December 13, 2003

A Defense of Norman Geras

Some of my conservative readers emailed me in exasperation that I linked approvingly to the blog by Professor Norman Geras, who is a Marxist.

I can understand (a little) if someone is surprised. But I think anyone who has read my stuff with any regularity ought to know by now that I do not provide links to totalitarian communists unless I am going to open up both barrels on 'em.

I am not a Marxist, but Norman Geras shares my value system and we have many opinions in common. He and I arrived at the same place by different roads. We both hail from different left-wing traditions, but we’re both old lefties all the same.

I also provide approving links to conservatives, as does the good professor. One of the many things he and I have in common is that we know very well that we can learn from smart and decent people with different backgrounds and ideas than ourselves. A lot of people who read my site, including the conservatives who expressed dismay at my linkage, must surely agree with this too. Otherwise they wouldn’t care what a guy who voted twice for Ralph Nader has to say about anything in the first place.

Oliver Kamm sticks up for Norman Geras, too:

I'm not a Marxist, but a militant liberal. I believe that capitalism may be cyclically unstable, but capitalism with the operation of automatic stabilisers (fiscal and monetary policy) and a welfare state (at least of the type that provides benefits in cash rather than in kind, that discourages dependency and that promotes autonomy) is a powerful vehicle of social advance and an essential part of a free society. But there is no more important political question than the defence of the values of an open society against those in every age - secular totalitarians, theocratic terrorists, Baathist tyrants - who subvert and threaten them. An ethically grounded Marxism ought to be a natural part of the coalition that mounts that campaign, and that's why I'm less surprised than others that Norman Geras stands where he does.
We all need diversity of opinion. I link to Normblog for a reason. Give him a chance and, even if you’re a conservative, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 13, 2003 6:54 PM
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