Sunday, April 09, 2006

Supersub?

So Nick is lying down in a darkened room for a while finishing his book. On comes supersub Andrew Anthony with a column of stunning simplemindedness organized around a fake quiz (this puerile device seems to be the fashion among the decents lately: see this similar effort by David Hirsh of Engage). The world is divided between universalists who believe that democracy and human rights belong to everyone, and relativists who believe clitoridectomy is a charming local custom. Got that?

He also seems to believe that

... interventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and, most controversially, Iraq were predicated, give or take a few WMD, on the notion that the inhabitants of those countries should be extended the democratic rights that most people in the West take for granted.

I think "predicated on" here means that those who actually organized these interventions (as opposed to those who merely cheered from their blogs) acted for that reason. This is the kind of assertion that would have Jeremy Paxman raising a eyebrow or two.

Generally, Anthony seems to be suffering from an advanced case of imaginary-Stopper-in-your-head syndrome (see Harry's Place passim for the the full aetiology.) He can't conceive that someone might have thought the Iraq war was a bad idea because (a) it wasn't actually going to end in liberal democracy and (b) a lot of people were going to get maimed or killed (both being reasons of impeccably univeralist pedigree), so he assures himself of his own superiority by ascribing a whole bunch of daft beliefs to his opponents.

Update, by bruschettaboy. This is a warmed-over extended version of something that Andrew "Clothes For Chaps" Anthony (for yes, it is he, of the Style section of the magazine; I think Mark Steyn had a similar career trajectory) wrote for the Guardian blog last week and it was shit then too. In the Geoffrey Mortlake column at the back of the Sport section, the author is musing on the general concept of substitutes and understudies:
To watch [Jose Mourinho] introduce Crespo and Robben as early as the 20th minute is to see a Monty rather than a Wavell at work. His magnificent five - Cudicini, Huth, Gudjohnsen, Wright-Phillips and Crespo - simply by sitting put on the bench, have played as significant a role as those who run around in front of them.

There are two reasons for this. First, there is the galvanising effect they have on their own team-mates. One sloppy pass and you know, with replacements of that quality sitting in the wings, you will soon be off the stage.

This was a point first made plain to me by Larry Olivier when we were dinnerdancing at the White Elephant on the Thames. I asked him what, after so many years at the top, drove him to continue performing at the highest level. 'Understudies, dear boy,' he replied, 'Understudies.'


Somehow, I do not think that Nick is reading his replacement's column today and shitting bricks. Perhaps we have this all wrong and churning out a thousand words of boilerplate Decentism is much more difficult than Nick makes it look.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Backword Dave said...

"For example, the interventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and, most controversially, Iraq were predicated, give or take a few WMD, on the notion that the inhabitants of those countries should be extended the democratic rights that most people in the West take for granted."

The immediate problem here for me is that despite setting up military bases in Saudi Arabia and pushing Saddam's army back from Kuwait, our liberal democracies (particularly the US, the UK, and Australia) didn't make any effort whatever to extend democratic rights to the denizens of those lands.

If we cared at all, simple conditions for our continued protection would seem reasonable. Ergo, that was never our motivation.

(CIA factbook Saudi Arabia: Government type: monarchy; legal system: based on Shari'a law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ [International Court of Justice] jurisdiction; suffrage: adult male citizens age 21 or older [and only them]. Much there I object to.)

4/09/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The predictive certainty that "a lot of people were going to get maimed or killed" is one that pro-war commentators are very uncomfortable acknowledging. I take issue with Oliver Kamm on this point at my blog, Unspeak.
Regards,
Steven Poole

4/09/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

that's a really good post, Steven. I think I'm going to buy your book as a result.

4/09/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous rioja kid said...

"Perhaps we have this all wrong and churning out a thousand words of boilerplate Decentism is much more difficult than Nick makes it look."

I think it’s easy enough if you’re dealing with things entirely on the astral plane like the young clotheshorse today. And it allows you to claim that people who oppose your views in one area, namely Iraq, are thereby supporters of female genital mutliation. It's universalism as in "whatever rhetorical device gets me off a sticky wicket" is a good thing.

Nick hasn't really done this, which leads him to pratfalls like promoting Maryam Namazie while condmning people who hold opinions identical to hers. he does try and keep at least one foot in the fact based universe, though.

4/09/2006 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

"Indefinite detention without trial? a) never acceptable; b) not acceptable when the Americans do it; c) acceptable if the hostages are Westerners."

The essence of decentism, no-one on the left has ever, to my knowledge, supported hostage taking in Iraq. However the fact that it has happened justifies Gitmo, or at leasy makes protesting against it an illigitmate act.

4/09/2006 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger fatbongo said...

The guardisn has done a digested read of "After the Neocons by Francis Fukuyama" http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1750545,00.html

Does anyone know of a digested read of berman's book?

4/10/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

I'm gonna put it up this week, so help me God.

4/10/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Nick has a piece in today's New Zealand Herald commenting on the Da Vinci code case outcome.

Not online though.

4/11/2006 02:43:00 AM  

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