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.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at New Statesman

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

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism