Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nae Haggis For You!

Oh well said, sir! It's not independent to cosy up to the Colonel. We at Aaro Watch call upon Americans to Boycott Scotland! forthwith. (Hat tip: @Glinner.)

One wee (if I may defer to my ethnic heritage) quibble:

The thought is that there is a section of opinion that is, perversely, rather keener on being friends with the likes of Colonel Gaddafi, than it is on nurturing our relations with our main and most important ally.


Get that? It's either Libya or our American friends.

He [Gadaffi] gave up his nuclear and chemical weapons programmes, too, and over the years has been rewarded with handshakes from Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.


Michael Portillo [1] in the Sunday Times - as Matthew commented on the previous post, a very strange article. Funny how that perverse section of opinion which wanted to nurture our relations with Colonel Gadaffi included Tony Blair and a US Secretary of State.

I'll say that I don't really understand the heat this has generated. It seems to be OK for the US to have contracts with Libya (boycott whisky and haggis, fine, but boycott oil? are you nuts?), and it's OK to shake hands with the Colonel, but release a dying man? Och, that's terrible.

To paraphrase Elvis Costello, "It won't make it even, it won't bring [them] back."

[1] For more on the lovely Michael, see Chris Brooke for a refresher on his tact and political acumen back when he had at least some influence.

54 Comments:

Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

Main ally? Surely that's our partners in the EU?

8/25/2009 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

Anyway, it's all over and done with now, so who cares any more?

8/25/2009 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger numeral said...

Dopes. All this pantomime is to hide the fact that the final Lockerbie cover-up is in place. Al-Megrahi has given up his appeal. He will die a convicted man. Closure has been reached.

8/25/2009 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

So, we're famous for something other than a 'dinosaur' that was photographed by someone who then told the world it was a not-very-clever forgery.

Was it David Horowitz who organised that pre-Iraq war spectacle of destroying French wine and cheese? A very mature action whoever it was.

I can just see an enraged mob burning 'hey jimmy' hats and Corries CDs. Then they'd be doing us a favour.

8/25/2009 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Musing over the Guardian web page I note the existence of a CiF piece entitled "the left must face up to Stalin's evil".

I just couldn't persuade my fingers to go click, though I confess I didn't try all that hard.

Actually I admit I lost interest at "the left must".

8/25/2009 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Oh don't be shy Justin. I read it and have immediately cancelled my 'Stalin - an all round decent chap' party that I was having next week.

8/26/2009 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

But which HP Saucer is going to link to the "Stalin was bad and the left must condemn him" piece and commend it for "moral seriousness"?

David T evens
Brownie 3-1
Gene 4-1
11-1 bar

8/26/2009 07:16:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Re CiF, does anybody want to comment on David Edgar's piece and the adjacency between his analysis of some recent "progressives" and Decency.

8/26/2009 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

You know, I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't "face up to Stalin's evil". Oh, I know there are some nutters like the Stalin Society and some elderly Russians with nostalgia for the '40s for some reason, but beyond them? More to the point, most of the British left never had anything to do with Stalinism anyway. Maybe some people in France and Italy where Communism was actually relevant still need to face up to Stalin's evil, but us?

8/26/2009 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

In France its more Mao, isn't it. Mind you the Decents have a problem there in that most of their favourite French "intellectuals" used to be Maoists...

8/26/2009 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

leftist or otherwise, Julie Burchill was aggressively pro-Stalin for years; no doubt she is busy writing her "why i was wrong and rightly feel ashamed" column at this very moment

8/26/2009 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

I think Marsden's article was abysmally sloppy and intellectually lazy rather than 'decent'. He didn't use the word 'I' once.

What I found most curious was that he speaks of 'the left' when he is really writing neo-liberal propaganda for Yushenko; he does not quote one left wing apologist for Stalin but writes a load of nonsense about Russian/ Ukrainian relations using 'Ukraine' and 'Yushenko's corrupt and idiotic regime' as cognates. Yushenko vastly over-estimated the amount of financial support the Ukraine would receive from the West as well as the coherence of his coalition.

