In the latest edition of Fathom, Alan Johnson interviews Joshua Muravchik about his new book Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel. Here's Muravchik on "a new paradigm of progressive thought":
In a nutshell, after a century or so, the paradigm which came from Marx – of a class struggle – had lost a good deal of its allure and was pushed aside by the new paradigm of racial, national and ethnic struggle. That grew out of the anti-colonial movements which reverberated in Europe and were overlaid by the Civil Rights Movement in the US. In the US, Civil Rights was something different to anti-colonialism, but both were seen to be part of one broader struggle of the people of colour against the white man, or as is sometimes put, the ‘Rest against the West.’ I remember for example Jesse Jackson, at the height of his considerable popularity in the US, made a visit to Cuba and launched into a litany of slogans, the theme of which was ‘our time has come’ and where the first person plural of ‘our time’ meant blacks in America, Latinos and other third-world people fighting against the West. It was seen somehow as all part of one omnibus struggle and this paradigm really was more exciting to my generation and subsequent ones – generations post-World War Two – than the older class struggle paradigm. The labour movement today, (certainly in the US, but I think throughout the West) is a less exciting, vibrant or inspiring than it was during my parent’s generation.
Now if you look at the world and see a drama of the ‘Rest against the West’, or the people of colour against the white man, and perceive that struggle as the main moral drama of the age, then Israel comes across as the Western white guys, whilst the Arabs and Palestinians are the anti-colonial people of colour. It doesn’t matter what the details of any episode are: history tells you that one side are the ‘good guys’ and the forces of the future while the other side are the forces of the past which need to be swept away.