Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our extended family

It's always good to see a member of the Aaronovitch Watch extended family doing well, and so I see that frequent AW commenter Marko Attila Hoare has been climbing up the ranks of the Henry "Scoop" Jackson Society. Although he has historically been "European Neighbourhood Section Director", while Alexandros Petersen has been "Section Director; N America, Russia and Eurasia", the rattle of the cannon has brought him a brevet promotion, leaving him second only to Alan Mendoza himself! While Petersen has written not a word on South Ossetia, Marko has been given free rein to demand that British troops be sent to Georgia (note: also treading on the toes of Robin Simcox, "Britain in the World" Section Director, who might fairly have assumed that the disposition of HM Armed Forces would have fallen to him) and to declare a second Cold War! Historically, only H'S'JS officials with the rank of President or above have been able to declare a Cold War, so you can see he's on a rising track, while I think it would be a foolish man who bet on Alexandros Petersen to hang onto his three Section Directorships given the extent to which Dr Hoare has stolen his thunder (I think that the stakes have been raised so high that Petersen's only option at this stage is to reach for the nuclear option).

The summary of the article might be "hey, you know how Decents are always telling you that it's like Munich in 1938? Well, this time it really is like Munich in 1938!". This time with Sarkozy in the role of Neville Chamberlain (call your office, Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky). Sarkozy's fall from "neoliberal and Atlanticist saviour of his country" to "yet another spineless scion of Old Europe" has been precipitous - can it be long before the Scoop Society starts to agitate for a palace coup by Bernard FounderofMedecinssansfrontieres? (his middle name is Kouchner, apparently).

At AW, we are not really all that well placed to analyse the ins and outs of the power struggle over South Ossetia. We are, however, uniquely well placed to analyse the ins and outs of the power struggle within the Henry 'Scoop' Jackson Society. I suspect that this article, erring in the direction of realism was the original incursion which has provoked such a bloodthirsty and disproportionate response from the HSJS' resident superpower - we await Round Two with baited breath.

Update: My God, the man's even withdrawing forces from Afghanistan and Iraq to man the front line in Georgia! Is there anyone in the HSJS Army whose command is safe from this beau sabreur? We have occasionally described the Henry Jackson Society in the past as the "I've got a cardboard box on my head and I'm a tank commander" element of British Decency - the breakfast cereal must be ankle deep on the floor at Peterhouse College today.

65 Comments:

Anonymous belle le triste said...

yglesias pointed out re this that when demented nationalist warmongers john bolton and bill kristol do the same -- viz declare world war three NOW so as keep stalin's borders forever unsullied and plus the south ossetians beneath the iron heel they like least of the two on offer -- they are doing it for entirely frivolous reasons: ie they know perfectly well that war will NOT be declared, nor do they actually wish it to be; what they are after is a space for rhetorical outflanking within the grown-up discourse; so that those who DON'T take these absolutist bluster-stances (but instead offer actual practical diplomatic solutions that aren't an all-out nuclear strike) get positioned in the soggy compromised middle, for the pseudo-warmongers to define themselves against

this entire mode of self-presentation is in bad faith -- its efficacy (within the imperial court) really depends on full war NOT taking place

8/19/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

sausagely here : obviously to compare mr hoare and mr bolton is as contemptibly trivial an act of moral equivalence as [insert anecdote here]

8/19/2008 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Mordaunt said...

I like the executive summary:

[i]1. For the first time since World War II, democratic Europe is threatened by a hostile power that not only resembles Nazi Germany in terms of its authoritarianism, brutality and expansionism, but in terms of its military power as well.[/i]

That looks suspiciously like coughing to crying wolf for the last seven years, if you ask me.

Is it just me, or given that Marko claims to seriously think that Russia is the second coming of the Fourth Reich, he's getting way too much pleasure out of the prospect. And am I the only one who thinks that identifying plausible successors to Hitler is the Decent equivalent of Christian fundamentalists identifying this weeks public figure as the antichrist.

