Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Sun Shines Only Half The Day, But You, Comrade Alan (not the Minister) Shine All Night Too

Dave is away in India (oh please tell me he is there to write something about intolerance between Hindus and Muslims, not to launch a "World Is Flat" article about globalisation). So I'm left with nothing to Watch except cheap shots at the Euston Manifesto crowd (haven't we given up on this yet? nope. does this mean we think it's really really important? In the somewhat limited sphere of anti-war British blogs, yes).

Some of the AW crowd had been thinking of writing a piece comparing the EM crowd to some of the more hilarious encomia written to Lenin and Stalin while they were alive ("Comrade Norm was cheered to the echo as he outlined the triumph of the Five Year Plan" etc). However there is no need, when you have stuff like this, from "Fisking Central".

We weren’t won over by the gravitas, dignity and integrity of Norman Geras, hugely impressive as his speech was. We weren’t won over by the erudition and knowledge of Shalom Lappin. We weren’t even won over by the enthusiasm and considerable intelligence of Eve Garrard.

We were won over by the passion, determination and ambition of Alan Johnson.
(not the minister - bruschettaboy)

Johnson was different. He spoke of practicalities and applications – his optimism, appealing as it was, was more than matched by a sense of personal proportion, realism and pragmatism. The idealism of the other speakers was transformed into relevant, achievable goals; supporting international trade unionism and other NGOs, for example, lobbying British parliamentarians, translating the manifesto for a wider audience, and so on. In providing this, Johnson turned what was essentially a talking shop into something that may have political value. It became clear how one could personally contribute. In presenting the Euston politics as an art of the possible (to paraphrase badly), a flush of excitement was created.

Emphasis in original. Sorry guys but if you are going to call yourselves "Fisking Central" and build your site around being the kings of logical hard-edged analysis, then a piece of breathless nut-riding like this is bound to pick up some comment.

If there are any other members of A"NTM"J's personality cult out there maybe you could do a guest editorial for us; the email address is to the left.

In related news, as a correspondent points out:

[...]where the Euston train's headed nobody knows, but there's talk of getting Paul Berman involved in June and a meeting planned on Darfur for September (details to follow).

I can hear the aid workers in Darfur now; "hold on lads! hang in there! only three and a bit more months and the Euston Manifesto Group will have worked out a position!".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol. You got me there. Rest assured the other writers on the site have ribbed the piss out of my newfound 'Sun editorial' style.

I didn't intend it to be quite so sycophantic, but if you look carefully you'll find all the praise is clearly qualified.

We only support the EM in so much as it gets off its arse and actually does something - the actions to date, ie supporting the unions in Iraq by donating mobile phones, you can't really fault.

The words that make up the manifesto, you can criticise, and we have, both on our site and at the event. Shame you couldn't be bothered to come along and make your own mind up, like we did. At least then, if you didn't like it, or even bits of it, you could say so to the folks there. As it was only one fella really dissented properly, and he looked pissed.

5/30/2006 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apart from the tabloid-tastic boldification I think you'll find it's actually quite a measured piece. We didn't mention Alan "should-be-a-minister" Johnson's nice glasses or his strong and manly handshake. Presumably the fact that it's quite well written confused you.

Of course if you chaps actually managed to fisk it properly we'd be more than willing to put it up...

5/30/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My reaction to Robert Fisk's article from Pakistan was admiration for his obvious humanity. Thanks to the guys at Fisk Central for putting me right on that.

5/30/2006 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

And that bit about mobile phones to Iraqi trades unionists, that is a spoof isn't it?

5/30/2006 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger Backword Dave said...

Baby Washington and Savingtheworld, you raise some (IMO) good points, which I'll attempt to answer.

BW, it seems to me that, while you gave Alan "NTM" Johnson a good write up, you were pretty hard on Norman Geras. Was that your intention?

"We only support the EM in so much as it gets off its arse and actually does something... " Here I agree with you. The EM doesn't look like a manifesto to me; it doesn't propose actions so much as a menu of tastes. It doesn't, to use your words, get off its arse. I'm part way with Vinnie (above) re donating mobile phones. Is this a political movement (in which case said donation is mere tokenism) or a sort of Blue Peter appeal (in which case, though I may sound derisory, I'd sign up)?

"Shame you couldn't be bothered to come along and make your own mind up, like we did." I live in Cardiff, and I was led to believe it had sold out.

"At least then, if you didn't like it, or even bits of it, ..." This is one of the very odd things about the manifesto to me. There's a lot of it (2933 words) and I wouldn't sign anything unless I agreed with all the terms and clauses, but, while it's possible on the web to create a form with tickboxes (as in "Do you agree with us on open source?"), this wasn't an option. Therefore it was all or nothing. Some signers have said that they only agree with most of it, so clearly they treat signing differently from me.

Also, there has been (as Nick Cohen has noticed) some chatter on teh interwebs. Some of this has been friendly and critical (Mark Mulholland for example). There have been no changes to the manifesto between its original publication and its public launch. True, I could have said something to the folks there, but from what I've seen, they wouldn't listen.

5/30/2006 10:21:00 PM  

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