Following Jeremy Corbyn’s widely criticised equivocations on the killing of Jihadi John and, more recently, of shoot-to-kill policies when faced with violent terrorism, the hashtag #JihadiJez has been inexplicably popular on Twitter and was even picked up by Sky, prompting a furious backlash from Corbynists. What has been missed by many both on the offense and defence sides of this debate, though, is the fact that tacit support for ISIS is entirely consistent with a hard-left viewpoint.
When the Berlin Wall fell, any serious ambitions by Marxists in the West for the realisation of their communist dream in Europe fell with it. Many commentators rather short-sightedly declared that Marxism was dead and social democracy had decisively won. They were wrong, as Nick Cohen argued recently.
Defeated on the political field, Marxian critiques of ideology, power and empire retrenched in the academy, becoming the dominant mode of thought within humanities subjects from literature through history to the many flavours of cultural studies that have spawned today’s corrosive identity politics. Within that comfortably insulated environment, funded academics could critique the hegemonic power of capitalism even as they sucked at its teat.
This worldview sees capitalism as the enemy, pitting groups against one another and spreading insidious lies through the status quo in order to gull the lumpenproletariat into meekly accepting its pyramid of oppression. Shorn by the fall of Soviet Communism of the prime source of opposition to this cancerous social Ponzi scheme, adherents of the Marxian mindset have found themselves allied with any regime or ideology that offers any critique of the horrors of capitalism. The resulting coalition is, as Cohen observes, paradoxical to say the least:
Opposition to the West is the first, last and only foreign policy priority of many on the Left. It accounts for its disorientating alliances with movements any 20th-century socialist would have no trouble in labelling as extreme right-wing.
Not just Corbyn and his supporters but much of the liberal Left announce their political correctness and seize on the smallest sexist or racist “gaffe” of their opponents. Without pausing for breath, they move on to defend radical Islamist movements which believe in the subjugation of women and the murder of homosexuals. They will denounce the anti-Semitism of white neo-Nazis, but justify Islamist anti-Semites who actually murder Jews in Copenhagen and Paris.
But it is only paradoxical insofar as it fails to grasp the underlying paradigm. As Chris Manby points out, there is a hierarchy of oppression, in which rich white people are at the top and, essentially deserve what’s coming to them, the bastards. Within that paradigm, pace our late friend political Communism, anyone who is with us against the lifestyles and ideology of rich white people is ipso facto on the side of the light. However fond they may be of enslaving prepubescent girls for sex or throwing gay people off buildings. It’s perfectly logical, and morally contemptible.