Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Alan Not The Minister on "Neoconitis"

Apparently he thought this brainfart from the Josh Muravchik interview in Decentiya was so insightful it deserved a whole article of its own. I meet roughly one person like this a week - someone selling a crap product, convinced that the problem is the branding. Let's look at this. "Neoconservatism" - started out as a self-description and badge of pride - got associated with the belligerent stupidity of Alan and his mates - now a political insult. "Decent Left" - started out as a self-description and badge of pride - got associated with the belligerent stupidity of Alan and his mates - now a political insult. Have they not noticed that the common factor is them? I seem to remember telling Gene of Harry's Place that if they renamed themselves the "Kylie's Bum Left", people would stop liking Kylie's bum.

I keep meaning to write something about the prevalent Decent demand (cf Geras, also the anonymous angry bloke in our comments, also Marko Hoare, but I repeat myself) for everyone to "engage with their arguments". This appears to be a Decent term of art. It's sort of like "Argue against a point of view", but in some special Decent way which precludes making any arguments of your own and requires you to accept all of their and-a-pony hypotheticals and counterfactuals. Thus:

"I say I say I say! There's a duty of protection against regimes which violate civilised norms in an appalling way!"

"Hmmm, that sounds like a worryingly vague criterion which in practice would mean that we got a lot of badly-planned interventions which turned into humanitarian disasters. The track record of these military operations is really very bad. So no, I do not support this massive reorganisation of international law, even if it were possible. Which, since what you are proposing would have to be a massive one-sided expansion of US power (since I take it that neither of us wants, say, Syria or Serbia to be allowed to unilaterally decide that a local humanitarian issue is serious enough to form a pretext for invasion) would not be practical at all unless we want to totally dismantle international institutions in favour of a Pax Americana"

"Oh Why Won't You Engage With Our Ideas! I Said That We Must Express Solidarity With Iranian Bus Drivers And Apparently You And Your Mates In The SWP Would Rather All Go On A Fascist Rally With Hezbollah! George Galloway!"

With bonus frivolous accusation of anti-Semitism, by the way. For more of those, cf David Hirsh of ENGAGE, in what I think is the first Yale University Working Paper to cite "Snoopy The Goon", unless any readers know different.

10 Comments:

Anonymous gastro george said...

It's the pride he has about the term "liberal hawk" which is distressing, and his fervent support for the senator for Boeing. The post has self-destruction written all over it. Who does he expect to support it, except for the usual right-wing trolls on CiF? Or is self-flagellation the new machismo?

1/16/2008 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

When I guy comes out with a sentence like this, you know he's got it bad:

Not least, the neocon insult blocks off any proper consideration of the social democratic antitotalitarianism of Paul Berman, Václav Havel, Adam Michnik, Ladan Boroumand, Kanan Makiya, Azar Nafisi, Bernard Kouchner, Tony Blair, or Gordon Brown.

For pity's sake.

1/17/2008 03:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cfuefdxOddly enough I feel that I did make a big attempt to engage with the ideas of Tony Blair. I used to write to Blair when he made one of his some statements, usually asking "You mean that the UK should ignore international law?". And oddly enough I have never got an answer to that question.

I have been insulted (on blogs and to my face) as being obsessive and anti-American and consumed with hatred for Blair and Bush). This appears to be an attempt to block off engagement with the point that a policy of invading countries because we don't like the regime is a big step, the implications of which have not been thought through by those who propose it.

1/17/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"Not least, the neocon insult blocks off any proper consideration of the social democratic antitotalitarianism of Paul Berman, Václav Havel, Adam Michnik, Ladan Boroumand, Kanan Makiya, Azar Nafisi, Bernard Kouchner, Tony Blair, or Gordon Brown."

Has it occurred to Not The Minister that it is not 'the neocon insult' that blocks this, but the fact that certain "social democratic antitotalitarians" chose to discredit their cause by throwing their lot in with the neocons when they thought it politically expedient?

1/17/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

Decency = an alternative politics. Or, indeed, an alternative to politics.

1/17/2008 10:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't the "neo-con" insult that blocks discussion of "social democratic anti-totalitarianism". It is its contradictions (like apparently not excluding selling arms to Saudi Arabia or discussing the sale of arms to Iraq at the time it was gassing its own people). It is the fact that none of its proponents address key issues (such as it involving breaches of international law, being widely seen as illegitimate and involving high risks like turning Iraq into a failed state). It is the fact that most of its proponents have obscured the fact that it involves large changes in how the UK conducts foreign policy (by throwing up the smokescreen of WMD in Iraq or the use of other emotive words about opponents such as "anti American" or "George Galloway"). Proponents of this kind of doctrine seem to want to have their cake and eat it: they want to pretend that the invasion of Iraq was legal yet at the same time use it as a Trojan Horse for principals that are breaches of international law.

Guano

1/18/2008 07:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep meaning to write something about the prevalent Decent demand (cf Geras, also the anonymous angry bloke in our comments, also Marko Hoare, but I repeat myself) for everyone to "engage with their arguments".

I've never asked that you engage with Decentish argument.

In fact I've repeatedly declared your utter defeat of Decentism.

All I've requested is some guidance as to the true path of wisdom.

Or, in other words, I've asked you to take some responsibility by actually making an argument - defining your basic principles in, say, the form of a "Manifesto", and showing your popular appeal by getting a whole lot of people to sign up to it.

1/19/2008 02:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/19/2008 02:41:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I advise not posting in the small hours when drunk.

1/19/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Or, in other words, I've asked you to take some responsibility by actually making an argument - defining your basic principles in, say, the form of a "Manifesto", and showing your popular appeal by getting a whole lot of people to sign up to it.

As I've explained to you before, Marko, we have done, the document setting out our basic principles with respect to foreign invasion is called "The Geneva Conventions" and it's decidedly more popular than the Euston Manifesto.

Oh yes, and Justin's comment makes no sense now because I deleted the one it refers to. Remember that the AW comments policy is that you have to provide either a real name or something more than content-free poo-throwing. One or the other, we don't care which, but if you've provided neither, you're deletion fodder my friend.

1/19/2008 02:07:00 PM  

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