There were many moments in the Thirties when fascists and communists co-operated – the German communists concentrated on attacking the Weimar Republic’s democrats and gave Hitler a free run, and Stalin’s Soviet Union astonished the world by signing a pact with Nazi Germany in 1939. But after Hitler broke the terms of the alliance in the most spectacular fashion by invading the Soviet Union in 1941, you could rely on nearly all of the left – from nice liberals through to the most compromised Marxists – to oppose the tyrannies of the far right. Consistent anti-fascism added enormously to the left’s prestige in the second half of the 20th century. A halo of moral superiority hovered over it because if there was a campaign against racism, religious fanaticism or neo-Nazism, the odds were that its leaders would be men and women of the left. For all the atrocities and follies committed in its name, the left possessed this virtue: it would stand firm against fascism. After the Iraq war, I don’t believe that a fair-minded outsider could say it does that any more.
–From an excerpt in The Observer of Nick Cohen’s soon-to-be-published book “What’s Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way.”
David T adds
I was lucky enough to be given a proof copy of this book. It really is excellent. Pretty much everybody who has read it has raved about it. This will probably be your Book of the Year – the one you’ll tell your friends to buy – and we’re only in January.
If you are in the UK, buy your copy here.
In the US, sadly, it isn’t available to order for another couple of weeks. But sign up for your copy here.
Marcus adds: Christopher Hitchens reviews the book in the Sunday Times:
It’s all here: from the pseudo-radicals who said there was nothing to choose between Nazi imperialism in Europe and British rule in India, through the supporters of the Hitler-Stalin pact, all the way to those who defended Slobodan Milosevic as a socialist and those who took, quite literally took, money from the bloody hands of Saddam Hussein. Just in the past decade or so, had this “anti-war” rabble had its way, we would have seen Kuwait stay part of Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo cleansed and annexed by “Greater” Serbia, and the Taliban retaining control of Afghanistan. You might think that such a record would lead its adherents to be dismissed as a silly and sinister fringe, but instead it is they who pose as the principled radicals and their opponents who are treated with unconcealed disdain in the universities and on the BBC.