Monday, November 16, 2009

Clothes for chaps?

In the middle of a piece about Belle de Jour revealing her real identity, this:

Among those suspected of being Belle were the journalists Toby Young and Andrew Anthony, the chick-lit author Isabel Wolff and Rowan Pelling, the former editor of the Erotic Review.

Yes, that's Harry's Place idol and occasional Nick C stand-in, Andrew Anthony. I'm not sure how anyone could have thought such a theory plausible, as Belle is quite a good writer.

103 Comments:

Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

aa also had a hagiographic piece on football commentator alan green in obs sport monthly yesterday. Dunno about confronting fascism but green in the past has announced a chinese player coming on with "Number 17, that's the chow mein" and has complained on air that he can't tell black players apart. Aa didn't query any of that despite one of the quotations appearing in a box on the same page...

11/16/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's probably unfair of me to generalise from that, but I think the appearance of the OSM was the point at which I started loathing the Observer. Not least because of the number of pieces which could be filed under the heading "written by somebody whose qualification for being commissioned is that they write about other things and don't know much about sport".

11/16/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

"also suspected of being Belle"

I am not now and have never been Toby Young.

11/16/2009 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Thankfully OSM is getting the heave-ho in the Obs shakedown but it was written for people who don't know anything about sport but like to appear well-informed.
Hence its catch-all terrible style.

11/16/2009 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt McGrattan said...

They could dump all of the Observer supplements except the Music (not really monthly) Monthly and I wouldn't care, but the OMM is one of the ones going ///

11/16/2009 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeesboard said...

Yes, OSM is like that now though it has had good stuff in it in the past - a piece about very deep scuba diving sticks in my mind.

AA's approach to Alan Green was very much in that tradition EJH - Green has his positives but AA seemed happy enough with Green's self-definition as 'controversial' which - when you see what he's on record as saying - is a bit difficult.

I quite like the food mag but only for the recipes; the worst thing about the Obs is the magazine itself which seems to have nothing of interest in it, and anything good is a reprint from the New Yorker.

11/16/2009 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Re Alan Green I distinctly recall (years ago) John Motson, the elder statesman of commentary, saying (when Villa had 8 or 9 black players) "they won't need a change strip soon"

Back on blog, if not back OT, thoughts on NC on Sunday? Struggling to fathom why but there was something insidious about it, despite on the surface, it coming across ok.

11/16/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I thought the ending was a bit off:

you can always spot a phoney Tory thinker when he or she says that they belong to the tradition of Edmund Burke and share his love for the "little platoons" of civil society. For Burke was a Whig, not a Tory

That's not only very smartarsed, but why can't a modern Tory come from the tradition of Burke? The party has changed a fair bit since the late C18th. nick is urely aware of that which rather undermines his attack on other people's intellectual pretensions.

and again all his material seems to come from one source - Harry Fletcher. I think the 'insidious' thing comes rom the tone, which is really OTT. and as for this:

Journalists pray for disasters for the same reason that farmers pray for rain: they bring us a bumper crop of stories. So I hope I am not being blinded by self-interest when I look at prisons and sense an impending crisis.

there's something wrong about that, isn't there?

11/16/2009 04:39:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

OT again, but Oborne's Dispatches on the Israel lobby was really quite good. I think I heard Hirshele's head explode.

11/16/2009 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Yes, credit where it's due - the Dispatches show was good. I fully expected it to look more like that godawful Aaro - No Excuses For Terror show off Channel Five the other year, but it was rational and evidence-based throughout.

11/16/2009 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get the impression that "Dispatches" is a slot on the box waiting to be filled by people with a story to tell. In some cases in the past the people who walked in the door with a story hadn't really done the research. This time it seems to be much more solid. There is also a pamphlet, reproduced on Our Kingdon - Open Democracy.

Guamo

11/17/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Kerching, but the HP Sauce treatment of Laurie Penny has been a real car crash.

Malky Muscular - as always - deals with it best in the Decentpedia.

11/17/2009 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

A bit of a damp squib really. He landed a couple of telling blows - the stats on Conservative membership of CFI (80% of MPs) were an eye-opener but he missed open goals by mostly avoiding the press (Murdoch, Black, Desmond) and not really dealing with the academic research on BBC coverage of IP which is pretty damning. Plus he spent so long on one donor he didn't really get into media harassment, especially via the web which is absolutely central.

11/17/2009 11:30:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Yes, the treatment of Laurie was shocking but predictable. She complains about them running a site full of bullying trolls and ad hominem attacks, and they come straight back with an ad feminam on her, complete with a 170-comment thread full of middle-aged blokes beating up on a young woman.

And the amazing thing is that she still cuts the Saucers far too much slack. At least Sunny Hundal seems to have wakened up to their nature.

11/17/2009 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I wonder how Nick 'I am a true feminist and I love HP Sauce' responded to the treatment of Penny.

I missed the Oborne - am guessing from the above that he didn't go into the DEC issue?

I think the attack on the tories might be the most prudent - it's not like the abour equivalent doesn't have a lot of members, but the Hague flip-flop is pretty embarrassing and this will pre-empt a fair few of the new govt's foreign policy decisions.

Am guessing, too, it didn't go into the Freedland thing of 'supporter of israel is the new 'lots of Jewish friends'...?

11/17/2009 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Hugh said...

Oborne's programme addressed the DEC issue pretty well. I thought it was a really good on the formal Israel lobby institutions(CFI, LFI, Bicom etc).

Do you guys as editors of AW feel that in watching the Decents you're in fact watching the informal Israel lobby? Given the centrality of Israel to Decent writers, the way many of them are connected with the formal lobby, and given that one of the central tenets is to push Britain's policies in a pro-Israel direction, Decency seems to me to constitute an informal wing of the lobby. I mean in the same sense that Marty Peretz, Alan Dershowtiz and Charles Krauthammer are part of America's Israel lobby, whether or not they're formally paid up members of specific institutions. Any views?

11/17/2009 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Do you guys as editors of AW feel that in watching the Decents you're in fact watching the informal Israel lobby?

Can't speak for the Aarowatchers themselves, but I've always thought that the journalistic/blogging Decents' priorities have always gone

1) Poorly planned and executed wars against Evil;
2) Pissweak Third Way Clintonian/Blairite politics
3) Vicious red baiting of everyone to their left.

The Israel stuff always struck me as being as much a means towards 1) and 3) as it was actual Orwell-style transferred nationalism. Although there's plenty of that too.

An informal wing of the lobby

Well, in much the way that the various angry Tories who make up half the commenters at sites like Liberal Conspiracy are part of an informal wing of the Tory party, yes.

The angry Tories don't take orders from Conservative central office, but pick up their bullshit more by osmosis. I don't think Oborne proved there was anything particularly organised about the various right wingnut Israel PR wheezes - it looks more of a collection of individuals pushing at an open door - so I wouldn't make too direct a comparison.

Word capture - Spank. Does this mean I win?

11/17/2009 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Do you guys as editors of AW feel that in watching the Decents you're in fact watching the informal Israel lobby?

We've discussed this on a number of occasions in comments and once or twice in front page posts but it might be time for another go-round. Basically, I think the majority view is that the overlap between Israel-lobby politics and Decency is coincidental rather than fundamental. Some Decents are also Israel-hobbyists, and for some of them their Decency is secondary to their Israel advocacy, but by no means all. We tend to find the roots of Decency in Labour Atlanticism, if you want to look for a displaced nationalist motive. I even (and I don't think this can be considered AW editorial line, in as much as there is one which there isn't) once ventured the view that whenever the actual interests of Israel come up against Decent vanity politics, it's always Israel that gets the shaft.

11/17/2009 05:08:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

It's a bit like the way Decents will say "Taiwan must have its independence" when the Kuomintang has just won a landslide. Reminds me of kids playing Risk.

It's true that there are Israel hobbyists in Decency - as we know, there are also Balkans hobbyists, secularist hobbyists, gay lib hobbyists and so on - but Decency provides them with a sort of overarching Project. Although I would bet that eventually there'll be a hell of a falling out between the Israel Firsters and those Decents for whom Israel is more of a rhetorical prop.

11/17/2009 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Most of them just use it as an 'antisemitism' stick to beat their favourite hate figures with, as far as i can tell - thus they accept the idea that opposing some Israeli policies = obsessive hatred of teh Jews.

Decency is certainly allied to Israel hobbyists and HP Sauce devotes a great deal of space for some fairly rabid ones (including settlers and Lieberman-admirers) to vent their spleen.

11/17/2009 08:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the hounding of Laurie Penny, there's a marvellous example of decent bullying/debating technique in a nutshell by Brownie here:
http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2009/11/shut-up-little-girl-dont-you-know-grown.html
at "16 November 2009 20:47"
I have go at it at the comment from "November 2009 00:32".

Chris Williams

11/18/2009 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I agree with B2 about the 'displaced nationalist motive', but I think the comments so far have overlooked the symbolism involved. Israel is a small country, surrounded by enemies yet has won some of its conflicts (like the Six Day War) spectacularly. Is it really so much of a stretch to see Israel as the bullied kid who fights back? Or going for the reverse, the bully? I really think there's quite a fascination with power and beating people up (it's explicit in the violent imagery in some of the comments) at Harry's Place.

I think that some of the overlap between Atlanticism and pro-Zionism comes from wanting to be on the winning side and from finding the violence of both US and Israeli foreign policy more appealing that the pacifism and realism of the EU. Israel supporters whether David T or Nick Griffin are mensch by proxy. This is their tragedy.

11/18/2009 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Hugh said...

Thanks for your replies. I’m sorry to keep raising this issue, but I don’t agree with you guys on what I think is an important point.

The question is to what extent is Decency’s Atlanticism a function of their pro-Israel sympathies or does the causal relationship run the other way? We’re all agreed that there’s a wing of Decency comprised of Atlanticists first and another wing where Israel is the central concern – and it’s this latter wing which has both the intellectual vitality and the public profile, and I’d include in this Norman Geras, David Toube, Nick Cohen, Dennis Macshane, Anthony Julius, and Martin Bright. In fact, I’d guess that much like America’s neoconservatives it was the Left’s hostility to Israel that pushed many them out. Attitudes to Israel are what differentiates the hardcore Decents from the fellow travelers, who are essentially bandwagon jumping and would be out on their own one issue types if they weren’t part of the movement.

When it comes to their priorities what’s most instructive is the way they hold Israel and the US to two very different standards. I don’t think even the most ardent Decent is an America-right-or-wrong type, certainly the mainstream ones aren't: witness HP’s embarrassment over Abu Ghraib, but defence of far worse atrocities by Israel in Gaza or Lebanon. If their support for Israel was a product of their Atlanticism wouldn’t this be the other way round? Surely, it would be easy for them to surrender the obvious points on Israel?

Moreover, no other issue except Israel engages their passions to the same extent. It’s not just that they hold Israel to a different standard, it’s that there’s a different tone in the writing: the language tends to be much more emotive and their logic unravels.

And on the point Daniel makes here and in the Guardian, I can’t agree that when Israel comes up against Decent/neocon vanity projects, Israel loses. I would argue that the examples cited in the Guardian article – the Armenia genocide bill and the Iraq War – suggest the lobby aligns exactly with Israel’s foreign policy. Yes, the Armenia genocide bill was passed at the committee stage by Congress after the Israel lobby reversed its stance, but crucially this coincided with a major cooling in Israel-Turkey relations, following the AKP government’s new ties with Syria and Iran, and denouncing Israel’s Lebanon war of 2006. It was Israel sending a message to the Turks about the consequences of the AKP’s new foreign policy.

And in the other example over the lobby/neoconservatives promoting the Iraq war in opposition to Israel: the Israeli government was backing, not opposing, the war (PM Sharon, FM Peres, and Barack were all over the US media making the case for war in 2002) and using the lobby to promote it. In fact, it was Israeli leaders’ concern that they were doing too much and could be blamed for the war that led its leaders to cool their rhetoric. While I agree there are at times differences between the lobby’s position and the Israeli government’s, fundamentally both sides believe that they are acting in Israel’s best interests.

11/18/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Might post more later but just to say - I can't agree that for Cohen 'Israel is the central concern'. He is not actually interested in the middle east in the slightest and he is certainly one of those people who uses opposition to Israel as an antisemitism stick to beat those he already dislikes with.

Bright is much the same - had his head swayed by a BICOM-funded trip over there but isn't actually interested in the ME at all.

You can tell the ones who are bothered about it as a pressing concern by their output on it during the latest IDF offensive on Gaza. The ones who truly care (Toube, MacShane, Geras) spend their time rehashing crap from wingnut websites and arguing themselves into corners about 'proportionality' etc; those who don't care say absolutely nothing until after the event when they reduce it to a 'you either support terrorists or Israel' question with a few things they've cobbled together off HP Sauce.

Oh and Anthony Julius might be a Decent pinup but I am not convinced that he even claims to be left-wing.

11/18/2009 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Freshly Squeezed Cynic said...

http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2009/11/shut-up-little-girl-dont-you-know-grown.html?showComment=1258540782669#c2723749905743957226 - Marko Attila Hoare in Harry's Place denunciation shocker!

To be fair, I don't think Hoare has ever actually been a complete mental like the crazies at HP Sauce, just someone who thinks almost all politics can be reduced to the struggle against Serbofascism.

11/18/2009 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Got to agree with Hugh on this one though I think OC is right on NC & MB. You could also look to America where major Decent thinkers like Michael Walzer are also very pro-Israel.

I think pro-Israel ultra-nationalist nutterdom is a sub-set of Decency though a very significant one.

BTW CW like the phrase 'attack muppet'. Did you mint it yourself?

11/18/2009 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

I don't think anybody should necessarily be upset about being called a "silly little girl" by Harry's Place. Maybe it's a term of endearment, meaning she reminds them of all those little girls in Afghanistan they care so passionately about.

11/18/2009 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Attack muppet"? I think I made it up myslf independently, but google reveals I'm Laplace to someone else's Herschel. Morphic resonance, perhaps. SIL.

Marko, Judy and Laurie herself all belong to a group of people who think that there's a lot to admire in the HP political project, but it is vitiated by their style. Ie, there's no necessary connection between the project and the style.

What do we reckon to that? I'm not entirely sure about it* - although there's not always a necessary connection between the way we do politics and the politics that we do, there is sometimes one, and Decency is very big on it.

Chris Williams

*NB - this means "I disagree."

11/18/2009 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Attack muppet"? I think I made it up myslf independently, but google reveals I'm Laplace to someone else's Herschel. Morphic resonance, perhaps. SIL.

Marko, Judy and Laurie herself all belong to a group of people who think that there's a lot to admire in the HP political project, but it is vitiated by their style. Ie, there's no necessary connection between the project and the style.

What do we reckon to that? I'm not entirely sure about it* - although there's not always a necessary connection between the way we do politics and the politics that we do, there is sometimes one, and Decency is very big on it.

Chris Williams

*NB - this means "I disagree."

11/18/2009 04:23:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

I'm in a being nice to Marko mood, so I'll agree that for him, Decency is mostly an issue of robust support for liberal warfare. His fixation is on teh Serbses and he really isn't all that interested in Israel. In fact, his rather eccentric neo-Ottomanism runs counter to HP's Muslim-bashing. So you've seen him attack HP writers for, say, approvingly quoting Julia Gorin, although I think Gorin's Serbophilia worries him much more than her Islamophobia.

The Saucers also have this weird relationship with people like Sunny Hundal and Peter Tatchell, simultaneously love-bombing them while disparaging everything they stand for. So it always amazes me that Sunny or Peter, who are both basically good blokes, would be on such good terms with people who share one or two of their preoccupations, but don't really partake of their politics.

And I'm amazed that Laurie, even after all this abuse, still views them as basically all right but with a nasty style. In this case, as Chris says, the style and the politics go together. It's very much like HP's favourite Trot group, the AWL. I've seen the way they love-bomb people only to get really vicious a little way down the line.

11/18/2009 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

there's not always a necessary connection between the way we do politics and the politics that we do, there is sometimes one

I'd go further & say that I feel I'm getting my political orientation more or less right when it lands me with people whose style I find congenial. (I don't think I'm alone in this.) It generally seems to work - I mean, I don't think I've ever thought "this seems like a nice crowd" and then discovered to my horror that I'd fallen among Tories or deep Greens, or Decents for that matter.

11/18/2009 08:23:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Or, as B2 says, there's no need to be a cunt about it. Say on the issue of Yugoslavia, I know plenty of people who took a very different view from me, but who believed what they did for the right reasons (very important this, you can always be wrong for the right reasons or right for the wrong reasons) and who did so without being a cunt about it. I never had as much of a problem with them as I did with people who were closer to me formally but had a really unpleasant style.

This is where I think Sunny and Peter and Laurie read HP wrong. It's not a site with some interesting articles and a nasty comments box (that's a good description of Dave Osler's blog). The whole point of HP is to be a cunt about it. Saying "Hmm, David has an interesting point here but I don't like the trolls beneath it" really is to miss the point completely.

11/18/2009 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Well indeed.

It's funny, Conor Foley seems to have found out what HP is like really quite recently. I had a discussion just a few weeks ago on Liberal Conspiracy where he was relatively kind about them, but I guess then their comments box opened up on him and he found out different.

I don't really know juch of Laurie, other than liking what little I've read of her stuff, but I'm not really a great Sunny fan, since he's always seemed to me to be one of those people who's keen to play the "quick, let's disaccociate ourselves from the hard left" card in a way I don't always much like. I thought one of the things about the Iraq War was that a lot of people who wouldn't consider themslves that far to the left got the sort of treatment - from generally Decent directions - that had previously been reserved for further left people, in particular the absence of any requirement to treat their views fairly or to distinguish their failure to support a war on somebody from support of that somebody. I think there's perhaps lessons in the art of political discussion to be learned from that.

11/18/2009 09:44:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

See also Sunder Katwala, when Nick picked a fight with the Fabians. Sunder was good at nailing Nick's ass to the wall on the facts, but there was a part of his argument I wasn't so keen on. You could paraphrase it as, "I liked Nick when he was pouring buckets of shit on the SWP, but not when us cuddly Fabians are getting it. I wish he would go back to slagging off the SWP."

The funny thing is that Sunder still had this idea that Nick's polemics against the SWP were good and accurate. You would think Nick's fact-challenged attack on the Fabians would make him think again, but no.

11/18/2009 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

The Saucers also have this weird relationship with people like Sunny Hundal and Peter Tatchell, simultaneously love-bombing them while disparaging everything they stand for. So it always amazes me that Sunny or Peter, who are both basically good blokes, would be on such good terms with people who share one or two of their preoccupations, but don't really partake of their politics.

I think Sunny has irredeemably fallen out with them but you have a point about Tatchell. I think they admire the way he always absolutely refuses to compromise his principles, a trait which is far more admirable in someone who is thereby willing to put himself at some risk than in someone who does so from behind a keyboard.

This is where I think Sunny and Peter and Laurie read HP wrong. It's not a site with some interesting articles and a nasty comments box (that's a good description of Dave Osler's blog). The whole point of HP is to be a cunt about it. Saying "Hmm, David has an interesting point here but I don't like the trolls beneath it" really is to miss the point completely.

11/18/2009 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

oops, forgot to add my comment to the last paragraph...

There are some pieces which I think are perfectly reasonable, usually when they get away from their normal subject matter, but you're absolutely right - there are others when I think "well you probably are basically in the right on this but do you really have to be such a wanker about it."

11/18/2009 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon K said...

I like the bit in the Penny Red comments where Brownie declares that some HP contributors have a public profile and a reputation to protect, and that for this reason they just can't let accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry lie. As if Laurie Penny is the only one who has ever made the suggestion!

I hadn't read anything by 'Marcus' for a number of years until his rejoinder to LP. I'm heartened to learn that he is exactly as stupid as he ever was, and still as given to covering up his own ignorance by ad hominem attacks on his opponents. Back in 2004 he entertained us all by claiming that the Iraq war couldn't be illegal because there was no such thing as international law covering the decision to invade other countries.

11/19/2009 02:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

The funny thing is that Sunder still had this idea that Nick's polemics against the SWP were good and accurate.

Back in the 1980s, Steve Bell did a brilliant piss-take of Anthony King's standard by-election commentary (which invariably involved the words a very bad result for Labour). "You just have to look at the facts," Bell had him saying. "And the facts are that I don't like the Labour Party, I never have liked the Labour Party and I never will like the Labour Party!"

The thing with Sunder is that he hates the Trots, he always has hated the Trots and he always will hate the Trots - and, more to the point, the same applies to all the people he's interested in talking to. Nick hates the Trots, so he's basically OK. (Never mind why he hates them - every detail of what he said could be wrong, he'd still be hating the right people.) It's a bit like that fetish Martin Amis started a bit back for claiming to be "serious" - people like Conor, who post to LibCon but try and get along without throwing buckets of shit on anyone, do seem to be regarded as not quite having got it.

11/19/2009 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

"I think they admire the way he always absolutely refuses to compromise his principles"
Yes, I'm sure that's it, Decents love people who don't compromise their principles. That would be why they admire people like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein so much. I think the point is that Tatchell's "principles" generally coincide with theirs in terms of the demonisation of official enemies.

11/19/2009 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Freshly Squeezed Cynic said...

(very important this, you can always be wrong for the right reasons or right for the wrong reasons)

True, but that can easily be abused if you play a bit of Amateur Motive Psychology, can't it? I mean this is the main reasoning from the Decents about us now that it's clear the War on Iraq was a complete clusterfuck - "Yeah we were wrong, but those hippies were right only because they hateseseses America."

11/19/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

This is an interesting discussion. It had always perplexed me why people like Conor and Peter and Sunny cut HP so much slack though the penny seems have dropped recently for a couple of them. With regards to Tatchell I had always assumed that it was a marriage of convenience based on a common enemy. But it seemed strange that Peter should ally himself with people who hate pretty much everything he stands for - He's a Green FFS- except for his opposition to Islamism.

The rhetorical style really is indicative though of the kinds of people who are dealing with. I don't agree with some of the stuff written on this blog - though there are a couple of posters (Ejh and AA) who I almost always agree with. But even the people I disagree with I don't actually think they're bad people with bad motives.

Its like some left wing people you come across who you think might think are a bit naive about public policy or the economy or foreign policy. You may think they are very wrong about these issues but they have the right motives. They are good at heart essentially.

I really don't feel that way about any of the people connected with Decency. Look at somewhere like HP. Look at the way they way they talk about the use of violence or just they way they talk about people. Putting people's personal details on the net and encouraging wingnuts to go after them. Trying to get people sacked. The disgraceful smear job they did on Mehdi Hasan. All this is indicative of people who are really quite unpleasant.

To be honest though when I read a lot of the stuff written by Aaro I feel the same way. When I see a wealthy journalist on a six figure salary calling social workers and teachers greedy, or castigating union leaders as being primitive for wanting to protect their members terms and conditions it makes me think that person is a shit. It reminded me a lot of the brass neck exhibited by 300K/annum Charles Moore when he criticised the firemen for asking for 30K.

11/19/2009 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

"Back in 2004 he entertained us all by claiming that the Iraq war couldn't be illegal"

Ah, the "International Law Wars", in which as Dan says here (http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com/2005/06/around-rugged-blogs-ragged-rascal-ran.html) ended with the AG of all people turning up as our key witness and winning the day. Shame its been deleted.

11/19/2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Marko, Judy and Laurie herself all belong to a group of people who think that there's a lot to admire in the HP political project, but it is vitiated by their style. Ie, there's no necessary connection between the project and the style

With respect to MAH and Judy I disagree with this; they happened not to agree with the particular target in this case, but their style is absolutely the same.

