Sunday, September 02, 2007

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

The Guardian/Observer/CiF has already carried enough plugs for Andrew Antony's lamentable new tome. Still, John Lloyd's latest puff at least tells us what we need to know:

Now, with such recent works as Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism, Nick Cohen's What's Left? and Christopher Hitchens passim, [the liberal left] has some accounting to make of itself. Andrew Anthony's book takes its place with these, on their level for intelligence and intensity.

On their level. I suspect many of us would agree about that.

The Decent Tardis also seems to be at work:

What Anthony dimly recognised, and what was to finally be driven home to him by 9/11 and its aftermath, was that here was a contradictory experience: the Sandinistas were in some ways better, in some ways worse, in some ways the same as the old regime.

9/11 made him think worse of the Sandinistas? I bet he's thrown out all his old Clash albums thanks to Osama. This guy certainly makes sense.

Then this:

This vignette recalls progressive, especially London, politics of the Seventies and Eighties, where largely middle-class politicians of the left did do good, did keep the local machines going, but with an overlay of moralising political correctness which assumed prejudice on the part of a white working class and innocence on the part of those with darker skins.

Hmm. My own memory is of figures like Ted Knight and the other Lambeth councillors who were thrown out of office, as well as, on the other side, cabals like the Islington Murphia, but if you've got a Tardis then it is the work of a moment to install Madeleine Bunting in power, retrospectively.

Oh, and "understanding" gets a look in. There's bad understanding - the sort that Madeleine Bunting and co allegedly extend to bad people:

they at least admire those who still call themselves [socialists], and are prepared to extend understanding to the former Soviet Union as to the present regimes in China, Cuba and Venezuela (North Korea is going a bit far).

And then there's good understanding, that the Muzzies show too little of:

a leadership of European Islam which is not, or too little, concerned with integration, understanding and the genuine multiculturalism which includes frank examination and discussion of differing cultures.


They should strive to understand more; we should strive to understand less. There you have it.

10 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

One oddity about this stuff is that practically nobody at that time even used the term "liberal-left". We were socialists, of one sort of another. Some still are, some are not, pretty much everybody from that era has politically changed in one way or another. But not only does much of the Cohen-Anthony stuff involve creating a caricature "liberal-leftist" who exists mostly in their imaginations (and if it resembles anybody, resembles themselves) but it involves, with the Tardis, creating a caricature that didn't exist back in the eighties even in title.

John Lloyd of course is one of the worst of the courtiers, convinced that Blair was done over by the BBC and the blogs. Also, he's not the only ex-CPer (can anybody think of another prominent example?) who imagines that just because he was quite sympathetic to the USSR therefore most other leftists were.

9/03/2007 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What strikes me as strangest about Andrew Anthony's apparently 'symptoamtic' account is just how idiosyncratic it is. He went to Nicaragua for a year for pete's sake - I can't imagine that many Guardian readers did. But obviously his beliefs stand for those of the entire left.

He's not helped by his apparent post-9/11 conversion which not only convinced him to throw away his Clash albums but also made him realise that, unlike what the 'liberal left' think, America is actually a nicer place than the Taliban Afghanistan. wow. I never would have guessed.

9/03/2007 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LLoyd wasn't just a member of the CP, he was a member of the B&ICO

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_and_Irish_Communist_Organisation

which reprinted Stalin's writings.

He has now become a Orangeman.

9/03/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

an overlay of moralising political correctness which assumed prejudice on the part of a white working class and innocence on the part of those with darker skins

This is a classic passage: it makes a claim which doesn't actually represent what people thought but - in an incendiary fashion - represents the caricature of same. No doubt a quote or two could be dug up to back it up, which wouldn't prove anything about what the left in general thought but would be good enough for the purposes of people who do this sort of thing.

Note the invocation of the "white working-class", always a phrase to look out for when people are drifting to the dubious Right.

9/03/2007 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

As I see George was under investigation by MI5, can I invite fellow-watchers to surmise what conclusion the Decents would have come to about this dangerous man's views and activities?

9/04/2007 07:05:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

sadly, I can immediately predict that one. MI5 "couldn't understand his politics" because he seemed to be a socialist but was also an anti-totalitarian blah blah blah ... writes itself, doesn't it?

9/04/2007 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I wonder what Harry would say about someone who said he would "gladly" shoot the Prime Minister.

Etcetctetc

9/04/2007 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Martin Wisse said...


One oddity about this stuff is that practically nobody at that time even used the term "liberal-left".


That's because the Decentists are using an American template in their rantings and that sort of stuff slips through. They're so indoctrinated with American notions of politics that they don't even notice anymore much of their politics fit uncomfortably within the reality of UK politics (or for that matter, Dutch politics: the Edmund Burke institute? WTF?).

9/04/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

"No doubt a quote or two could be dug up to back it up, which wouldn't prove anything about what the left in general thought but would be good enough for the purposes of people who do this sort of thing."

Actually the same could be done to damn the whole white working class. If one was more interested in political posturing than the "truth".

Martin: Good point.

9/05/2007 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

John Lloyd was indeed in the B&ICO, but it's a bit misleading just to say that it 'reprinted Stalin's writings'. It called itself Stalinist and reprinted a handful of Stalin's pamphlets, but it was by no means a Stalinist group in the conventional sense. It was contrarian, independent-minded, and internally anarchic. Its real politics were right-wing Old Labour (hence its current incarnation, the Bevin Society, and its publication, Labour and Trade Union Review): it supported the EU, incomes policy and workers' control.

9/08/2007 06:07:00 PM  

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