Monday, March 06, 2006

Rosa Luxemburg and David Irving

Freedom is - always and exclusively - freedom for the one who thinks differently. Rosa Luxemburg said that. The quote will therefore be well known to Norman Geras, who before his conversion to the neoconservatism wrote an excellent book outlining her politics.

If there is any credence in the suggestion that the division between libertarianism and authoritarianism in politics is of equal importance to the division between left and right, Luxemburg's maxim provides an excellent acid test.

Holocaust denier David Irving is, of course, a repugnant Nazi apologist. He is also 'one who thinks differently'. It therefore - unfortunately - falls to the libertarian left to argue that he should not be in prison for his beliefs. This is not the cost of freedom. It is the nature of freedom.

So Geras is right to make this point in a recent post on Normblog. But he's equally right to stress that does not leave us under any obligation to mount pickets of the Austrian embassy on Irving's behalf.

I'm not quite sure whether David T at Harry's Place is with us or not on this one, given his remarks on the issue. But I am sure that those sections of the far left that backed New Labour on the Religious Hatred Bill have made a pretty major mistake.


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