This week has encapsulated just how grim things are in the world of politics at the present time. A moribund right has been peevishly throwing mud at a section of the left whose bigwigs are obliged to pretend that they didn't once believe the Soviet Union had a great deal going for it. And the former are, as it were, wildly missing their target.
This is by no means the worst of it, however. That of course is Syria – or at least our indifference to the mass killing taking place there. The BBC reports today that the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta is under heavy bombardment by the Syrian army and its Russian backers.
The people of Eastern Ghouta lack food, medicine and shelter, and are suffering in the midst of what looks to observers on the ground like the worst humanitarian crisis in Syria since 2013, when hundreds of people were killed with poison gas.
The assault on Eastern Ghouta is easier to ignore at this point because it sits amidst many years of extreme violence. One suspects too that, rather than this latest bloodbath signifying any sort of conclusion to the war, it is something altogether more parenthetical – who would bet against the Syrian conflict, which has hitherto killed around half a million people, rumbling on and on for years to come?
All of this is happening at a time when British politics – together with its circling cloud of pundits – is flailing around in so much dull and insignificant tittle tattle.
I can, on the one hand, understand why people might worry about a party leader whose two closest party apparatchiks saw Nikita Khrushchev as a reformist disgrace to communism. But broadly speaking, this week's 'revelations' about Jeremy Corbyn being a Czechoslovak spy are piffle, and represent an attempt by the Tory press to deflect widespread material travails into another round of preening moralism.
Wages are stagnating, millions of young people can't afford a home while thousands of people sleep on the streets every night because they can't get a flat. Put another way, the purveyors of a bankrupt ideology have created a material reality where most people are indifferent to who a politician did or did not have a coffee with three decades ago.
But then there has also been a wider inward turn in British politics, encapsulated by the vote in 2013 to effectively stay out of Syria (a vote which, as solipsistic activists put it at the time, was supposed to have 'stopped the war').
As I wrote back then, the disinclination of the public to want Britain to intervene militarily in Syria had more to do with little Englander isolationism than with any outbreak of anti-war sentiment. We stayed out because, as the American writer Conor Friedersdorf put it candidly at the time, "Non-intervention would pose no threat to us". We didn't want to get involved in another 'foreign war', as some progressives admitted after the vote, betraying more than they perhaps intended to.
Our indifference to the plight of Syrians is of course partly the fault of those politicians who so willingly jumped on board with the disastrous Iraq war of 2003. Every country is obsessed with fighting its last war, and the foreign interventions that preceded Iraq, and which prevented greater humanitarian catastrophes, such as in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, have been quietly forgotten in a haze of sanctimony attached to the million strong anti-Iraq war march of fifteen years ago. This is why those who still claim these interventions were misconceived are typically cranks who are forced to resort to the propagation of conspiracy theories.
Forgotten too is the Major government's earlier acquiescence in the destruction of Bosnia Herzegovina by rampaging Serbian nationalists. Indeed, the Conservative government of the time espoused a relativism which sounds awfully similar to the bilge emitted by Labour today vis-à-vis Syria. The Major's government justification for its own inaction in the former Yugoslavia was accompanied by similar euphemistic language emphasising "complexity" and "warring sides". All factions were equally guilty, ergo nothing could be done.
Probably little can be done in Syria at this point, at least from the point of view of the British. The time for meaningful action has been drowned in blood, hamstrung by Russian missiles and diplomatic obstinacy at the UN. A generation of Western politicians, forever paying lip service to ivory tower multilateralism, has forgotten a point once made by the great former shadow foreign secretary (and of course one-time health secretary) Aneurin Bevan. "There is only one motto worse than 'my country right or wrong,'" Bevan said, "and that is 'the United Nations right or wrong'".
But then, Bevan was the sort of titanic politician whose mere shadow makes today's pathetic crop look like a collection of squealing waxworks.