Thursday, January 25, 2007

What's Left

Apologies for a lack of recent posts. On Monday Amazon did me the favour of delivering Nick Cohen's new book early. The official publication date is not until next week. All my spare time has been spent reading and re-reading it. I have just finished it and this is simply a highly personal initial reaction. I will probably post more substantial comments later.

It is a magnificent book from a journalist who is an accomplished writer of fine prose. The intellectual clarity and the emotional commitment to universal values are convincing. Even though the arguments are now familiar, they still have the power to shock. Inevitably, I have some minor quibbles. The main one is that he is slightly unfair to some Anarchists and parts of the Green and Global Justice movements as he is less familiar with non-Marxist radical thought. Some, though by no means all, are better than he gives them credit for; others are far madder but arguably more benign than the Galloways of this world.

But this is nothing and I feel bad writing it. Perhaps I need some quibbles just because of the unease of seeing in clear, logical, reasoned and impassioned prose just how wrong I have been in the past. I have taken positions which I would now reject. At least my conscience is assuaged by the doubts that assailed me as I sought desperately to accommodate to orthodox positions. Nick Cohen has taken all my misgivings and explained why I was right to have them and wrong to suppress them. His journalism has helped me on a path on which I have been travelling; I owe him a huge debt of gratitude, as I do to Norman Geras, whose blog has become a central part of my daily routine, and all the other inhabitants of the blogosphere. My research had led me to libertarian ideas and I have now continued to anti-totalitarianism, I am grateful and proud that I discovered both.

I urge everyone to read What's Left. Even in January I can say it is my book of the year.

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