In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Mother Agnes and the Manichaeans

Posted by seumasach on November 25, 2013

Cailean Bochanan

25th November, 2013

It’s not clear why Britain’s Stop the War group invited Mother Agnes of the Mussalaha initiative (Reconciliation) to their annual conference. They must have known that any viewpoint other than that of Aljazeera, the BBC and Human Rights Watch would stir controversy in its ranks. Two luminaries of the left duly decided to boycott the conference if she was present on the grounds that she was an agent of the Assad “regime” and that she had questioned, some might say debunked, the official account of the the chemical weapons attack at Ghouta implicating the Syrian government.

Mother Agnes withdrew from the conference and STW issued a statement effectively distancing themselves from her.
“Mother Agnes has now withdrawn from speaking at the conference. In inviting speakers to participate in its events, Stop the War has never sought to endorse all their views. We have always provided a platform for a diversity of opinions within a broad anti-war perspective.”
Had STW’s invitation really been about promoting peace and reconciliation in Syria they could and should have insisted on her presence and accepted the non-attendance of the aforementioned luminaries. But they know that the liberal imperialists hold the whip hand in the British left: the leadership itself had been part of the “Assad must go!” tendency at the high point of their enthusiasm for the “Syrian revolution” as they understood the long-planned campaign of destabilization of Syria launched in synchronization with the broader “Arab Spring”. To insist on allowing an alternative Syrian voice would have been suicidal.
Let us be quite clear what this means. At a time when the British government has made a complete about turn on Iran and prepares to engage in talks with the Syrian government at the upcoming Geneva 2 conference, the British left cannot similarly engage with someone they believe to linked to the Syrian government. They cannot therefore be supporting the peace process which has already begun and must logically opposed Geneva 2. In what sense then are they anti-war given that they cannot bring themselves to support peace and reconciliation? Like much of the far left throughout the West they wish to go on being “anti-war” forever scorning and poo-pooing the prospect of peace. Bringing wars to an end would also bring anti-war movements to an end.The movement is everything, the goal is nothing.
As global peace becomes a conceivable goal for the first time  due to the collapse of empire and the emergence of a multipolar world order, the left have decided to miss the train of history. The truth is that like the Manichaeans in the dying Roman empire they are just not of this world, being consumed by an imaginary and endless struggle between good and evil in which they themselves are the representatives of the good and government in general representative of the evil. They consequently reject sovereignty,statecraft, diplomacy all of which are necessary to an ordered and peaceful world. If they don’t believe in the possibility of peace, which is an immediate imperative for humanity, they should renounce politics and retreat to the wilderness to find peace with themselves.

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