The Manichaean left demonstrates the same simplism as the American neoconservatives

The last few weeks have shown that the left coalition was still crossed by major divisions, relating to international relations. Whether it is the statements of Jean-Luc Mélenchon relating to Taiwan and China, or his silence at the time of the attack on Salman Rushdie, a wind of controversy has woken up. As for the partners of the “rebellious”, the unbearable lightness of their interpretation of the balance of geopolitical forces seems beyond any capacity to offer a counterweight to the swerves of the former candidate for the presidential election.

The radical left has been struggling for at least twenty years to define a clear conception of the geopolitical situation, subjecting it by its desire to oppose what it believes to be the crux of the problem: the use of the media by the dominant classes. In doing so, she is misguided.

International relations, a poisoned subject

Michael Bérubé, professor at Penn State University in Pennsylvania, developed a detailed review of how the radical left sees the world. For two decades, he has engaged in a vigorous and sharp questioning of the evolution of part of the Anglo-Saxon left.

In the early 2000s, he questioned the binary vision of many thinkers and authors from the radical left, as Noam Chomsky or Susan Watkins, whom he fiercely fights. He defines in a book published in 2010, The Left at Warthe contours of this “Manichean left”, whose positions are often driven by a form of blind binarity on the objective alliances which are its own.

All writing is no longer rejected only “in horror of the author”, but according to the identity of the shareholders of the medium in question.

Bérubé carries the banner of an inspired left by Stuart Hall and “cultural studies”, who tries to be discerning and attacks the theses of Noam Chomsky. However, “cultural studies” has sunk into the study of marginal facts and has lost its force. His academic criticism joins a political criticism of the reasonings of the radical left in several conflicts involving the United States. If Stuart Hall delivered the most intelligent critique of Thatcherism, his disciples have not progressed since, and especially not in terms of the analysis of international relations.

In academic matters, he explains that the field of “cultural studies” was ransacked by the generation that succeeded Stuart Hall. It is not Hall who wants; and that, at least, many researchers have indeed proved to their cost. Chomsky reigns over the international radical left, to which he infuses a Manichean vision of which media criticism is the beating heart. This criticism of the media posits that “the media lie” by taking up false consciousness theory. Everything we are told would be false because, the media being in the hands of the ruling class, the latter makes them minions as obedient as they are zealous and obsequious.

The debate has rubbed off on Franco-French political life, where all writing is no longer rejected only “in horror of the author”, but according to the identity of the shareholders of the media in question. This left finds no less zealous craftsmen who can in turn rightly denounce NATO bombing of Serbia, but wrongly relativizing the harmful character of Milošević’s “socialist” regime. Likewise, he points to a certain ambiguity on the radical left regarding the tensions between Western countries and Iran.

At the time of the Iraq war of 2003, there are eminent thinkers of the international radical left to compare the occupation of Baghdad and the establishment of a new power post-Saddam Hussein at “Vichy on the Tiger”, as Susan Watkins wrote. If there were, as we saw later, just reasons to oppose the invasion of Iraq, some have loudly made known the most unjust reasons to do so.

The defenders of “anti-imperialism” hampered themselves in binary reasons, and all the more problematic for the understanding of the situation that they postulated that Saddam Hussein and the Baas were part of the anti-imperialist camp – which was only the case in terms of the vulgate delivered by the Baathist state.

Melenchonist provocations and silences

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s recent declarations relating to the question of Taiwan and China have revived the debate on the relationship that a large part of the radical left, in its most militant sectors, maintains with the international situation. As in other areas, this posture is constructed in opposition to an essentialized enemy: the United States, the “North Americans”, to use a term imported from Latin America.

The frequent and polemical declarations of Jean-Luc Mélenchon are really interesting only as a receptacle of the constituent elements of the Manichaean left and as revealing of the intellectual and political processes inherent in an important part of the radical left. The persistent weakness of the geopolitical analyzes of the “rebellious” is the residual product.

We must tear the veil of false consciousness that is imposed on us.

It should be noted that Jean-Luc Mélenchon abstained from any reaction to the attack against Salman Rushdie, who was nevertheless a figurehead of the intellectuals opposed to Thatcher with Harold Pinter and Tariq Ali. Everyone will deduce what they want about the hierarchy established by the leader of the “rebellious” between Khomeini’s fatwa and the work of a giant of international literature.

Le Monde Diplomatique, at times, that is to say frequently, does not hesitate to make itself the official organ of the Manichaean left, in the wake of Chomsky. The radical left’s way of life is very simple: everything that opposes “the Empire” is more or less an ally. And since the media are the property of the ruling class, they lie. If they lie, therefore, everything said about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Hamas, North Korea or Putin is false. We must tear the veil of false consciousness that is imposed upon us.

As proof, the expression of a large number of sympathizers of the rebellious radical left is imprinted with a monomania denouncing any position taken by “Western” countries, and obviously Israel in the first place. If discernment must dominate, it is above all in the field of international relations. However, the “informed” always have a semi-conspiratorial explanation of international relations.

From one Manichaeism to another

However, we are on the wrong track when we link the support of the radical left to Chávez or Morales. Remember that the Carter Foundation has always supported that the electoral processes of the Chávez era (1998-2013) were reliable and respectful of democracy. It is the Manichaean left that makes a gross misinterpretation by equating all international positions.

The defense of a democratically elected government is perfectly understood and deserves respect. However, the confusion between Evo Morales and the CCP intrigues the primary motivations of the radical left in international matters.

The Manichaean left and the neoconservatives are the twin edifices of the international unreason of Western societies. These are two Manichaean forces that are most likely to lead to serious mistakes in geopolitical matters.

There is in the Manichaean left a form of simplism that we find among the neoconservatives.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation of the West Bank allow part of the radical left to give free rein to its Manichaeism, as evidenced by the recent proposal resolution initiated (again!) by left-wing deputies. An edition of the Festival of Humanity saw the stands decked out in the colors of the Ramallah government. The debates focused on the repression of the Israeli occupier in the West Bank, but avoided questioning Fatah’s endemic corruption or the nature and objectives of the de facto power in Gaza led by Hamas.

Similarly, part of the radical left was more than evasive in the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Seeing – with a certain paternalism – in Islam the “religion of the oppressed”, part of the radical left had made acerbic criticism of the satirical newspaper. That this criticism has resulted in the silence and embarrassment of many figures on the radical left is particularly intriguing.

For part of this radical left, the victory of Donald J. Trump in 2016 was truly a divine surprise. It is true that Trump’s inspirations draw on isolationism and paleo-conservatism. These feelings present in American society pleaded for the withdrawal of the United States. In fact, Trump took no further military action.

Binary thinking is particularly dangerous in geopolitics. Opposing two camps at the international level prevents us from apprehending with the necessary subtlety the fragile balances of the family of nations. As we have seen, there is in the Manichaean left a form of simplism that we find among the American neoconservatives in particular. In the global powder keg, what yesterday was an opinion marked by a certain lightness can be a detonator.

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