Friday, November 09, 2007

If the cap fits, YOU'RE A GENOCIDAL BASTARD!!!

The Decent Left are, as I've bored on about endlessly, the children of the Labour Atlanticists, who are in turn the ideological counterparts of the Cold War Liberals. This isn't me being snarky; it's the specific and self-acknowledged intellectual pedigree, which is why the Henry Jackson Society is named after Henry Jackson. It is a shame, however, that a) the Decents decided to go down the road of cold war liberals fraktion Jackson, rather than tendence Galbraith (basically, this distinction boils down to which is more important to you - ideology or facts?). It is also a shame that they picked up one of the more irritating habits of the Cold War liberal - what might be called "macho anti-Communism".

Most of the "anti-totalitarian left" apparently believe that Senator McCarthy was a bad guy, but it's very difficult to see why they think so, given that they still, nearly twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, feel that it's vitally important to be constantly on the attack for any suspicions of sympathy with Soviet Russia. We're all familiar with Oliver Kamm's charming habit of writing spiteful things about old Commies shortly after their death notices, but Marko Attila Hoareblog's inaugaral post has the same kind of "my God I hate the Commies more than you do, Horatio" bollo to it.

It is entirely true, that totalitarian socialism as represented by Stalinists, Maoists and most Marxist-Leninists represents an incomparably greater evil than just about anything the world of conservatism has ever produced.

He actually mentions slavery, the genocide of the native Americans, the British Empire and the Potato Famine in the next paragraph (ommitting the Belgian Congo and the genocide of the Aborigines among other things), so he presumably knows this isn't true (or for some reason thinks that none of these historical crimes can be pinned on modern Tories, even though people like Niall Ferguson will actually say in so many words that they think the Empire wasn't all that bad). But of course that sentence wasn't made as a factual claim, it's just a piece of tribal chest-beating. The claim:

"The Finnish Whites under the aristocratic Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim crushed the Reds and the revolutionary workers, thanks to which the Finnish working class today is among the most prosperous in the world"

is also perhaps a fairly controversial piece of economic history too.

But anyway ...

Of course, for the Cold War Liberals, with McCarthyism a fairly close memory, they were usually quite careful to make a distinction between principled social democrats and Soviet Russia. They didn't as a matter of course use "anti-Communism" as an excuse for randomly kicking off on anyone to the left of them. Wouldn't it be nice to think that the Decents had inherited this tradition?

I'm taking the piss of course. The Cold War Liberals were just as bad as the Decents in this regard. Marko says in comments to the post below that:

I'm sorry that you construe my critique of leftists who support dictators and murderers as an attack on 'us lot'. If you don't support dictators and murderers, then the post wasn't criticising you

and starts off by talking about the "totalitarian socialism", its defenders and opponents, but by para. 7, we're on to:

"As a renegade Trotskyist who has spent ten years moving closer to the political centre-ground, I shall readily admit that, so far as policies are concerned, I feel much closer to Blair, and even to David Cameron’s Conservatives, than I do to ’radical’ leftists such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore or George Galloway"

Michael Moore? Presumably this is because he put that scene of a kid flying a kite in pre-Saddam Iraq in his film, but I would have thought that we were talking at a level higher than wingnut talking points here. (Update apparently it's because he made a joke on page 190 of "Stupid White Men" about people from the Balkans being addicted to violence, see comments. As the blog this post was written on is called "Greater Surbiton", which is a joke about expansionist Serb nationalism, I must say I find that hard to take seriously).

and a few paras down, we have reached:

"the progressive left is left-wing, because while it rejects all the horrors of totalitarianism and extremism, and is politically much closer to the mainstream, parliamentary left, it retains an emphasis on ideas and activism. Its starting point is its desire to make the world a better place and to fight for the liberation of the oppressed, the exploited and the marginalised. In this respect, it agrees in principle with its enemies from the ranks of the anti-capitalist, anti-Western left"

so now "the enemy" includes people who are merely "anti-Capitalist" or "anti-Western". Why's that? Can't you be anticapitalist without being a sympathiser of totalitarianism?

nope,

"You cannot oppose the genocide in Sudan, or the Islamists in Iraq, if you oppose ‘Western intervention"

"you cannot support women’s rights in the Middle East if you ally with Muslim fundamentalists on an ’anti-imperialist’ basis"

yup, you're either with us or against us. Curiously, however, the Decents are always able to support 'Western intervention' in the abstract; the horrific charnel house which was the actual invasion of Iraq was the result of "errors of post war planning", nothing to do with us, guv and anyway, let's not "pick over the rubble". I am not sure why this means that being opposed to the WTO Agreement (for example, to take the most obvious "anticapitalist" cause) puts you on the side of the enemy, but there you go.

Malky Muscular was asking for some hope of a definition of "support" for his Decentpedia. He ain't gonna get it. "Support" is a Decent term which doesn't translate into English, rather like "saudade" in Portugese. It looks like it might mean "support", but clearly it doesn't, because in the ordinary language meaning of the term the Euston Manifesto Group supports the Iraq War and Michael Moore doesn't support Saddam Hussein, but in the Decent sense it does. Similarly "express solidarity", "refuse to condemn", "allow yourself to be led by", "assert our values" - rather as the Eskimoes have 53 different words for snow[1], the Decent Left has about a zillion words for different varieties of empty political more-sensible-liberal-than-thou-you-commie-bastard posturing.

[1] I know, I know, they don't

81 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoare "As a renegade Trotskyist who has spent ten years moving closer to the political centre-ground ....."

This would seem to be a common trajectory among Decents. Yet somehow they float straight past the ground on which most of the inhabitants of this blog are camped, they jump straight from the magic formulae of Workers' Press to the magic formulae of Blairism. Don't they teach elementary logic in schools any more?

11/09/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Did they ever teach elementary logic in schools? When did this happen?

11/09/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Justin, you must have picked up some elementary logic because you always manage to pick out immediately the weak point in any argument. Like you did just now!

11/09/2007 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

the progressive left is left-wing, because while it rejects all the horrors of totalitarianism and extremism, and is politically much closer to the mainstream, parliamentary left, it retains an emphasis on ideas and activism.

I have to say, many of the activists campaigning around issues "to make the world a better place and to fight for the liberation of the oppressed, the exploited and the marginalised" would not fit so easily into MAH's approved, proper, Decent progressive category.

You don't get exclusively Decent campaigns for better pay, trade union rights, minimum wages, a fair deal for asylum seekers, the environment etc. Far from it.

He sets up these very hard and fast categories. But in reality, dealing with real people, not his simplistic caricatures, things are rather different.

11/09/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

At least Michael Moore is 1) genuinely funny (and you don't have to agree with everything he says to recognise his abilities there), and 2) tries to stimulate a well needed debate on the US health care system (and again, you don't have to agree with all he says about health care, to recognise the value in that, and the good intentions there). So I'm simply not buying the notion that Michael Moore is an "enemy".

