Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Militant Democracy" 

Oliver Kamm, British left-wing blogger, has switched at the election a few days ago his vote away from a new Labour candidate who announced that he will be opposing Tony Blair'’s foreign policy, to a Conservative candidate who Kamm was confident would actually support it (and what a fascinating glimpse on contemporary realignment this is). In the end, the Labour candidate had unfortunately won, by a few hundred votes, but Oliver writes:
In the early days of the Federal Republic of Germany, built upon the wreckage of a regime of unmitigated barbarism, an informal understanding emerged between a conservative cause that had definitively broken with its traditions of authoritarianism and nationalism, and a social democratic party that understood the nature of Soviet totalitarianism and was determined to oppose it. The understanding was known as 'Militant Democracy'; it is a concept worth resurrecting in our age, to apply to those who broadly support the ideological alliance of Tony Blair and President Bush. I shall do what I can in my writings to advance it, from a left-wing standpoint.
Militant Democracy -– I like it.– It is, after all, what unites a crowd as diverse as neo-cons, most mainstream conservatives, liberal hawks and 9-11 Republicans, many social democrats from countries like Great Britain and Poland, and more non-aligned people of the left like Oliver Kamm or Chris Hitchens. I always was, and I remain, encouraged by the existence of this coalition, because it demonstrates that clearly that there are values that can unite all people of good will, regardless of their political persuasion. And as Kamm usefully reminds us, there is actually a long and proud tradition of cooperation between the traditional right and the anti-totalitarian left; today, only the totalitarianism has now changed.

To quote a person with whom Kamm probably wouldn't get along all that well, extremism in the defense of liberty - or indeed, democracy - is no vice.


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