Tuesday, May 27, 2008

a feast of intellectual fun

Hey kids: new Decentiya out. It reads a bit winded, like the product of a support group for people suffering cognitive damage after being mugged by reality. Maybe NTM is a bit miffed about not being asked to write for Schwerpunkt, or whatever it’s called. First rate lunacy here though, and from some retread from the old Committee on the Present Danger too. Why am I not surprised.

In other news, this professor finds the constraints of just war doctrine irksome and this fellow wants us to remember the real heroes of the events of ’68, including a certain George Orwell, who is quite well known for being dead for eighteen years at the time.

Anyway, dig in.

20 Comments:

Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Decentiya is such a tempting and at the same time utterly uninteresting target.

The Eric Chenoweth piece is particularly brain dead. In May, in Paris, tens of thousands of students rioted and their actions were hailed in left-wing journals. Their actions were later hailed in left-wing journals. (Paragraph 3) Alan Johnson isn't one of the great editors, is he?

I also liked Already in March of that year, students in Warsaw and other cities in Poland came together to demand university reforms as a metaphor for democracy – well before the Paris events. If the Decents weren't so against PoMo, you'd think Susan Sontag could be their matron saint. They demanded reforms as a metaphor! Well, why else?

WTF is a moral imperative anyway? It sounds vaguely Kantian.

5/27/2008 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, a couple more things and I'll be on my way. From the same essay.

By the time of the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring by the Warsaw Pact in August 1968, it had become clear to most everyone who risked opposing communist regimes that they could not be reformed from within but would have to be overthrown.

This does rather sound like the revolutionary saw about capitalism. It's like: "Sorry, Badder and Meinhof, right theory, wrong system!" But Gorbachev did reform it from within, didn't he?

BTW Norman Geras dissents.

5/27/2008 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

It's certainly more subdued than usual. I'm disappointed by the lack of reference to the Decent 100 club, which was launched with such a fanfare in the Spring ("Become a founder member of the Democratiya £100 / $200 Club and secure the future of hard-headed democratic internationalism").

5/28/2008 01:52:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I see they're not only still publishing Fred Siegel, but they've given Lawrence Haas a regular "Letter from Washington" column!

5/28/2008 06:42:00 AM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

numerous claims that student protestors in Western Europe and America ignored and had nothing to say about Eastern Europe in 1968, which in my opinion is quite obvious bullshit.

5/28/2008 06:51:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Yes Siegel's piece has a nasty bit of Obama's-an-elitist towards the end.

The most miserable piece, actually, is the review of Tony Coady.

The "About Us" description is getting further and further from the truth given the actual contents which are getting almost single-issue obsessive.

5/28/2008 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It wouldn't be hard to show that a fair few student protestors supported the wrong side in Stalinist regimes - just as it wouldn't be hard to demonstrate that a lot of Easteern European dissidents supported the wrong side as regards Ronald Reagan and Central America. It's a "what's your point?" point.

5/28/2008 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

It is actually quite illuminating to read "About Us" again in the light of the couple of years that have passed since the Euston Moment.

When over 8 million Iraqis voted in democratic elections in January 2005, at polling stations guarded by American and other foreign troops, emerging to dance for joy, their purple fingers held aloft, only for Britain's leading liberal newspaper to sneer that the election was 'at best irrelevant', it was clear that something had gone terribly awry.

5/28/2008 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

ok, capsule reviews coming thru

Russell A Berman: "From 'Left-Fascism' to Campus Anti-Semitism: Radicalism as Reaction"

Oh the games people play, Lord, every night and every day, Lord, never meaning what they say, Lord, never saying what they mean

Uses sentence "Criticism of Israel is not in and of itself anti-Semitic": check.
Claims that "The Left" in 1968 ignored Eastern Europe: check

AW review: really, really boilerplate version of the ENGAGE party line, vaguely hung on semi-topical peg of an anniversary. A defence of the Larry Summers " actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent" doctrine.

---

Dick Howard: "An International New Left?"
Once upon a time, I looked so fine
Claims that "The Left" in 1968 ignored Eastern Europe: not check. Actually documents own journey to Prague and numerous friends and allies there.

AW review: Seems like a nice old boy, not a bad personal memoir, perhaps reading for a very long train journey such as the one between Euston and Edge Hill.

---

Philip Spencer: "Forget 68: Cohn-Bendit's new book"
And if I had to do it all again, I would, my friend, Fernando

AW review: Basically the Paul Berman line on Joschka Fischer, Bernard Kouchner et al, that the true spirit of the Left is seen in its willingness to go around sending soldiers to as many places as possible in the vague hope of doing some good. Contains the characteristic Democratiya argument; the failure to make the distinction between "ignoring" something and "not being able to do anything about it".

