Euston Manifesto

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The Euston Manifesto is a declaration published in 2006 by a group of British intellectuals who regarded themselves as "out of tune with the dominant anti-war discourse" in the wake of the Iraq War.[1] The manifesto called for a "reconfiguration of progressive opinion" that would draw a line "between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values." The latter group included those "for whom the entire progressive-democratic agenda has been subordinated to a blanket and simplistic "anti-imperialism" and/or hostility to the current US administration." The manifesto was also notable for its equation of anti-Zionism with a concealed form of anti-semitism.[2]

There was a significant overlap between the manifesto's support network and those of groups including Harry's Place, Engage, Labour Friends of Iraq and Democratiya.[3] It also attracted support from a number of Americans associated with the Social Democrats USA, which had debated the need for a new Congress for Cultural Freedom-style effort to tackle European anti-Americanism in the aftermath of the Iraq war.[4]

Contents

History

Initial Meetings

According to Norman Geras the Euston Manifesto originated in a series of meetings at a Euston pub which began on May 7 2005.

On a Saturday last May, two days after the general election, there was a meeting in a pub in London of 20 or so similarly minded people. We had no very specific agenda, merely a desire to talk about where things were politically. Those present were all people of the left, some of them bloggers or individuals running other websites, their readers, a few with labour movement connections, one or two students. Many of us were supporters of the military intervention in Iraq, and those who weren't - who had indeed opposed it - were nonetheless finding themselves increasingly out of tune with the dominant anti-war discourse. [5]

According to Alan Johnson, the following people were among those who took part in the meetings: Eric Lee, Jane Ashworth, Jon Pike, David Hirsh, Alexandra Simenon, Simon Pottinger, David Toube, Kitty Wake, Adrian Cohen and Gary Kent.[6]

Publication

The Euston Manifesto appeared in the New Statesman in April 2006, along with an accompanying article by Norman Geras and Nick Cohen.[7] It was simultaneously published on the blogs Harry's Place[8], normblog[9], and a dedicated website[10]

Launch Meeting

The manifesto had its public launch on 25 May 2006, at the Union Chapel, in Islington, North London.

The chosen panel of four speakers, Norman Geras, Shalom Lappin, Eve Garrard and Alan Johnson, with journalist Nick Cohen in the chair, faced an audience of around 200 that was disproportionately heavy with suited, middle-aged men. Cohen made it clear from the start that he wanted the meeting to be about the top table. He told us that any audience participation should be limited to questions to the platform, “not 10-minute contributions” outlining the political platform of some obscure sect.[11]

Further events

The Euston Manifesto Group hosted a talk by Paul Berman in London on 11 July 2006.[12]

The Group held a meeting on Darfur on 5 September 2006 at King's College London, chaired by Phillip Spencer. Speakers were due to include Lord Soley, Linda Melvern, and a representative from the Aegis Trust.[13]

At the 2006 Labour Party conference, the group hosted an event with Nick Cohen, Gisela Stuart, Greg Pope, Lord Soley, Norman Geras, Eve Garrard, Alan Johnson, and Jane Ashworth.[14] Oliver Kamm and Jon Pike spoke at a fringe meeting at the Lib Dem conference.[15]

Several prominent Eustonites, including Brian Brivati and Gary Kent took part in a Progress seminar at the House of Commons on 7 November 2006, entitled 'Labour's foreign policy: Is liberal interventionism dead?'. [16]

In January 2007 an Arabic version of the Euston Manifesto was published. The translation was co-ordinated by Ammar Abdulhamid, director of The Thawra Foundation, and affiliated to the Brookings Institution in Washington.[17]

Together with Democratiya, Engage, and Mishcon De Reya, The Euston Manifesto Group sponsored an evening with Nick Cohen on 22 March 2007. Cohen was interviewed by Anthony Julius about What's Left How Liberals Lost Their Way.[18]

