1 The Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University2 Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University
At være og at gøre tavs
In the last couple of decades, the Left has been marked by disorientation. The universalistic criticism of capitalism and imperialism has declined and been replaced by the relativist multiculturalist criticism of modernity and the West. This has given way for a peculiar alignment between the Left and radical Islamists as they are facing the same enemy, i.e., the system and the nationalist Right. The friend/enemy matrix structures leftist orientation because it is the most prominent way to cultivate an oppositional identity. When this is what counts, political principles become less important, and this means that leftists are ready to downplay their critique of what they used to see as reactionary values and practices. The result has been widespread silence when the enemy of the enemy, including oppressed ethnic/religious minorities, do something, which the Left normally would criticise. In addition, leftists have been keen to silence political adversaries by advocating the censoring of the freedom of speech, which is particularly evident during the cartoon crisis 2005/6 and in cases of hate speech. These two aspects of the politics of silence – to remain silent and to silence others – have been legitimized in three ways. First, by displacing the question of freedom of speech from a political right to a morality of empathy; second, by moralizing and antagonizing the political climate in good/evil, which stigmatizes the adversary; and finally, calling for self-censorship and censorship of those who do not conform to what is politically correct. The article looks into these aspects of the public political culture in Denmark by focusing on how leftists have argued in the public media.