Subsequently he has 3/4 % popularity ratings.

As for Stalin, it is very odd that Marsden thinks 'justification' for Stalin can be dismissed so easily. I am no communist and very, very far from being a supporter of Stalin, but there is an argument (not saying I agree) that if he had not industrialised Russia, WWII would have gone the opposite way. Then most Slavic countries could have been exterminated.

As for the 'Holodomir', no-one denies that millions of Ukrainians died during collectivisation, but so did millions of other Soviets. This is partially related to geographical and climatic features of Eastern Europe which has a very delicate ecosystem. However, this was very different from Hitler's extermination policies. Many Ukrainians initially greeted the Nazis but when they discovered how brutal they were, turned against them.

8/26/2009 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

The results of collectivisation (large industrial farms) happened in the US and much of Europe as well. There's an argument that could be made, that the problems with collectivisation were less to do with communism, and more to do with really bad science combined with poor luck.

The thing that tends to be forgotten about Russia, was that it had a very violent and brutal history. Some of the crimes of that period can (not saying they should be) be seen as related to Russian culture/social factors, rather than communism/stalinism per se. Its not as if there was anything terribly new about gulags, secret police, secret trials, or forced modernisation.

8/26/2009 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

In case someone misunderstands that as an apolgia for Stalin it isn't. I just get fed up of the ahistorical/acultural condemnation of Stalin, which conveniently forgets the Tsarist regime that preceeded it.

8/26/2009 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yabbutt, Cian, Tsarist evil was retail whereas Stalinist evil was wholesale. There's a couple of orders of magnitude difference in the bodycounts, so that one doesn't work. You want to contextualise a C20th avoidable famine? - use Bengal.

Me, my only possible defences for Stalin are:

(1) 'WW2': I got _exist_ and to meet my father-in-law, all my grandfathers and great uncles, which would not have been the case without an industrialised USSR.

(2) 'Not as bad as fascism' - Stalinists were evil bastards who killed you and your family if you didn't do as you were told. Nazis, OTOH, killed you and your family whatever you did. And although Stalinism got better, Nazism got worse, and was going to get yet worse. The Allies didn't save most of Europe's Jewish and Roma people, but they did save the Slavic people, who were next on the list. So, although both Nazism and Stalinism were evil and to be opposed, Nazism was the greater evil.

You will note that neither of these defences is predicated on either me or Stalin being 'left'.

Chris Williams

8/26/2009 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yabbutt, Cian, Tsarist evil was retail whereas Stalinist evil was wholesale. There's a couple of orders of magnitude difference in the bodycounts, so that one doesn't work. You want to contextualise a C20th avoidable famine? - use Bengal.

Me, my only possible defences for Stalin are:

(1) 'WW2': I got _exist_ and to meet my father-in-law, all my grandfathers and great uncles, which would not have been the case without an industrialised USSR.

(2) 'Not as bad as fascism' - Stalinists were evil bastards who killed you and your family if you didn't do as you were told. Nazis, OTOH, killed you and your family whatever you did. And although Stalinism got better, Nazism got worse, and was going to get yet worse. The Allies didn't save most of Europe's Jewish and Roma people, but they did save the Slavic people, who were next on the list. So, although both Nazism and Stalinism were evil and to be opposed, Nazism was the greater evil.

You will note that neither of these defences is predicated on either me or Stalin being 'left'.

Chris Williams

8/26/2009 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Tommy Judd said...

Al Megrahi did it. He wasn't alone and he wouldn't have done it without Gaddafi's orders but he still did it. It was indiscriminate so the dead undoubtedly included people who think the best way to combat irrational, religious bigotry and murder is to be nice to islamists. He should have died in jail. Sadly, we missed Gaddafi.

8/26/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Marc Mulholland said...

Most people killed by the Hitler state were done to death quite deliberately, as part of an orchestrated plan of racial-engineering. Quite a few of those killed by the Stalin state - most, probably, if war-making s excluded - died through callous incompetence rather than intent. That, of course, is no defence of Stalinism; in its own terms, quite the contrary.