8/19/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

david remnick in the new yorker:

Inevitably, a number of neoconservative commentators, along with John McCain, have rushed in to analyze this conflict using familiar analogies: the Nazi threat in the late nineteen-thirties; the Soviet invasions of Budapest in 1956 and Prague in 1968. But while Putin’s actions this past week have inspired genuine alarm in Kiev and beyond, such analogies can lead to heedless policy. As the English theologian Bishop Joseph Butler wrote, “Every thing is what it is, and not another thing.” Cartoonish rhetoric only contributes to the dangerous return of what some conservatives seem to crave—the other, the enemy, the us versus them of the Cold War.

8/19/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Attila is at Hertfordshire university now as some kind of research fellow. I guess even Peterhouse didn't need two Decents.

8/19/2008 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

If history is repeating itself Denis McShane is going to be Churchill (sorry Morgoth) which must be a cause of slight unease.

-------

At least Marko is original - also on the H'S'JS website is what appears to be a 1946 Cabinet memo on Britain's place in the world where they've done a find and replace on 'commonwealth' for 'empire' and 'EU' for Europe.

http://www.henryjacksonsociety.org/stories.asp?pageid=49&id=751

8/19/2008 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Somewhat Amused said...

Great post. Marko "The One with the Silly Name" Attila Hoare is definitely one of the more entertaining Decents these days.

Years ago someone should have told him (or perhaps they did) that he needs a long holiday, or a lie down in darkened room; however, these days all those unctuous HJS Executive Summaries keep him up day and night. Poor chap.

8/19/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

I'm sure a 1946 Cabinet memo wouldn't have included phrases like

"if it is to fashion itself into the mould of a central hub with a strong and respected reputation"

8/19/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

The fascist octopus must be turning in its grave!

8/19/2008 03:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

For the first time since World War II, democratic Europe is threatened by a hostile power that not only resembles Nazi Germany in terms of its authoritarianism, brutality and expansionism, but in terms of its military power as well.

Yes, the executive summary is placed at the start of the article, and it contains a peach of a Godwin. Yes, Russia is authoritarian and Putin is sinister, but as far as I know Russia does not use concentration camps, not shovel Jews into furnaces. Nor does it, as far as I know, seek to conquer large swathes of Europe as was the Nazis rather obvious intention.

8/19/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Well, depending on your view of what constitutes a "swathe" and whether Georgia's in Europe ... the general point that Russia is an expansionary, imperialist power and that this is not good news and we ought to have a plan for dealing with it is one of the few points on which I agree with Marko (my main point of disagreement being whether any sensible plan would have anything to do with him and his idiot mates). But you're right - in the past we've allowed the frontier of Soviet control to get halfway across Germany and it sucked but we are still here; this time round it's very obvious that Poland wouldn't be allowed to fall without actual war, and probably not even Ukraine.

But Georgia was specifically refused NATO membership for the precise reason that we're not prepared to fight a war to defend it. Why are Marko, Denis et al acting all surprised about this? It was hardly a secret at the time. Why do they even want Georgia in NATO? If we let Georgia into NATO tomorrow, Putin would still have a go at Abkhazia (because he knows we won't fight a war for Georgia), we would still let him (because we won't fight a war for Georgia) and nothing would have changed except that this silly NATO argument would be exposed as the fig leaf it is.

8/19/2008 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

PS: somewhat worryingly, Dodgy Dave Cameron's proposal to turn the cashmere counter at Harvey Nichols into the Checkpoint Charlie of the new Cold War actually scores rather better than anything the Decent Left has come up with to date - ie, it's an actual proposal rather than an empty bluster, it doesn't (as belle notes about Bolton) depend for its force on its very impossibility and it's neither suicidal nor genocidal.

