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

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy