I think I’ve found out what’s up with Nick Cohen. He’s involved in the great intellectual struggle of our time:
Namazie is on the right side of the great intellectual struggle of our time between incompatible versions of liberalism.
Oh, dear. Oh dear, oh dear. The problem is that when you’re involved in the great intellectual struggle of our time, you’re involved in it full time. Time off is dereliction of duty. When you go to bed at night, you must reflect on how your words and actions that day helped further the cause in the great intellectual struggle of our time. And when you get up, you must resume the great intellectual struggle of our time, pausing only for Ready Brek, or perhaps Frosties.
You write something, and ask yourself how it contributes to the great intellectual struggle of our time. You ask yourself how the events of the day contribute to your understanding of the great intellectual struggle of our time. A quiet afternoon passes, and the mind turns to the refreshing properties of a quick wank. Would this mean abandoning the great intellectual struggle of our time? On the other hand, a discreet hand shandy would allow you to return refreshed and undistracted to the great intellectual struggle of our time. Like Philip Larkin is supposed to have said: five minutes and you’ve got the rest of the evening free for poetry – or the great intellectual struggle of our time.
The people you meet. Are they on your side in the great intellectual struggle of our time? Are the on the other side? Do they appear to be neutral or uninterested? How can they be recruited? Quick, they’re looking around and backing away with nervous smiles! Well, never mind. How can they be of use in the great intellectual struggle of our time?
On the subject of which, here’s the subject matter of the latest struggle session, Maryam Namazie, Iranian feminist.
She ought to be a liberal poster girl. Her life has been that of a feminist militant who fights the oppression of women wherever she finds it. She was born in Tehran, but had to flee with her family when the Iranian revolution brought the mullahs to power. After graduating in America, she went to work with the poor in the Sudan. When the Islamists seized control, she established an underground human rights network. Her cover was blown and she had to run once again. She's been a full-time campaigner for the rights of the Iranian diaspora, helping refugees across the world and banging on to anyone who will listen about the vileness of its treatment of women.
This sounds great, and I personally have no objection at all to the idea of a member of the central committee of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran becoming a liberal poster girl, whatever that happens to amount to. However, you don’t get to become a central committee member of a Communist Party without making it the central fact of your political life. And since there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s nothing wrong in mentioning it either.
As a central committee member, you’re also under collective discipline, so there is the question of whether Ms Namazie’s passionate convictions are entirely her own. Moreover, political parties don’t just exist to have convictions. They exist to turn those convictions into policies. If Nick had told us that Ms Namazie was a member of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran, then we could consult their website to see in detail what she believes we are supposed to do about the issues she raises.
Like I say, I have no problem with Ms Namazie’s political associations. But they are the kind of thing that make timid liberal media types leery. Best not to mention them. Stick to basic principles. Imply that there’s a kind of conspiracy to keep her from public view. When you’re involved in the great intellectual struggle of our time, you have to think strategically. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of the great intellectual struggle of our time.