Sunday, June 14, 2009

post mortem

The Encyclopedia of Decency calls it a day:

Well, that gap in the market is now closed, and in the end it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the horrible personality flaws of Decency's chief players, the woeful failure of the political causes they spun for and the military bloodbaths they wanted.

Harry's Place has long since been called out for the nasty, wingnut toilet that it is, and now even the reasonable posts they put up are so tainted by the lying bullshit the Saucers proliferate that no sane person would take them seriously. Professor Norm spends his evenings grousing and bitching like an aging drag queen; David Aaronovitch can't publish a recipe for beans on toast without attracting four thousand comments calling him a paid mouthpiece for the status quo.

Meanwhile, the Euston Manifesto continues to languish in obscurity and Ollie Kamm's output is recognised as the tepid, right wing bumfluff it is.

Tragedy in the classical hubris/nemesis form has struck HP mentalist David T., who increasingly resembles a late-period Richard Nixon, large scotch in hand, presiding over a party of hateful wingnuts from a darkened Oval Office while feverishly scribbling new names onto his enemies list. Nick Cohen - the only one of them who struck me as being a really unpleasant and probably deranged person - is surely only weeks away from dismissal from The Observer for submitting a column scrawled in his own faeces.


Comrade Flying Rodent, Presente!

While the project as a whole has managed to crater before it even gained much in the way of internal coherence, the progress of the individuals concerned with it still provide valuable sources of amusement.

83 Comments:

Blogger Sangiovese Fellow said...

I loved the Decentpedia, which I found to be one of the smartest and funniest pieces of satire I've ever read online, and delivered against thoroughly deserving targets. Political Decency has been a bloody disaster in every sense of the term and its proponents are now quite rightly becoming objects of public derision, but it is the achievement of effective satire that it can generate laughter and insight out of the worst excesses of human folly. Malky Muscular, I salute you and will miss you!

6/15/2009 02:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

I don't know... as the British political landscape continues to swing to the right, it seems hasty to suggest we've seen the last of a group of columnists who increasingly see it as their job to tell the right what they want to hear. Even Nick's column yesterday, which was as clear an example of hypocrisy and insanity as you could possibly wish for, still got the odd "good1 nik, bringin the truth to the leftomuslimcommifascists" in the comments.

Sky News is increasingly looking like a pilot for a British Fox News to me, and when it becomes such a thing, it'll bring with it its own roster of star British right-wing pundits. Who will they go to, when they want some nominally left-wing useful idiots to launder their most deranged and bigoted opinions? The Decents, of course, who have excellent CVs in this department.

6/15/2009 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Quite.

6/15/2009 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Aaro writes a recipe for beans on toast and thousands of people write comments calling him a tool of the status quo".

This may be true: lots of people recognise the absurdity of Aaro's arguments and recognise that they usually boil down to saying that people who question the status quo are suffering from some kind of strange delusions. What is also true is that there are people who have invested heavily in the status quo, so Aaro's arguments are a very welcome comfort blanket to them. There will always be a market for the kind of stuff Aaro writes defending the status quo, even if it means defending the indefensible, because most people in political parties (or even outside them) find it quite disturbing that The Leader was wrong and that they should have been asking many more questions and saying that they didn't agree.

So I don't think that we've heard the end of Harry's Place or Aaro or Nick or Ollie Kamm or Professor Norm. The absurdities have been exposed, but there will always be a market for absurdities in defence of the status quo: for many people it is too shocking to consider that powerful people were wrong or told lies. The Iraq Inquiry is likely to be an interesting case study in absurd arguments, for example, and our heroes will be on the frontline in promoting them. We cannot stop this kind of rubbish; we can maintain some islands of sanity. For this Decentpedia will be missed.

Guano

6/15/2009 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Who will they go to, when they want some nominally left-wing useful idiots to launder their most deranged and bigoted opinions?

Oliver Kamm already does this job anyway - I've never seen him called up by the press other than to give a cod-left-wing justification for something right-wing.

It's odd just how far Cohen is willing to go in his attempts to leftie-bash mind you. I think he'll be the one to watch closest (at least in terms of just how much he'll be willing to blame on 'teh left') if the Tories get in. I expect a lot of hagiographies of Gove, for example (also bear in mind that one of the hallmarks of Decency is always wanting to win, hence their universal hatred of Gordon Brown who they've decided can take the blame for as Labour defeat - batsignal was in effect just before the resignations started)... A Tory victory might be the making of aaro, who is a different species to the rest of the Decents. Stranger things have happened.

I can see why Decentpedia ended, though, cos there was if anything just too much material, and most of it self-satirizes nowadays anyway (Nick's most recent output reads like Decentpedia almost all the time - stuff like 'committed anti-fascist Hazel Blears'). Harrys Place is now more or less exclusively a bunch of cranks launching cyber-harassment campaigns, too.

6/15/2009 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Don't expect Toube to have to survive entirely on Legal Aid work in the future either.

6/15/2009 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

I think he’s seeing it the wrong way. ‘Decency’ was an effect rather than the cause of wing-nut stupidity. Yes, they may say that invading Iraq was wrong, but the ‘will-you-condemn-athons’ will continue unabated. Decents (or lapsed decents?) will still sabotage any debate by insisting that you are IMPLYING moral equivalence. Sad people will unironically claim they are ‘confronting fascism’ by blogging. And no doubt people who disagree with provoking the Hitler of the moment will be accused of being 'objectively' in their favour.

‘most of it self-satirizes nowadays anyway’

Well, Decentpedia’s ‘Hitler’ article certainly needs updating to mention Adolf’s ‘comprehensive welfare state’ (which sent ‘untermensch’ to be gassed). As Nick is still in paid employment, I don’t think anyone cares as long as he defends the neo-liberal status quo, and I also think that flying rodent is being overly optimistic about Cohen’s lack of career potential.

In fact I'm sure he'll make it in America as well. Maybe that's why he positively reviewed Goldberg's dismal book.

6/15/2009 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

A sad day.

Also I think he's forgetting that Alan NTHS Johnson's new mega-project is out this summer, or did I dream that?

6/15/2009 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Cheers, guys, but I should maybe clarify a bit here.