---

Fred Siegel: "1968: Revolt against the Masses?"
Ki-yi-yippee-yi-yi, you longhairs are all gonna die, goddammit! You're all gonna die!"

AW review: "The Left" are just snobs who hate the working class and eat bruschetta. Why on earth do Democratiya publish this tool?
Claims that "The Left" in 1968 ignored Eastern Europe: check

---

Eric Chenoweth: "The True Revolutionaries of 1968"
You say you want a revolution, well, you know
Claims that "The Left" in 1968 ignored Eastern Europe: check

AW: In fact that's pretty much all there is to it. The true spirit of 1968 is to be found in various Cold War hacks.

---

Marko Attila Hoare (a member of the Aaronovitch Watch Extended Family[tm]): "Unholy Terror: Bosnia, al-Qa'ida and the Rise of Global Jihad".
The perfect is the enemy of the Serbs

AW review: Marko (a member of the AW extended family) is such a crazily partisan writer about anything to do with the Balkans (just the Balkans, BB?) that it's simply impossible to assess anything he does on the merits; he might have some points buried in there somewhere but it is impossible to unpeel them from the polemic. One purely for Northern Irish 80s nostalgia buffs, as the tone of castigating themotheruns for always whitewashing the terrible things they do, not like us, will seem terribly familiar. The assertion that radical Islam is "actually less of a danger in the Balkans outside of Turkey than it is in Western Europe" perhaps controversial.

---

Neil Robinson: "Russia - Lost in Transition, the Yeltsin and Putin Legacies".
I follow the Moskva, Down to Gorky Park, Listening to the wind of change

AW review: Not such a bad piece, at least the author kind of recognises that Russia is a country rather than a Meccano set for baby economists. Decency is often all over the place with respect to "who lost post-Communist Russia?" for two reasons. First, the obvious facts look bad for neoliberalism, which they don't want to say because it sounds anti-American. Second, the whole Yeltsin fiasco tends to show that even non-military interventions often don't work. The solution to the second is usually to insist ex post that the Yeltsin era was a disaster because it was fucked up through insufficiently thoroughgoing Decency, while asserting that future attempts to mess around in other states won't be fucked up.

I cannot guarantee there won't be more to come …

5/28/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder: do the Decents understand the concept of a "failed state"? Do they realise that the invasion of Iraq has turned it into a "failed state" and that you need to have a State before you an start electing people to run it? Do they realise that wars often weaken the fabric of societies and, in some cases, create "failed states"?

Moussaka Man

5/28/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

do the Decents understand the concept of a "failed state"?

I think Decentpedia defines it as "A state with a foreign policy which is not allied to the USA".

5/28/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Given that Democratiya is supposed to be defending western values, like human rights and the just war and whatnot its interesting how much of its output seems to consist of attempts to claim that such values need not be binding when they are inconvenient.

I particularly like the distinction between violating and infringing rights the former, practiced by fascists being impermissible and the latter, practiced by democrats, being a regrettable necessity.

5/28/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

this review is a peach.

5/28/2008 12:41:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

One purely for Northern Irish 80s nostalgia buffs

Good sir, I refuse to rise to your bait.

I think we see in this issue a stunning deployment of the Decent Tardis, do we not? Nonsense can be turned into sense simply by erasing the Vietnam War from history.

5/28/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger David Schraub said...

Why thank you, Bruschetta! I do find peaches to be quite tasty!

5/29/2008 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Standpoint is up: http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/

So far we have Michael Nazir-Ali talking about a 'moral vacuum' leading to a rise in radical Islam, Michael Burleigh writing about the radicalisation of young muslims and Douglas Murray pontificating about artists being scared to criticise Islam.

Enjoy!

5/29/2008 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Plus Standpoint has NC on how Headcases wasn't very funny (fair comment - it wasn't, but wider predictable commentary somewhat unnecessary). And this gem from Tim Congdon, last true old religion monetarist left standing: ‘To point a finger at “bankers” (whatever the word means) is as dangerous as stigmatising racial or religious minorities’. Congdon then manages to make Martin Wolf at the FT out to be a great state interventionist. This will probably come as news to Wolf.

5/29/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

"(fair comment - it wasn't, but wider predictable commentary somewhat unnecessary)"

The funny thing is that Nick has already done a piece on Headcases for Comment is Free. He really didn't like that programme.

5/29/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

A coup though to get Michael Young writing, especially as he's been dead six years.

5/29/2008 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Fuck me, Delingpole.

And Nick's playing to the gallery a bit here, isn't he?

"Conservative readers will blame the broadcasters’ liberal bias for ITV’s failure to wound or even graze."

5/29/2008 09:14:00 PM  

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