The irony, as Bruschettaboy notes, is that Moore is not actually particularly radical, he just appears that way, due to the lopsided US political system.

Campaigning for universal health care - dangerously radical?

11/09/2007 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous William Burns said...

Of course, the power of the Islamists in Iraq is the result of "Western intervention."

11/09/2007 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous ichomobothogogus said...

in what way can Hoare be considered of the left? "i used to be a trotskyist" doesn't count. does he hold left-wing (or even social democratic) positions on any concrete issues? (waffly feelgood PR drivel about nothing specific will not be accepted as supporting evidence). it's reasonable to say,that if you think michael moore is a dangerous radical, then you are right-wing. or even Very right-wing. at least Nick Cohen held some socialistic views within living memory.

and aren't Socialists by definition anticapitalist?

11/09/2007 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

Daft of me - when I considered this originally, I mainly focused on it from the other angle.

Support - To declare one's deep, filial affinity with a specified group in an ostentatious, hyperbolic style, while simultaneously demanding their immediate bombing.

Like all the others, it's up for revision.

11/09/2007 11:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

As you think I'm hard on poor Michael Moore, I'd be interested in hearing what you think of what he says about my ethnic group(s) in the former Yugoslavia, whom he portrays as savages addicted to violence:

"This godforsaken corner of the world has been the source of much of our collective misery for the last century. Its residents’ inability to get along - with Serbs fighting Croats fighting Muslims fighting Albanians fighting Kosovars fighting Serbs - can be traced to the following single event: in 1914 a Serb anarchist by the name of Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand. This incident kicked off World War I. Which led to World War II. Over fifty million people died from both wars.

I don’t know what it is about these people. I mean, I don’t go around killing Texans. I don’t go burn down whole villages in Florida. I’ve learned to live with it. Why can’t they?"

"Then Tito died, and all hell broke loose. Croats started killing Serbs. Serbs killed Muslims in Bosnia. Serbs killed Albanians in Kosovo. Then the United States bombed Kosovo, to show them that killing was wrong. In the past few years there has been peace, then war, then peace again, and now war again.

It never stops. These people are addicts."

Moore advises the former Yugoslavs:

"Admit that you are powerless over your addiction to violence, and that your lives have become unmanageable."

(Moore, Stupid White Men, pp. 188-190)

If you, BB, read 'Stupid White Men' without noticing this racist denigration of people, many of whom had recently lost relatives in the genocide, then you may begin to understand my problem with your brand of politics.

11/10/2007 05:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Oh dear me, Marko.

Moore is not an expert on Yugoslavia and the Balkans. Stupid White Men is not a wholly serious book. In fact, some of Moore's work is not wholly serious. He uses humour to illustrate point, sometimes misses the target, sometimes says things that I don't agree with, sometimes is not funny, sometimes does not display absolute moral rectitude on all occasions. Stupid White Men is a bit hit and miss.

But, hey, I'm not a Decent, so I don't generally condemn folk to eternal damnation if that's the case. That's why you are Decent, Marko: you are thoroughly Decent. I'm not :-)

But hey, most people do not see Moore as a racist, and the comments you cite are not racist, even if you disagree with them.

And he's just produced a great film about the US health care system, which makes some great points and highlights some shocking cases. It's got worldwide release. I am struggling to think of another film about the subject that has. That's quite an achievement, even if he doesn't quite cut the mustard as an expert on Yugoslavia.

The Decents do oddly perpetuate the sectarian, clan like behaviour of those little political sects they so despise. A strict "code of conduct" is enforced: if you say anything that apparently makes you ideologically suspect, then you are hastily ejected, beyond the pale, and everything you say and do is immediately discarded.

But Michael Moore has made some great thought provoking movies for the masses. Yes, they are flawed in some ways too, but long may this particular piece of crooked timber continue making them.

And you know what? He makes me laugh too. That's a good thing.

11/10/2007 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

The Decents do oddly perpetuate the sectarian, clan like behaviour of those little political sects they so despise.

Quite. It's "one quote and you're dead" behaviour.

11/10/2007 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

If Moore had responded to the Los Angeles riots by describing black people as being "powerless to control" their "addiction to violence", would you be equally tolerant ?

And we're not talking about random ethnic groups here. We're talking about ethnic groups that had recently been massacred en masse - or raped and tortured in concentration camps, or expelled from their homes - because of their ethnicity. And all with the complicity of Moore's government.

If your relatives had survived this persecution, or if you had lost loved ones, would you still think it was all a big joke ?

And then you find it hard to understand why people who care about the Balkans a bit more than you do don't want to be part of the same 'left' as Moore and his fans.

11/10/2007 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Marko, are there any shades of gray in your world? These are the arguments of a propogandist, not a historian.

11/10/2007 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

And all with the complicity of Moore's government.

Sorry, which government would that be? Is there a government for which Moore was somehow responsible?

Tone down the righteous moral outrage, Marko. Moore hasn't done anything other than make light of a very serious situation, as many writers before him have done when writing about conflict.

I know exactly how your argument works. You'll take a quote from somebody, make more of it than it is worth, ignore other things that they have said on the subject, and when somebody comes to their defence you will be outraged at their apologetics.

It's a disreputable, bullying style and unfortunately all too common in certain quarters among those who learned bad rhetorical habits when they were younger and maintain those habits when they are old enough to know better.

11/10/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Sorry, which government would that be? Is there a government for which Moore was somehow responsible?"

Moore's government is the US government. Leaving aside the question of whether he voted for Clinton, influential political figures like Moore have a responsibility in shaping the public opinion that influences their governments.

Millions of young people who don't know much about anything read Moore's books and see them as a guide on how to view the world.

The reason why this is not simply an isolated quote, is that Moore exemplifies an attitude in certain parts of the left, whereby the only thing that matters is opposing the US, and foreign conflicts are essentially just so many sticks with which to beat the US.

Now if you want to argue that opposing Bush or Clinton is more important than opposing Milosevic, that's fair enough. We all have our own areas of special interest.

If you want to argue against Western military intervention in the Balkans or Iraq, that's also entirely legitimate.

But if you become so obsessive and unscrupulous in your opposition to US policy that you either a) start employing racist stereotypes, as Moore does; or b) start denying or minimising the crimes of dictators like Milosevic, as others do, then you become one of the bad guys.

"I know exactly how your argument works. You'll take a quote from somebody, make more of it than it is worth, ignore other things that they have said on the subject, and when somebody comes to their defence you will be outraged at their apologetics."

I don't at all mind AW and its contributors having a go at me, or even defending Moore. The only thing that's outraged me here is the assumption that if I don't like Moore, it must be because he opposed Bush over Iraq.

Not all of us see the debate over the Iraq war as the be all and end all of everything.

11/10/2007 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I don't think anybody would accuse you, Marko, of seeing everything as being about Iraq. Very much not. No sir. Not at all.

