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John Rentoul

leftright2 300x282 CrossoversWhat do Mehdi Hasan, Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Marine le Pen have in common?

They all seem to be experiencing left-right confusion. By chance, just as I was enjoying Hasan’s letter to Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, explaining how much they had in common so that Hasan could write articles “critical of Labour and the left, from ‘inside’ Labour and the left”, I also came across Unger and Le Pen.

Unger, who is the sort of theoretical socialist that Ralph Miliband would have liked, has written an article for the IPPR journal Juncture, entitled, “Deep freedom: Why the left should abandon equality”. It’s subscription only but I wouldn’t recommend that you pay. Here is a sample:

According to widespread belief, the distinction between the left and the right, between progressives and conservatives in politics, is chiefly a difference between the relative weights that they give to equality and to freedom … This set of identifications results from a confusion between shallow and deep freedom or equality. It is, moreover, false to the history of progressive or leftist ideas. We should reject it … This essay contends that deep freedom should be the core progressive goal.

Then there is Marine le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, who says those who think her party is right-wing are “making a total analytical error“, and who wants to sue anyone who calls the FN extreme right or far right.

It has been a bit of a Molotov-Ribbentrop kind of day.

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  • newfriendofed

    It seems Professor Unger gave a lecture in something called the Miliband Programme, a series of events in honour of Ralph. His lecture begins with a tribute to Ralph and then he says: ‘He may well have disapproved of much of my argument tonight.’ As J. R. well knows we do not even have to speculate to know he disapproved of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pack as he was no Stalinist. To continue in another vein, one could offen hear Tony argue that left-right distinctions were no longer useful.

  • chrishaines47

    Le Pen will sue if called far right? Bien sur – the F.N are neo nazis. ZaNuLabour are nepotistic scumbags. Norfolk Police are (cont p.9)

  • newfriendofed

    I just read Medhi’s letter to Mr. Dacre or is it Sir Paul? Certainly not his finest hour but one idea is to blame Oborne for suggesting it. I am sure that even the best of us have been urged to do something by our ‘friends’ that we later regret. Also, while the flattering tone is disgusting, I wonder if that is what we need to do sometimes to get jobs. One should look into one’s heart and see if one has ever done something a bit like that. Finally, there is nothing Medhi says that is exactly untrue. Had Sir Paul taken him up on his offer, the Daily Mail would have gotten a valuable and rather unique voice. Certainly someone I would rather have read than, to take a random example, Melanie Phillips.

  • David_Boothroyd

    I’m reminded of Oswald Mosley’s letter to The Times of 26 April 1968 in which the author asserted “I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the left and is now in the centre of politics.”

  • greggf

    Oborne is one of the many, including the PM, who believe muslims should be encouraged to enjoin political life in Britain, and has recently castigated the Conservative party for ignoring relevant opportunities at recruitment of same.

    I always find such entreaties reminiscent of Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”!

    These individuals will have studied history and therefore will know the fraught experience, for example; in southern Europe of involving adherents of this particular religion into politics. Even the communists couldn’t halt balkanisation of their nations there, indeed the Balkans is the accepted noun to describe the region.


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