We live in a perilous world. The current Israeli
war of terror against the civilian population of
Lebanon indicates just how perilous. Israeli aggression
and its associated war crimes would not be possible
in the absence of US militarism. The US invasion
of Iraq has made the world even more dangerous than
it was prior to the 9/11 attacks on America.
with US militarism for world hegemony is political
Islam. Lacking the muscle of the US does not inhibit
this totalitarian strain in its violent intent.
In some regions political Islam has attained state
power, as in Iran, where it inflicts its vile belief
system on society.
peace is under constant siege from these two expansionist
forces. The US seeks to extend its military hegemony
throughout the globe. Political Islam seeks to extend
its totalitarian ideology over the same ground.
This will always lead to competition between the
two and increase the threat to those not of their
hue. Those opposed to such expansionism must devise
strategies for a specific expansionism of their
per se is not the problem. What is being expanded
is. A democratic counter expansionism that seeks
to extend universal human rights to every corner
of the globe is hardly expansionism in the standard
negative sense. It is rights rather than power driven.
Its advocates are sometimes accused of fundamentalism;
taking up fundamentalist positions on human rights,
free speech and secularism. This is an inversion
of the truth. Human rights, a commitment to free
speech, opposition to the imposition of the great
idea, the right to dissent from that idea - all
of these are what defundamentalise human society
and make it safer.
seeking to devise no grand definitive belief system
in which all must acquiesce, the principles of democracy,
human rights, individual liberty, secularism and
free speech do not constitute a meta-narrative which
seeks to impose itself on global society. They simply
permit a framework which every human being can avail
of. If people choose not to that is a matter of
individual conscience. But the individual alone
has to be free to make the choice and must never
be subject to the diktat of another on such matters.
If a person does not wish to exercise the right
to free speech, sexual freedom, political liberty,
freedom from religion, free enquiry, fair enough.
They have a right to desist. But that is where their
right ends. They cannot deny another access to that
right. People can believe what they want but should
never be compelled to believe something. Democratic
expansionism, unlike fundamentalism does not compel
people to believe, merely to respect the right of
others to hold a different belief. Moreover, no
person can be tortured; no person can be raped;
no person can be enslaved - regardless of what beliefs
they hold. These are inviolable and non-negotiable
rights, not adhered to by the forces of US militarism
and political Islam.
dominant global cleavage of our time is between
the forces for democracy and those determined to
curb freedom. In this epic struggle the US is not
positioned on one side and the forces of Islamic
totalitarianism on the other. The US has for long
backed totalitarian regimes throughout the world.
Its current backing of Israel in the Middle East
belies the Neoconservative paradigm of extending
democracy across the globe. US militarism and political
Islam are the twin poles of terror that lay global
siege to a democratic ethos.
these reasons it is a worthwhile exercise for those
interested in extending and deepening democracy
to give their support to the manifesto of the Third
Camp. It poses an honest, intellectual and ethical
challenge to the twin poles of terror. Through no
choice of its own it is part of a zero sum game
which goes with the turf. It battles against US
and Islamic authoritarian expansionism with a democratic
expansionism of its own. Where it goes forward the
twin poles of terror must pull back. Where it cedes
ground the twin poles of terror will advance and
viciously contest the space vacated by democracy,
posing a major threat to world peace in the course
of doing so. Democracy must do its utmost to hold
the ground it takes in order to offset the calamitous
outcome that beckons.
Third Camp manifesto rejects in equal measure the
suicide bombers of political Islam and the infanticide
bombers of US militarism. It defends the liberties
and rights that citizens in Western societies have
gained and enjoy and which should be extended to
all citizens of the globe. These are currently under
sustained attack. If US militarism succeeds with
its internal programmes dissent and opposition will
enter an ice age in the West. Secular totalitarianism
is not any more preferable than religious totalitarianism.
Ismail has pointed out how the current war in Lebanon
and the associated criticism by Israel of Iran has
in fact served to 'greatly enhance Iran's prestige
in the region
While the Arab states look
like traitors, Iran looks like a champion of the
most celebrated of all Muslim causes.' This mirrors
the encroachments on the civil liberties in the
West and is devastating for human progress. Progressives
in Iran must be supported in their efforts to unmask
the hideousness that lies beneath this veil of the
new Muslim champion.
first and foremost that each person is a citizen
of the world the Third Camp offers a vision of globality
rather than nationality. Despots and tyrants should
not be allowed to shelter under the self-serving
cover of nations or the equally pseudo philosophy
of cultural relativism where they can practice barbarism
signing any manifesto there is always an element
of compromise. Democracy makes the world diverse.