The "Moore's government" bit is pitiful though. "All with the complicity of Moore's government". Moore is no more responsible for the policies of the US government either now or in the early Nineties than you, I, or the winner of the 1.45 at Wincanton. To try and establish connect him to them is intellectually disreputable.

Fairly standard Decent stuff though.

11/10/2007 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

If your relatives had survived this persecution, or if you had lost loved ones, would you still think it was all a big joke ?

Marko, your blog is called "Greater Surbiton", which is a play on "Greater Serbia", ie a joke about the war in former Yugoslavia.

11/10/2007 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

Marko Attila Hoare has just simultaneously condemned Michael Moore

a) For shaping the public opinion that influences the US Govt (or "Moore's Government" as he puts it), leading to its complicity in massacres and ethnic cleansing in Former Yugoslavia.

b) "Moore exemplifies an attitude in certain parts of the left, whereby the only thing that matters is opposing the US"

So, hang on - was Moore opposing the US in its complicity, or was he complicit in its complicity? a) and b) together aren't consistent positions, surely.

11/10/2007 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

I still can't quite believe that Marko believes that Moore's work he cited was racist.

Okay, Marko didn't appreciate the offhand nature of Moore's comments, fair enough, but it's racist? It's got nothing to do with race or skin colour (Marko mentions the example black people at the LA riots as a comparison, but that's misleading).

Moore was just referring to various people in a region. That's not racism necessarily. I could talk about those bloody Brits and their strange drinking habits, or those bloody Americans should stop killing each other with guns, the dozy sods. All a bit silly, patronising even, but not actually racist.

11/10/2007 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Moore was just referring to various people in a region. That's not racism necessarily."

Ok, Jon, what about Richard Littlejohn's statement about Rwanda:

"Does anyone really give a monkey’s about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them."

Is that also a bit of slightly patronising but essentially harmless fun, or is that racism ? And if it's racism, why is it different from what Moore said ? Littlejohn doesn't mention skin colour either.

Or is the essential difference that one's a Sun columnist, and therefore fair game, while the other's a left-wing celebrity critic of Bush, and therefore immune from criticism ?

11/10/2007 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous h said...

This is just embarrassing. Its easy now to understand how Milosevic had such an easy ride at his Hague trial seeing as Marko was involved in it. Given Marko's all round nutcase style logic I'm surprised Carla Del Ponte didn't end up in the dock for shelling Sarajevo.

I love the way the guy's all over the comments here, but he's blocked anyone from commenting on his blog.

11/10/2007 09:06:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

Having comments or not on your blog is a personal choice and I don't think it's fair to have a go at someone for making a different choice to us, but I think it's a bit odd if that is the full extent of the rap sheet against Michael Moore (I've just got my copy of "Stupid White Men" down from the bookshelf and FWIW, pages 70 to 79 are taken up with a kind of whimsy about what white people ought to do to avoid being massacred by black people "like Reginald Denny", so Moore does in fact have a line in LA riots humour).

I mean, my ethnic group is the Welsh, and if I were to start getting offended by every time someone referred to us as sheep-shaggers then a) I would basically be unable to consume any popular culture at all and b) Aaronovitch Watch would have about half the number of contributors.

11/10/2007 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's follow MAH's example and play 'Cast Them Into the Outer Darkness'.

I have just written the rules, and they are very simple. Pick a commentator, TV channel, or print outlet of your choice. Then analyse their output between 1992 and 1999. If at any point they refer to the 'age-old ethnic hatreds of the Balkans', then point at the screen, say "I cast you into the Outer Darkness", and label them as totalitarians for ever.

Fiskers - to your keyboards!

Chris Williams

11/10/2007 11:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"I mean, my ethnic group is the Welsh, and if I were to start getting offended by every time someone referred to us as sheep-shaggers then a) I would basically be unable to consume any popular culture at all and b) Aaronovitch Watch would have about half the number of contributors."

If the Welsh were being massacred, tortured and raped in large numbers simply for the crime of being Welsh, and if the response of outsiders was simply to snigger about "sheep-shaggers", I think you might be offended.

If Nick Cohen or David Aaronovitch were to describe Arabs or Muslims as "powerless to control their addiction to violence", I very much doubt you wouldn't make a big deal about it.

"so Moore does in fact have a line in LA riots humour"

He doesn't repeat offensive stereotypes about black people, though, does he ?

11/11/2007 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Millions of young people who don't know much about anything read Moore's books and see them as a guide on how to view the world.

11/11/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Dunno about the previous comment - it isn't mind.

Marko - How exactly is the Littlejohn comment racist? It might betray a racist mindset, but isn't racist in itself. It takes some talent to find a Littlejohn comment that isn't racist, so congrats on that.

11/11/2007 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Marko

In the comments by Moore that you cite, he does not make offensive racist stereotypes.

His comments may be patronising, inappropriate, insensitive, ill-informed, incomplete, and yes, perhaps even indulging in stereotypes of some sort. But they are no more racist than me saying that Texans are a bunch of fat, burger eating rednecks. Offensive, and patronising, maybe. But not racist.

I am quite capable of knowing when Moore hits a target and when he's a bit off and shallow. That's Moore. But he does some great work, and he's also very funny at times - and that's certainly a very good thing.

I can see your point, Marko, but I do think you are being a bit precious about this. Sorry I can't be more condemnatory of Moore! :-)

11/11/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Fair enough, Jon. I'm from the region, you're not, so it's probably likely we'll perceive things differently. I don't really expect outsiders to find this sort of thing as offensive as I do.

I'll just say, again, that Texans are not victims of systematic racist mass-murder, so stereotyping them isn't quite the same as stereotyping former Yugoslavs or Rwandans.

Having said that, those people who responded to the massacre of American civilians on 9-11 with an outpouring of anti-American derision were guilty of something similar.

11/11/2007 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chaps, MAH has committed a classic bait and switch here, and you are falling for it. He's said that MM is a totalitarian, because he riffed on the 'age old ethnic hatreds' line. This may actually be true - but if we condemn everyone who talked about 'age old ethnic hatreds', Moore's got a _lot_ of company.

MAH, perhaps realising the hole he was in, then decided to change the subject, by hitting us with a number of quasi-racist comments about other situations, and then asking us "You don't think _that's_ not racist, do you?" This, of course, invites a condemn-a-thon.

Marko - is everyone who used 'age old ethnic hatreds' to explain FYu a totalitarian?

11/11/2007 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - sorry the above anon is Chris Williams

11/11/2007 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

"Having said that, those people who responded to the massacre of American civilians on 9-11 with an outpouring of anti-American derision were guilty of something similar."

For those not up with Decent jokes, this might be an amusing reference to Nick Cohen's most (in)famous essay, written a few months after September 11th, "Why it is Right to be Anti American"

http://www.newstatesman.com/200201140006

11/11/2007 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Marko - is everyone who used 'age old ethnic hatreds' to explain FYu a totalitarian?"

