Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thinks, "I have to mention X and I have to mention Y and I have to file my copy in a couple of hours ...."

According to Nick, China is a Stalinist dictatorship akin to the Soviet Union in the Stalin era, using the Olympic Games to con us all into thinking that it has green policies.

(But no-one has been so conned, have they Nick?).

Also, according to Nick, China is a dictatorship that can't actually enforce its commands in the provinces, because local officials are in the pockets of local capitalists.

(Hmm, that doesn't sound like Stalin's Russia.)

And, also according to Nick, the legitimacy of the dictatorship depends on ever rising living standards, green policies would stop growth, and democracy (as far off as ever) is the answer!

(But, hang on Nick, if the people want to get richer, why would they vote for green policies if they had the chance?)

I'm just as keen on democracy and greenery as Nick is, but I can' help feeling that Nick has put as little thought and work into this column as into the last 365 or so. What seems to be happening is that (a) Nick decided he needed to mention Solzhenitsyn and (b) he had to mention the Olympics. The worrying part of the article (as opposed to the merely incompetent part) is the suggestion that India and China, rather than the United States and other already-wealthy countries, are the climate-change baddies.

33 Comments:

Anonymous sorge said...

Quite. There is also the insinuation that anyone visiting Beijing this month must be the equivalent of a fellow traveler admiring a Potemkin village/gulag. Presumably, because the millions of Chinese must be the helpless victims of their wicked government rather than agents in a complex civil society...

What, by the way, is the decentia definition of 'totalitarianism', in these cases? Does it just mean, "too Marxist"?

8/10/2008 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

What an earth is he trying to say? The column really doesn't make any sense and as CC says China's per capita output is still way below that of the West. What is really needed I think is lots of technology transfer so that China is encouraged to adopt technologies- solar, wind, hydro, even nuclear- rather than coal, and especially their coal which is a particularly dirty variety.

I also really bristle at this Stalinist Russia label. I have been to China and its just isn't like Stalinist Russia. There is dissent and there is an increasing openess and willingness to reform. I think twenty five years ago the label was apt but not today. This doesn't mean of course that there aren't some very serious human rights abuses that need rectifying.

But this is all standard Decentism isn't it. There is liberal democracy and there is totalitarianism and not much in between. So Saddam's Iraq is parcelled together with China, Cuba, Iran etc. The fact that they are very different societies with very different human rights records and regimes with varying levels of public legitimacy is completely lost.

8/10/2008 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Aside from the extremely poor analogy (using a work of fiction as your main proof of lefty stupidity is about as solid as using a misinterpretation of the Daily Show as your sole piece of evidence), is Nick genuinely keen on green issues? I can't remember him ever writing anything about climate change/green issues that wasn't a series of criticisms of the green movement.

8/11/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

The last time he wrote about it was to complain that no-one would care about climate change in a recession.

I think Nick is suspicious of the environmental movement as a whole because it appears to be a popular and (now) politically influential movement of the left, which Nick has previously argued doesn't exist any more because we are all postmodern nihilists now. It's also a movement which has focused much of its criticism on the US, which is why it only merited a passing mention in the Euston Manifesto (RIP).

8/11/2008 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

I don't think I've read an environmentalist on China who gave them a free card. Sure you can find environmentalists who will say nice things about particular policies, but that's because not everything China does is (whisper it) b-a-d. I can't be bothered to check the Greenpeace quotes, but I'll guess that given he's quoting single words, that it's massively out of context.

Nick tends to be very negative on environmentalism, because apparently they're all hypocrites and middle class. He's got a real problem with organic food - probably due to the dinner party in his head. Maybe his problem is that global warming may well destroy western civilization, and as such makes TWAT seem rather silly.

Incidentally, what about the tone of that article. The whole thing seemed to be written so that Nick could sigh at the end about how we're all going to die, but nobody seems to care. Such fatalism.

8/11/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about technology transfer: it might be better to say "technical cooperation". China is quite advanced in wind energy, for example, and probably has a lot to teach the West in this area. Technologies like carbon capture are still in their infancy (so the company that wants to build the power station in Kent won't build it if it is forced to instal carbon capture by 2020).

The two most important decisions that China took (about twnty years ago) as part of modernisation were

- make personalised motor transport a pillar of modernisation

- industrialise by producing goods with relatively cheap labour for export to the rest of the world.

These decisions have important environmental implications. I would be interested in reading Nick's considered opinion on these decisions.

Moussaka man

8/11/2008 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick isn't green because Orwell once wrote something nasty about middle class lefties being load of flaky, irrational vegetarians.

As Nick is the modern equivalent of Orwell, he is able to take this thought process and apply it directly to the situation in the early 21st century.

