Tag Archives: Norman Geras

The Guardian: The Path Out Of Denial

Was the Euston Manifesto written, as some wags now say, in a pub? Well, no. Would you want beer spilt over your manifesto? Would you want it smelling of smoke? The document was mooted in one pub and discussed in another. But it was written where things get written these days, on computers. And this, in a sense, is also where it came from — out of the blogosphere and into the world.

The manifesto, which has its public launch today, states a commitment to certain general principles and identifies patterns of left-liberal argument that we think fall short of those principles. So we commend the democratic norms and institutions that typify the liberal democracies, despite their shortcomings, and criticise those on the left who make excuses for undemocratic movements and regimes. We affirm the importance of universal human rights, rejecting the cultural-relativist arguments and double standards by which these values get watered down or inconsistently applied. We express our opposition to terrorism and to indulgently “understanding” (where this means condoning) it because it is thought to be motivated by legitimate grievances. We state an attachment to a broad ideal of equality in all spheres, from gender relations to economic justice. The full text is at www.eustonmanifesto.org

Since it was published in April, the Euston Manifesto has generated an enormous volume of comment, from supportive, through critical, to jolly unfriendly. The abstract generality of its principles is one point of complaint. But we make no claim to have formulated a programme for government; we hope merely to remind people on the liberal-left of the values they ought to be defending. A related point is the suggestion that this wish to remind is needless, since the manifesto’s criticisms don’t apply beyond a tiny section of the far left. But this suggestion isn’t true, as has been amply documented on the blogs.

link to full text of article online

link to original text at normblog

The Times: The Left Needs To Get It Right

The Euston Manifesto is a corrective to extreme views on terrorism, Iraq and Bush

WRITING IN this newspaper two weeks ago, Daniel Finkelstein gave the Euston Manifesto — a document calling for a progressive realignment and which I had a large part in drafting — a mixed review. “Really very good,” he said. “I agree with its sentiments; I think it well written and timely.”

But he also described it as “a gigantic waste of time and energy”. How so? Because, even though it challenges ideas widely held on the Left, the aim of those who produced it is “to save the Left from itself” and that isn’t worth the bother.

There are two things that may be said in response to this. The first is that even for someone who doesn’t regard the Left as the best place to be politically, a more rather than a less healthy Left is surely to be desired.

Finkelstein thinks the manifesto’s “clear statement of principles has been wasted on people who do not agree and never will”. But in politics you don’t know how many will agree with what you have to say until you’ve said it, and there are already signs that what we’ve said in the manifesto — holding firm to democratic principles and universal human rights, not making excuses for tyranny or terrorism, opposing anti-Americanism and not selling short the liberal tradition of freedom of ideas — has found a welcome from a section of left-liberal opinion. How far this will go remains to be seen, of course, but except from a very narrowly partisan view it has to be better for the wellbeing of the polity, that those on the “other side” from you are attached to principles of a better rather than a worse kind.

Secondly, for those of us who haven’t given up on the Left, there is more reason still why we shouldn’t want to see democratic and universalist values made light of. We see these values as linked to others that have always been the special concern of the Left. No one else can be relied on to defend them.

link to full text of article online

The Times: Euston, you don’t have lift-off

…You might think, therefore, that I would greet with enthusiasm the publication earlier this month of something called the Euston Manifesto.

The what? In the weeks after the general election, a group of liberal commentators, led by the politics professor and blogger Norman Geras and the impressive columnist Nick Cohen began meeting in a pub to Euston, not too far from where Karl Marx used to write his polemics.

The result — a manifesto that calls on the Left to support universal human rights, to abandon anti-American prejudice, to see all forms of totalitarianism as being essentially the same, to be willing to support miltary intervention against oppressive regimes if necessary, to promote democracy and women’s rights and free speech all over the world. And so on. Read it yourself, it’s really very good…

link to full article online

The Euston Manifesto Conference

‘Solidarity and Rights: The Euston Manifesto one year on’

The Euston Manifesto Group will stage a one-day conference at SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London, on 30 May 2007. The event will be hosted with the help of the SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies and take place in the Khalili Lecture Theatre, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG.
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New Statesman: The Euston Manifesto: an introduction

On a Saturday last May, right after the general election, 20 or so similarly minded people met in a pub in London. We had no specific agenda, merely a desire to talk about where things were politically. Those present were all of the left: some bloggers or running other websites, their readers, a few with labour movement connections, one or two students. Many of us were supporters of the military intervention in Iraq, and those who weren’t - who had indeed opposed it — none the less found themselves increasingly out of tune with the dominant anti-war discourse. They were at odds, too, with how it related to other prominent issues — terrorism and the fight against it, US foreign policy, the record of the Blair government, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, more generally, attitudes to democratic values.

link to full article online