8/19/2008 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article from Daily Kos has a fairly clear narrative about the expansion of NATO in eastern Europe and the ex-USSR.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/18/2337/96853/939/569608

It tends to confirm my impression: there hasn't been much open and discussion about this issue, it hasn't been debated in Congress or Parliament, there is a lot of bluster, so we don't really know what assumptions are being made or what the objectives are. What would it actually mean if Georgia were a NATO member?

I'm not sure about BruschettaBoy's statement that "Georgia was specifically refused NATO membership for the precise reason that we're not prepared to fight a war to defend it". The article in Daily Kos suggests that there were different interpretations of what was decided at the NATO summit about Georgia and Ukraine. The risk is that this is a lot of infantile posturing, which increases the risk of incidents like the South Ossetia one without a clear assessment of how to deal with them.


Moussaka Masn

8/19/2008 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dodgy Dave Cameron's proposal to turn the cashmere counter at Harvey Nichols into the Checkpoint Charlie of the new Cold War actually scores rather better than anything the Decent Left has come up with to date "

It is a bit ridiculous though.

What about Berezovsky and the various other oligarchs and hangers on who got on the wrong side of Putin and are now living in London? Unless you're proposing an actual travel ban how do you distinguish between good filthy rich Russians and bad ones? And what goods precisely will be banned?

rioja kid

8/19/2008 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

It's brilliant isn't it? I think it might be the perfect postmodern policy - he doesn't even say he would do it, just that we would "have a look" at visa arrangements.

If Isaac Asimov had only lived long enough, he could have made Dave's Russian shopping idea into an entire novel, presumably entitled "The Foundation Finally Gets Fucking Shat On, To The Secret Delight Of All".

8/19/2008 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ, I've just read through the whole thing: brain frying stuff. I suspect the key phrase is "psychologically prepared": the point is to put us into Marko world. Alan NTM Johnson's piece of flatulence the other day was of the same order, as was the more general Decent squawking over Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

My advice on this would be to sound a bit less like someone shouting at a bus stop.

rioja kid

8/19/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and speaking of Berezovsky et al, it occurs to me that an exiled Oligarch could be a very handy source of funding for a jobbing think tank or amll magazina that likes to end words with - iya.

rk

8/19/2008 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Marc Mulholland said...

Isn't comparing Putin to Hitler, using the Eve Garrard Decent-deconstruction technique, an example of holocaust-denial?

8/19/2008 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Depriving oligarchs of their holdings in British football clubs would be an excellent start. Any serious policy ...

8/19/2008 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

if you're "psychologically prepared" for Marko Attila Hoare's version of the implications of Russia/Georgia, you're psychologically prepared for four soft walls and a rubber spoon.

8/19/2008 08:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Somewhat Amused said...

Yes, I wasn't suggesting that Russia is nothing to worry about, nor indeed that it is not expansionary; I was merely pointing out Marko's comparison of Russia with Nazi Germany (and presumably Putin with Hitler) is clearly over the top - indeed absurdly so and it damages his credibility.

8/20/2008 12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to call people you don't like Nazis or compare them to Hitler. NB if this is done *by* people you don't like, this only shows their naivety. Putin = Hitler: good. Bush = Hitler: bad. (Fortunately, there is a word for this, duckspeak. )Coming soon on Harry's Place - we are all Georgians now.

8/20/2008 05:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peterson has written a word or two on South Ossetia, especially this gem (also posted on this thread):

George Bush, Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy should all visit Tbilisi next week. That one action would send a more powerful message to Moscow than any military or diplomatic aid. It would also lead to the immediate end of the conflict. Merely the security needed to ensure their safety would necessitate a ceasefire on the part of Moscow.

Perhaps the reason the Russians are still in Georgia is because Brown's yet to pay a visit.

[redpesto]

8/20/2008 09:05:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

I think most of the tropes are there, are they not? Hitler, Stalin, pulling armies out of your arse, a generous usage of the Decent We, superheated rhetoric that depends for its force on the knowledge that nobody will try to put your crazy plan into action... Scary thing is, if you accept the rules of the Markoverse (a parallel reality that sometimes intersects with our own) it all makes perfect sense.