8/26/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

Gaddafi isn't an Islamist.

8/26/2009 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'I just get fed up of the ahistorical/acultural condemnation of Stalin, which conveniently forgets the Tsarist regime that preceeded it.'

I'd disagree with you Cian. Whilst Tsarist Russia had great faults, only a fraction of the number of people were killed in late Tsarist times there than were killed under Lenin (never mind Stalin). There is a good chapter on this in Black Mass by John Gray.

My own problem with Hitler=Stalin analogies is twofold: they do not take into account Russia's precarious agricultural situation (which is largely why so many people starved to death) and they avoid the very tricky question of what would have happened during WWII without Stalin's program of industrialisation? (the answer is 'who knows?'; maybe Russia could have won, maybe not, but the uncomfortable fact is that they did win after Stalinism)

However, it seems that history is simplified and streamlined in a way that makes it 'decent friendly' so that people can condemn Stalin and Chamberlain without facing the fact that 80% of Nazi casualties were inflicted on the Eastern Front.

Incidentally, a bit OT but I recently watched Katyn. No-one would deny that Wajda is a very gifted film-maker, but it was Polish propaganda. There was no mention of Poland's fascist regime that persecuted Jews and ethnic Germans, helped dismantle Czechoslovakia and foolishly antagonised the USSR. The ethnic Polish leadership of Communist Poland was also ignored. Wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a decent set-text.

8/26/2009 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

"In France its more Mao, isn't it. Mind you the Decents have a problem there in that most of their favourite French "intellectuals" used to be Maoists..."

Well, the Communist Party was the dominant party on the left from perhaps the end of World War Two to the mid-70s and they've even been junior partners in a few governments, so Communism was a mainstream phenomenon there. Many of the Nouveaux Philosophes were once Maoists, but considering how slagging off post-modernism is a key part of the Decent religion, perhaps the most embarrassing thing is that Foucault was one of their biggest influences.

8/26/2009 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Tommy Judd said...

Andrew Bartlett, I know he isn't and your response only serves to prove my wider point.

The enemies of democracy and the Enlightenment - whether they're islamists or deranged oil-rich kleptocratic, arabist, militaro-nationalist cod-maoists - consider us decadent. Why? Because, when the time comes to defend our very recently won freedoms, we're happier nitpicking over things like exactly who helped al-Megrahi rather than keeping him in prison and then seeking out and punishing the rest of his gang.

8/26/2009 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

"The enemies of democracy and the Enlightenment - whether they're islamists or deranged oil-rich kleptocratic, arabist, militaro-nationalist cod-maoists - consider us decadent. Why?"

Er, because they're idiots?

8/26/2009 04:45:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

"The enemies of democracy and the Enlightenment - whether they're islamists or deranged oil-rich kleptocratic, arabist, militaro-nationalist cod-maoists - consider us decadent. Why? Because, when the time comes to defend our very recently won freedoms, we're happier nitpicking over things"

Given that this motley crew of "islamists or deranged oil-rich kleptocratic, arabist, militaro-nationalist cod-maoists" are much of the time locked in conflict with each other - fighting civil wars, insurgencies, assassinating, torturing, murdering and disappearing one another, I kind of doubt that they rub their hands with much glee at the minor flame wars of us decadent westerners on teh internets.

8/26/2009 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The enemies of Democracy and the Enlightenment think us decadent" . . . well, more fool them.

There was this man named Montesqieu. Heard of him? Had something to say about equality before the law. Some bloke called Smith also had some useful things to say about "generosity, humanity, kindness, compassion".

We locate both these people in the tradition called the Enlightenment. Perhaps decents do too, Tommy, but perhaps they are too pig-ignorant to know and too unenlightened to care about their ignorance.

Chris Williams

8/26/2009 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Lysenkoism is what killed an awful lot of people in the Soviet Union. Which wasn't really communism. Mass death by pseudo-science perhaps.