The Decents (especially the HP/Nick Clown-Shoes-Decent variety) might still get a hearing from Tories and wingnuts, since they're providing near-pornographic material on how the Left is filled with genocidal racists who hate Britain to an eager audience.

We are, however, long since past the point where reasonable people on the left naively attempt to explain that opposing pointless bombing campaigns on Beirut etc. is not inherently fascist in itself. Like I say, I reckon it's a combination of world events and long experience of Decent histrionics that have caused this.

Still, nothing quite gladdens my heart like reading some Decent twat erupting into somebody's blog thread demanding a Condemnathon, or insisting that everyone agree with their latest wheeze because Terrorists Are Bad, only to be sent packing with gales of laughter ringing in their ears.

I've been surprised how often I've seen this recently and, I would say, it's something of a minor victory for actual, Oxford English-style decency.

6/15/2009 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

FR's comments sum up my feeling. The war is not over, but it's still fun to watch the decency implosion.

Enjoy the r'n'r Flying Rodent.

(He said, in an embarrassing combination of military vocabulary).

6/15/2009 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Still, nothing quite gladdens my heart like reading some Decent twat erupting into somebody's blog thread demanding a Condemnathon, or insisting that everyone agree with their latest wheeze because Terrorists Are Bad, only to be sent packing with gales of laughter ringing in their ears.

On which note I'd like to declare this a "safe space" for regular commenter Phil D'Bap, who I think we should try to preserve as one of the last remaining Decents outside captivity. I would even propose that we help him to breed, if this can be done tastefully and at reasonable expense.

Meanwhile, I await Aaro's column tomorrow with bated breath, as he explains to us that it is implausible to believe that the Iranian elections could have been stolen, as this would have to involve thousands of people.

6/15/2009 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Oh, and I think it's only fair to accord kudos to extended AW (IWoD) family member Marko Atilla Hoare, who stood alone amongst his Muscular brethren in actually enjoying a bit of a laugh at his own expense.

Double kudos in fact, since the only time he got a mention was as part of an over-elaborate knob gag.

6/15/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

But it was a very good knob gag.

6/15/2009 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"Meanwhile, I await Aaro's column tomorrow with bated breath..."

The events tonight will be seized by Decency. Aaro will be phoning his copy in and rewriting as we speak.

If anyone missed this, it is of pertinent interest.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/13/iranian-election

6/16/2009 12:13:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

We were sort of right, and sort of wrong, about aaro, who's just discovered Twitter.

We get the usual:

What seems inherently unlikely is that we have just witnessed the greatest fraud in electoral history, and that Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main challenger, actually won.

but of course it's different over there:

Yet the problem for Iran's leaders is that almost no one in the world, and many of their own people, will never believe that now. And they deserve to be thought guilty of stealing an election, with their history of manipulation, bullying, censorship, state violence, candidate-disqualification, torture and signal-jamming. Minors are still executed in Iran, religious minorities are persecuted, journalists can still die in prison and bloggers be prosecuted for anti-state activities. Why accept the Supreme Leader's word on anything?

well yeah. But surely even someone as one-eyed as Aaro can understand the problems with that reasoning in relation to his output on his own govt? yes, it doesn't execute gay people, or persecute religious minorities, but it has a long and well-established track revcord of lying.

It seems that govts are ok to lie but if they are otherwise brutal, that's why we shouldn't believe things they say.

He goes on:

And our post-Bush governments will do exactly nothing about it all.

ah, here we go... you'd think, except Aaro now thinks they're right, and that what we need to do is to sit back and try to keep things in the public eye by printing stuff off twitter in newspapers, because that's worked in burma (even though the ousting of the Junta there is extremely unlikely).

I can't quite work out why Decents all supported intervention in Zimbabwe but seem not to in this instance.

Oh - kerching - but Harry's Place have a piece up accusing one of the muslim groups they hate of 'lyncing' someone, when that person is still very much alive and un-lynched. the behavious of the group isn't supportable, but this is dodgy ground indeed for a site run by a lawyer.

6/16/2009 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

I really don't get the triumphalism. They won. They are still installed across the commentariat, and they've implanted the chip in the Conservative Party through Gove and the PolEx crowd. The Tories will likely be in government, and the movement has a pipeline straight into the shadow cabinet, City Hall, and the policy formation process.

They won.

6/16/2009 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Well, in a way, but they lost the battle over Iraq and how it should be considered, and as that was the ground on which they chose to fight, I think that is of some importance.

6/16/2009 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

the behavious of the group isn't supportable, but this is dodgy ground indeed for a site run by a lawyer.

That's the thing isn't it, even when they are broadly right they just have to be such wankers about it.

6/16/2009 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I like this line from Aaro's piece

but we surely know what the result of his inquiries will be. One or two little glitches, some unnecessary scrutinising of voters' ballot papers in Northern Khorasan, nothing much to see, now move along.

Yes, "nothing much to see, move along". Of course you'd never see our favourite columnist taking this line on any kind of government wrongdoing.

6/16/2009 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody has won. There is a stand-off. The same people are in power. The same people are all over the commentariat. They are still saying similar things. Blair is hovering in the wings and there are quite a lot of people in the Labour Party who look back on his era with nostalgia. (See last week's New Statesman for an article about Blair's appearance at a Parliamentary Committee and the way he was given an easy ride.) Our current crop of politicians seem to think that politics can go on as before. They appear to hope that future big decisions that the UK faces (the economy, climate change, relations with the USA, Europe) can be dealt with in the same way as the Iraq invasion, with a smokescreen of spin.

On the other hand there is a widespread public awareness of how much rubbish we were told about Iraq in the run-up to the invasion. As soon as Brown made his announcement about a private Inquiry into the Iraq invasion, the press was full of criticisms. This is in contrast to 2002, when Blair made some ridiculous assertions and used some very doubtful logic and almost no-one pointed this out.

I don't know what happens next. I don't know how a Conservative government will pan out. It's worth keeping an eye on Boris Johnson: Policy Exchange helped him become Mayor of London but have left him with a host of potential problems and a lot of people watching what he's doing. There's still a lot of Decency about, and the formal political process is pretty broken, but there's a lot of public awareness of the dangers of their simplistic solutions.

Guano

6/16/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

I really don't get the triumphalism. They won.

