19 comments:

gemoftheocean said...

Great Post

Palincor IG said...

I think that for Livingstone, a secular socialist view is self-evidently true, and he cannot conceive of anything higher.

Sadie Vacantist said...

The politician who confronted Livingstone in this orchestrated incident is scarcely a man of God. To claim that the former Mayor of London is a Hitler apologist borders on the hysterical. Livingstone has his faults but this is not one of them.

Patricius said...

I agree with Ms Vacantist above. Screams of "anti-semite" seem much like those of "homophobe"- attempts to shut down rational discourse by stigmatising the individual. It was Mr Mann who appeared to have "lost it" -notwithstanding some very good points made in the above post.

Alan said...

Your comments are far more reasonable than some have been, Father. I am one of those who rejoined Labour precisely because Corbyn was elected leader. I think the Jury's still out on how he will deal with this crisis.

The point is reasonably made by Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror that some of those now calling for Livingstone's blood - in a blindingly obvious Blairite attempt to undermine Corbyn - have wifully forgotten that it was Blair, discredited by his intervention in Iraq, who readmitted Livingstone to the party so that Labour could win the London mayoralty.

A rather wider point, and one which I don't think I should elaborate on your blog, Father, is that we may be seeing yet another example of the media portraying as "outrageous" something said by a leftie which otherwise could be said with impunity. Livingstone's remarks about Zionism and Nazism don't really go beyond what Wikipedia says about the organisation known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Lehi but in English usually called the Stern gang.

Sixupman said...

"The Bones You Have Crushed" blog published the derivative document on which Livingstone's assertions were based. Apparently ignored by media.

Craig Smith said...

Notwithstanding your great post Fr, that religion has deep cultural and social aspects which contribute to distinct identities, the media and political hounding of Livingston is outrageous. The conflation of criticism of Israels policies and Zionism with anti semitism is a tool to silence the political and military decisions of the Israeli government to occupy the indigenous Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, it has nothing to do with Jewish nature of the State of Israel.

To see people calling Livingston a Nazi sympathier is just beyond ridiculous, no matter what somone thinks of his politics.

Fr Ray Blake said...

The problem with Livingstone's (and the Lefts) anti-Zionism is that it seems to be about the destruction of the state of Israel, therefore it appears to be genocidal.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Father Ray, Israel is in possession of goodness knows how many nukes? It's Israel's neighbours where genocide is taking place.

John Nolan said...

Livingstone, like many lefties, is opposed to Zionism. Can someone explain why his remark (accurate or not) that AH approved of Zionism makes him a Nazi sympathizer or apologist?

Denis said...

According to Wikipedia:
"His interest in politics was furthered by the 1958 Papal election of Pope John XXIII – a man who had "a strong impact" on Livingstone"
Make of that what you will, but as with other comments, I believe this accusation to be a trump card that shuts down debate and shuts up difficult opponents.
It is far more pertinent to ask why an Asian female is invited to apologise for her comments, but Livingstone excluded for his.

Gillineau said...

surely people are using Livingston as a stalking horse for talking about the inherent antisemitism of muslims, which is where this story derived from (the MP in the north of England) and where it has led (Khan). The left does have an antisemitism problem in this respect, because muslims it would appear tend to vote labour.

With regards your post, Corbyn is not a man of principle in any meaningful sense; thus his abandonment of his long-held eurosceptism in favour of the antidemocratic globalised capitalist TTIP-embracing horror story that is the EU, and to hell with the working classes. He's due a big cheque for that and a seat at the highest tables.

Thomas said...

It may be true that early in his career Hitler backed plans for Jewish residents of Germany to move/be moved to Palestine, but that was simply one expedient in his plan to get rid of all of that race from Europe by whatever means possible. Anyone who has actually read Mein Kampf will known that his ultimate dream of world domination would have included the eventual destruction of Israel with its conveniently concentrated Jewish population too. Hitler was hardly "a Zionist", as Livingstone well knows, but Livingstone was simply trying to defend Ms Shah's comments because like all on all on the hard left he is wilfully blind to the rampant and crude and pro-Nazi propaganda in many Muslim circles. And that, in turn, is because they (the hard left) use the accusation of "Islamophobia" as a tool to beat Christians down and drive their radical secularist agenda. If they are getting stick now from a media-driven storm about "antisemitism", I am not going to feel sorry for them. They are equally blind to the obvious fact that if Islam gains ascendency their secularist dream will be the first casualty.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Our liberal elite simply do not understand the role of religion. They fail to understand what is essentially wrong with Islam; nor do they acknowledge that the good things in our civilisation derive from Christianity and therefore fail to defend it.

IanW said...

The claim that people are accusing Mr. Livingstone of being a Hitler apologist is an Aunt Sally. The problem is that he is a racist bully with form for deliberately comparing Jews to Hitler and the Nazis, for political defence and advantage.

In 2005, for example, he accused a journalist he knew to be Jewish of acting "just like a concentration camp guard". His recent association of Zionism with Hitler, in the context of an interview by a Jewish journalist about an MP's apology for her anti-semitic remarks, was not only offensive but culpably misleading: in the earlier years of their regime the Nazis encouraged German Jews to leave for many places, including Israel, and stripped them of their assets for the privilege. The Ha'avara Agreement under which Jews were permitted to leave for Palestine was a case in point: it cost them a thousand pounds to do so (a considerable sum then).

This is a man who said in the London Mayoral election of 2012 that it was unlikely Jewish communities would vote for him because they were rich; and who extended a warm welcome to the cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has said that Jews and gays should be killed.

John Fisher said...

I am not sure if this will make sense. It seems to me behind the killing of Jews, gypsies, slavs, socialists dissenters and minorities lies a powerful irrational drive that political correctness and false diversity fails to grasp. We know from the experience of invasion, ethnic displacement, cultural invasion and the struggle for dominance countries that unity is paramount. A ethnic identity develops over time and division vs unity are always straining. Its a check list. The more I have in common with the other person the more the unity. It seems to me along with scientific racial theories that looked at humans as if they are breeds of dogs with genetic defects and strengths there was something else going on. That of belonging and not belonging. I personally think over times cultures tend to promote unity on essentials. The Jews were targeted because they were not from Europe and were a diaspora that would not assimilate. Christians in the Middle East suffer in the same way Moslems in Europe too. Societies must self protect and self perpetuate. Dangers that prevent this must be removed. Over time assimilation occurs. Rapid immigration sows the seeds od war and civil conflict. Governments in Europe Except perhaps the Poles and Hungarians don't get that that is why Europe had had wars for so long. Better to build immigration on ethnic cultural similarities.

John Fisher said...

I personally think Israel has a right to exist. Many groups live happily in Israel and it seems to me it is only the Moslems who use brutality in this context because it is the example Mohamed set. Samaritans and Druze don't use violence and don't blow themselves up. I believe in one state of Israel that includes Gaza. I think the Jews should have the dome of the rock back. It was empty for centuries and it was Islam that took it after it occupied the Holy Land.

Robert said...

Good points on Livingstone and the Jews. Christians must stand with Jews against anti-Semitism. Remember".. and then they came for..."

don't worry about the Pope. His pastoral outreach is superb and they Year of mercy is transformative. Numbers going to confession have shot up. He has said that he will add no more to the magisterium and the legacy of Popes John XXIII to Benedict XVI are intact and make the church whar it is today.

Robert said...

I agree with John Fisher. Israel is not perfect- no state is- but people have the right to speak out and practice their faith.