I don't think our friend has anything to worry about in terms of damaging his credibility. If you find his position crazy, it just proves you aren't Serious, like HP Sauce and the rigorous peer-reviewed Decentiya are Serious.

8/20/2008 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

God yes; I'd forgotten about that and looking at it, I'm not surprised that he's been effectively stripped of his HSJS commission. I note that Sarkozy and Milliband have both blown through Tbilisi in the last week, and their security entourage had but scant effect.

8/20/2008 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

if you accept the rules of the Markoverse (a parallel reality that sometimes intersects with our own)

As has been noted by another family member, though, their time-track has a few subtle differences; Napoleon didn't conquer Moscow and the Second World War started in a very different way - the UK didn't guarantee the borders of Poland and the USA was in it from 1939. Even the best TARDIS-user will have to put up with minor anomalies like this one.

8/20/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Marko is the gift that keeps on giving...

8/20/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

bonus points for use of the Decent equivalent of a triple-word score, "emboldening"!

I love it, by the way; Israel supplies weapons to a hostile neighbour of Russia, and what do those dastardly Russkis do? They supply weapons to a hostile neighbour of Israel! Bastards! Why won't they play fair?

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so frighteningly likely to end in war.[1]

[1] Actually it won't end in war of course; one should always bear in mind that these people really have next to no influence at all, do they?

8/20/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

It must be depressing being Morgoth at the moment. A year ago it was 1938 and he was Churchill, but I fear (to paraphrase the real Churchill) obsessed as he was by the rise of Islamonazis he failed to observe the rise of Russonazis. And now Marko has stepped in and stolen his thunder as the most serious Harry's Placer.

8/20/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Marko and the Decents resemble a chorus of demented Bill Murrays. Every day chimes 1938. I see them in a room standing up one after another 'I'm Winston Churchill', 'I'm Winston Churchill', 'I'm Winston Churchill'.

8/20/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do these people have any influence? - An interesting topic for debate.

I don't know if they do, but I cannot help noticing that MacShane and a good number of important Conservative MPs are members of the Scoopies. Today's "Ratbiter" in Private Eye has some of the usual MacShane talking points. MacShane gets stuff in the Guardian. Kamm is a leader-writer at the Times. Decentiya has a long list of advisory editors including the Gen. Sec. of the Fabians. That is a network of people in some influential places. For people who don't know that Napoleon did occupy a half-abandoned Moscow some of these people may seem like experts and have some influence.

8/20/2008 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Do these people have any influence?

A very interesting question. As noted before in these pages there does seem to be a very large overlap with LFI and CFI. For some reason the Scoopies and Eustonites also contain a very high proportion of Cambridge dons and you get much more establishment than that. Like the neocons in the US I think they represent a significant faction.

8/20/2008 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The scoopies aren't really that significant among Cambridge dons. They've been a bit of a joke within CIS for a while (notwithstanding Simms, who is respected as a European historian while his views on TGISOOT are politely ignored). They do tend to attract careerist current and former MPhil and PhD students though.

AS

8/20/2008 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

Do these people have any influence?

They sure did on Tony Blair, at any rate. Read the following and cower in terror, lest they get their way...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/12/foreignpolicy.iraq

8/20/2008 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Adams said...

Marko is the gift that keeps on giving...

...don't go into the comments...there's mad people there, there is...

8/20/2008 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Good early morning, AW readers: I have been off on holiday in East Anglia (mostly) and away from the internet. I appear to have missed the football discussion (though not Oxford 6 Eastbourne 3) but perhaps I can share with you the problem I have been pondering among the flatlands these past few days.

To wit:

if we use the Desiderata as our moral guide, how should we consider Harry's Place?

i) Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story?

or:

ii) Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.

I seek guidance here.

8/21/2008 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Meanwhile on the subject at hand...