While a lot more died under Stalin than would have died under anyone else, it just tends to be forgotten that a lot of the practices of the Stalinists were not so different from what had gone before. More "efficent" perhaps, but even under the late Tsarist regimes it was still a brutal place. Its hard to separate out the ideologies and practices of the communists from the pre-existing culture. It happened in a place and culture with a history, and to some degree that influenced what resulted.

Mass modernisation of the type that the Soviets carried out always results in deaths, displacement and the rest. Maybe things would have been less bad under a nominally more liberal non-Soviet government, but I suspect the general tendency would have been there. And much of what the Soviets carried out was essentially industrial/economic modernity of the era. Just carried out in a more totalitarian fashion than the dreams of Ford could imagine.

8/26/2009 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

If anyone was considering resurrecting Decentpedia, the phrase "your response only serves to illustrate my wider point" certainly belongs in there.

8/26/2009 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Look I considered the events concerning Flight 103 and the shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher to have been atrocities. I was outraged when Blair shook Gadaffi's hand. But not a peep from David Aaronovitch unless I'm very much mistaken.

Like Alex Massie (not sure how well that link will work in future) and Flying Rodent, I actually believe that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released out of compassion, because I can't see how other, more cynical, goals could have been accomplished.

The think Dave doesn't get is, as John Cole says is, "This is not about the terrorists, it is about us." He was talking about torture: I'm talking about releasing prisoners early because they're dying. I don't believe in a higher authority (as Dave sarcastically alludes to in his first paragraph), but I do believe that we can only go so far in judging other beings. Abdelbaset al-Megrahi did a terrible thing: there's no way that over two hundred deaths can be visited on one body. And nor should we try. We should follow our laws, which recommend gentleness to the dying. There are few pains worse than cancer (if any, I can't think of them). Dante suggested that the gates of hell (not the blue screen of death version, ta all the same, Bill) were inscribed "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here". There's no hope for Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, well unless he's lying or the painkillers are telling him that once he's out of this, he's got seven Tour de France wins to look forward to. I mean, really, cancer is the torture the Inquisition forgot.

There's no way to balance the suffering of the people he murdered with his own suffering, so we have to follow our own humanity and stamp on those atavistic feelings for reprisal (feelings weak, check thesaurus, Ed). We're better than the terrorists. Christ knows what David Aaronovitch was talking out of his arse about. We're not America's ally: they're our ally. If I may defer to David's ethnic heritage, there's an old saying, much beloved of my father, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" Of course, this doesn't apply to America. Remember how they rushed to our aid in WWI, WWII, and the Falklands? Three year delay, two year delay, and, er, special relationship and everything, not at all. Pals you can rely on! To shit on you from a great height.

8/26/2009 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I actually believe that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released out of compassion, because I can't see how other, more cynical, goals could have been accomplished.

Well it avoided an embarrassing appeals case I guess, though it seems unlikely he would have survived to pursue it. The legal case against him was really weak, the forensic evidence has largely been discredited, the main witness was clearly lying while the prosecution suppressed evidence that could have been used in his defence.

8/26/2009 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Actually the appeal could have continued even after his death. In fact I believe it could have continued despite him being released on compassionate grounds (but not if he was released under the prisoner transfer treaty), so I find it odd that he felt it neccessary to drop the appeal in order to help facilitate his release. It does rather suggest that he was told that his request would receive more favourable consideration as a result and that maybe there were, as you suggest, motives other than just compassionate ones for his release.

8/27/2009 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

"I don't believe in a higher authority... but I do believe that we can only go so far in judging other beings."

It's not simply that I think you're wrong and that such a view if popularised is dangerous (which I do on both counts), it's more that I cannot imagine what the qualitative experience of having that mind-set would be like. If you cannot judge without equivocation an individual who murders almost 300 people in cold blood, then I would have to say that there are some strange processes going on there. What a remarkable statement.

8/27/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex Higgins said...

"If anyone was considering resurrecting Decentpedia, the phrase "your response only serves to illustrate my wider point" certainly belongs in there."