Democratic sentiments coming together create a synergy
that holds because of their differences rather than
in spite of them. Many shades of opinion make up
the Third Camp Manifesto. To expect that it goes
as far as we would all wish is neither realistic
nor democratic. Iran for example should be expelled
from the International community. But it is not
alone. Israel too should face a similar fate. But
the Manifesto while not arguing for Israeli expulsion
does not prohibit those who sign it from campaigning
for such an outcome or equally stringent measures.
This much is evident from the Third Camp call made
by Asqar Karimi for the government of Israel to
be indicted for war crimes.
there are practical as well as ethical reasons for
seeking the expulsion of Iran. The country because
of the belligerence of its clerical ruling class
has upped the stakes in a nuclear environment. If
it persists in pursuing the nuclear option, there
is a likelihood that it will be militarily attacked
by the US or Israel. Were the country populated
only by Mullahs and Muftis, such attacks would generate
little opposition. As Salman Rushdie says when tyrants
fall only hypocrites grieve. But there is strong
opposition in Iran to the totalitarian theocracy.
There are innocent men, women and children who must
be protected from any war their leaders and the
US/Israeli axis contrive to create. Having Iran
banned from the international community is one way
of bringing pressure to its theocratic leadership
to desist from its pursuit of the nuclear option;
an alternative to its population being subjected
to a military attack by the US and Israel. The world
has witnessed already what such a cruel alliance
can inflict on the innocent. Its war on children
must never be allowed to become extended to Iran.
disarmament is a noble goal for humanity to strive
for. It is a difficult task. In a world where nuclear
power has for many come to equate with sovereignty
all nations are tempted to steal a march on others.
It is grossly unfair that the US should be in possession
of a nuclear armoury and Iran not. But it would
be more unjust to the people of the world if that
disequilibrium was to be addressed through allowing
Iran such weapons also. More weapons of mass destruction
rather than fewer are not the way ahead. No nation
should acquire them. Those who have them should
be pushed back. When was any problem ever solved
by increasing its size?
there is a need for a Third Camp Manifesto is self
evident. Marx said we face either socialism or barbarism.
Those traditionally looked upon as being the dykes
through which the tides of barbarism shall not flow,
the Left, have been reduced in both quantity and
quality. Radical ideas have been placed in the hands
of the incompetent authoritarians of the Irrelevant
Left whose hatred of democracy and devotion to centralism
have long been repellent. Its radical soullessness,
in part occasioned by its abandonment of core universal
values in deference to cultural relativism, has
led it to a racist embracing of reactionary theocrats.
radical ideas have acquired the appearance of the
ridiculous by sheer dint of their association with
the Irrelevant Left. Its fantasy fighters from its
make believe revolution prance along a stage like
characters from The Life of Brian or Citizen Smith,
reinforcing a view in the public mind this is the
sum total of Left politics. If the Irrelevant Left
did not exist the security agencies of both US militarism
and political Islam would have created it. British
intelligence agencies long ago dismissed it as a
pond of quacking ducks. They perform an indispensable
service, albeit largely unintentional, for such
agencies in dissuading people from embracing left
ideas. They have failed to inspire sufficient confidence
as a way out of the dead end politics where the
sects alone thrive but never move out of. Like flies
around a dead carcass, the sects are busy but that
is the height of it. They need the carcass of the
Left experiment to feed upon, not a living Left
project which might actually achieve something.
effort to prise radical ideas from the corrosive
grip of the Irrelevant Left has exhausted many activists.
How many young people have we seen end up on the
political scrap heap after even the briefest of
flirtations with the cretinous commissars? The incessant
position taking and sect like fissions have forced
other activists to look elsewhere. In their haste
they have leaped into lending their name to ventures
such as the Euston Manifesto. Can Oliver Kamm's
case for a Left neo-conservatism really leave democratic
socialists with anything but a bad taste in their
Third Camp Manifesto is far from perfect. We should
be thankful for that small mercy. Those who insist
on perfection and impose their perfectionist narrative
on the world in order to achieve it are invariably
the harbingers of disaster. The Manifesto is an
experiment in democratic expansionism. And what
else can democracy do but expand?