Of course not. I never described Moore as a totalitarian. Or can you point to anything I wrote that suggests I did ?

I described him as a 'radical' leftist (with 'radical' in quotes), in a passing reference. An enormous straw man was then built over this by you lot over here. I've simply been explaining the real reason I don't like him.

Moore is a demagogue - that's the fundamental problem with him.

11/11/2007 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

He's not a leftwinger, and it doesn't say much for your own alleged left wing credentials if you think otherwise. I think the term would be "social democrat".

The Moore thing says more about your own obsessions (Yugoslavia, with your own rather peculiar take on the war), than him. Plenty of people who know as much about the region as you do would broadly agree with his argument (unhampered perhaps by your own ethnic ties), and I have to say why not agreeing with it I find it more convincing than your own arguments.

I doubt most people even knew that he had ever said anything about the Yugoslav wars, and its a throw away remark from a man who obviously knows very little about the Balkans and isn't terribly interested (which is pretty typical of most Americans I've encountered - the exceptions have had relatives serving there, and even then they weren't that interested). That you judge his entire character on a rather weak joke about Yugoslavia says more about your own monomania than his "demagoguery".
And this just sounds like sour grapes:
"Millions of young people who don't know much about anything read Moore's books and see them as a guide on how to view the world."
Did your last book not sell enough copies, or something?

11/11/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

He doesn't repeat offensive stereotypes about black people, though, does he ?

Yes, he does. But he recycles them as stereotypes about white people.

As I recall he does this at the start of Stupid White Men in which he talks about how afraid he is of white people when he walks along, especially groups of them together. (I'm paraphrasing as I don't have a copy, but I am sure I shall be corrected if I err excessively).

Now this reminds me of the old journalistic saw, which may still be current, that one should never use irony in print because inevitably some twunt will take you literally. (Mind you, I recall that a few years ago, the pop music critic of the Independent on Sunday wrote that during a break in a Lou Reed concert he went to the toilets and consumed a vast quantity of heroin. This was taken literally by nobody except his mother, who phoned him up to tell him off about it.) As it happens, I have seen people lay into Moore on the grounds that "he's just repeating offensive stereotypes, but about white people" because they can't or won't see exactly what he's doing.

Now what Moore's doing about the former Yugoslavia is not quite the same thing, but it is an exaggeration, because that is often what people when they engage in humour, they exaggerate, or they say things they don't actually believe, because we are supposed to recognise that.

Does Moore think ethnic hatreds caused the break-up of Yugslavia? I don't know. Does he think they contributed to it? I don't know anybody who doesn't think that. Just as if the UK breaks up shortly, or if Spain were to do so, anybody could refer to age-old hatreds in either locality and be speaking some truth (as anybody who has attended an England-Scotland game, as I have done, could testify). It'd be some truth - it wouldn't be the whole truth. But then again, short extracts from humorous books, given an overtly hostile reading, don't usually tell the whole truth about what people think, either.

11/11/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

I suspect that in other moments (as I mentioned about a dozen comments ago), it would be possible to get on one's high horse about someone who called their blog "Greater Surbiton", as if to suggest it was impossible for even a mild-mannered lecturer of Balkan extraction to settle down in Kingston-on-Thames without immediately having ambitions toward the annexation of neighbouring boroughs. I'm having a really hard time taking this seriously.

11/11/2007 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

I must say, the contributors to this debate are an extremely charming lot. With your rigorous debating skills, impeccable manners and refusal to resort to ad hominem attacks to compensate for a lack of real arguments, you certainly put us Decents to shame.

Obviously, if I criticise Moore, the logical explanation is that I'm jealous of him for selling more books than me.

Obviously, calling my blog 'Greater Surbiton' is on a par with racially mocking genocide victims.

I stand corrected. In the face of such remorseless logic, I hereby announce my unconditional surrender in this debate.

11/12/2007 12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come back, Marko, I'm playing Thouless Bingo, and I had a tenner on you collecting the set by Wednesday.

http://www.246.dk/38tricks.html

Let's watch the slide in paragraph one, shall we?

(1) most so-called ‘left-wing socialists’
(2) most of my then socialist heroes and comrades
(3) my then comrades [NB - he might be forgiven this one for stylistic reasons]
(4) Left-wing ’socialists’ in Britain
(5) the left

It's beautiful. An absolutely perfect example of Thouless's Dishonest Trick #2. Nice one, Marko. Don't go.

Chris Williams

11/12/2007 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Oh weak, Marko. It was less than seven days ago that you were accusing us all of being apologists for dictators (an accusation that you failed to back up and pretended you'd never made, which is kind of the point here) and now you're taking your ball home in a huff? Give over.

I have no idea why you think you're in a position to be sarcastic about ad hominem attacks, impeccable manners or a lack of real arguments (at present, your only argument appears to be "Michael Moore said something nasty in a book published six years ago, and so by the Chewbacca defence, you must admit that I am right"). You've written a blog post in which you carry out the classic ur-Decent tactic of asserting the moral degeneracy of anyone to the Left of you, and when called on it in our blog have consistently failed to address that issue, preferring instead to insinuate that we are all racists for not joining you in outrage at Moore's joke (which as I continue to point out, is not that dissimilar from a joke you've made yourself).

Really, really, weak.

11/12/2007 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

"Obviously, if I criticise Moore, the logical explanation is that I'm jealous of him for selling more books than me."

No Marko, if your criticism of Moore is based around the success of those books, rather than the content, it suggests that there's some other dynamic in play.
So this:
"Millions of young people who don't know much about anything read Moore's books and see them as a guide on how to view the world."

is criticising Moore for being popular and hence corrupting you minds with a worldview that you disagree with. Its hard for me to see this as anything other than sour grapes - particularly given how unsuccessful you are at corrupting young minds with your own message.

There may be perfectly valid criticisms of Moore to be made, but YOU failed to make them. Sorry.

11/12/2007 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MAH is back with a riposte. He points out:
"However well meaning the good apples may be, they are part of a movement that is corrupt overall"

Marko, will you be forwarding that to Maryam Namazie, or shall I do it for you? I'll be meeting up with one of her comrades in a couple of weeks: I'll tell him that he's part of a corrupt movement. You'll concur, obviously, for you think that there is no third camp.

Chris Williams

11/13/2007 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

This is so, because ‘the left’ is largely made up of supporters or followers of Milosevic, Saddam, Hezbollah, “the Iraqi resistance”, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and others. Alongside such elements, no self-respecting Croat, Bosnian Muslim, Albanian, Serb anti-fascist, Kurd, Iraqi democrat, Jew or homosexual would be willing to march. The good apples may feel that it is preferable to shed a few Jews and gays and the odd Croat as the price for remaining in the rotting barrel with the bad apples. This is their choice, and while I do not agree with it, I do not think it necessarily makes them into monsters. But they have then rather forfeited the right to lecture those of us who point out to them that this is a dishonourable place to be.