Doesn't Jonah Goldberg own the rights to this particular phrase?

8/27/2009 11:33:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

If you cannot judge without equivocation an individual who murders almost 300 people in cold blood, then I would have to say that there are some strange processes going on there.

Well, the first thing is, Ben, that one cannot say without equivocation that he did this, something of which I doubt you are unaware. And the second thing is that to judge without equivocation is not properly to judge at all. There is always room for doubt and for compassion, because that's what separates judgement in a civilised society from rhetoric and vengeance.

I don't doubt - very much - that you can't imagine that, but then again I don't doubt that you think the practice of competitive condemnation is in some respect useful. In my experience and judgement it is not.

8/28/2009 07:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Indeed one cannot. But you will grant that that is essentially irrelevant to the matter at hand. If we could know that he had played a guiding role in the bombing, would your attitude be different? I venture that it would not. You didn't suggest that the requirement for compassion or for lack of judgment was dependent on doubt.

I am not an unkind or uncompassionate person, nor do I believe that what you rather sneeringly describe as "competitive condemnation" is of any relevance one way or another. I do, however, consider the view that kindness and compassion are intrinsically virtuous in all circumstances to be philosophically debilitating. Such a view encourages a lack of moral discrimination, a lack of ability to understand the moral feelings of other beings and acts as a spur to evil behaviour. If all that adds up to what you call a willyoucondemnathon rather than a potted argument for moral reciprocity, then so be it. Feel free to continue occupying the moral high ground.

8/28/2009 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

I mean "know" in a Cartesian sense there, of course - in the sense of being absolutely certain.

We already "know" in a colloquial or Humean sense that he was involved in that the decision of the judicial system and the relevant burden of proof are enough for most people.

8/28/2009 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

The enemies of democracy and the Enlightenment - whether they're islamists or deranged oil-rich kleptocratic, arabist, militaro-nationalist cod-maoists - consider us decadent. Why?

Because that's what they always do.

See Napoleon in 1801 - nation of shopkeepers, nothing like the sturdy peasants of the republic, fold up in a week - Germans in 1914 - they're all overcivilised Händler statt Helden, we have the will to power and therefore we will crush them - again in 1939 - they're all racially degenerate as well as being poofy liberal bourgeois - Japanese in 1941 - the Americans are decadent, miscegenate, liberal and bourgeois - so on and so forth.

As a Decent you should surely remember Ian Buruma writing a whole buke on this topic (Occidentalism).

8/28/2009 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Can I just say that I hate Stalin more than anyone else in history could possibly hate Stalin, ergo I win the dictator-hating contest. Ha ha!

Foxtrot Oscar, suckers!

8/28/2009 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

acts as a spur to evil behaviour

Uh-huh. How does it do that then?

We already "know" in a colloquial or Humean sense that he was involved in that the decision of the judicial system and the relevant burden of proof are enough for most people.

This surely means "although I am well aware that there were grave doubts surrounding this conviction, I will proceed rhetorically as if this were not so".

Compared to which, the moral high ground isn't all that hard to reach.

8/29/2009 03:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Nick's handlers at Standpoint have let him out of his cage - he has a front-cover story (shared with Clive James, but still) about how - yes! - the liberalses are apologists for Islamist misogyny. No doubt this column will "challenge" Standpoint's readership almost as much as it "challenged" Nick to write it, thereby proving that he is a "courageous" journalist.

Prediction: among the liberals who are coddling Islamists, Nick will name Timothy Garton Ash, Conor Foley and an unnamed human rights lawyer he saw eating babies at a recent Islington dinner party. The Fabians are probably too dangerous for the manly liberal to go after, but at least one human rights organisation will have their statements cherrypicked, along with that bastard who cut Nick up on the M25 the other day, his old geography teacher, Justice Eady etc.