1. I agree strongly with Craig Murray's comments posteed on the thread below:

The answer is not to strengthen NATO. NATO is part of the cause of the problem, not the solution. By encircling and humiliating Russia, not least with new missile systems, NATO has creaated the climate in Russia so favourable to Putin.

I'd add that NATO expansion also involves taking sides in conflicts between language groups such as the one that is central to Ukranian politics. It's a recipe for supporting one side against an essentially identical other side, where right and wrong is in practice determined by whether people are or are not Russian.

2. Does the Decent Tardis have a position on Chechnya? I just wondered if Russia was a crusher of small nations before this month, or whether that particular business was different on the grounds that it was all about the Mozzers.

3. I saw some discussion of the Georgian conflict and the media in threads below. If you're signed up to Sky's ninety million channels you can get an English-language Russia News channel on something like 512. I saw a bit of it last week, telling a slightly different story to the one we were hearing otherwise (and quite likely even more tendentious).

8/21/2008 01:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Amused said...

Marko and the Decents resemble a chorus of demented Bill Murrays. Every day chimes 1938. I see them in a room standing up one after another 'I'm Winston Churchill', 'I'm Winston Churchill', 'I'm Winston Churchill'.

That's very good.

8/21/2008 05:55:00 AM  
Anonymous By Jove said...

Are they influential?

Yes and no. Some hang around important people in the Labour Party like starry eyed school children. I think they think they are influential; in actual fact they are just being sucked up the New Labour vacuum cleaner.

The HJS crowd seem more hardcore; I think they are more of serious outgrowth of US neo-conservativism. Bit more dosh too, I suspect.

8/21/2008 06:01:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I'm not sure of their influence on Blair - a good deal of them are Blairites anyway, and their 'spreading democracy' rhetoric only really became part of Blairite apologia for the war after it had started - lest we forget it was the anti-war protests which turned most of the Decents onto the war. Alan NTM claims the Miliband speech as a victor for Decency, but surely the real victory would be actions to support the words (ie severing ties with Saudi Arabia etc)? Or maybe not, given what Decency actually is.

The Ratbiter piece is slightly better than Cohen's general PE standard (the critique of his 'holocaust denier = neo-nazi' claims rumbles on) but the claim it makes about Cameron's call for Georgia to join NATO immediately as it is an invaded democracy as the view 'in tune with European and world opinion' is really odd - it's the view of certain factions in the US, certainly, but it's not the universal view of European countries, and that's before the 'democracy' claim (in an article which scorns, at length, the Putin regime as a dictatorship)... and Cameron being right is the main foundation for the article.

8/21/2008 08:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"2. Does the Decent Tardis have a position on Chechnya? I just wondered if Russia was a crusher of small nations before this month, or whether that particular business was different on the grounds that it was all about the Mozzers."

I recall some of them lining up with Putin after Beslan and repeating the Russian line that about half the attackers were Arab.

8/21/2008 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Does the Decent Tardis have a position on Chechnya? I just wondered if Russia was a crusher of small nations before this month, or whether that particular business was different on the grounds that it was all about the Mozzers.

Very few people really gave a shit about what was really genocide in Chechnya. The honourable exceptions were the usual suspects such as Amnesty, HRW and a gaggle of principled reporters such as John Sweeney, Isabel Hilton, Nick Paton Walsh (who bizarrely now seems to have made his peace with Putin) and the murdered Anna Politkovskaya. Oh and of course a large number of foreign jihadists.

It is never really mentioned by the Decents. Strange really since the level of atrocities was on a far higher scale than anything in Georgia. Marko, to his credit has spoken up for the Chechens as bizarrely have the all the major neocons (Perle, Abrams, Kristol etc )in the form of 'The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya'

Was this due to a sudden conversion by the neocons to a human rights based agenda or was it due to other grubby geopolitical motives? I'll let you decide...

8/21/2008 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Marko, to his credit has spoken up for the Chechens as bizarrely have the all the major neocons (Perle, Abrams, Kristol etc )in the form of 'The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya'

Not to mention "The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus", at "Freedom House".

