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We have not begun to think through the consequences of the collapse of the old conservatism before xenophobia and charlatanry. A start can be made by considering what we can no longer instinctively take to be true.

Once we would have considered conservatives to be the natural enemies of fanatics. Their dislike of totalitarian theories, their belief in the rule of law, and their assumption that totalitarian movements had always been the West’s enemy had practical consequences. You can see what they once opposed in a powerful, almost lyrical, documentary, Watching the Moon at Night, by the Swedish filmmakers Bo Persson and Joanna Helander. They weave together the conspiracy theories of Nazism and the stories of the victims of its ghettos and camps with the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of modern Iran and radical Sunni Islam and the stories of the victims of their terrorism. It is a warning of the danger of appeasing fascism in its old or new forms.

Watching the Moon at Night
has been shown to the European Parliament and at film festivals around the world. It won’t surprise you to learn that it has proved too much for allegedly “liberal” Swedes, who wanted to see Israel demonised. Although the Swedish station Sveriges Television helped fund the documentary, it refused to show it on Swedish television. Once, you might have counted on conservatives to protest and announce their solidarity with the filmmakers and everyone fighting and dying in the struggles against the fascism of our time. I cannot see how they can do that now with a good conscience and straight face.

For me the most telling moment in the documentary came when a Warsaw academic, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, who investigates pogroms and race hatred, spoke. She looked at the persistence of the myth that the Jews kidnapped children and baked bread with their blood. And, unwittingly, she gave a psychological description of what we now call post-truth politics. “Anti-Semitic statements are not factual,” she said. “Its long history cannot be explained only as a lack of knowledge. It’s when people dream, and you cannot argue against dreams with facts and education. People are possessed by dreaming.”

How can you expect Western conservatives to fight against such fanaticism when they have entered their own dreamtime? They dream that a bragging authoritarian oaf can make America great again. They dream that they can have the benefits of free trade without the costs of protectionism. They dream that they can lay all the faults of their society on foreigners and minorities. They dream a dark, self-satisfied dream, and their friends and fellow partisans lack the courage or the inclination to wake them with a well-deserved and long overdue slap in the face.

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Arnie Ward
March 21st, 2017
11:03 AM
As my wife would say "Nick Cohen needs to get over himself". I can't help feeling that Cohen's view exemplifies the ad hominem fallacy. Trump is neither left nor right.

GrutchyngFysch
March 15th, 2017
2:03 PM
Cohen's writing only makes sense when you realise he is a man most at home sitting under the shadow of what he most fears. He can fairly accurately point out the shape of the silhouette, but remains blind to any detail and incapable of distinguishing between the objects between him and the sun.

amcdonald
March 13th, 2017
2:03 PM
The abomination of the desolation is not in the vocabulary of journalists or islamophiles. If 2 women a week in the UK were being murdered by islamo-fascists Theresa May would have the Army out. 2 women a week are murdered in the UK but by partners or strangers. It`s a bit thick of Nick Cohen to ignore Julie Burchill at the Spectator. Her 17.4 million Nom-Ponces and 16.1 million Ponces is entirely accurate. Hilary Clinton thought she was Bob Geldof and Geldof now thinks he`s Pussy Riot. Further proof of the abomination of the desolation is the popularity of Ed Sheeran worldwide.

amcdonald
March 7th, 2017
3:03 PM
Surely it was President Trump who rushed to abase himself and his country before our Prime Minister Theresa May. Feminists and Nick Cohen should welcome Trump to come and abase himself before the Queen and Theresa May again.

An Gíogóir
February 27th, 2017
10:02 AM
LOL. Conservatives are vilified by Cohen and other leftists are extremists, whether someone like Trump is in power or not.

oberver
February 26th, 2017
2:02 AM
Compare the well thought out, well informed Daniel Johnson piece on Kaliningrad with Cohen's "Dave Spart" style anti-conservative bluster. His book "What's Left" has given him underserved currency in certain parts of the conservative press. Brexit, Trump and the resurgence of the Right have given him a chance to return to the old 1980s, loud-mouthed protest journalism (his natural habitat).

amfortas
February 23rd, 2017
9:02 AM
Daniel Johnson is clearly dreaming in his otherwise enlightening Kaliningrad article. America first when it comes to our defence but ignoring the implications for our defence of the America first rhetoric emanating from Washington.

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