On 30 April 2007, the group sponsored a meeting at Westminster's Jubilee Room on the future of humanitarian intervention after Iraq. Speakers included Hilary Benn, Brian Brivati, Nick Cohen, Gary Kent, and Pat McFadden MP.[19] Brendan Cox of CrisisAction also spoke.[20]

In May 2007, the Euston Manifesto website advertised a poetry reading by Nazand Begikhani. The event was sponsored by the Kurdistan Development Corporation, and hosted by Ann Clwyd MP, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister on Human Rights in Iraq, and Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative to the UK.[21] Later that month, the site advertised the Foreign Policy Centre's Iraq Commission.[22]

On 21 May 2007, the Euston Manifesto held a debate on Terror and Liberalism chaired by Brian Brivati, speakers included Imran Ahmad of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Alan Johnson, Reem Magribi of Sharq magazine, and MPs Louise Ellman, John Mann and James Purnell.[23]

On 30 May 2007, a conference entitled Solidarity and Rights: The Euston Manifesto one year on was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Speakers included Norman Geras, Shalom Lappin, Fred Halliday, Eve Garrard and Michael Walzer.[24]

Halliday discussed the problem of states manipulating solidarity movements. He suggested both Israel and the Muslim states were involved in this, but offered a more pointed description of the latter:

I am told that there are videos of certain members of the British Parliament receiving suitcases full of dollars in a London Embassy in return for making certain pro-Arab statements. One gentleman in particular, one known to all of us. And one day these may well be shown. I've not seen the videos but I'm reliably told they exist, and the gentleman is not noted for his modesty.[25]

The Euston Manifesto Group co-hosted a meeting at the 2007 Labour conference with the Henry Jackson Society. Speakers included Ed Husain, Shahid Malik MP, Liam Byrne MP and Alan Johnson.[26]

In April 2008, The Euston Manifesto co-sponsored the launch of Global Politics After 9/11: The Democratiya Interviews, alongside the Foreign Policy Centre, The John Smith Memorial Trust, Democratiya, The Henry Jackson Society, Labour Friends of Iraq, Progress and Engage. Speakers included Charlie Falconer, Alan Johnson, Denis MacShane MP, John Lloyd, Andrew Mitchell and Ladan Boroumand.[27]


In an article that month, Alan Johnson highlighted the continuing activities of the manifesto's supporters.

Go online and look at normblog, Harry's Place, Engage, Labour Friends of Iraq, Democratiya, and the work of all the contributing online journals, blogs, signatories, journalists and activists. Consider the success of Nick Cohen's book What's Left. Watch the Channel 5 documentary No Excuses for Terror, or the Euston-organised parliamentary seminars on humanitarian interventionism and the terror threat, or the Engage rally against the academic boycott.
The dogged work of organising solidarity with the democrats in Iraq is continued by Labour Friends of Iraq. Engage still fights antisemitism. Eric Lee's cyber-campaigns for global labour rights grow more influential. Philip Spencer is forging links between Unite Against Terror and the French anti-terrorism group, MPCT, part of an international network of citizen responses to Islamist terror. International links proliferate.[28]

International links

USA

Main page: Euston Manifesto United States

William Kristol described the manifesto as "reminiscent of the much-missed liberal anti-totalitarianism of the early Cold War period."[29] In September 2006, The Euston Manifesto website reprinted an article on the '9/11 Generation' by Rachel Kleinfeld and Matthew Spence of the Truman National Security Project.[30]

On 12 September 2006, The website published a new statement supported by a list of American signatories, 'American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto'.[31] This list was also published on a dedicated US website.[32].

Canada

In August 2006, Morton Weinfeld called for a Canadian branch of the Euston Manifesto group to be created.[33]

Mexico

Journalist Esther Shabot praised the manifesto in a September 2006 article for Mexican daily Excelsior.[34]

Venezuela

The founder of Observatorio Hannah Arendt, an anti-Chavez outfit, is a signatory.

