Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Painite Vision for a New Century

During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine wrote in The American Crisis, "I dwell not upon the vapors of the imagination...I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes." Paine can be credited with being the most important propagandist for the American cause, bringing a radical democratic vision most of the Founding Fathers were scared of. What he wrote was not commonsense, but revolutionary. He was truly one of the first libertarian leftists of the Enlightenment.

Today the left is mired in back-biting, apologetics, and lazy intellectualism. Yet there seems to be a collection of leftists that have had enough with all that. They have written a new Common Sense for the Left, which they call The Euston Manifesto. Here's its opening statement:
We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.
It's truly the time we took back the Left from those who seek inadvertently to destroy it by sullying our traditions with a virulent Anti-Americanism, support for pseudo-fascist Islamists and the "insurgency" in Iraq, a morbid multiculturalism that privileges "group rights" over individual rights, while believing human rights is a mere Western construction, with no authority outside its hemisphere.

Possibly the scariest thing about the Euston Manifesto is that we on the Left have to say this at all. Nevertheless, like the real Common Sense, the manifesto is written clearly and concisely, so that everyone can understand it -- whether they climb the steps to the Ivory Tower or merely look up at it. I implore everyone to read it and then sign it.

Let the Left once again to be the leading light of the Enlightenment Project.