8/21/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Adams said...

if we use the Desiderata as our moral guide, how should we consider Harry's Place?

i) Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story?

or:

ii) Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.

Well, there's the question. I've always erred towards (i) because I think that if people's views are worth getting worked up about then they are worth trying to engage with. But then I find myself having to argue that modern Russia is not actually as bad as Nazi Germany (apparently the concentration camps don't count) or worse than the Soviet Union.
There are some people there whom you can have a rational discussion with but they are attracting an increasing number of absolute loons who seem to be able to post the most risible nonsense and get a virtually free ride as long as they are bashing the approved HP targets.

8/21/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Lots of things we probably shouldn't avoid are vexatious to the spirit (reading the news, for one). Still, I think old Des was on to something there. The rule* for me is that if, while I'm reading something, I can actually feel myself getting angry, it's probably a good idea not to leave a comment.

If that's vexation of the spirit, then it really is a good idea to avoid the places where it gathers. Some blogs seem to have Anger The Enemy as their secondary purpose, with the primary purpose being Congratulate Ourselves On How Much This Would Anger The Enemy If Only They Were Reading It. Step into those people's sights and you will, eventually, get riled. Why bother?

*Which obviously I don't actually keep - but then, if you never break a rule it's not so much a rule as a statement of fact.

8/21/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

What's striking about most of the Decent Blogs is just how angry most of them are. HP Sauce (especially Brett), Marko, Nick, the DSPFW, you can almost feel the vitriol through the screen. Many of them are almost reaching Mad Mel levels of moral outrage and disgust.

There is a real danger that some of these individuals could harrumph themselves to death.

If I was there physician I would recommend that they strictly limit their use of the internet and never, ever, ever, read an article by Seamus Milne again.

8/21/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

their obviously. Apologies for the typo.

8/21/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

More striking for me than the level of vexation is the fact that for Serious people they're all so willing to post seemingly off the cuff in the full heat of this anger, with little deliberation or thought.

That results in not only a generally poor standard of writing (HP is especially bad for this, where posts can go on for several thousand words making deeply confusing points) but also a poor standard of written argument.

And as a rule they're all far too proud to ever retract anything they've said. Brett on his dyslexia column was probably the worst at this, where having admitted that he write the piece in a fit of pique, nonetheless refused to accept that this pique might have clouded his judgment and in the comments also refused to acknowledge anything that went against his initial red-faced bluster. Part of that is undoubtedly thanks to the general faux-macho bluster of their heroes like Hitchens and Hoare.

It's essentially pointless to look at the comments there any more. It's full of people who genuinely think that Islam = terrorism, no matter what, and most of the posters are self-confessed right-wingers.

8/21/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a real danger that some of these individuals could harrumph themselves to death.

- I'm so stealing that line: it's perfect.

organic cheeseboard:

It's essentially pointless to look at the comments [on Harry's Place] any more. It's full of people who genuinely think that Islam = terrorism, no matter what, and most of the posters are self-confessed right-wingers.

Why am I not surprised by this, even though I only had a brief taster of the Harryettes back in 2005?

[redpesto]

8/21/2008 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Why am I not surprised by this, even though I only had a brief taster of the Harryettes back in 2005?

much like Cohen, they have alienated most of their original left-wing readers, if they ever actually existed, but because their site is antagonistic towards the 'far left' they have a natural appeal for Tories. But then that's only one of the many, many things the two have in common.

8/21/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

"they are attracting an increasing number of absolute loons who seem to be able to post the most risible nonsense and get a virtually free ride as long as they are bashing the approved HP targets."

I've got to say, I used to try arguing on Harry's Place a few years ago, and they were full of loons like Morgoth and Old Peculiar back then. And then you'd have David T or Gene wading in to pick at non-existent loose threads in the arguments of people who took on the blood-thirsty, the racists, and the genocidalists, while leaving their nauseating crap untouched. The comments boxes really are exercises in bad faith - especially when one of the HP editors decided that, as it was their site, they could edit and change the comments of their commentators. I'm not sure how long this lasted, but I didn't stick around much longer than that - deleting people, even if it just because you disagree with them, fine. But changing what people say, or tolerating spoof postings that assume the name of people you disagree with?

8/21/2008 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I've got to say, I used to try arguing on Harry's Place

Attempting to argue at HP is like trying to teach your cat the benefit of bowling a nice line just outside off stump, in the region that Geoffrey describes as the 'corridor of uncertainty'. In other words its utterly pointless. These people do not understand logic or reason. They have a view and no evidence will shake them from their certainties.

A case in point today on the thread about the MI5 report on terrorism. Clearly this was a serious study which took a lot of time and money and revealed the complex factors underlying paths into radicalisation. The study revealed that many of the sacred tenets of Decentism- that it was primarily about religious ideology or sexual frustration or belief in a promise of 72 virgins was wrong. Did they reconsider their views on the subject or wonder if things might be a bit more complicated than their simple narrative?

What do you think?

HP is primarily a place for people to loudly display their own belligerence and stupidity.

Its the intellectual equivalent of getting your tits out in public.

8/21/2008 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

The cat knows, bubby. The cat already knows.

8/21/2008 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Adams said...

tolerating spoof postings that assume the name of people you disagree with

Yeah, that really pisses me off. Especially when they blame the person whose identity is being assumed.

8/21/2008 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Even Norm who is widely seen as on the saner end of Decency produced an an absolute shocker today in relation to the MI5 report. He takes issue with a single sentence at the end of a Guardian editorial which expresses the opinion, quite reasonably in my view, that the activities of the media and government have made it more difficult for the security services to prevent terrorism.

Apparently this serves to deflect responsibility from where it should be focused, which is on the on the terrorists themselves. This approach to the causality of social events seems so simplistic and just plain silly that it doesn't befit the thinking of a professor in the social sciences. He then compounds his initial faulty reasoning by drawing an absurd analogy with the way newspapers responded to reports of extraordinary rendition and torture.

Is this really the best they can do?

8/21/2008 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger BenSix said...

The recent battles between Gene and the commenters have been fun.

"Is it possible that McCain might be a little.."

"GAAAH, Obamabot!!"

8/21/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Blogger donpaskini said...

Martin Kettle (in an article which would be a bit substandard if it appeared in 'Your View' on Harry's Place, but is in fact his Guardian column) :

"No other state in the contemporary world treats its neighbours' sovereignty with as much cynicism as Russia - and those who are rightly outraged by illegal invasions ought of course to say so. Or have I somehow been watching the Olympics so much that I missed the million-strong anti-war demonstration?"

Because the real lesson from the past few weeks is the never-ending hypocrisy of the Stop the War coalition shown by their failure to devote their campaigning energies to trying to change the foreign policy of the Russian government.

8/22/2008 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger BenSix said...

Oh dear Lord, he's been plagiarising from Richard Littlejohn...

8/22/2008 04:11:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Kettle has a point with:

Hardly anyone - least of all Gordon Brown - articulates clearly and credibly what the Labour party exists to do.

... but the rest of the article is so lazy, especially when he comes from a left background. The conflation of the whole of the left into "socialism" is just trite nonsense. As is the use of "post-socialist" for the world after the Czech invasion. But maybe this is just another case of a personal epiphany causing brain amputation.

And what does he mean by:

In Britain in the 1990s, New Labour began to ask such questions, but not in a sustained way. Too many key, but hard, issues were ruled off the agenda. Yet the mere fact that Labour attempted this task at all led to astonishing electoral dividends. Electoral success, however, meant that the political task was never carried through.

Was the neo-liberal revolution not revolutionary enough? Maybe he sees himself as a latter day Trotsky to Blair's Lenin.