Netherlands

In June 2007, the Euston Manifesto featured in an article for the Dutch paper De Pers by Kustaw Bessems.[35]

Italy

Main Page: Euston Manifesto Italia

Israel

Ofir Frankel invited Euston Manifesto supporters to the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom's (IAB) January 2006 seminar at Bar-Ilan University. The speaker was Yale University Prof. Charles Asher Small, Director of the Yale Initiative on the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA). The title: Processes of Globalization: Impact on Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment.[36]

Funding

Damian Counsell has claimed that he funded the Euston Manifesto website himself:

Now you accuse me of being in pay of the CIA. (In that, sadly, as so many things, you are not original.) I don't have a job, but I put up the two hundred pounds for hosting the Euston Manifesto site myself, hoping that donations would pay me back: they have, ten pounds at a time through PayPal. (Perhaps that's how the CIA operates these days, inventing donors all over the World.)[37]

Criticisms

American roots

DD Guttenplan traced the manifesto's historical roots to the the rightward trajectory of a section of the American left. In particular, he argued that Alan Johnson belonged to a political tradition that originated, via Hal Draper, with Max Schachtman.

... take another look at that Manifesto website and this time notice the background art in the masthead. Those cursives and serifs come not from Richard Overton's An Arrow Against all Tyrants, or John Lilburne, Gerard Winstanley or even a transatlantic radical like Tom Paine, but, as every American schoolboy knows, from our Declaration of Independence. The final deception is that despite its debut on the pages of your own New Statesman, and its supposed humble origins "at a pub near Euston Station" this project, whose politics and personalities have been shaped far more by the crew at Dissent magazine (and which shares Dissent founder Irving Howe's fixation on the mote in the eyes of the left rather than the beam blinding American foreign policy) than anything native to these shores, really ought to be stamped Made in the USA.[38]

Kurdish links

Lindsay Hilsum has argued that the Euston Manifesto Group is 'heavily influenced by the Kurds, who have a different agenda from other Iraqis'.[39]

Economic policy

DD Guttenplan accused the Euston Manifesto Group of being relatively uninterested in economic issues for a supposedly left-wing group.[40]

Conversely, Tristan Stubbs of the Henry Jackson Society criticised the group from the right, accusing Shalom Lappin of alienating potential supporters with attacks on the Blairite Third Way.[41]

The Euston website did ultimately feature several contributions on economic and social policy from Labour ministers in its Social Democratic Futures section, as well as an article from Tony Blair, entitled The Progressive Case for Public Service Reform. [42]

The Euston Manifesto Group

Norman Geras, Emeritus Professor of Politics, Manchester University, normblog; Damian Counsell, Director, Bioinformatics.Org, PooterGeek; Alan Johnson, Editor, Democratiya
Shalom Lappin, Professor, King's College London; Jane Ashworth, Director of Engage; Dave Bennett
Brian Brivati, Professor of Modern History, Kingston University; Adrian Cohen, Unite Against Terror; Nick Cohen, journalist;
Anthony Cox, Black Triangle Neil Denny, Little Atoms Paul Evans
Paul Gamble, Engage Eve Garrard, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele University; Harry Hatchet, Harry's Place
David Hirsh, Editor of Engage, Lecturer Dan Johnson, Muscular Liberals Hak Mao blog
Gary Kent, Director, Labour Friends Of Iraq Jon Pike, Chair of Engage, Senior Lecturer - Philosophy, Open University; Simon Pottinger, Unite Against Terror
Andrew Regan, Bloggers4Labour founder Alexandra Simonon, Managing Editor, Engage Richard Sanderson, Little Atoms
David T, Harry's Place Philip Spencer, Associate Dean, Kingston University; Will @ A General Theory Of Rubbish

