Friday, August 22, 2008

No Comment Necessary

Nick didn't appear in the Standard this week (NC Standard archive) and Aaro wasn't in the Times.

We did have Nick's rather bizarre rant about Prince Charles. Nick definitely has a talent: I ought to agree with him, but somehow I just get irritated by the whole hectoring attitude. Nick's point minus reveries about Marie Antoinette and Julie Burchill was put rather better by the Environment Minister:

Phil Woolas, the environment minister, said it was "easy for those with plentiful food" to ignore Third World hunger. He told The Sunday Telegraph that the Government would press ahead with GM crop trials and look at moving to a more "liberal" regime in Britain, unless scientific evidence showed that the crops had done harm.


Somehow, the whole thing fits into one paragraph.

I can't help feeling that the real inspiration for Nick was George Monbiot a week earlier.

Since I feel bad about pointing our readers toward purest drivel (NC rather than GM), here's a bonus link: Michael Bywater calls Julie Burchill "a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms!"

Posted partly out of an anal need for completeness on my part and partly because I know a couple of readers will be much better informed about Rousseau than I am (see "Rousseau's praise for the honest virtues of simple peasants moved Marie Antoinette").

24 Comments:

Anonymous bubby said...

The Bywater review is an absolute gem. Beautifully written and very funny.

8/22/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

But what is the point of discussing the opinions of a Random Opinion Generator?

8/22/2008 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

All this is guff about GM feeding the world. Not because it can't, but because it won't. Any more than throwing off the regulations that 'burden' pharamceutical companies would produce new treatments for the world's poor. The world's poor are not good customers, whether for food or for medicine. Unless you change the system, talk of feeding the world through GM is just cover for ensuring the capital has the freedom to develop new consumer products for the wealthy of the world.

And that is before we get into the second layer of argument about GM and economies; that propertising the very idea of a crop, the distribution of crops on licences, the designing of crops into a agrichemical package, all of this will tie farmers and, as a consequence, the world's food supply, into a handful of private companies. I'm not sure that this is the most sensible move, if you believe in a democracy that extends to more substantive issues than selecting telegenic personality 1 over telegenic personality 2.

Picking on Prince Charles as if he represents opposition to GM (as an actually existing technology in an actually existing economic system) is good if you are a PR shill for argichemical companies, but it is bad if you are interested in an honest debate.

But, it is NC.

8/22/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I'm really not sure about the analogy drawn between Antoinette's play-farm and Charles' very successful organic farm.

Like Marie Antoinette, he sees the poor as happiest when they have their place in a natural order, with royalty at its head.

Is that really the point of either Antoinette's farm or Charles' one for that matter? note that Schama makes it clear that Antionette was sincere, if misguided.

What would Charles have to do to demonstrate that his farm is actually about making good quality food (and money) as opposed to keeping the peasantry in their place?

GM foods offend Europe's cult of the authentic, which is as strong now as in Marie Antoinette's day

But Antionette's farm was never about the 'cult of the authentic', was it? Rousseau may have been one of its inspirations, but even her most dimwitted mates would have realised that they weren't actually at a real farm. and the leap from that to GM doesn't work - how is growing organic veg the same as pretending to be a milkmaid? are the only 'real' farmers GM farmers who have always been poor?

The short version of Nick's entire beef with the Green movement is that there are some posh people involved, and because they are posh they can't possibly actually care about the poor, about the environment, or about anything. Unless of course they sign up to TGISOOT.

8/22/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

that Schama makes it clear that Antoinette was sincere, if misguided

He would, though: in Schama, as in British historography generally, everybody's sincere until people start lopping off the landlords' heads.

8/22/2008 12:22:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

I know it's been said before, but it's worth repeating - is Nick trying to get a job at Spiked? I think Hume, Uncle Frank and the boys should urgently consider making him an offer. It might mean the next edition of What's Left? might have to lose the Deichmann bit, but surely that's a price well worth paying for Nick to get a berth at what seems to be his spiritual home these days.

8/22/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Would Nick really have anything to do with the RCP/Living Marxism sect? Or vice versa?

I can see the contrarianism appealing, but ...

8/22/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Andrew has made several points I should have.

GG - I was thinking of asking the opposite question. NC has always seemed to be a former far-leftist. He's not terribly keen on the Labour Party really, so I doubt he was a member. (Does anyone know?) But he seems to have been some sort of activist. Could he be ex-RCP? The Spiked thing might be closer than you think - with the obvious problem that sometimes they're right about some things.

Bubby - Bywater is a class act.

8/22/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Could he be ex-RCP?

I'd have thought it most unlikely. Firstly, they were always big-time contrarians, which NC is not. Secondly, they were never interested in being active in the unions, whereas NC was (and still is) active in the NUJ.

(I suppose it's just possible, though I still think it exceedingly unlikely, that NC got involved with them and then found out very quickly that they weren't remotely what he had thought they were. I do think this happens sometimes with naive student far-leftists: but as I say, it still seems improbable here. Not least because it's not the RCP about whom NC went on and on about in What's Left. Incidentally that shouldn't be taken a a suggestion that he was involved in one of the WRP offshoots when he was a student, although in Oxford this was, and is, entirely possible.)