1. Empirically not true.

2. Implication that the Jews, Iraqi Democrats, homosexuals, Kurds, Bosnians and Serbian anti-fascists on the anti-war march (I'm sure that there were a few Croats and Albanians there too, but I'm only mentioning the ones I know for a fact) were not "self-respecting". Quite offensive.

3. If one were to play this "guilt by association" game, the Decents still lose, as there are all manner of what have you on their side, and Marko appears to have capriciously abandoned the defence of "just because you support someone on one issue doesn't mean you endorse their whole bill of goods", which is a big mistake as it is the only thing standing between him and the entire rap sheet of Chomsky's books (he also might want to check out some of those "self-respecting Albanians" in the context of his writings on Kosovo, and "Kurds" as well, particularly if he's banging the table for women's rights).

I reiterate that it's really quite weak to have abandoned AW comments and then resumed the argument from a blog with no comments. Other AW editors might want to carry on the conversation on this basis, but not me.

11/13/2007 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

To toss a small hand-grenade into the ruins of this discussion, if one wanted to consort with anti-Semites and fascists it wouldn't be impossible to find them among those who supported the Croatian secession from Yugoslavia. What lesson should we draw from this? Any? None?

11/14/2007 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

Well, exactly, although I'm surprised you picked the Croats - being a partisan of Kosovar Albanian nationalism means standing shoulder to shoulder with Osama bin Laden. Of course, if he doesn't support al-Qaeda[1] or the massacre of Serbs, Marko has no reason to be offended by my saying that the Western attempt to whitewash the reputation of the KLA is a lousy piece of revisionism that ought to bring shame on anyone involved in it.

[1] AFAICT from five minutes' google on the "Scoop" Jackson website, his view is that there were no al-Qaeda in Kosovo. If this is a sincerely held view arrived at on the basis of research, then fair enough, but if it's just an attempt to whitewash a gang of murderers and thugs in order to help demonise the Serbs, then it's disgusting, atrocious, shameful, etc.

This "what me? oh no! I am the acme of sensible debate! it is not my fault if people misunderstand me as insulting them!" rhetorical style is quite fun when you get into it.

11/14/2007 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"to help demonise the Serbs"

That's a dead giveaway, isn't it BB/DD ? Whom do we know who's been "demonising the Serbs" ? You're surely not saying that those of us who campaigned against Milosevic's mass murder were "demonising the Serbs", are you ? Because if you are, then you've rather conceded your entire argument with Decency...

"if one wanted to consort with anti-Semites and fascists it wouldn't be impossible to find them among those who supported the Croatian secession from Yugoslavia."

Very true. But no self-respecting Serb or anti-fascist Croat would march alongside Croat anti-semites and fascists, even in so noble a cause as supporting Croatian independence. I never did.

Is that really what we've come down to ?

"The left's record on having fascists and anti-semites in its ranks is no worse than the record of supporters of Croatian independence."

I might just concede you that one.

11/15/2007 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Oh no, Marko, heavens to Betsy! I didn't mean you. I was talking about all those other fellow travellers of fascists.

See how irritating this style of argument is, by the way?

11/15/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Well, you seem to have meant me:

"AFAICT from five minutes' google on the "Scoop" Jackson website, his view is that there were no al-Qaeda in Kosovo. If this is a sincerely held view arrived at on the basis of research, then fair enough, but if it's just an attempt to whitewash a gang of murderers and thugs in order to help demonise the Serbs, then it's disgusting, atrocious, shameful, etc."

But has almost ANYONE in the West actually been guilty of "demonising the Serbs" ?

I mean apart from Michael Moore and other proponents of the "they're all savages" interpretation of the Yugoslav war ?

11/15/2007 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

as a wise man once said:

"I'm sorry that you construe my critique of leftists who support dictators and murderers as an attack on 'us lot'. If you don't support dictators and murderers, then the post wasn't criticising you."

and with regard to:

But has almost ANYONE in the West actually been guilty of "demonising the Serbs" ?

about as many as have "defended Saddam Hussein"

11/15/2007 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

But has almost ANYONE in the West actually been guilty of "demonising the Serbs" ?

Well, I seem to remember Polly Toynbee having a pretty good go. I would also reckon that pretty much all mainstream news commentary on the war took a view that placed the villains on one side of the conflict only.

The left's record on having fascists and anti-semites in its ranks is no worse than the record of supporters of Croatian independence."

Now this, of course, is silly and plainly untrue. It can only be made to look even slightly true if we attempt some extremely dubious definitions of the terms "fascist", "anti-semite" and "in its ranks". But such is standard procedure in the circles which this blog critiques.

11/15/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

BB, you referred to 'his view', based on a google search on the 'Scoop Jackson website', in a footnote referring to 'Marko'.

You were speculating whether this certain 'Marko' who writes on the 'Scoop Jackson website' might be 'demonising the Serbs'.

I'm sorry if I jumped to conclusions and assumed you were talking about me.

You might have been talking about some other Marko who writes about Balkan themes for the Henry Jackson Society, whom you decided at this point to bring into the discussion, out of the blue.

I should have given you the benefit of the doubt.

How silly of me.

"about as many as have "defended Saddam Hussein"

Really ? So can you name the leader of a significant radical left party in Britain who was guilty of demonising the Serbs ?

One certainly springs to mind who was guilty of praising Saddam...

11/15/2007 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Well, I seem to remember Polly Toynbee having a pretty good go."

Quote ?

"I would also reckon that pretty much all mainstream news commentary on the war took a view that placed the villains on one side of the conflict only."

Really ? How strange ! I reckon the opposite.

"Now this, of course, is silly and plainly untrue."

No it isn't.

11/15/2007 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Sadly, Marko was too busy writing "Michael Moore is a Fascist" on the day that his class studied irony.

11/15/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"Really ? So can you name the leader of a significant radical left party in Britain who was guilty of demonising the Serbs?"

I see Marko. So we've moved to discussing what the "left" do/think, to what the radical left do/think. Well given:

1) The radical left do not represent the broader left, I guess you've conceded that point.
2) There's only one significant radical left party (the SWP), who are loathed by pretty much the rest of the radical left, what the leadership of the SWP did/thought is hardly representative of the entire group.
3) There was a sizable minority (possibly majority for all I know) of the radical left who did demonise the Serbs (the AWL being the most organised). The thinking on the Balkan wars is hardly as monolithic as you like to pretend.
4) Given the size of the radical left (tiny), and political impact of the radical left (equally tiny) who cares? What exactly is the significance of this?

Is your professional work this sloppy?

11/15/2007 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

You were speculating whether this certain 'Marko' who writes on the 'Scoop Jackson website' might be 'demonising the Serbs'.