In the sense that some of them are well placed to provide right wingers with tissue-thin ideological justifications for policies that hawkish Tories would've just bashed ahead and implemented, with or without Decent assistance? Hell, if that's the standard we're judging by, you’re entirely right - they've been racking up triumphant, crushing victories for the past fifteen years, and will continue to do so from their new Tory pulpit. Kamm’s leader in the Times today, saying there’s no need for an inquiry into the Iraq war? Call me sceptical, but I suspect Murdoch could find a pliant Tory who would’ve written the same damn thing.

I’ve always focused on the Decents’ role as concern trolls of mainstream opinion, especially online opinion – hell, I’m an office monkey with a blog myself. I think it’s fair to say that their bullshit – which once infected well-meaning bloggers and commenters of all stripes – now only appeals to wingnuts and Tories. I like to think that David T.’s very brief stint at Liberal Conspiracy, during which time he actually posted some of his least objectionable material, is testament to the level of esteem in which Decency is held by those well-informed enough to know what it is.

I appreciate that hoping for Decency to be reduced to a laughing stock amongst internet loudmouths is a pretty pathetic goal compared to hoping for them to be booted out of prominent government and media positions, but I’ll settle for the former in the short term, because I’ll be damned if I would know what to do about the latter.

It’s impossible to predict what influence this lot will have on the next government – neither Kamm nor Cohen will balk at sucking up to the Tories, although I suspect Aaro might. I think BB once described the Decent/Labour relationship as being a sparrow on top of an elephant, pretending to give directions - I’ve got my fingers crossed that the Cameroons will have them looking back on those days as their golden era of power and privilege.

6/16/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

'Double kudos in fact, since the only time he got a mention was as part of an over-elaborate knob gag.'

It wasn't the only time I got a mention; you also awarded me a couple of prizes here:

http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2009/01/bruschetta-awards-2008-part-one.html

I was hoping to try and win again next year by writing a suitably trolling post, but I guess I won't get the chance now.

Am very sorry Decentpedia has come to an end. There may have been a limited audience that could understand the jokes, but those of us that could, enjoyed them.

6/16/2009 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

I have little time, but can’t resist contributing a few thoughts, which will probably come out as drivel, but anyway.

I think part of the appeal of ‘Decents’ lies in the disorganisation of the ‘liberal left’ and for this reason they will continue to wield influence. Recently there was some debate as to whether someone was being ironic in speaking of Nick as ‘liberal left’, but I think that this just reflects that what’s known as the ‘liberal left’ concludes largely of ignorant op ed writers who have been selected by nepotism, and who largely socialise and discuss politics with people of a very narrow political opinion.

Neo-liberalism consumes almost the entire punditocracy. Whilst people speak of ‘Guardian readers’ and ‘Daily Mail readers’ the difference between these publications are almost entirely cosmetic. Look how both have gullibly accepted all the anti-United Russia propaganda (as in the United Russia party which is rarely mentioned, but personified in ‘Vladimir Putin’, presumably because journalists of all political views evidently have a psychic link to him) and given an easy ride to Saakashvili.

Similarly, whilst I do not scan either significantly, I cannot remember the last time I read an article in the Guardian or The Independent that defended nationalisation of the railways, despite the appalling state of our public transport. The last article I read on a similar note in The Guardian was written by a Tory politician and regular columnist who pointed out that Hitler invested in public works, hinting that railways are best left to the Nazis.

Whilst I regard my views as ‘Liberal Left’, I certainly do not agree with most self-described liberal leftists. I also wish that the ‘liberal left media’ would be stronger in defending civil liberties.

Indeed I think this is going to be an area where decents will rally, given that (as Yahoo states) ‘Tories are to end Big Brother state’ (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20090616/tuk-tories-will-end-big-brother-state-6323e80.html). The truth is somewhat different, but the Tory soundbytes will probably come to mean more than any objective fact.

‘I think it’s fair to say that their bullshit – which once infected well-meaning bloggers and commenters of all stripes – now only appeals to wingnuts and Tories’

It is interesting that you mention bloggers first. Sadly I doubt if this is the case, primarily because there is no real political left to speak of. The wingnuts and Tories are almost as prevalent in the ‘left wing’ papers (Max Hastings, Harry Phibbs, Bruce Anderson, Nick Cohen, Dominic Lawson) as in officially ‘right wing’ papers.

Aside from Steven Poole (who is primarily a book reviewer), I can’t think of many professional ‘left wing’ writers that I actually largely agree with. I read more blog opinion (which tends to be more original, philosophical and interesting) than professional opinion. Whilst decentpedia was often hilarious and superb satire on favoured methods of ‘decent’ rhetoric, the mainstream ‘leftist’ papers did not produce anything comparable, often agreeing with the decent agenda.

Occasionally newspapers do provide excellent primary research and investigative journalism such as the blogosphere could not produce, but generally speaking the leftist newspapers are dying.

Decency is the result of many contradictions in modern politics. Whilst he repudiated many of his decent articles, I think Johann Hari personified decency. A bloke on anti-depressants, living in a secular democracy, obsessed with bombing foreigners to bring them to the happy world of the west. I am reminded of a quote that I can’t be bothered looking up, which I think was by Churchill, along the lines of ‘Western liberal democracy is an awful system but it beats the alternatives’. The tension between an idealised view of secularism and voting rights and the messy reality will always exist in both liberal left and right, and so decents will always have their place.

6/16/2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'As soon as Brown made his announcement about a private Inquiry into the Iraq invasion, the press was full of criticisms. This is in contrast to 2002, when Blair made some ridiculous assertions and used some very doubtful logic and almost no-one pointed this out.'

I think this is more about the difference between Blair and Brown than any real ideological shift.

6/16/2009 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

Largely unrelated (and sorry if I'm clogging the forum on my free-lancer's monster break) but I think this guy's great:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAntiTerrorist

As with many people in this sort of movement he does not want anyone to blindly accept what he says, and I only offer the link as being of potential interest. But I thought this may be relevant:

'Stage Two

Anger. Some are enraged at the one with the new view of reality. They tend to vehemently demonise the people who are actively engaged in seeking truth as a group of tinhats, liberals, crazy people, idiots. They cling to the status quo they have become accustomed to but still, something has shifted in their lives at a molecular level. The new view isn't comfortable, but they find they are no longer at ease with the reality they hate to give up, either. It doesn't feel like home to be there anymore. They now have two choices; stay angry at the people with the new view of reality or move on to feel anger at the people in power.'

