The Blinders of the Left

Is it 1956 for the Left? Well, yes.

All over the world, the Left was thrown into confusion and crisis after Khrushchev's 1956 speech exposing (some of) Stalin's crimes. It wasn't only Communist Party members who were dazed by Khrushchev's revelations; progressives of all stripes - from trade unionists to Trotskyites - were forced, if they were honest and brave enough, to reassess long-cherished beliefs.

September 11 th has thrust those of us who consider ourselves progressives - who believe in democracy, feminism, human rights and socialism - into a 1956-type crisis. By this I do not mean that the Islamic fundamentalists who declared war on ``the infidels'' (including so many of their own people) are Stalinists (though the two groups certainly share some characteristics). I do mean that we must, if we are honest and brave enough, reassess many of our long-cherished beliefs. Questioning authority must now start with our own.

Are we up to that task? I am not at all sure that we will do better than our forebears in the 1950s; years of self-imposed political correctness have resulted in muddled, strident and obtuse ways of approaching (or is it avoiding?) the world. I should say here that I consider this piece primarily a self-critique; but I know, too, that though the universe of ``progressives'' I am addressing is not infinite, it is larger than one.