Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Murdered by the Left

I have no inside information about the motives behind the Fortuyn assassination, but I do have an instinct (and recklessly sharing unsubstantiated information with the world is what blogging is all about).

My sense is that what passes for the Left in Europe is really just a coalition of divergent complaints. It's a negative force. All those demonstrators clogging the streets of Paris last week were not marching in favor of Chirac, they were opposed to Le Pen, or fascism, or war, or racism, or any number of generic "causes." That fact is, it's a lot easier to be against something than to be in favor of anything.

A key attraction to the Left is that it allows you to be concerned about the state of your world without requiring anything more than a mild feeling of indignation. For young people whose real concern is being cool and getting laid, being on the Left means you don't have to stick your neck out for anything and appear foolish. This hegemony is enforced by ridicule and peer pressure which is why liberalism is the default position for most people. To move to the right requires real effort and risk. That's why the most interesting political figures are those who made the journey from Left to Right and the most brain dead ones are those who have never questioned their liberal or conservative assumptions.

Fortuyn made that journey. He was a risk taker. He stuck his neck out. But on the national level that adolescent ridicule is a potent and potentially violent force. While most on the Left are just along for the ride and the music, some who have listened carefully and have fully digested the menu of hate and intolerance that Cafe Gauche is serving these days are likely to take matters to their logical conclusion.

You can't save the planet without breaking a few eggs. Pim Fortuyn was just the latest egg.

Maybe it's a stretch to say that the negativity that motivates the Left ultimately leads to hate and violence but . . . heck, that's why I have a blog.

The silver lining here may be a realization that what Fortuyn advocated was more thoughtful and nuanced than the "far-right-wing" or "fascist" labels imply. And perhaps this will lead to a more open and candid debate about the meaning of conservatism and liberalism in Europe.


According to Reuters, the assassin had radical environmentalist propaganda in his home:

Some newspapers said he was known to intelligence services as an ``extreme leftist,'' but Hofstee said: ``We do not use that term.''

Of course they don't use the term "extreme leftist." In much of Europe and the States, there is no such thing as the extreme Left. Certainly the political spectrum of Reuters stretches all the way from "extreme, right-wing, ultraconservative" on one side to "center-left" on the other. Is anyone else beginning to tire of this game whereby all dissent to the liberal orthodoxy is labeled "extreme?"

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