I suspect this may be the future of decency: to 'oppose' opponents of civil liberties whilst claiming to support them. Like the American 'libertarians' who see capitalism and the 'small government' Republicans as the friends of civil liberties but mock the 'tin foil hat' brigade.

6/16/2009 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hari failed the great test of Deceny pretty early on. When the facts changed, he changed his mind. He also has a tendency to speak truth to power, rather telling off the powerless in the name of the powerful.

Chris Williams

6/16/2009 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

they won

Well except for Nick, who has surely rendered himself unemployable.

6/16/2009 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Alex is right and wrong. Right in that of course they won - they're the Empire Party, and any victories won over them were always going to be of the Asterix(1) variety rather than the Rebel Alliance. On the other hand, a small village in Gaul does still stand, whereas the specific program of the Decent Left was to make liberal-left politics synonymous with their own brand of interventionism. Realistically, surviving until the next comic book while the bad guy gets his arse chewed by a crocodile was about as well as we could have hoped for, so I say pass the wild boar, strike up Cacofonix's lyre and let's enjoy the small victories we do get, if for no other reason than that we'll go stark raving mad if we don't.

Sortes captcha, btw, is "verses", presumably of the Satanic kind.

(1) Sadly, the usual £5 book token prize for remembering that Oliver Kamm's mum translated Asterix has had to be cancelled this week.

6/16/2009 03:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gregor, I think criticizing somebody for taking anti-depressants after several members of their family died in horrible circumstances is a bit low.

6/16/2009 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Indeed and, sorry Gregor:

"Neo-liberalism consumes almost the entire punditocracy. Whilst people speak of ‘Guardian readers’ and ‘Daily Mail readers’ the difference between these publications are almost entirely cosmetic."

Is incorrect.

But hopefully you were in rant mode there. Though the spirit of what you say is commendable.

6/16/2009 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'Gregor, I think criticizing somebody for taking anti-depressants after several members of their family died in horrible circumstances is a bit low'


I didn't criticise Hari for taking anti-depressants. I was making the point (perhaps rather flippantly) that political movements often have a reductionist view of what makes people happy and how society works.

My views are formed by being bi-cultural. One community is socially conservative, devout and (being honest) rather insular. yet it is full of cheerful, kind, honest and generous people. I am not down on my country, but it does seem by contrast that many of my British friends/ aquaintances are depressed, lonely, guarded and often have fits of anger.

I know which community I prefer, but I don't criticise those who choose otherwise. My main criticism of people like Hari is that they are usually monocultural yet feel loathing for opposing values without having experienced them.

Incidentally, Hari himself offered approximately zilch pity for the Iraqi Christians, even if he mentioned the Sunnis and Shia's, so whilst I am sorry for his relatives and for Hari that he suffered this bereavement, he isn't exactly the most sympathetic figure on earth.

'Indeed and, sorry Gregor:

"Neo-liberalism consumes almost the entire punditocracy. Whilst people speak of ‘Guardian readers’ and ‘Daily Mail readers’ the difference between these publications are almost entirely cosmetic."

Is incorrect.

But hopefully you were in rant mode there. Though the spirit of what you say is commendable.'

Guilty as charged on ranting. But I really do not think that the differences are that great. Neither side really has MUCH to say about the introduction of admiralty law in Britain, the CCTV cameras, the anti-terrorist legislation, the number of children in insanitary housing, or the future of NATO. Yes, these things are mentioned but they are not given the importance they deserve. And as for the abysmal public transport system... only Neil Clark still seems to write about that and he was apparently given the bum;s rush from the Guardian a year ago.

Incidentally, you should look up Guardian articles on social democrat Latin American leaders. They are never called progressives but 'populists' by the 'left wing' paper.

Sadly, Peter Hitchens seems to have been the only other one to notice that the liberal left publications generally showed overwhelming support for the abysmal Saakashvilli. He made a mess of it by saying 'the far left' supported Saakashvilli, which was not true. But I did notice that both The Guardian and The Independent offered very biased takes on the Ossetian conflict.

6/16/2009 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"Guilty as charged on ranting. But I really do not think that the differences are that great. Neither side really has MUCH to say about the introduction of admiralty law in Britain, the CCTV cameras, the anti-terrorist legislation, the number of children in insanitary housing, or the future of NATO".

Depending on the definition of "much to say" on these subjects regards commentary, editorial or otherwise.

But, in the Guardian; Toynbee, Freedland, Milne, Lawson, Eagleton, Monbiot ad infinitum regularly bring up these subjects.

And that is just in the last two weeks.

6/16/2009 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's all gone very quiet on Georgia in general, hasn't it, aside from occasionally 'funny' stories about Eurovision etc.

Gave us a good taster of Dave Cameron's wrongheaded, clumsy, but very decent-friendly foreign policy, mind you...

The media bias was all to do with sources, though, wasn't it? Russia don't really care what the Western media thinks of them, and Georgia manifestly do (hence the millions and millions spent on Washington PR consultants etc - even getting the Govt line perpetuated in Private Eye quite recently). And it was all engineered by Saakashvilli to make it an issue which could dominate the US presidential elections - to make support of Georgia another one of those things that candidates have to outdo each other on (and Decents likewise, not that Misha would care about them really). Didn't quite work out that way but that's not Saakashvilli's fault...

Of course, any relation between the Decent condemnathon on Iranian rigged elections and their support for 'democratically elected' Misha is purely coincidental...

6/17/2009 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'And that is just in the last two weeks.'

Had a look on The Guardian's search engine and found very little about civil law v common law. To be fair, it does seem that they've criticised CCTV, but on the Guardian Unlimited website these articles rarely seem to get much prominence. It seems that David Cameron's German accent is more important at present.