Yes, but if you weren't, then I wasn't talking about you. It was you that invented this barmy way of talking about people's politics in the subjunctive, not me. I learned my lesson at the feet of the master.

Since this is "The Decent Rhetorical Techniques Fayre", I will also bring out another insane and annoying technique I learned at the feet of sensei David Hirsh - the careful exploitation of the fact that the word "demonising", despite the fact that it sounds like a terrible and racist thing to do, has no specific meaning.

Thus, you presumably did not believe that you were demonising the Serbs when you wrote this article for OpenDemocracy, but by the standard of judgement used by ENGAGE, all I need to do is make the unsupported assertion that you singled them out for criticism, portraying them as unique evils in the world.

Am I getting the message across yet?

11/15/2007 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

(actually, I have to go and do something now, so for any passing thick kids, I will point out that of course I am not actually accusing Marko of demonising the Serbs or supporting Al-Qaeda, just satirising a couple of rhetorical techniques which I think he and several other Decent writers use, of making unspecific, sweeping and very serious allegations, not defending them in any specific instance when challeneged, but pretending that they still apply generally to unspecific people).

11/15/2007 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It should be said in their defence that they do often have a quote or two to hand. The trouble is that the quote doesn't usually mean what they say it means and nor is it usually typical of their target's views.

Really? How strange! I reckon the opposite.

Hard to know what this means. What is the "opposite" of "a view that placed the villains on one side of the conflict only"? Does it mean that the mainstream media were even-handed in the conflict or that they tended to paint the Serbs' opponents as the villains? (The latter would be substantially the barmier of the two positions.)

11/15/2007 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

There was a sizable minority (possibly majority for all I know) of the radical left who did demonise the Serbs (the AWL being the most organised).

Can't actually agree with you with regard to that one, Cian, but since we're somewhere in the middle of D^2's ironic subjunctive epicycles here I won't press the point.

11/15/2007 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marko, I asked you a question. Maryam Namazie - 'part of a corrupt movement' or not?

Are you going to answer it?

Chris Williams

11/16/2007 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Well "demonise" means to single out with criticism, and even the SWP criticised the Serbs for a few things. So if you speak "decent" language...

As for radical left...well the definition of this if your a decent seems to veer from more left wing than NuLab, to Trotskyists, according to the requirements of the argument. Who knows (or cares) which Marko is using.

More seriously, I've met a surprising number of radical leftists who were pretty critical of the Serbs/Milosevic (admittedly some for obscure theoretical reasons). Its certainly not as monolithic as Marko pretends, though far too many seemed to down the defenders of Milosevic "socialist hero" route.

11/16/2007 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I've met a surprising number of radical leftists who were pretty critical of the Serbs/Milosevic (admittedly some for obscure theoretical reasons). Its certainly not as monolithic as Marko pretends, though far too many seemed to down the defenders of Milosevic "socialist hero" route.

I'm not quite sure what position you're arguing here, so I'll just say where I'm coming from. I felt at the time that Serbia - Serbian nationalism more specifically, Milosevic's role in stoking up Serbian nationalism even more specifically - carried a lot of the blame for the way that the Yugoslav federation unravelled, and almost all the blame for beginning the process that made it unravel. Like Marko (or Attila as he was then), I'd been concerned about Serbian nationalism within federal Yugoslavia, and about Milosevic's role in stoking it up, for some time before the Slovenian secession. Like Marko, I felt that the Left in general and the SWP in particular were far too quick to rush to the defence of a regime which, although it called itself 'socialist' (and was denounced by the capitalist West), in practice combined ethnic irredentism with the asset-stripping variant of primitive accumulation. Like Marko, I thought that the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina represented the best hope for the region, and that its abandonment by the international community was a tragedy. And, like Marko, I found it really, really hard to take a position against the NATO intervention in Kosova; my feeling at the time was that the operation was illegal and the bombings were war crimes, and that they should just get on with it and send in ground troops.

I now regret this last part, which I think is where I part company with Marko. The Kosova operation was the cradle of Decency, perhaps; certainly I think it made it more than usually easy to be Wrong (and aligned with the British government) For the Right Reasons, or Right (and opposed to the British government) For the Wrong Reasons.

11/17/2007 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I held a similar position at the time, having learnt rather more about it in the interim I tend more towards that of Misha Glenny I guess. Milosevic a bad man (seriously, there should be no question0, but the war probably inevitable and plenty of bad elsewhere among the Croatian government (and to a less degree the Bosnian government). Also, there was a city/peasant dynamic to the whole thing (not to mention the whole gun culture among some of the Croat and Serb populations). There's more to it of course, but short message board entries.

I thought the same as you about the response of the radical left at the time, and I think the response of many groups (SWP included) was pretty disgraceful. It didn't take much work to find out that Milosevic was not all that. However, over the years I've met a lot of the "disorganised" radical left (ex members of groups, people who'd never join a group, anarchists, that kind of thing), including people who went over and did good work, who certainly had no illusions about Milosevic. Their views have ranged from not dissimilar to Marko's (all the fault of the Serbs, boo hiss), to I guess a more 'balanced' outlook.

11/18/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Workers' Aid convoys got shot at by Ustashe as well as Chetniks.

The 'my enemy, right or wrong' position was present in the antiwar movement in 1999: indeed, it was the beginning of the lash-up between silly peaceniks, the SWP, the CPB, and some relevant nationalists (Orthodox then, Muslim later) that came to frution in 2003.

On the other hand, this fruitcakery was not the whole story, in 1999 or earlier. I mentioned Workers Aid, for example, which actually _did_ something. But in decentspeak, this is deemed an unmovement. Yet again, MAH picks up on a bit of the left and then generalises the interpretation to conform to his reactionary prejudices.

But in April 1999, the crap left found themselves marching in at least one antiwar demo featuring a banner reading 'Stop the bombing - arm the Kosovars'. They didn't like it. But who was fatally corrupted by this experience, them or us?

Chris Williams

PS I agree with Phil on the wider repercussions of the Kosovo War, and its lessons. It wasn't so clear at the time.

11/18/2007 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Their views have ranged from not dissimilar to Marko's (all the fault of the Serbs, boo hiss)"

Cian characterises my interpretation of the war, which is that the Milosevic regime and Yugoslav People's Army bear full responsibility - as equivalent to the view that it was "all the fault of the Serbs"

No doubt Cian would accuse those who blame Ariel Sharon for the violence of recent years in the West Bank of putting "all the blame on the Jews".

Of all the dishonest rhetorical techniques, the unsupported insinuation of racism to someone who criticises a foreign regime is surely one of the most despicable.

Really, what with AW's sensitivity on the matter of dishonest rhetorical techniques, I'm surprised nobody has taken him to task on this.

Surely you don't have one standard for the Decent left and another for yourselves ??

11/18/2007 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maryam, Marko - 'part of a corrupt movement' or not?