Bingo! Nick now has an oppinion on 'the greens' (same thing innit?) without knowing anything about environmentalism.

Like Orwell, he can also affect solidarity with 'the working class' by slagging off something he thinks they won't understand (see also his classic "hippies? What a load of wankers!" article in the Standard)

8/11/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed the extent to which the Decent riff on yr 'anti-American Hampstead class' is merely a reducio ad absurdum of the first section of Jonathan Freedland's _Bring Home The Revolution_, with, of course, none of the radical meat to that particular argument?

Or is it just me?

Chris Williams

8/11/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

OT, but there doesn't seem to be much Decent comment on the Georgia situation. Kamm has weighed in, but Geras has said nothing and the only comment on HP is some snark about the US being the real villains (because what matters most about the conflict is not the conflict, but what the 'liberal left' are saying about it).

Now, obviously there aren't any Muslims directly involved so there is no clear way of spinning it as a front of TWAT, but one might have thought they would at least have a little bit to say.

8/11/2008 10:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I think the Ossetians are Muslim - or rather, I think Christianity/Islam is one way of articulating and entrenching the Georgian/Ossetian divide, should you want to do that. Which would make the Georgians the good guys, but would also make Putin an ally of teh Muslim Terrors. I think that's the part that doesn't really work, although I dare say Marko's working on it.

8/12/2008 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

HP silence on it is fairly predictable since it's not a genuine 'current affairs' site but pretty much solely run in order to criticise what lefties and muslims are saying (oh and to rant in a sub-Littlejohn fashion about dyslexia and how wonderful secularism is, but then publish, with no criticism from the editors, articles by religious nutjobs).

Kamm's leader in the Times was pretty hysterical yesterday (Russia must be made a pariah), and backs up the 'cold war' approach to Decency, but this from Marko is even more so - the gist is that since Georgia is involved in Iraq, we have to support it:

We should defend Georgia with all the means at our disposal. We should send troops to bolster her. We should threaten Russia with sanctions. Heroic Georgia is fighting our fight; she is defending the freedom and security of democratic Europe.

8/12/2008 08:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most Ossetians are Christian though there is a Muslim minority (says Wikipedia).

Moussaka Man

8/12/2008 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe a giant penny is dropping somewhere. Maybe there is a realisation that Islamic terrorism was the least of our problems. Maybe there is a realisation that there should have been more focus on China - Russia - energy - climate change over the last 7 years. Maybe that is why the some of the Decents are maintaining a decent silence. Or maybe they just haven't been goven any talking points yet.

Moussaka Man

8/12/2008 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Marko is delicious - para 1. says "military action is futile and can achieve nothing" and para 12. says "we must send troops". And it's 1, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?

8/12/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Mordaunt said...

Maybe there is a realisation that Islamic terrorism was the least of our problems. Maybe there is a realisation that there should have been more focus on China - Russia - energy - climate change over the last 7 years.

I wouldn't get my hopes up. It can't be as much fun waging the Sixth Most Important Intellectual Struggle of Our Time.

8/12/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Maybe there is a realisation that Islamic terrorism was the least of our problems. Maybe there is a realisation that there should have been more focus on China - Russia - energy - climate change over the last 7 years.

I doubt this very much. For a start it assumes the ability to weigh evidence and think rationally, not qualities generally associated with Decentism, a cultish movement obsessed with Muslims and the activities of the far left.

On a brighter note there is much fun to be had at HP where in a strange turnaround from the events of July 2006 the notion of proportionality has again become fashionable.

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

Not only that, but they've apparently discovered the geopolitical importance of hydrocarbons pipelines! I mean honestly! Pipelines! Who would start a war over pipelines! Troofers LOLOLOL!

8/12/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Note the take on the Georgia-Russia confliuct in the Times leader (which one can assume was penned by Oliver Kamm, since it's a rehash of stuff he'd written on his blog):

There should rather be one overriding and consistent message given to Moscow, and that is “no blood for oil”.

8/12/2008 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

There should rather be one overriding and consistent message given to Moscow, and that is “no blood for oil”.

Its quite shocking that a intellect as formidable as Oliver's should be reduced to parroting the worst sort of sub-stopper stupidity.

I mean the idea that wars are fought over scarce resources. As if!

8/12/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Btw didn't mean to suggest that I thought the war in Georgia is actually over resources. It isn't IMHO, its more about Russia making an example of Georgia to any other regions with successionist tendencies, and drawing a line in the sand regarding Nato expansion.

I was just quite amused by Oliver's sudden conversion to the realist school of IR when he had been so dismissive of it over Iraq, where resources probably were much more of a factor.

