A 21st-Century Manifesto from Corbynism’s Leading Intellectual

Pick
Oct. 7 2019
About Neil

Neil Rogachevsky teaches at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and is the author of Israel’s Declaration of Independence: The History and Political Theory of the Nation’s Founding Moment, published in 2023 by Cambridge University Press.

Little known in the U.S., the British journalist Paul Mason has emerged as one of the foremost thinkers associated with the hard-left faction, led by Jeremy Corbyn, that has come to dominate the Labor party. His recent book, Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defense of the Human Being, which in part is intended to prop up Corbyn ideologically, is one of several recent works attempting to update Marxism for the current era, with particular attention to technological changes. Neil Rogachevsky writes in his review:

Its principal aspiration—to herald the coming of a world that abolishes private property as well as any need for work—is absurd on its face. And yet in arguing this position ardently, Clear Bright Future presents a good opportunity to study the principal features of the New Marxist mind.

Like some “moralist” Marxist writers of old, Mason is refreshingly critical of the degradations in contemporary culture. The lazy postmodernism of the last few decades does deserve every word of the critique that Mason offers. In adamantly rejecting discussions of human nature as “essentialist,” postmodernism contributes mightily to the sense of powerlessness and anomie that predominate in our societies. Social and political thinkers do need to take up Mason’s challenge to return to human nature.

And yet, . . . Mason’s atheistic, materialistic depiction of the human being is no more persuasive than previous articulations of the same thesis. . . . Mason expresses the unexamined faith that man is only a wolf to man under the conditions of capitalism, and that it’s possible to bring about an order in which the desire for mastery or oppression is eliminated.

Though he dismisses religion as superstition, Mason’s materialist view of human beings leaves basic problems unanswered. When confronted by questions such as “what is the soul?” or “what is thinking?”, materialists can only utter something about “brain wiring” that tells us about the material function of the brain but nothing about what a thought actually is. The inability of materialists definitively to refute such questions, or to stop them being asked, keeps open all sorts of other questions about the proper task of human beings in the world. And the inability to resolve those questions stands in the way of achieving heaven on earth.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK), Marxism, Postmodernism

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7