Furthermore, civil liberties seem to have become, very strangely, an excuse for Tory propaganda, and the Guardian thought it worth commissioning the insufferable Ian Dale to perfectly capture this:

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/may/22/hay-festival-liberty-civilisation)

'So it will fall to the Conservatives to implement a radical civil liberties agenda when they get into power. There will be enormous pressure on them to restore freedoms to the individual. They are already committed to axing identity cards and a whole host of intrusive government databases (??), but they need to go further and ensure than innocence before the law is considered a right, not a platitude.'

Strange that Boris Johnson expanded London's CCTV network. Incidentally, is Ian Dale a 'decent'? I remember that the Independent's Openhouse had a link to his blog.

Sometimes I wonder if our commentariat are so ignorant that they confuse David Cameron with Nick Clegg. I'm far from being an unqualified fan of Clegg, but whenever they describe Cameron as the good looking guy who defends civil liberties, I keep wondering if they really mean the jowly, melon-headed Cameron who blusters flatulently without commitment or if they are really thinking of Nick Clegg?

Speaking of Dave C incidentally, I do take my hat of to Hari for being one of the comparatively few journalists to actually look into Cameron's views on economics.

6/17/2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

How can I put this...? The Guardian repeatedly editorialised in favour of renationalising Railtrack in 2000-2002. I think they were the first, in fact.

(Technically, they argued for a massive rights issue of shares, which the State would underwrite, which in the circumstances would have almost inevitably meant it would have ended up with a controlling stake. But duck theory applies here.)

6/17/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'The media bias was all to do with sources, though, wasn't it? Russia don't really care what the Western media thinks of them, and Georgia manifestly do'

Yes, but they met a receptive audience, who believed that a particular brand of 'democracy' was worth fighting and killing for. Just read Garton Ash's mad piece on the subject.

This brings me back to the point I was trying to make earlier, that for many people politics is a religion and they can only see quality of life in political terms. For many people, the Western political system is irrelevant because no one will defend vast swathes of the population.

Whilst it is not of primary relevance, especially to the initial topic, there is an excellent documentary on youtube called 'The Trap' by Adam Curtis. It explains quite well the convergence of left and right in a very narrow view of freedom.

Overall I think that The Guardian has fed into this. Hence their support for 'dissidents' like Berezovsky and Litvinenko.

'Gave us a good taster of Dave Cameron's wrongheaded, clumsy, but very decent-friendly foreign policy, mind you...'

Including supporting the Iraq war, which is not mentioned very often.

6/17/2009 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'How can I put this...? The Guardian repeatedly editorialised in favour of renationalising Railtrack in 2000-2002. I think they were the first, in fact.'

Beginning to feel like the badass vampire in Vampire Circus here. But I typed 'nationalise' and 'railways' into the search engine and only two 2009 results came up. One was tongue in cheek. The other was about Germany.

Of course, different results may come up with different terms, but it seems a good overall indication.

6/17/2009 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gregor, you don't know anythign about Hari.

You say: "My main criticism of people like Hari is that they are usually monocultural yet feel loathing for opposing values without having experienced them."

He lived in Iran for years as a child, and his time living in Britain is spent in brick Lane, in the middle of the Asian community. And as his name suggests, he is the child of an immigrant. Is that monocultural?

Disagree with Hari by all means, I do on many issues, but you are throwing around insults that are either nasty (he takes antidepressants!) or false (he's monocultural).

6/17/2009 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and Gregor, you complain about the reporting on Chavez and other Latin Aemrican leaders, but Hari is one of the very few to defend them repeatedly and passionately, afetr reporting from there. It's one of the reasons I basically like him, even though I disagree with a lot of what he says.

6/17/2009 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

‘you are throwing around insults that are either nasty (he takes antidepressants!)’

How exactly is that ‘nasty’ or an ‘insult’? I think it is an interesting point. Hari rants about the merits of atheism and his contempt for believers, Hitchens rants about the wonders of atheism, yet drinks like fish. Both are keen on killing people to bring other civilisations into line with Anglo-Saxon free market democracy, yet are evidently profoundly unhappy people.

As it is, I am a believer, and yet I regard myself as anti-religious in the sense of people thinking they know all the answers, being morally superior, and letting damaged men set out their agenda and telling people who to kill in the name of progress.

I belong to the most ancient Christian denomination and find it disturbing how ill informed Hari is about Christian history. He does not realise that Christian denominations progressed from apophatic to fundamentalist rather than vice versa. That is because he is religious himself and wants the religious idea of progress stamped on every civilisation. And he’s keen for a similar process to happen in Islam.

‘Oh and Gregor, you complain about the reporting on Chavez and other Latin Aemrican leaders, but Hari is one of the very few to defend them’

I don’t dislike Hari, or deny he has supported some good causes, but find his idealism very dangerous.

‘He lived in Iran for years as a child, and his time living in Britain is spent in brick Lane, in the middle of the Asian community. And as his name suggests, he is the child of an immigrant. Is that monocultural?’

Being honest I know rather little about him. But I don’t see how living amongst people makes you bicultural. If he has anything positive to say about Asian culture, I’ve missed it. I believe he is half-Swiss, but belonging to two Germanic, post-Protestant cultures isn’t exactly my idea of bi-cultural.

6/17/2009 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I wouldn't deny that on the subject of civil liberties there are some odd alliances (maybe too strong a word but can't think of a better one) being built between left and right, but that's because we have a Labour government which has such a poor record on the issue and there are sadly many supposedly on the left who are prepared to defend them on it, and the decents are particularly guilty in this regard.
That's not to say we should trust the Tories to be much better, although I believe them when they say they will scrap ID cards for example, but neither do I think we should just scoff when they make the right noises on the subject.

6/17/2009 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'I wouldn't deny that on the subject of civil liberties there are some odd alliances (maybe too strong a word but can't think of a better one) being built between left and right, but that's because we have a Labour government which has such a poor record on the issue'

Yes, it is strange. It seems that people regarded as very right wing, like Peter Hitchens, are some of the best supporters of civil liberties.

As for 'alliance', I think it is more a case that we have to agree to disagree. Having followed the WTO/ Admiralty Law/ Enabling Act/ Federal Reserve debate for a while I've noticed a lot of these people are on the Ron Paul right.

However, as these people seem to think it's a Promethean blow for freedom to deny life saving operations to those without medical insurance, there are limits to any 'alliance' we liberal lefties could make.

