Ed Miliband’s Shallow Vision of Human Flourishing

Having led the British Labor party from 2010 to 2015, Ed Miliband very much represents the moderate, Blairite wing of his party—as opposed to the radical, anti-American, and anti-Semitic wing that took over under his successor Jeremy Corbyn. Miliband has recently authored a book titled Go Big, which focuses on solving a number of policy problems, from declining wages to climate change. In his review, the philosopher John Gray points to the emptiness underpinning Miliband’s political thinking:

[Miliband’s] account of the good life is narrow and shallow. In a short chapter entitled “That Which Makes Life Worthwhile,” he laments that increasing GDP has been the overriding goal of public policy. He has a point here, but he says very little about what gives most human beings meaning in their lives. Religion is not mentioned, any more than national identity is. The enduring needs they express are not explored, and the unspoken implication is they are significant only as sources of division. Personal choice and a diffuse ideal of community are the goods that will shape the future. Anyone who cherishes other values is implicitly dismissed as backward. The contradictions that go with being human are screened out, and instead we are presented with a bland abstraction.

More than any incidental errors and misjudgments, it is this unreal vision that explains the sad comedy of Miliband’s political career and the near-universal rout of [British] center-left progressivism. . . . His book is an exposition of the worldview that has taken the center left close to extinction across nearly all of Europe, and now threatens Labor with a similar fate.

There have been several turning points in the fall of Labor. Tony Blair was in power for more than a decade, but even as he secured the support of sections of the middle class, he set in motion the party’s detachment from its historic [working-class] base—a trend that [his likeminded successor] Gordon Brown did nothing to reverse. . . . Jeremy Corbyn’s animosity towards his own country, and his studied inaction regarding the virulent anti-Semitism at work in his party, led many Labor supporters to break the voting habit of a lifetime in 2019. Devised to win over middle-class families worried about student fees, Corbyn’s bourgeois populism completed Labor’s transformation. From being a coalition of workers and intellectuals, it became a party of graduates.

Read more at New Statesman

More about: Jeremy Corbyn, Nationalism, Secularism, United Kingdom


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict