Saturday, February 17, 2007

Am I Right, Or Am I Right?

Funny, that line works a lot better when Michael Gambon says it. (Note to any West End [of London] theatre goers out there: I saw him once as 'Uncle Vanya' on Shaftesbury Avenue, accompanied by Jonathan Pryce and Greta Scacchi - and he was bloody good. Note to younger readers: the title of this piece was the catchphrase of 'The Singing Detective' a notorious series made by the Red BBC from a script by sometime Labour candidate Dennis Potter. And then the star appears a few years later before liberal bruschetta chompers in a play by a Russian. I mean, just join the dots, huh?)

One of our many anonymous commenters (hey guys, please choose names; they don't have to be your real names or even names you use on other blogs, but let us tell you apart - please) on the previous post pointed to Back Tomorrow:

Now, I've frequently expressed concern for Iraqi people, but now I see the error of my ways. Why wasn't I worrying about Iraqi democrats?

Or, as Nick says:

If you still doubt me, think back to the arguments you heard at every liberal dinner party you've been to in the past four years and ask yourself if concern for Iraqi democrats ever featured in the conversation.
Done it?
I'm right, aren't I?


If we're splitting hairs, I could describe myself as being a Presbyterian atheist: I think I smell a whiff of the 'damned and the saved' here. 'Iraqi democrats' matter; other Iraqis can go to hell - the mullah-supporting, Saddam-defending dogs! I'm sorry to return to this so often, but I really want to reclaim Orwell ('Mr Decency Pants himself' as I believe one other blogger named him) for the 'indecent' side. Orwell wrote a fantastic essay Politics and the English Language. I know you've read it. I want you to read it again. Now what the hell is an 'Iraqi Democrat'? The term seems to have at least two lives. It could mean some kind of politician, one of the greasers who permanently campaigns, who makes promises and writes blank cheques, or it could mean anyone who goes to the polls on a certain day. It lacks a certain, how-do-you-say, concreteness. Being an Iraqi Democrat is undoubtedly a good thing but beyond that what is it?
Nick seems to have taken two positive (or doubleplusgood) words ('Iraqi' and 'Democrat') and made a compound noun of them. It just doesn't appear to actually signify anything. Nick can think it can means one thing; Norman Geras can use it to mean someone else. Christopher Hitchens can bend it to mean a Jordanian criminal. (Oh gosh, did I say 'signify'? That must mean I'm one of these postmodernists Nick and Francis Wheen hate so much; doesn't Derrida talk about 'signifiers' and stuff all the time - and wasn't he a Nazi as well as having an unfair amount of natural head hair in old age? Funny, I was thinking that George Orwell was somewhat influenced by the so-called 'picture-word' theory of the Wittgenstein of the Tractatus. Not an Oxford chap though; possibly unsound. And didn't he hang out with Russell who later joined CND - bete noir of Oliver Kamm? Bad egg all round.)

6 Comments:

Anonymous Simon said...

Michael Gove seems to be insinuating quite strongly that Ming Campbell's fairly reasonable comments on US attitudes to Israel are anti-semitic, viz. his interpretation that Campbell thinks "a malign Zionist lobby" is "controlling American foreign policy". And Nick thinks this 'analysis' is 'undeniable'. It is worth noting down these incidents for the next time some Decentist angrily denies that they think all critics of Israel are Jew-haters.

2/18/2007 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

What is a "dinner party", by the way? I've had people "round to dinner" in my time, but what makes it a "party"?

2/18/2007 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

ejh, it's hats. Apparently, the "chattering classes" wear party hats when they have dinner. If you're not wearing a paper hat, you're just having a dinner.

2/19/2007 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, right. I thought it was the standard of the cutlery that made the difference.

2/19/2007 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Anyway - y'know, if I were a professional writer instead of being a failed one-time writer with a drawerful of rejection letters, I would be strongly inclined to write a book about George Orwell. In this book I would draw attention to all the opinions he expressed which, if he were to do so now, would cause the Decents to come a-leaping down his throat.

Suppose for instance some leftist blogger, or George Galloway, or somebody at a dinner party were to say the following:

I dare say the London gutters will have to run with blood. All right, let them, if it is necessary.

What do you think Norman Geras would have to say about that? Eh?

2/19/2007 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous respesto said...

It could mean some kind of politician, one of the greasers who permanently campaigns, who makes promises and writes blank cheques, or it could mean anyone who goes to the polls on a certain day.

I've been making this point for ages (not just here). It's from the same places as the Harryettes' demand to 'support the democratic forces in Iraq' - which presumably means supporting elected parties that have their own private death squads.

There is a third possible meaning for 'Iraqi democrats': small vaguely left-of-centre parties that the Decents can feel good about (even if they have sod-all presence and influence in Iraq itself).

...actually, there's a fourth meaning, especially as regards Nick: any Kurdish party in Iraq (as opposed to any Kurdish separatists in Turkey)

2/19/2007 05:38:00 PM  

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