'That's not to say we should trust the Tories to be much better, although I believe them when they say they will scrap ID cards for example, but neither do I think we should just scoff when they make the right noises on the subject.'

But making right noises on the subject is very easy when in opposition. However, as I pointed out, Boris Johnson showed a far from Periclean attitude to freedom when he was actually elected. I don't expect Cameron to be much better.

Personally, I think the ID card thing was doomed from the beginning.

6/17/2009 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

However, as I pointed out, Boris Johnson showed a far from Periclean attitude to freedom when he was actually elected.

Mind you, so did Pericles.

6/17/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

The UK doesn't have a Federal Reserve, admiralty law, or any of this odd gaggle of libertoonian guff you keep going on about.

Anyway, you should have googled.

6/17/2009 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Daniel Finkelstein. Isn't he the obvious model for many Decents who need to becomes Tories to stay close to the new government? Today he brings us the classic:

Fancy that. They want freedom. Just like us. The protests in Iran show the neocons were right.

[Headline, but on his blog, so I assume he wrote it]

6/17/2009 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'The UK doesn't have a Federal Reserve, admiralty law, or any of this odd gaggle of libertoonian guff you keep going on about.'

I never said Britain has a Federal Reserve; however, there has been a move to introduce admiralty Law to replace common law in British courts.

I typed 'renationalise railways' into the Guardian's search engine. Four articles for this year. Four articles for last year. Most just mentioned the idea in passing. Hardly what I'd call a major attachment.

6/17/2009 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

however, there has been a move to introduce admiralty Law to replace common law in British courts.

You might have to be a bit more specific as to what you mean here, as I for one haven't got a clue.



Did Mr Finkelstein provide any examples of Iranians calling on the USA to invade their country?

6/17/2009 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

’You might have to be a bit more specific as to what you mean here, as I for one haven't got a clue.’

Essentially it means replacing the simple system of common law grounded in laws based roughly on the ten commandments with civil law grounded in statutes. It is a very complicated system, and the extent to which these changes have happened is open to debate. As it is, I don’t want/ expect anyone to be convinced by what I say about the law. I’ve reached my conclusion that there is something seriously wrong and strange about British law. I haven’t myself decided the extent or reason. However, I would advise everyone to read about British law and how it’s changing. Using whatever sources you want.

Incidentally, Hari has a new article out today. It is quite good in that it criticises Ahmedinjad (which is easy) but also criticises Israel’s role in destabilising the area. He does not conform to decent regulations on ‘moral equivalence’ by placing ten paragraphs between mention of the two states and four paragraphs of disclaimers afterwards.

However, it has two of his recurring flaws. Firstly, he writes about events without being there, but with overbearing confidence. I know very little about Iran, but Baer did seem correct in pointing out the focus on Middle Class suburban voters, without mentioning the large peasant population of Iran. Secondly, he equates their desire for freedom with western influences, as if they would not have this desire for freedom anyway.

PS Sent m latest assignment off this morning, but drank my usual cafetiere of coffee; I'm not usually this hyperactive.

6/17/2009 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Finkelstein also appears to believe that Mir Hussein Moussavi is in favour of removing the Supreme Leader and turning Iran into a democracy. While this might or might not be true, I would have thought that at least a few words might be said by way of explanation of Moussavi's actual election manifesto.

6/17/2009 03:57:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Gregor,

Funnily enough I was thinking of Peter Hitchens myself. Sure, there is obviously a libertarian element on the right which would have similar views on certain civil liberties issues but pretty unpleasant views on some subjects. To be honest I don't usually have much time for libertarians but sometimes you may find yourself campaigning on a particular issue alongside people you wouldn't normally associate with. The decents seem object to this notion, although it doesn't stop them getting into bed with neocon whackjobs.

6/17/2009 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

However, I would advise everyone to read about British law and how it's changing. Using whatever sources you want.

You couldn't direct us to one or two?

I would have thought that at least a few words might be said by way of explanation of Moussavi's actual election manifesto.

I would have thought the term "reformist" will probably have to suffice for the meantime and we can assume that it means whatever we assume it to mean.

6/17/2009 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'You couldn't direct us to one or two?'

I'd be reluctant to do so because 1) No doubt someone would ask me if I agree with EVERYTHING that they say POINT BY POINT and 2) I don't know enough to 'recommend' anyone.

However, I could offer for your consideration, the antiterrorist (link above) and John Harris (not the journalist).

I'm not going to say what I agree/ disagree with, not endorsing them as a product, just saying that they offer some questions which I've found worth pursuing and which seem accurate.

6/17/2009 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

replacing the simple system of common law grounded in laws based roughly on the ten commandments with civil law grounded in statutes

I work in a Law School, and I don't know what you're on about. Common law has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments; I don't think 'civil law' means what you think it does; and I don't see what any of this has to do with 'admiralty law' (a body of law dealing with what goes on at sea).

Has there been an awful lot of law made in the last 10-12 years? Yes.
Does this suggest a tendency for the government to legislate for specific requirements rather than trusting the judiciary to bring particular behaviours under existing offences, guided by case law? Yes.
Does this transform the English law? No, not really - apart from anything else, all that new law still needs to be interpreted by judges, generally relying on case law.

6/17/2009 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'Funnily enough I was thinking of Peter Hitchens myself.'

Peter Hitchens is also a strong advocate of renationalising railways. Probably even more so than most 'left wing' journalists.

6/17/2009 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Finkelstein also appears to believe he is American.

6/17/2009 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'I work in a Law School, and I don't know what you're on about. Common law has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments'

Isn't it very loosely based on the idea of not harming anyone/ stealing anything? Maybe by legal standards this seems immensely vague, but it does seem a valuable way of looking at it.

'Has there been an awful lot of law made in the last 10-12 years? Yes.
Does this suggest a tendency for the government to legislate for specific requirements rather than trusting the judiciary to bring particular behaviours under existing offences, guided by case law? Yes.
Does this transform the English law? No, not really - apart from anything else, all that new law still needs to be interpreted by judges, generally relying on case law.'

But in the case of terrorist offenses people can be imprisoned without trial. And, frankly, after the Hutton Enquiry I lost any faith in the integrity of the British Legal System and the role of judges.

