John Lloyd, who graced this blog in the first of the HPQ&A sessions, wrote a pre-Iraq war Observer article on anti-Americanism that serves as a useful adjunct to Harry’s post below. I use it as my reference point for any discussion where I’m having difficult explaining what I mean when I talk about this phenomenon, especially as it pertains to today’s left.
Note, you won’t be anywhere nearer an understanding if you believe that a lack of desire to physically assault every American you see effectively immunises you against anti-Americanism.
…Anti-Americanism is not criticism of the American government’s policies, any more than criticism of the Israeli government’s policies is anti-Semitism. But there is now a narrative of the left – complete in itself in the way such narratives are – which sees in the US an imperial predator whose actions – all actions – are conditioned by this aspect of its being.
This narrative has ceased to be critical, but become predestinarian: rather as predestinarians divided humanity into those whose actions could never be wrong and those whose actions could never be right, so this strain of left critique arrogates to itself the first and confers on the US the second. It is important not to confuse this grand, totalising critique with criticism, from left or right. The latter is essential for governments, most essential for governments with such awful power as the US commands. But the totalising critique is an intellectual construct, derived from the techniques of 19th century philosophy, which bends all facts to fit the ideological line.
Read it all, as they say.