The Front Page Moderator said:
“I am not sure how a pro-capitalist and a democratically-minded conservative is obliged to answer for people who are part of some racist organization or a torturing military junta.”
With which Geras rightfully responds:
“I'm also puzzled as to why you find it easy to make distinctions within the right - as between 'a pro-capitalist and... democratically-minded conservative' on the one hand, and "racist organization(s) or a torturing military junta" on the other - while having difficulty allowing that there could be people on the left not complicit in the crimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.”
This is my criticism of Front Page as a whole. To assume that all of those on one side of the political spectrum somehow see eye to eye is ridiculous. The same goes for those on the left that see everything on the right as fascist and totalitarian. Not only is it untrue, but it is a childishly simplistic way to see the world.
Geras gives a lengthy statement defending the Euston Manifesto and the ideas is perpetuates.
“David, I don't think it took great courage to issue the Euston Manifesto. That there are people on the left who haven't taken kindly to it is true, but then the same people haven't taken kindly to many of the positions that Nick and I were arguing for before the manifesto was produced. The 'price' they exact for not thinking what they do doesn't especially trouble me, whereas thinking what they do would.
I don't believe it will be productive for me to pursue further the questions the two of you are asking that are based on superimposing your understanding of what the left has historically been on mine or Nick Cohen's. I've already said why I don't accept that view of it. You seem to have no difficulty with the notion of a right composed of different political currents or "types" - that is the clear implication of knowing the difference between a democratically-minded conservative and a racist or a fascist - but when it comes to the left you squeeze down, and squeeze out, people of democratic outlook as if the space between Stalin and Pol Pot, on the one hand, and Tony Blair, on the other, was all but empty. It isn't - and never has been.
As of now, it's impossible to say what the long-term significance of the Euston Manifesto will be. But it wasn't envisaged as starting a "movement", as you imply - merely as providing a rallying point, in the first instance, for leftists and liberals with similar commitments to those articulated in the document. Why bother? Why not just turn my back on the left? Adapting something else I wrote recently, two reasons.
First, even for someone who doesn't regard the left as the best place to be politically, a more rather than a less healthy Left is surely to be desired. In politics you don't know how many will agree with what you have to say until you've said it, and there are already signs that what we've said in the Euston Manifesto - about holding firm to democratic principles and universal human rights, about not making excuses for tyranny or terrorism, about opposing anti-Americanism and not selling short the liberal tradition of freedom of ideas - has found a welcome from a section of left-liberal opinion. How far this will go remains to be seen, but except from a very narrowly partisan view, it has to be better for public debate and the well-being of the polity, that those on the "other side" from you are attached to principles of a better rather than a worse kind.
Second, for those of us who haven't given up on the left, there is more reason still why we shouldn't want to see democratic and universalist values made light of. We see these values as linked to others which have always been the special concern of the left. No one else can be relied on to defend them. Daniel Finkelstein wrote in The (London) Times that the "task of persuading the Left is... unnecessary": for if the Euston Manifesto had been published by rightwingers, support for it on the Right would have been overwhelming. But that isn't true of some of the manifesto's positions - for example, its embrace of broadly egalitarian principles and of trade unions as the "bedrock organizations for the defence of workers' interests", and its defence (in Shalom Lappin's words) of "the integrity of the public domain against the onslaught of privatization and expropriation that has resulted from the dogmatic pursuit of neo-liberal ideas". Some conservative voices have, in welcoming the manifesto, expressed clear reservations about these aspects of it.”