11/18/2007 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

I know very little about Maryam Namazie and her politics, so I'm not in a position to judge them. But do feel free to forward her the link to my article, and if she complains to me, I'll take this into consideration.

11/18/2007 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Milosevic regime and Yugoslav People's Army bear full responsibility"

Mr Hoare: What actually are you saying Milosevic regime and Yugoslav People's Army bear full responsibility for? For the fact that Yugoslavia broke up? For the fact that its break up was accompanied by conflict? For the fact that the conflict involved massacres and ethnic cleansing? For something else.

This is a genuine question. I'm reasonably well-informed about Yugoslavia, though not an expert, and it is difficult for me to see how you can say that it was all the fault of X (whether X be a person or an institution or a particular Republic).

11/18/2007 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

The Milosevic regime and the JNA consciously plotted the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the expulsion of Croatia and Slovenia from Yugoslavia, the dismemberment of Croatia and the destruction of Bosnia.

I provide evidence for this (though not all the evidence - there's plenty more) in the following article (the section entitled 'Who destroyed Yugoslavia ?'):

http://citycellar.com/BalkanWitness/hoare.htm

Note that when I make allegations against individuals or regimes, I can provide evidence to back them up.

Which cannot be said for the majority of participants in this discussion.

NB People who try to counter the massive evidence of the guilt of Milosevic and the JNA with talk of "demonising the Serbs" are simply using cheap and dishonest accusations of racism in order to whitewash a murderous regime. They can't back up their accusation when challenged.

Which is the whole reason why some of us have a problem with the 'indecent left'.

But of course, others may feel entitled to resort to character assassination, ad hominem attacks, false accusations and insinuations of racism and other such devices in order to 'defend the honour' of the left.

Fair enough. Just don't then preach about how the Decent left is supposedly corrupting political debate.

11/18/2007 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Note that when I make allegations against individuals or regimes, I can provide evidence to back them up.

Which cannot be said for the majority of participants in this discussion.


and thus, "OI! BLACKARSE!" screams the pot at the kettle. This entire post is about your habit of issuing blanket condemnations against "the anti-capitalist Left", "anti-imperialists" etc etc, while demanding unlimited amounts of close reading of your own specific words when it comes to your lot. Your "evidence" in the case of Moore is a single joke, in the case of Chomsky was actively laughable (and Ian Mayes agreed with my assessment of it) and in the matter of "the kind of people no self-respecting Jew, Croat, etc would march alongside" is ludicrously unspecific, paticularly given the kind of people you were happy to co-sign an actual manifesto with. Chutzpah isn't an argument.

11/18/2007 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

oh this is almost to easy:

Everyone knows that the United States of America is totally to blame for absolutely everything that is wrong with the world today. Any crisis or conflict in any part of the world is, one way or another, the fault of the US and its imperialistic policies. American intervention in a given region should always be opposed and condemned unreservedly, since everything that is wrong in that region was caused by an earlier act of American intervention - if you go back far enough, you’ll always find one. The US is always intervening for a bad reason, whether it is to grab oil supplies or patronisingly to impose its Western ‘democratic’ values on foreign peoples whose own, different values it doesn’t respect. Yet neither should the US be let off the hook when it doesn’t intervene; we should never stop pointing out that if the US cared so much about freedom and democracy, it wouldn’t turn a blind eye to their absence in Saudia Arabia or Pakistan. We must cut the US no slack: it should be condemned when it invades or bombs other countries; when it starves countries to death with sanctions; when it demonises them with its media; when it hypocritically points out their human-rights abuses instead of minding its own business; and when it enjoys peaceful and friendly relations with them - trading with them and selling them weapons despite their poor human-rights records. The US will sometimes wage illegal wars without the consent of the UN Security Council, yet on other occasions it will work through the UN, proving that the UN is an American tool. Whatever policy the US adopts is being done for reasons of self-interest, so all its policies must be opposed, no matter what they are. In sum, there is no higher nor more noble cause than the cause of being against the US.

This, at least, is what every fashionable, right-on, politically correct person worth his or her salt feels in his or her heart to be true.


Feel the specificity! Taste the evidence! Marko you have to realise that if you're going to make definite claims about what debating tactics you do and don't use, then the "Greater Surbiton" blog is going to need to pay at least lip-service to consistency with them.

11/18/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous h said...

MAH: “So far as the historical evidence goes, there is no doubt about ‘who killed Yugoslavia’. On 27 June 1990 Borisav Jovic, Serbia’s member of the Yugoslav Presidency (thus the number two politician in Serbia after Milosevic) and Veljko Kadijevic, Yugoslav Defence Minister and the top man in the JNA, met and agreed that they should, regarding Croatia and Slovenia, “expel them forcibly from Yugoslavia, by simply drawing borders and declaring that they have brought this upon themselves through their decisions”.[15] The next day Jovic met with Milosevic and obtained his agreement.”

By June 1990, Franjo Tudjman’s HDZ had already won Croatia’s first free elections on a platform to secede from Yugoslavia. Perhaps you could get away with parading this quote as evidence for the Serbian leadership’s “full responsibility” for Yugoslavia’s collapse, but to do so you’re going to have to ignore the fact that millions of Croats had already voted for independence. You’re going to have to do better than this if you want to go round claiming, “Note that when I make allegations against individuals or regimes, I can provide evidence to back them up.”

11/18/2007 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I'm actually with Marko on this one. For the citizens of a republic within a federation to vote to secede is one thing - for the republic to actually go through with secession is quite another, and would involve a serious constitutional crisis. Maybe Tudjman was intending to provoke just such a crisis; maybe he would have stopped at nationalist sabre-rattling; maybe he would have pushed it further, but wound up settling for a looser, confederal arrangement.

But we can't know what would have happened if Tudjman and Croatia had been in charge of the way events unfolded, because they weren't. It was Jovic (for Serbia) and Kadijevic (for the JNA) who actually precipitated the crisis.

(But we don't need to start as late as 1990. Personally I think the federation was doomed from 1989, when Milosevic gained control of the federal votes of Kosovo and Vojvodina. It's an arithmetical thing.)

11/18/2007 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Cian characterises my interpretation of the war, which is that the Milosevic regime and Yugoslav People's Army bear full responsibility - as equivalent to the view that it was "all the fault of the Serbs"

Are you really that desperate to be insulted? Jesus, pay a hooker and be done with it.

What I said in full:
"Their views have ranged from not dissimilar to Marko's (all the fault of the Serbs, boo hiss)"

Note the following:
1) The use of the phrase "boo hiss" - this is supposed to indicate that this is not meant entirely seriously, is exageration, over broad, possibly will contain inaccuracies, continue at own risk etc.
2) Given that I have met people on the radical left who blame the Serbs as a people for the Balkans war, and you blame the Serbian institutions, their views are not that dissimilar to yours. Not identical, but compared to the SWP who blame some unholy alliance of George Soros, the Germans and Croat neo-Nazis (note for the irony impaired, principally Marko, this is deliberate exageration), not far off.