6/17/2009 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jun/17/barack-obama-iran-protests

Is this another decent working for The Guardian?

6/17/2009 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Full marks, by the way, to the Times website editor who keeps putting that trail in the top right corner with a picture of George Osborne and the words "We, like Labour politicians, have stopped using the 'c' word"

6/17/2009 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

In the actual article, if you can bear to read it, they've deliberately missed the 'n' out of the c-word just to labour the point.

6/17/2009 08:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Isn't it very loosely based on the idea of not harming anyone/ stealing anything?

Moses gave us one Commandment about theft and one about murder. That leaves eight. The common law hasn't got a lot to say about honouring your father and mother or coveting your neighbour's ass.

in the case of terrorist offenses people can be imprisoned without trial.

No, they can't. The European Court of Human Rights was rather precise about this - hence the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

6/17/2009 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"Finkelstein also appears to believe that Mir Hussein Moussavi is in favour of removing the Supreme Leader and turning Iran into a democracy."

It is a complete rerun of the Georgia invasion, only with slightly more wish fulfilment and an overdose of anti-Islam. Even Juan Cole seems to have completely lost perspective. Moussavi is backed by some of the more brutal and corrupt elements of Iranian society (billionare clerics in a commodity economy. Uh-huh). You might describe this as the fightback by the corrupt establishment against the (not terribly successful, but apparently genuine) attempts by Ahmedinijad to do something about the same corruption. Ahmedinijad also seems to be genuinely anti-clerical in the sense he'd like to remove much of their political power. I've heard this described as a fight between the two political blocs in Iran: the militia and the clerics. That sounds right, and much as in Russia, there aren't really any "good" guys.

Tisdall isn't a decent, he's just a mouthpiece for CIA/Foreign Policy types. The man's an idiot.

6/18/2009 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

I disagree on Tisdall - I can't remember ever reading anything of his and thinking it was brilliant but a) he doesn't appear to be a liar, and b) he does at least write about foreign news, which is in dreadfully short supply in the British press at the moment

6/18/2009 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I didn't say he was a liar. I just think he spouts what Foreign Policy/CIA fronts say. Probably because he agrees with it. He's pretty useless if you want to know what's going on, especially as Foreign Policy now have a blog. He has a pretty poor record on spreading propoganda (Iranian guard in Iraq anyone?). In the Iran piece on CiF he's basically approving of a constitutional coup (by an extremely nasty guy), though I don't think he actually realises that's what he's doing.

6/18/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Gregor, (at the risk of rising to transparent bait) as you are the world's leading expert on how the Guardian is the same as the Daily Mail in failing to address ID cards/terrorism and are a bunch of decents etc, you've probably read these already, but if you haven't they are in today's newspaper

Stop and search

ID Cards

US foreign policy and Iran

If not, simply scan them, as you have admitted you do, find something you disagree with and then continue the Gregorian chant.

6/18/2009 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'Gregor, (at the risk of rising to transparent bait) as you are the world's leading expert on how the Guardian is the same as the Daily Mail in failing to address ID cards/terrorism and are a bunch of decents etc, you've probably read these already, but if you haven't they are in today's newspaper'

Yaawn. I never said that they do not discuss these, but they give very little focus. When I scanned the website, the most important item seemed to be the infantile new Sascha Baron Cohen film. The leading article seemed to be one by Bjorn Lomborg.

Just read on yahoo news that Lord Adonis has decided that the British people will be 'best served' by a 'secret' enquiry into the Potter's Bar crash.

Did a search of The Guardian archive on Potter's bar: one article mentioned this in passing in 2009. None in 2008.

Given that it seems likely that this may have been a direct result of the botched privatisation scheme, I'd have thought that a 'left wing' paper may have put some emphasis on this.

6/19/2009 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

What's this then?

6/19/2009 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

Ah, should have searched for Potters Bar without the apostrophe. Still, when I did this search, the results were very far from overwhelming.

6/19/2009 05:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex Higgins said...

Gregor - last time I checked, the Guardian's own web page search engine was rubbish.

You could probably type in 'The Guardian' and get no results.

Better to use Google.

6/19/2009 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex Higgins said...

Here you go, the Guardian's 'Potters' Bar' archive:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/pottersbar

6/19/2009 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

should have searched for Potters Bar without the apostrophe

Indeed. Having grown up in Hertfordshire I guessed your error immediately.

Other than that, "when you're in a hole, stop digging".

6/19/2009 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"Yaawn. I never said that they do not discuss these, but they give very little focus."

So, to summarise, a newspaper you "scan" - your word, you are happy to make sweeping generalizations on, and then when taken to task on this by myself EJH, Phil, Alex etc; merely go to Guardian online put in some concoction of word searches (which in themselves are algorithmically driven and thus inherently "biased") to refute claims made against your "case" and then literally say: "well i typed in rail privatisation and a writer and found nothing"

This is pretty feeble mate.

And I thank you, in a way, for not addressing the vehemence of my last post. Because I edged toward breaking an unwritten law at AW.

But the old adage I always come back to is the know-thine-enemy-before one attacks it. I, personally, have a whole host of problems with the Guardian but your quote "they give very little focus" is erroneous. What exactly do you mean by "focus" anyway? Is this commentary, editorial, news?

If you were more specific, on, say one article. then that would be start. Otherwise the scattergun approach you use is probably unfair on the very real ideas you are genuinely interest in.

6/20/2009 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'This is pretty feeble mate.'

You don't think it is interesting that there are almost no recent articles about renationalising the railways?

Admittedly, I may have gone too far. To its credit the Guardian has been pretty good on the Middle East/ Iraq. But this shows up its domestic weaknesses by contrast.

Whilst I made a bit of a mistake about Potters Bar, I looked up the webpage that Alex linked to, and found that there has been a two year gap between news articles. The one for 2009 did not directly address Lord Adonis's assertion that the 'public interest' would 'best served' by a secret enquiry:
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/21/20090619/tuk-public-rail-crashes-probe-ruled-out-6323e80.html

'What exactly do you mean by "focus" anyway? Is this commentary, editorial, news?'

A bit of everything would be good. I think there could be more comment on the Adonis's recent statement. Incidentally, isn't it so creepy the way he phrased it?

