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Why left and right should unite and fight

[Page 19] The old right also needs to shift ground. Its anti-war anti-interventionist stance is unimpeachable. But even something as splendid as isolationism has to know its limits. Ash-canning war crimes courts is one thing, but a rejection of all international agreements is another. Whether or not the US executes its murderers, denies transvestites the right to marry, or wishes to protect its domestic steel industry is its own concern and nobody else's, but issues such as global warming, wildlife conservation and a ban on the use of landmines can be solved only by international co-operation. Acknowledging this does not make one a Wilsonian liberal, nor does it undermine a principled defence of national sovereignty.

Even if an old right and old left alliance can be forged, many differences of opinion will remain. My views on public ownership, healthcare and redistributive taxation will be anathema to many conservative readers. However my instinct to reach for the nearest brick on passing any branch of McDonald's or Starbucks is one I believe many conservatives would share. And on the issues that really matter – globalisation, war, threats to national sovereignty and the relentless march of transnational capitalism – the old right and old left are already, by and large, singing from the same hymn sheet. The world of 2003, with its globalised grunge, skinny lattes and stealth bombers, is not the world any of us wanted.

In France, Jean-Claude Michéa, in his book The Adam Smith Impasse, has called for socialism to be uncoupled from liberalism and instead to draw its strength from "the altruism of ordinary people". Tariq Ali, a good PM for our Peace Party (see panel above), argues for a "campaigning coalition" that unites "all sections of society" against "the pirate politicians who serve the interests of global and local financial institutions". And when Pravda reprints an anti-war article written by the editor of the Amencan Conservative, something strange and wonderful is surely starting to happen.

The old left has nothing to lose, but much to gain. Far from giving up our identity, we will, I believe, be reclaiming parts of ourselves long lost to liberalism. We can get `"back to basics" and start to reiterate our core beliefs: our opposition to the international rule of money power and the idolatry of market forces; our unequivocal rejection of all forms of imperialism, whether they fly under a military, financial or human rights banner; and, above all, our denunciation of war as the primary method of solving international disputes.

The global crisis we face makes all the old left-right arguments over public ownership and income tax rates irrelevant. Let's have those debates later, but first let's get rid of those who threaten us with Armageddon. If we don't now form the Peace Party, the people had better start building the air-raid shelters in Damascus.



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