Other signatories

External Resources

Websites

Contact

Website: eustonmanifesto.org

Notes

  1. Norman Geras, Introducing the Euston Manifesto, guardian.co.uk, 13 April 2006.
  2. The Euston Manifesto, eustonmanifesto.org, accessed 6 March 2009.
  3. Alan Johnson, The Euston Moment, guardian.co.uk, 21 April 2008.
  4. Tom Griffin, The Euston Manifesto: Made in the USA?, Spinwatch 13 June 2008.
  5. Introducing the Euston Manifesto, Norman Geras, Comment is free, 13 April 2006.
  6. Alan Johnson, No One Left Behind: Euston and the renewal of Social Democracy, normblog, 1 June 2006.
  7. The Euston Manifesto, Norman Geras and Nick Cohen, New Statesman, 17 April 2006.
  8. Welcome to Euston, 13 April 2006.
  9. normblog: The Euston Manifesto, 13 April 2006.
  10. The Euston manifesto.
  11. Off the Rails, by Paul Christopher, Weekly Worker, 1 June 2006.
  12. Little Atoms - Previous Guests, accessed 22 April 2008.
  13. Darfur: An urgent case for Humanitarian Intervention, by Damian Counsell, eustonmanifesto.org, 3 August 2006.
  14. Euston Meeting at Labour Party conference, eustonmanifesto.org, 17 August 2006.
  15. The Euston Manifesto - Home, p4, accessed 25 April 2008.
  16. Progress Foreign Policy Seminar: 2020 VISION: Labour's Future Challenges, eustonmanifesto.org, 26 October 2006.
  17. Arabic translation of Euston Manifesto now available, eustonmanifesto.org, 11 January 2007.
  18. Nick Cohen Meeting 6:15pm, 22Mar07, by [[Alan Johnson {Democratiya Editor)|Alan Johnson]], eustonmanifesto.org, 1 March 2007.
  19. [http://eustonmanifesto.org/?p=74 Humanitarian Intervention post-Iraq, Monday 30Apr07], Euston Manifesto Blog, 27 April 2007.
  20. Clips of EM Houses of Parliament meeting on humanitarian intervention now available on YouTube, Euston Manifesto Blog, 10 May 2007.
  21. Poetry Reading: Nazand Beqikhani, eustonmanifesto.org, 2 May 2007.
  22. The UK Iraq Commission, Euston manifesto Blog, 23 May 2007.
  23. Euston Manifesto Debate: Terror and Liberalism, Harry's Place, 25 May 2007.
  24. Euston Manifesto Conference, eustonmanifesto.org, 2 May 2007.
  25. Fred Halliday mp3, Euston Manifesto Blog.
  26. The Euston Manifesto at the Labour Party Conference, Euston Manifesto blog, 11 September 2007.
  27. Book Launch: Global Politics After 9/11, Euston Manifesto blog, 14 April 2008.
  28. Alan Johnson, The Euston Moment, guardian.co.uk, 21 April 2008.
  29. A Few Good Liberals, by William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, 1 May 2006.
  30. Rachel Kleinfeld and Matthew Spence, Generation 9/11, eustonmanifesto.org, 9 September 2006.
  31. American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto, by Jeffrey Her et. al., eustonmanifesto.org, 12 September 2006.
  32. Euston U.S. Sign the statement, accessed 22 April 2008.
  33. Will the real left please stand up?, Morton Weinfeld, Ottawa Citizen, 22 August 2006.
  34. Excelsior Esther Shabot, eustonmanifesto.org, posted 25 September 2006.
  35. Kustaw Bessems, Spierballenlinks is in opkomst, De Pers, 3 June 2007.
  36. Damian Counsell, IAB January Seminar, eustonmanifesto.org, 30 December 2006.
  37. The Euston Manifesto - Bad Beer in a Bad Pub, Moon of Alabama, 19 April 2006.
  38. No sects please, you're British, by DD Guttenplan, Comment is free, 17 April 2006.
  39. Lindsay Hilsum, Absent friends, New Statesman, 11 September 2006.
  40. No sects please, you're British, by DD Guttenplan, Comment is free, 17 April 2006.
  41. Tristan Stubbs responds to Shalom Lappin, Tristan Stubbs, eustonmanifesto.org, 3 September 2006.
  42. Tony Blair, The progressive case for public service reform, eustonmanifesto.org, 29 October 2006.
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