8/22/2008 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think Kettle, like Aaro, has this enormous frustration that many people remain socialists despite everything. There is this strong element to Modernity and its advocates, that it is supposed to be self-evident now that certain ways of doing things are much better than any other ways, that nearly everybody agrees on this and that those who don't are at best relics from a past era. Aaro in particular is cut very much from this cloth.

The business about why-was-there-no-demonstration-about-Russia is made in bad faith since Kettle knows very well that:

(a) from all parts of the political spectrum, people have always tended to demonstrate about what their government is doing rather than others ;

(b) the whole thing happened very quickly, which can't be said of the Iraq invasion. If Bush and Blair had invaded overnight, there would have been no time for demonstrations, as well as no sense that it might actually be possible to stop this one. (This was one reason why the demonstrations grew so large - not because people felt it was the most important cause ever in their life, but because there was a growing sense that this time, it might actually be worth it.)

8/22/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kettle has written this kind of stuff before. He was brought up in a CP household where the dog was called Pollitt (or was it the parrot?) The Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia were major shocks. The whole CP worldview fell apart. This has led to him ending up as a Blairite spin-doctor: he appears to see the Blairite project as the first attempt to define a post-1956 Left. In one of his previous articles he said that the Left hadn't learnt the lessons of 1956, without really saying what those lessons were. However it looks to me as if he (and various people like him) were looking for some other ready-made ideology, and the only one available was neo-liberalism. He seems unaware of all the other currents of left-of-centre thought who didn't see 1956 as a reason for throwing the baby out with the bath-tub.

"In Britain in the 1990s, New Labour began to ask such questions, but not in a sustained way. Too many key, but hard, issues were ruled off the agenda."

I'm not sure what he means by the first bit. I agree with the second bit: New Labour has had a phobia about asking hard questions. The first bit only makes sense if you imagine the rest of the Left as being the CP still stuck in 1956.


Moussaka Man

8/22/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

A sizeable proportion of the left were out on the streets protesting against the Czech invasion of course. Not trying to make a comparison with today's inactivity over Georgia [we live in different times], but it rather puts to bed Kettle's idea of a sudden crisis of the left. Most knew exactly what was happening and were not surprised.

Re "hard questions", I suspect that Kettle is referring to not being neo-liberal enough, echoing Byers and Milburn. How that relates to providing a solution for the left, I've no idea.

There are plenty of hard questions that New Labour ducked, of course. Specifically how to create an independent foreign policy, how to make a case for a more European social democratic economic model, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

8/22/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Kettle has a thing about how we're all* going to be undercut by cheaper and more flexible labour from developing countries and I think by "hard questions" he means what are we going to do about it. I think his answer is "work harder for a lot less" which, when you think about it, may be the sort of analysis which caused his parents to join the Communist Party.

[* well, all except newspaper columnists]

8/22/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Bubby: "This approach to the causality of social events seems so simplistic and just plain silly that it doesn't befit the thinking of a professor in the social sciences." Fortunately, he's not. Hooray for the mandatory retirement age. ;-) I almost wrote an AW post about that. If I didn't know he was Jewish, I'd have sworn he was a Calvinist. It's also interesting that he didn't consider the French Resistance: anti-Nazis who chose political violence. No idea where they'd fit.

And, OMG, he's got Assrocket for the Normblog profile.

8/22/2008 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Gastro: Yet the mere fact that Labour attempted this task at all led to astonishing electoral dividends. (Kettle.) What happened to the theory that the Tories self-destructed? I voted Labour in 1997 (as I had at every previous election - and at no subsequent one), but I thought then that the Tories lost because of sleaze, Black Wednesday, the poll tax and having clearly lost their way (cf the cones hotline, etc). Kettle is being more than a touch revisionist. And is he distancing himself from Blair these days?

It used to be an article of faith with me that all the thoughtful MPs were on the Labour benches. Kettle seems to be implying that they never asked what the party was for or what it should do next. That wasn't how I saw it.

8/22/2008 02:20:00 PM  

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