No doubt Cian would accuse those who blame Ariel Sharon for the violence of recent years in the West Bank of putting "all the blame on the Jews".

No I'd call them dangerously simplistic. And it would be Israelis, rather than Jews. Lets have some precision with our ethnic slurs, you ludicrous, humourless, little man.

Of all the dishonest rhetorical techniques, the unsupported insinuation of racism to someone who criticises a foreign regime is surely one of the most despicable.

Oh fuck off back to your Emo records, or whatever it is you teenagers listen to these days with your silly platform boots, eyeliner and propensity for Goth histrionics.

11/19/2007 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Phil:
Its more like who was responsible for blowing up the moutain of TNT. Sure Milosevic, Jovic, etc pushed the button, but it was a bloody great mountain of TNT. Sooner or later it was going to happen.

"But we can't know what would have happened if Tudjman and Croatia had been in charge of the way events unfolded, because they weren't."

The Serb-Croats would have still tried to secede, and the crisis would have happened another way. Maybe not as bloody, maybe more so. There was too much ethnic tension, poorly understood by urban politicians, to be contained by Tudjman.

11/19/2007 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Your "evidence" in the case of Moore is a single joke, in the case of Chomsky was actively laughable (and Ian Mayes agreed with my assessment of it)"

No, Ian Mayes did not offer any opinion on anything I wrote about Chomsky. Though why Mayes should be considered an objective and expert judge on Chomsky is beyond me.

"This entire post is about your habit of issuing blanket condemnations against "the anti-capitalist Left", "anti-imperialists" etc etc, while demanding unlimited amounts of close reading of your own specific words when it comes to your lot."

I have never been afraid to name names and offer evidence in support of my arguments. You are of course free to dispute my evidence. But I feel no obligation to have to repeat it every time I condemn the 'anti-imperialist' or 'anti-capitalist' left in general terms.

The best way to refute me, I would have thought, would be to provide evidence that what I say is untrue. But if all you can do is to try to smear me personally, using allegations that you clearly cannot substantiate, then you've pretty much conceded the argument.

11/19/2007 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"By June 1990, Franjo Tudjman’s HDZ had already won Croatia’s first free elections on a platform to secede from Yugoslavia. Perhaps you could get away with parading this quote as evidence for the Serbian leadership’s “full responsibility” for Yugoslavia’s collapse, but to do so you’re going to have to ignore the fact that millions of Croats had already voted for independence."

Before Tudjman and the HDZ were even elected, Milosevic had already ended the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina, crushed the Kosovo Albanians, held a series of mass nationalist rallies to coerce the other Yugoslavs and the Federal authorities, attempted forcibly to recentralise the Federation, imposed an embargo on Slovenia and driven the Slovene and Croatian Communists out of the 14th Extraordinary Congress of the League of Yugoslav Communists.

Already in March 1990 - before Tudjman and the HDZ were elected - the Serbian leadership had decided to prepare a new constitution that would be able to '"cover" the new independent Serbian state', as Borisav Jovic, Serbia's representative on the Yugoslav Federal Presidency, records in his diary.

Serbia and the JNA effectively began the war with Croatia in May 1990, just as the Croatian Communists were stepping down, by disarming the Croatian Territorial Defence.

Serbia's representative on the Yugoslav Federal Presidency, Borisav Jovic, had already officially stated on 15 May 1990 that anyone who wanted to was free to secede from Yugoslavia. So the HDZ's pro-independence platform was not something that could have led to war.

So I'm afraid trying to date the beginning of Yugoslavia's break-up to the election of Tudjman and the HDZ is pretty ridiculous.

Quite apart from the fact that simply being in favour of the independence of your own republic is not the same as a) trying to destroy the Yugoslav Federation for everybody else; and b) actually engineering a war to ensure that it breaks up violently.

Quite apart from the fact that Serbia's leadership rejected all options for a confederal Yugoslavia that Slovenia and Croatia could have accepted.

Quite apart from the fact that Serbia declared independence in September 1990 and repudiated the authority of the Yugoslav Presidency in March 1991 - months before Croatia's own declaration of independence.

11/19/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

The best way to refute me, I would have thought, would be to provide evidence that what I say is untrue.

See that great big block of italic text, Marko, in which a series of moronic straw men is asserted to be "what every fashionable, right-on, politically correct person worth his or her salt feels in his or her heart to be true"? It was actually a verbatim quote from your blog. Viz, your claim that you don't engage in that sort of behaviour is not true, the evidence being that quote, in which you do. Happy to help.

11/19/2007 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Do you have any sense of humour at all ? Any conception of satire ? Any ability to laugh at yourself ?

I've looked at Decentpedia and found parts of it quite funny. I wasn't offended.

11/19/2007 09:14:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

oh riiiiiiiiiight, when you do it, it's humour and satire, whereas every word on "Aaronovitch Watch (Incorporating 'World of Decency')" reflects our debasement of political debate (and Michael Moore making a joke is evidence of his racism, and thence of the corruption of anyone who likes his films). Do you have any humorous anecdotes under consideration by the Reader's Digest, by any chance?

This is the entire point, Marko, it's the entire point! You're massively demanding of the generous treatment yourself but not inclined to give an iota of it to anyone else. Have a word with yourself.

11/19/2007 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous ichomobothogogus said...

"Do you have any sense of humour at all ? Any conception of satire ? Any ability to laugh at yourself ?"

is Marko now claiming that his blog is merely a rather laboured joke and not to be taken seriously under any circumstances? wasn't that what BB was saying all along?

11/19/2007 11:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MAH: "I have never been afraid to name names and offer evidence in support of my arguments. You are of course free to dispute my evidence. But I feel no obligation to have to repeat it every time I condemn the 'anti-imperialist' or 'anti-capitalist' left in general terms."

Let's savour the Thouless 2 segue from Marko's classic post "The starting point for progressive politics" again, noting once more the slide from the particular to the general:

(1) most so-called ‘left-wing socialists’
(2) most of my then socialist heroes and comrades
(3) my then comrades [NB - he might be forgiven this one for stylistic reasons]
(4) Left-wing ’socialists’ in Britain
(5) the left


Mmmm.... Nice.


Chris Williams

PS Marko - I'll introduce you to the politics of the WCPI (by the way, have you been under a rock these last ten years?) on the front page of this blog real soon now.

11/20/2007 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

"is Marko now claiming that his blog is merely a rather laboured joke and not to be taken seriously under any circumstances?"

I wondered if perhaps he was just having an argument with himself, a la Gollum and smegal.

11/20/2007 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice that there are still risks of war in the Balkans, even though Slobbo has been out of power for 7 years and has been pushing up the daisies for more than 18 months. Is it not unreasonable to ask whether "singling out" Slobbo wasn't such a magic solution after all?

11/21/2007 02:35:00 PM  

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