I saw Meredith Tax speak in Boston back in the early 1980s. Her focus was on her then newly published book “The Rising of the Women” which examined feminism and unions. She spoke in front of a packed house.
Recently i was sent a copy of her new book, Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights. Published by the Centre for Secular Space out of Britain, the book is 112 pages and the sort of book that, while not lengthy, leaves you thinking.
Tax sets out to address the complicated challenge facing the 21st Century Left when it comes to international solidarity. Specifically, how to oppose imperial aggression, national oppression, etc., on the one hand, while challenging right-wing movements that, while frequently utilizing anti-imperialist language, are misogynist, xenophobic, anti-worker, etc., on the other. What makes this so important a read is that significant sections of the Left in the global North ignore the actual content of what can loosely be called “right-wing anti-imperialism” on the grounds that opposition to empire automatically makes one progressive. Such ‘logic’ puts many leftists into complicated relationships with nefarious forces.
Part of what Tax is attempting to get Leftists and progressives to recognize is that one can oppose the objectives of the so-called war against terrorism, with its creeping authoritarianism, without turning a blind eye to forces that really are evil and reactionary. In fact, by ignoring the reactionary content of these right-wing forces, the Left loses its own credibility.
In the post-Cold War world the issues that Tax raises have increased in importance. Rather than critically analyzing the character of political movements that utilize anti-imperialist language, too many on the Left are content to let rhetoric pass for real content. We see this with governments, e.g., Syria’s Assad, which are able to utilize anti-imperialist language while suppressing their people. But we also see it in social movements that substitute for a weakened Left in appealing to the grievances of dispossessed populations, yet offer answers that are irrationalist at their core. [Note: Al Qaeda, and similar such clerical fascist networks/organizations, is a case in point.]
This book is not only a must-read but it is also worthy of study in the context of discussion groups.
Take a look.