With regards to the "why our enemies see us as decadent" issue, there needs to be some catchy way to express this fashionable wingnut/Decent hypocrisy. Basically if you point out that terrorists are using things like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghriab as propaganda - which they are, and worryingly successfully - you are sympathising with violent Islamists, but if you directly endorse, approve of and agree with one of the Islamist core beliefs - that the West is degenerate and immoral - you're just telling it like it is, bringing the truth to the libs, etc.

People need to get called out on this more often, because it's very annoying and I see no evidence that the people who are saying it are intelligent enough to realise the implications of what they're saying.

8/29/2009 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Talking of Nick, as my Eye arrived a couple of days ago (pisspoor cover gag, by the way, not remotely up to their standards) I'd like to repeat my previous prediction that if and when he loses his present employment, he will find a welcome at the Spectator.

8/29/2009 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Mass modernisation of the type that the Soviets carried out always results in deaths

Arthur Scargill spoke in my student union once(actually the SU wa termed a JCR),and mentioned that before the war it had been considered inevitable that men would die in coalmining accidents, but the strength of the unions after nationalisation had meant that this could be made false. I was reminded of this when I heard that 3200 miners died in China last year. Perhaps industrialisation without any workers control is a recipe for mass mortality, but...

"The enemies of democracy and the Enlightenment - whether they're islamists or deranged oil-rich kleptocratic, arabist, militaro-nationalist cod-maoists - consider us decadent. Why?"

Because puritans always think that of non-puritans?

I do, however, consider the view that kindness and compassion are intrinsically virtuous in all circumstances to be philosophically debilitating.

Perhaps you could tell the group in what circumstances they are inappropriate and what you would wish them replaced with.

8/29/2009 11:12:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Just seen the Schwerpunkt article. It really is an incoherent rant even by Nick's standards. Bruno will be gratified to know that our boy does indeed belabour Timothy Wishbone Ash with having once dissed the sainted Ayaan. In fact, he'll see your Wishbone Ash and raise you an Ian Buruma.

8/29/2009 09:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

If we could know that he had played a guiding role in the bombing, would your attitude be different? I venture that it would not.

This is a non-argument. (One with which I'm familiar, from having done some work on the ethics of torture - You say we can't know he did it, well, what if we did know? Wrong answer.)

You or I might know beyond all reasonable doubt that somebody did something, but the public 'we' can't know the facts of any situation with that kind of certainty. Which is why we have a legal system - whose decisions, to take your second point, we both accept and recognise to be fallible. Al-Megrahi is guilty; he may have been wrongly convicted. (Which is pretty much where we all came in, but never mind.)

8/30/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More madness from nasty Nick at Standpoint

http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/2041/full

He doesn't see the funny side of Mock the Week

http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/television-september-09-mock-the-nation-mock-the-week

8/30/2009 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Even better than Nick's piece was this offering from Michael Burleigh. No wishy, washy, liberal, pinko, perderass nation building for our Michael.

Any Western military action should be confined to the stealthy assassination of al-Qaeda's leadership and weapons experts, as has been done to some effect already. This is also cheap. While a projected $65 billion (£40 billion) is about to be frittered away next year hiring a lot of illiterate policemen to stiff Afghan motorists, a mere $80 million (£50 million) buys 800 Hellfire missiles, and $500 million (£300 million) 24 more Reaper drones to launch them.

In some ways you almost have to respect Burleigh's candour. Many people who support the continuing war in Afghanistan skirt over the methods employed including the frequent massacres of large numbers of innocent civilians in drone strikes. At least Burleigh is upfront in his support for such atrocities.

8/31/2009 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"In some ways you almost have to respect Burleigh's candour."

Indeed, at least Burleigh has the stomach for a fight. I can't imagine our Nick ever being as repugnantly vile in one of his columns.Though I suspect he wished he had the balls to be so.

Burleigh's "work" on terrorism is a must read btw if one enjoys really low-brow comedy/books to be masturbated over by the rotary club during a particularly uneventful whist drive.

8/31/2009 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

hiring a lot of illiterate policemen to stiff Afghan motorists

Oh, won't someone think of the motorists!?!