8/12/2008 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what does Ollie actually mean by "no blood for oil"? If he's implying that Russia retaliated strongly against Georgia so as to grab some oil-fields, then I think that he's got it wrong. Russia has got oil and gas, which it exports to Europe: which is why Europe and the USA have few options for leverage against Russia.

Moussaka Man

8/12/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

MM. I think Kamm is referring to the pipeline that crosses Georgia.

8/13/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Malky's reading here, he might like this from Alexandros Petersen:

Russia is a nuclear-armed and increasingly indispensable power. The US and Europe cannot satisfy Georgian calls for material aid against their old cold-war foe. They can, however, take a page out of Moscow's playbook. On his way back from the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, Vladimir Putin stopped in Vladikavkaz, in Russian North Ossetia, to lend his support to the war effort. Standing amid Ossetian refugees and Russian tank columns, the message he sent was that Russia takes Georgia seriously, while many western policymakers are on holiday.

Putin did a lot more than stand 'amid Ossetian refugees and Russian tank columns', but never mind.

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.

Who'd have thunk it - Dubya as a human shield? We can't send bombers but we can drop Gordon Brown from 20,000 feet. And Medvedyev called the dogs off in case wee Nicolas got hurt. Yeah, right.

While this scenario may be unlikely, it is the vein in which western leaders should be thinking. John McCain could revitalise his flagging presidential bid in one fell swoop by standing side by side with Saakashvili, while his competitor relaxes in Hawaii.

Such a sign of solidarity would be an effective, but short-term measure. For the long term, Europe must finally get serious about security in its neighbourhood. South Ossetia is just one among several ominous thawing conflicts, in Georgia's Abkhazia, Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh and Moldova's Transnistria.


I reckon that's a supportand a 'Cough, cough, mumble' with pike and twist.

[respesto]

8/13/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Alexandros Petersen is of course a Jacksonaut - he's responsible for Russia there, which is why Marko hasn't been able to post his "we must send troops!" screed at the Scoop website.

I loved this bit:

That one action would send a more powerful message to Moscow than any military or diplomatic aid )emphasis added

Any? I would imagine that a couple of cruise missiles and a brigade of Marines would send a more powerful message, and since we're in the realm of pure fucking fantasy here, I don't see why he's ruling that out.

8/13/2008 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

STOP THE PRESS. There's been a post at the Euston Manifesto site. It's mainly a roundup and stays clear of any view, but it does link to a joke I've made (but not my version).

8/13/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

apropos of nothing chaps, can anyone think of a reason why the Harry's Place site archives contains nothing between July 2007 and November 2007? I know that they wrote quite a few posts then (including a few absolute screamers).

8/13/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Bob From Brockley: absolutely classic decency, including "red-brown alliance", "stalinophiles", "semi-fascists", and a Godwin violation.

8/13/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Actually Gene just wrote a fairly reasonable post about Georgia on HP, which is a first. Brett on the other hand...

I am amused by the way people bring up Russia's "overreaction". What did they expect? Georgia attacks Russian troops within hours of cynically declaring a ceasefire. Of course Russia is going to hit them hard - anything else would be seen as weakness.

8/13/2008 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, Gastro George, Kamm was referring to the pipeline across Georgia. I should have read Kamm's leader more carefully. My excuse is that I had been distracted by some of the amusing things on Kamm's blog (eg Barbara Amiel writes good newspaper columns - very drole Mr Kamm).

Moussaka Man

8/13/2008 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I am amused by the way people bring up Russia's "overreaction". What did they expect?

Something more in the line of the invasion of Lebanon in 2006, presumably.

8/13/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Bomb Poland and the Ukraine you mean, while claiming to be a a shining light of civilization?

Incidentally I'm not endorsing what Russia is doing, but they don't exactly hide how they do business.

8/14/2008 08:34:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

It's been interesting to see how media-unsavvy the Russians have been, or maybe they really don't care. So we are getting a lot of access bias in the media at the moment. Last night's Newsnight was a case in point. Full of shots of terrified fleeing Georgians - very genuine I'm sure - but not a lot of evidence that the Russians were doing much firing, or were even nearby.

Mind you, even when they had a report from South Ossetia, Maitlis was determined to focus on burning Georgian villages, even though they had been empty for a number of years.

8/14/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

I think the Russians largely don't care.

The Georgians have been astonishingly good at the media game - ranging from placing their arguments in the US media prior to their attack, to their president speaking to the crowd in English and French at a Georgian rally (good for the international press, that). Though its been a pretty pliant media all told. Pretty much every Georgian claim has been bullshit, and yet they still get reported as credible.

8/14/2008 01:58:00 PM  

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