Thursday, October 27, 2005

The man they swapped for Aaro...

...was in Baghdad the other week. Simon Jenkins has got a sideline in mooching around stately homes, and he treated Iraq very much in the same way. It was a vulgar, rackety affair, a shoddy erection by a parvenu, a counter-jumping soap boiler, a neoconservative.

So what’s this kind of high Toryism doing in the Groan, then? It’s not just for sport. There’s too much of it. As well as Jenkins, there’s Captain Max astounding the crusties with his grasp of military jargon. There’s Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Hywel whatsisname. I tell you, there’s an Oakeshott infestation over on Farringdon Road.

What got me thinking about this was our Nick’s assertion the other week that he’s engaged in the great intellectual struggle of our time and that there was an almighty smash up due on the good ship centre left. So what is the state of play, opinion-wise, and what’s it got to do with all these Tories making themselves at home at the Groan?

It seems to me that while Nick may be up for a fight, the people he’s accusing of spilling his pint aren’t. Rather than engage in a great intellectual struggle with Nick, Dave and the decents, mainstream left opinion (inasmuch as the Guardian op ed pages represent it) seems to be routing around it. On the one hand you have Seumas Milne’s usual repertory company, sticking it to the septics and sticking up for the Allah-besotted. On the other you have all these genteel Tories, preaching realism from a comfortable distance above the fray. The parameters here seem to relate to the majority consensus in Britain over the London bombings, namely that the Iraq conflict made them more likely to happen. Within that there's plenty of room for a chat about the who and the what and the why. Outside it...well, where's your audience?

Something similar seems to be going on over in Blogistan. The pro-war left went into a spasm of self-righteousness after July 7, de-linking here and there; condemning this, insisting on that, stagily revealing collaborators, sternly sorting sheep from goats. The result seems to be that they’ve now shrunk into a circular network, constantly cross linking, boosting their favourite columnists, uninterested in events that don’t immediately fit in with their preconceptions and increasingly adrift from the general bloggy conversation. The United Against Terror project seems to have gone splat and Harry’s Place is reduced to trolling for attention. Even their old antagonists at the movement antiwar sites don’t seem to bother too much with what they have to say. The only outward channel they have leads them directly to the hard right in the USA. And so a tendency hardens into a sect, which in turn boils down into something that’s starting to resemble a cult.

When this happens, you have to shout louder for attention. You have to say that you’re involved, for instance, in the greatest intellectual struggle of your time. You have to promise apocalyptic smash ups. Those who disagree with you have been driven mad by the course of history. It’s all a bit sad.

The Guardian made a smart move when it hired all those Tories. It’s just the political analgesic the recovering internationalists in its readership need. Aaro made a smart move too in jumping shop to the Times, where the faces are friendly and which appears to be running the foreign policy end of the David Cameron franchise. But if I was Nick and I heard that Matthew Parris fancied something to do on a Sunday, I’d be a bit worried about my gig.

Rioja Kid

7 Comments:

Anonymous redpesto said...

Perhaps the Times and the Guardian can arrange a swap of Parris and Nick, possibly on the Syrian/Iraq border, or outside an Islington tapas bar.

10/28/2005 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous backword Dave said...

Possibly OT, but what is Norm Geras on about here: "Yes, 'an issue on which reasonable people can have different views'. There are one or two other issues like that. Well, actually, let's keep it just to one other issue - on which the main newspaper of British liberalism might have done itself some historical credit by recognizing that reasonable people (including liberals, people of the left) could have different views, and running its opinion pages accordingly. But it didn't, it didn't and it didn't."

I assume he's doing his Basil Fawlty act -- without the word "don't" here, and the "one other issue" can only mean one thing. (This style of writing out of one side of one's mouth is catching.) Now I know Aaro has gone on the miracle Florida diet, and you look at a photo in a paper and there's no one there, it's him standing sideways, but he's hardly invisible in any other sense. He wrote on the Guardian opinion pages on that one issue regularly in his regular slot, but maybe he doesn't count. Or sic transit ford mondeo, as the Latins say, and ditto for Nick.

10/28/2005 09:36:00 AM  
Anonymous rioja kid said...

"Well, actually, let's keep it just to one other issue - on which the main newspaper of British liberalism might have done itself some historical credit by recognizing that reasonable people (including liberals, people of the left) could have different views, and running its opinion pages accordingly. But it didn't, it didn't and it didn't."

Astonishing stuff. When prof Norm himself appeared in the Guardian, he took it as an opportunity to declare a witch hunt.

10/28/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I think Geras's bizarre view is related to the amazing way in which Nick Cohen can rant on about middle-class media-types who live in Islington and go to dinner parties at the same time as being the most visible such figure in the media.

I thought Harry's trolling post was quite illustrative when he managed to include quite a few people who supported the Iraq war in his rant about Stoppers not covering the constitution vote. These days supporting the idea of the Iraq war is not good enough for the Decents; you have to defend every little bit of it.

10/28/2005 01:35:00 PM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

I thought Harry's trolling post was quite illustrative when he managed to include quite a few people who supported the Iraq war in his rant about Stoppers not covering the constitution vote.

Well, I suppose that depends on (a) whether you were patient enough to wait the whole ten days before it was declared (during which Iraq also reached the landmark of 2,000 dead US soldiers and 100 dead journalists/media contacts etc.) and (b) you wanted to endorse a constitution that many (including some Iraqi feminists, apparently) regarded as flawed. Oh, and that's assuming that you didn't predict precisely the result that came in (ie constitution approved, with the Sunnis mobilising the target of a two-thirds majority against in only two of the required three provinces).

Geras and Nick (let alone DA) can't all claim to be the only gay in the village, can they?

10/28/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

I think Geras's column is indicative of the shifting of ground among the Decentists; to use the obvious analogy, they're shifting from Vietnam-hawkery to Cold War Liberalism. So instead of condemning the Guardian for opposing the war (a view which the beastly liberal-left refuse to abandon as the Decentists hoped they would have done by now), you have to condemn the Guardian for presuming its view of the war to have been the only legitimate one. Of course, the Guardian didn't actually do this, except to the extent that it published more opinions in accordance with its editorial line than in opposition to it, as every other newspaper in the world does.

Aside from that, it was the Decentists' refusal to countenance opinions contrary to their own that put me off them in the first place, and it doesn't look like they're changing tack any time soon.

10/31/2005 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Laim said...

Anonymous said...
The brit blogs are too
domimated By the "pro war Left" including this one
how trying this blog out
http://ftssoldier.blogspot.com

The "pro war Left" only supports the Iraq war because of the oil and is concerned of Britains overall strategic position as regards other powers such as Russia and China.

11/22/2005 05:03:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home