(capcha: tedicar)

9/01/2009 03:23:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Burleigh's enthusiasm for genocide in Sri Lanka should also give Nick pause for thought. Though I doubt it will.

Capcha: stinkie!

9/01/2009 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT - Don't forget to keep up the pressure on Cohen to detail his allegations against Davies or retract them.
Here:
http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/2006

Chris Williams

9/02/2009 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

Meanwhile, Francis Wheen brings out a book about paranoia in the 1970s and Andrew Anthony reviews it, seeing it as a timely bash at conspiracy theories.

He goes on to argue that paranoia is "a solipsistic pathology, bestowing a sense of grandiosity and self-importance". This is a truth that deserves to be universally acknowledged.

orly?

9/06/2009 01:47:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Hold on, I saw the Guardian interview with Wheen where he was talking about the coup plots and all the skulduggery around the Wilson government. I thought Wheen's point was that, no matter about the paranoia, lots of really strange things were going on.

But then, I suppose "conspiracy theory" is the Decent meme du jour. If Wheen's book does turn out to be a "nothing to see here" polemic, I'll be deeply disappointed. On the other hand, I don't have much faith in Clothes For Chaps' reviewing skills, or even basic English comprehension.

9/06/2009 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Perhaps it's missing the point to look for a big answer. After all, it's the need for a totalising pattern, the notion that everything is connected, that is the hallmark of paranoia. As Wheen writes: "A belief in conspiracy as the motive force of history can give you nightmares, but by detecting a grand design in the most random events and thus creating some kind of order from chaos it also offers a solace that others find in religion." He goes on to argue that paranoia is "a solipsistic pathology, bestowing a sense of grandiosity and self-importance". This is a truth that deserves to be universally acknowledged.

I think that counts as a reviewing FAIL in the most serious sense - from the extracts, Wheen seems to be doing exactly what Clothes for Chaps thinks his book is debunking...

This is what I find so funny about the 'conspiracy theory' meme - that thinking 'belief in conspiracy theories' to be some sort of definable, and pathologizable, phenomenon is to indulge in exactly the kind of lazy, all-encompassing theories that one is meant to be opposed to.

It also comes from people who have some very odd conspiratiorial beliefs of thier own, as amply demonstrated by the very embarrassing recent SNP-bashing over the Lockerbie bomber.

I do like the way that Clothes for Chaps says at the end 'if only this book had been a bit less based in fact, and a bit more based on personal reminiscence, ie more like The Fallout, it would have been better'.

Decent 'enlightenment fundamentalist' in expressing a preference for untrustworthy, first-person memiors over historical analysis shocker. Of course that's where Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes in, too...

9/06/2009 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standpoint Node 2006 has just (midday) been pulled, comments and all, about an hour and a half after they told Nick Davies that the offending sentence had been removed. Given that many of the comments drew attention to the potentially libellous accusation by repeating it, I can see that Standpoint had a good reason to pull it, but a 'this thread pulled following complaints by Nick Davies' wouldn't have gone amiss.

Chris Williams

9/07/2009 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

In a vaguely Decent-related area, the current issue of Harpers has an article by Decent bete noire Naomi Klein on Durban II. v interesting, if (typically for her) frustrating at times, and especially so because she punctures the 'Durban I and II were both antisemitic hatefests' meme that did the Normblog/ HP Sauce rounds. Klein argues fairly convincingly that any antisemitism at both was massively overstated and at times evidence for it was fabricated by pro-Israeli pressure groups in order to stop the conference from addressing the 'is Zionism racism' question. And this leads her on to the (I think) more interesting part - that the Obama admin lined up behind this as a cover for non-attendance, in order in part to placate the Israel lobby but more importantly to avoid the true message of Durban - restating that slavery was a 'crime against humanity', which in US law could lead the way to massive reparations lawsuits, the fallout from which probably meaning that Obama would get no second term. so dismissable as a grand conspiracy theory in a sense, but one that stands up to scrutiny.

not accessible unless you subscribe, but still http://harpers.org/archive/2009/09/0082642

9/07/2009 04:04:00 PM  

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