'And I thank you, in a way, for not addressing the vehemence of my last post. '

In a way? I see no reason to be angry with someone I've never met.


'If you were more specific, on, say one article. then that would be start.'

I occasionally do that on my blog and elsewhere, but it's pretty overwhelming. Especially as they've employed Harry Phibbs, whose sole qualification seems to be that he's right wing.

6/22/2009 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"You don't think it is interesting that there are almost no recent articles about renationalising the railways?"

Depends on how you define recent

like here you mean?

6/22/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

The decentpedia was kind of amusing, if quite childish. And it was the same joke over and over again. One might suggest that it had a pretty good run flogging the same dead horse. No matter, though. Most people are capable of taking a joke at their own expense.

I don't recognise the "death" of "decency" (for want of a better word). I don't think the Labour Party is going to stray far from the current moderate orthodoxy in opposition and Blair is still regarded with respect and affection. I would say that what you call "decency" is a perspective much better entrenched in the Labour Party than most strands of identifiably left wing thought.

Whilst I would have thought Decency was necessarily associated with Labour by its very nature (it is wrong, I think, to see it as anything other than a strand of thought on particular issues with a predeliction - though not a requirement - for being heard on the right of the party), I certainly don't see Cameron's Conservatives moving away from an at least ostensibly interventionist foreign policy.

I would go so far as to suggest that on issues like Iran, Georgia and Afghanistan some variety of "Decent" view is the essentially non-ideological "common sense" line espoused by most. It is a mark of some success that Iraq hasn't discredited the general thrust of liberal internationalist ideas. These are, really, the dominant views of our times. The only people who seem to be particularly bothered by this are the BNP, the far left and self-consciously waggish clever-clever types like yourselves. But do carry on.

6/22/2009 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Hmmm. Afghanistan - send the troops in. Georgia - ah, let's have some military exercises but not send the troops in. Iran - let's be careful out there. I think those are three very different responses and ones that show a tendency to shy away from direct interference, let alone invasion. Which is a very big change indeed. Particuarly for those of us who remember all the "Syria is next" stuff after Baghdad fell.

Anyway Ben, how are you? Still shrieking?

6/23/2009 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

(Refers)

6/23/2009 07:10:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

"The only people who seem to be particularly bothered by this are the BNP, the far left and self-consciously waggish clever-clever types like yourselves."
And of course the BBC, the Guardian, the entire dominant liberal media establishment, and every single university social sciences and humanities department in the country, not to mention ladies in floral dresses at literary festivals in middle England.

6/23/2009 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

I don't think shrieking is very fair. Ben's banter has more of an air of stoned, highly condescending complacency with occasional bouts of extreme paranoia. He's also not shy about telling people to fuck off if they happen to get on his wrong side.

I would go so far as to suggest that on issues like Iran, Georgia and Afghanistan some variety of "Decent" view is the essentially non-ideological "common sense" line espoused by most.

I don't know about that. Neither Labour nor the Tories have responded to either the Georgia or Iran situations by turning into loudmouthed, insanely belligerent assholes with no reasonable policy proposals beyond woofing at each other like angry chihuahuas - that's been an entirely Decent project.

No, wait - Decent Left and Neo-Conservative right wingers, but I repeat myself.

6/23/2009 07:52:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

And of course the BBC, the Guardian, the entire dominant liberal media establishment, and every single university social sciences and humanities department in the country, not to mention ladies in floral dresses at literary festivals in middle England.

Indeed it was mildly heartening to watch HIGNFY the other week and hear an (admittedly self-selecting) studio audience burst into spontaneous applause when Hislop was complaining about the difference between UK government policy towards North Korea and Iraq.

6/23/2009 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous shake said...

It is a mark of some success that Iraq hasn't discredited the general thrust of liberal internationalist ideas.

further to EJH above - care to explain what this 'thrust' actually is?

6/23/2009 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I never knew you cared, Rodent. Well, you know chaps. I'm all magnanimity, generally. Helps when your view is the dominant one in your party, I guess. And as a nod in your direction, I'm not one who wouldn't say MAH went perhaps a bit over the top during the whole Georgia thing. Don't think I can bring to mind anyone else who was quite so belligerent though.

Old Nicky Cohen does seem to have some strange talking points these days that exhibit a rather Mail-esque air, of course. But cryogenically freeze him sometime after Pretty Straight Guys and some time before Waiting for the Etonians and he was a good on-message chap.

Anyway, the point is that different levels of belligerence are appropriate in different circumstances. I don't really accept that you are the arbiters of what I think and what people of similar views to me think. I happen to be of the view that I'm reasonably pragmatic. (Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?)

The key point is not you lot stamping up and down on some paper tiger model of "Decency", the key point rather is that democracy-promotion by a full spectrum of possible means and the death of Westphalianism is here to stay. It's been going this way since Rwanda, guys. Get with the Chicago speech programme.

PS - I can never tell whether you lot think you're speaking for the great majority of people in all walks of life against a tiny coterie of twisted Stalinists turned Blairites or whether you think you are the embattled tiny minority valiantly fighting against the vast influence of the government and media manipulating bovine popular opinion? You need to sort the narrative out. Just a thought.

6/23/2009 10:37:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

the key point rather is that democracy-promotion by a full spectrum of possible means and the death of Westphalianism is here to stay. It's been going this way since Rwanda, guys. Get with the Chicago speech programme.


Why are you telling us this? You probably ought to be telling President Obama, whose approach to Iran so far has been entirely shaped by the Aaronovitch Watch Prime Directive.

6/23/2009 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Did we ever get a proper explanation of

But I'm a little more concerned by the authors of Aaronovitch Watch, some of who are connected with a Trot totalitarian (as if there were any other kind of Trot) blog.

I suppose, if you wanted, you could compare "Decents" (the vast majority of whom are well-adjusted moderate members of the Labour Party) with Trots (the vast majority of whom are people with apalling politics and difficult personal circumstances)


in re: who was being referred to, why, and what the bit about "difficult personal circumstances" was all about?

Incidentally...

the key point rather is that democracy-promotion by a full spectrum of possible means

Did I misunderstand the President's recent speech or did he specifically rule out imposing systems on other countries?

6/24/2009 06:53:00 AM  

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