Another FDL Book Salon: Michael Bérubé

Check out the lively discussion of the left’s influence on war, resistance, history, politics, art, media and everything else. He really gets into it with the commenters! Excerpt from the introduction below.

The Left at War argues that all of this is badly, horribly wrong, and needs to be rethought. First – the book holds out the hope that sometimes wars of intervention can make things better. If (in contrast to the Iraq war), interventions are in accordance with international law, and are aimed at supporting human rights, they can perhaps do more good than harm. Second – it argues that the Manichean left is much too pessimistic about the possibility of real opposition emerging. Chomsky and others predicted that the Internet was going to be just another corporate playground. They had no way of anticipating the emergence of the anti-war blogosphere as a significant force in debates over US foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Bérubé does concede that Chomsky et al. got it right in their description of the mainstream media’s slavering over the war, with embedded reporters, retired generals punditizing their tinny hearts out on CNN and the rest of the grisly business.

What would make things better? Here, Bérubé argues that a better understanding of culture – one which doesn’t equate the American people with the American sheeple – would help lefties avoid some of the critical errors that the Manichean left made. He draws in particular on cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall, who analyzed the beginnings of Thatcherism in the United Kingdom, and who argued that it reflected real cultural phenomena, rather than just a form of ideological hoodwinking.

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