I have no reservations in saying that historically the left has always been at the forefront of movements for social progress, gradually pushing back the right and its need to conserve the undesirable status quo. Having said this, I have come to think that it has since lost its way. The most noteworthy example of this, is the new antisemitism of the left.
This has materialised from the far-left’s inability to detach themselves from any vaguely exciting, conspiratorial narrative, no matter how blatantly false that narrative is. Extracts from the right wing fabrication, ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ being spread across social media by conspiratorial leftists is a prime example of this. It has to be the Jews, as Christopher Hitchens rightly said; “somehow it just isn’t exciting enough if it isn’t.”
Imagine how (I hope) everybody would smirk at the prospect of finding that a seemingly normal acquaintance believes that there is a secret network of powerful Quakers meeting in shadowy rooms, to discuss how best to suppress the impoverished masses. In the words of Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster, I very much hope that we would all consider this acquaintance, ‘more or less, off his onion’. Despite both propositions of a Jewish or Quaker world-order being equally untruthful, one is somehow more exciting than the other, and therefore is allowed free reign. It is quite telling that a worryingly large portion of young leftists rightly criticise Israel’s illegal settlement expansion, but cannot bring themselves to say that Hamas are (at the very least) abborant, or that the actions of Israel are far from universally condoned by Jews, from Albert Einstein to their poster boy Noam Chomsky.
Anti-Semites have an irritatingly weasel-ish way of concealing their racism by omitting the word ‘Jews’ from their feverish rants and replacing it with Israelis, thereby legitimising what would otherwise be anti-semitic and merely making it creepy sensationalist criticism of Israel; ‘Israelis drink the blood of children.’ Unfortunately this zeitgeist of being obsessed with an exciting, anti-establishment narrative at the expense of truth has become something of a cultural phenomenon; having observably infected movies, journalism and mass-politics with conspiracy narratives, to the extent where many plots and ideas become banally predictable. This anti-establishment narrative has featured most prominently in recent blockbusters like Captain America 2. In Captain America we are fed a long but tiresomely obvious plot which leads to the inevitable climax that Nazism has infected, yes you guessed it, a government department.
The template seems to be, take a everyman character, give him a job at an obviously shady corporation or government department, then watch him gradually grasp at the unbearably obvious truth of his employer’s shadiness. I realise that the plots are fictional, but the extent to which this seems to influence people’s perceptions of mostly un-shady corporations and governments is worrying. I think people tend to overlook the wider truth that these places in large part are just made up of normal people, who bear little resemblance to the shadowy boardroom characters they imagine them to be. While the politicisation of the arts is fine, it is the way in which this conspiratorial plot is being recycled which I find a bit thick.
Written on 12/08/2015