8/22/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Here's Nick's article about the RCP crowd. I agree with those who think it's unlikely he was ever part of that crowd.

http://www.newstatesman.com/200208120009

8/22/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

That article contains some gems from our Nick, including:

Former lefties can make a good living in the media by attacking their ex-comrades - I'd do it myself if the price was right.

8/22/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think that may be irony. He does sometimes have a sense of humour, Nick.

8/22/2008 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Damn the metropolitan elite and their clever use of irony.

8/22/2008 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Given that Spiked's reviewer called Nick "The Princess Diana of journalism" and described What's Left as follows...

Nick Cohen's book takes its place with the autobiographies of Robert Kilroy Silk and Derek Hatton as one of the worst books I have ever been asked to review.

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/2807/

...And that's one of the most polite bits, I don't think NC is going to be sucking up to the Furediites any time soon, whether or not they share his bugbears.

8/22/2008 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

CC and others - you've partly convinced me. That is, OK, he wasn't an RCPer. However, that article - like all of Harry's Place and much of Decency elsewhere - seems to be nothing but a denunciation of one of the other factions. "The RCP didn't do debate." etc.

My thesis is that all Decency is "People's Front of Judea" versus "Judean People's Front". And that article doesn't convince me that Nick was writing at all objectively, as a journalist perhaps should, rather than using a Staggers column to vilify some rival sect. Look, it's like this, see. We _know_ that only 70 x 7 angels can dance on the head of a pin. These - ptui - 'apostates' claim that it's eleventy times seven. That's clearly nonsense. Some would fall off. Don't join them. Join us.

But then I'm a paid up member of the "Don't listen to these twats. Even if they don't go away, they still won't bore you to death" tendency.

Anyway, didn't Renton move to Amsterdam and "choose life"?

8/22/2008 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Anyway, to go off-topic (and somewhat Unserious) for a bit, here's a little game I started to play on Martin Wisse's blog earlier this evening (while you're all up the pub, presumably).

According to congenital idiot Denis McShane:

Russian armies – Tsarist and Soviet – have occupied every European capital east of the Rhine

How many European capitals can you think of, east of the Rhine, that have been occupied neither by Tsarist nor Soviet troops?

Working from the East, I'll offer (subject to inspection by other AW historians and pedants) the following:

1. clearcut cases:

Athens
Copenhagen
Oslo
Rome
Stockholm
Valletta

2. arguable cases

Belgrade (not really occupation per se, as they entered the city during the war against the Nazis and withdrew at its end. I wouldn't push this one)

Istanbul (is it in Europe?)

Tirana (member of Warsaw Pact for some years, but that doesn't in and of itself constitute occupation).

Vaduz, by the way, seems to me to lie west of the river's course between Austria and Switzerland.

8/22/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

My thesis is that all Decency is "People's Front of Judea" versus "Judean People's Front".

Naw, there's far more to it than that. And even in the regard you identify, the point about the sects is that while denouncing one another they have far, far more in common in their political analysis than they don't: whereas the Decents do differ mightily from their targets.

8/22/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

Vaduz is actually east of the Rhine but has indeed managed to hold out against the snowy-booted hordes. San Marino and the Vatican if we're counting minnows.

Depending on how you define East of the Rhine, Amsterdam and Berne are (mutually exclusive) candidates.

Also Bonn (by definition) and the capitals of various countries that used to be parts of Yugoslavia.

Cyprus?

8/23/2008 04:04:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/23/2008 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Yeah, Nicosia has to count, I missed that one.

I didn't include the ex-Yugoslavian capitals because they weren't capitals during either the Tsarist or Soviet eras. Although, consulting the Times Atlas of World History this merry morn, I see that Montenegro (on which there is, bizarrely, a Wikipedia page in Anglo-Saxon) was independent after the Congress of Berlin - at which time its capital was Cetinje.

My definition of "East of the Rhine" involved "standing on a longitude which is to the East of the furthest point East that the Rhine reaches" which cuts out Bonn even though it's on the West bank of the river, and seems to me to do for Vaduz, Bern and Amsterdam as well. It's tough but fair.

8/23/2008 07:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Fallhammer said...

Yeah, fairly dos. McShane was probably thinking of the main sweep of the Rhine through Germany but it's best to give him the benefit of the doubt. And Bonn is indeed on the west bank. Another illusion shattered.

The Yugoslavian bits have had various levels of independence at one time and another, but yes they should be kept out of a strict list.

8/23/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Adams said...

I'm pretty certain Istanbul counts.

8/23/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Didn't the old jingo song go "the Russians shall not have Constantinople"?

8/23/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

The whole 'anti-war' thing might be a bit of a stumbling-block for a rapprochement between Nick and the ex-RCP. Incidentally, did anyone notice the author cited (twice) by Michael Fitzpatrick in the Spiked review?

8/29/2008 10:21:00 PM  

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