The British Left in the 1930s offered us the welfare state. Black leaders, feminists and bohemians in 1960s America paved the way for the abhorrence of racial and sexual discrimination of the modern age. This book dissects the behaviour of the people who form alliances with dictatorships. It covers solidarity and the fight against totalitarianism.
What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way by Nick Cohen
From the much-loved, witty and excoriating voice of journalist Nick Cohen, a powerful and irreverent dissection of the agonies, idiocies and compromises of mainstream liberal thought. Nick Cohen comes from the Left. While growing up, his mother would search the supermarket shelves for politically reputable citrus fruit and despair. When, at the age of 13, he found out that his kind and thoughtful English teacher voted Conservative, he nearly fell off his chair: 'To be good, you had to be on the Left.' Today he's no less confused. When he looks around him, in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, he sees a community of Left-leaning liberals standing on their heads. Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam that stands for everything the liberal-Left is against come from a section of the Left? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the Left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal-Left, but not, for instance, China, the Sudan, Zimbabwe or North Korea? Why can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a liberal literary journal as in a neo-Nazi rag? It's easy to know what the Left is fighting against - the evils of Bush and corporations - but what and, more to the point, who are they fighting for? As he tours the follies of the Left, Nick Cohen asks us to reconsider what it means to be liberal in this confused and topsy-turvy time. With the angry satire of Swift, he reclaims the values of democracy and solidarity that united the movement against fascism, and asks: What's Left?
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'A roaring polemic of outrage against the moral and political crisis of the liberal tradition. It is already one of the most discussed current affairs books of the new year!At the very least it forces anyone on the left to think carefully about where their movement has ended up in the modern world.' The Guardian '!exceptional and necessary!Do not feel you have to be a leftist or liberal to read it, because it engages with an argument that it crucial for all of us, and for our time.' Christopher Hitchens, Sunday Times '(He writes with) a genuine passion and human sympathy about people who have experienced appalling suffering.' Michael Burleigh, The Evening Standard 'Undoubtedly controversial and provocative "What's Left?" is, as its title suggests, a bleakly witty but perhaps dimly hopeful examination of what it means to be liberal in an age where the lines that have been drawn in the sand are in danger of being washed away.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'One of the most powerful denunciations of the manner in which the Left has lost its way!Cohen's is a brave voice.' Michael Gove, The Spectator 'Nick Cohen explains how contemporary liberals have lost their way with his usual polemical brio.' The Observer 'An essay of wide reference and great brilliance.' John Lloyd, Financial Times 'Cohen skilfully shows how the left perversely set its moral compass by the United States!Cohen is at his best as a painstakingly forensic officer and he marshals his evidence with flair and rigour!He is at his very best when he exposes the dishonesty of the liberal press!Cohen's book has made me look with greater respect at the motives behind those who led the journey to war in Iraq in 2003, and view many of the anti-war campaigners with a new scepticism!This book is much more than a mere denunciation of old left-wing friends and colleagues. It is also a moving account of a long personal journey carried off with wit, verve, considerable literary skill and compassion.' The Observer 'It is an essay of wide reference and great brilliance, which flays every kind of foot-shuffling excuse for not facing up to the nature of the regime which that evil (and now, mercifully dead) tyrant, Saddam Hussein, inflicted on his country and planned for his region. Cohen surveys a gamut of liberal-left Western opinion that, in part under the pressure of the Iraqi war, has forgotten its best tradition and instead lapsed into its worst, that regards nothing as more important than the failures of its own societies, and that lacks the imagination or the will to comprehend the agonies of those living under tyranny.' Financial Times 'Nick Cohen smells out the cesspits of corruption and injustice with the keenest of noses. He tells it as it is, without fear or favour. He's one of the few independent voices left in an increasingly closed society.' Harold Pinter
About Nick Cohen
Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer, The New Statesman and The Evening Standard. In his Channel Four documentaries and general media appearances, he has proved himself to be the witty and excoriating voice of the left. He commands a loyal readership, as his groaning weekly postbag attests. He is the author of two books. 'Cruel Britannia: Reports on the Sinister and the Preposterous', a collection of his journalism, was published by Verso in 1999 and 'Pretty Straight Guys', a dissection of the Blair leadership.
What's Left?: How Liberals Lost Their Way by Nick Cohen
Used - Very Good
Short-listed for Orwell Prize 2008
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