11/19/2009 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

In response to Splintered Sunrise's comment above about the 'Serbses', I think we can both agree that the difference between us is that I support Serbian anti-nationalists and human-rights activists like Sonja Biserko, whom SS hates as 'stooges of imperialism'. Conversely, SS looks favourably upon Serbian BNP-types like Tomislav Nikolic, whom I view as fascists.

11/19/2009 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

With respect to MAH and Judy I disagree with this; they happened not to agree with the particular target in this case, but their style is absolutely the same.

Probably true, but my admiration for Judy has increased somewhat over the way she has taken them to task over the last few days both over their treatment of LP and also the general level of misogyny which pervades the site. It's something which maybe hasn't drawn enough attention but she's absolutely right - of course they can be nasty to anyone but when its a woman it always seems to be particularly bad. Some of the abuse that Lauren Booth for example has received has been absolutely vile.

11/19/2009 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Hugh said...

OC, Nick Cohen and Martin Bright aren’t as good examples as others I could have mentioned, but even so when you start looking at where they’re coming from Israel looms large. True, neither Cohen nor Bright write about Israel at every turn, but Cohen sat on the advisory board of ‘Just Journalism’, an Israel hasbara organisation which as such can be considered a formal part of the lobby. And I doubt you get appointed the JC’s political editor by Stephen Pollard without having the right tone about Israel and its importance. Common to all Decents, Cohen and Bright have talked endlessly about their own personal political journeys and "Left anti-Semitism" – which in reality means criticism of Israel or the lobby - has been key to their split with the Left. If the core Decents are primarily Atlanticists how many of them have explained their own alienation from the Left primarily in terms of the Left’s anti-Americanism?

11/19/2009 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

An excellent comment by Simon K. at my place... Reading HP is a bit like reading the New Musical Express in the 1990s. Lots of well educated middle class people accusing other well educated middle class people of being well educated and middle class.

Can't disagree with a word of this - I have no idea whether the music weeklies' writers and readers were representative of the most tedious breed of '90s leftier-that-thou bores, or whether that stuff was par for the course at the time. It's also only fair to note that the NME was the first major left wing publication I can recall crying bullshit on New Labour, but at that time I was 19 and would've regarded reading even the Scotsman as a sign of high pretension. At that age, I only watched the news for the football highlights, so I'm not qualified to comment - this is also why I don't have much to say about the Balkan wars.

Mind you, NME readers used to have some huge and really vicious letters page flamewars about Morrissey, years before flaming was invented, and years after Morrissey ceased to be of any interest to man or beast. Coincidence? I think we should be told.

11/19/2009 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Staying in the corner on this one.

Isn't the problem that, however distasteful it is, the Israel/Palestine problem is a political playground by which one is either judged or witnessed to one's sword being drawn.

And I don't mean politicians, but rather those struggling with Decency ethics. If you zoom out for a second this blog is essentially about accountability, hypocrisy, a vague grappling with left wing ideas etc. That's why I come here.

The taking to task of HP is a very long game and why should we be bogged down in it?

I know where I stand on the IDF. I know where I stand on Hamas. But we rarely discuss these things because we appear to be brave enough to fight the temptation of occlusion.

11/19/2009 10:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's unfair to say "Tatchell's "principles" generally coincide with theirs in terms of the demonisation of official enemies."

Tatchell tried to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes. He recently said the Prime Minister of Israel should be arrested. It's true he also opposes Muslims who call for the killing of gay people, but that is because he has, you know, a principled opposition to the killing of gay people. No decent, he.

11/20/2009 01:26:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

We've done a couple of posts on Tatch; intrinsically he is a good guy, but where he reaches his point of tangency with the Decent Left is that he, like them, is very fond of scolding an unnamed "The Left" for not immediately dropping whatever they were doing and focusing on the matter of most immediate concern to him.

11/20/2009 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Thnking of Tatchell beating up on "the Left", what happened to the Unite Against Terror website? ("Today, the pseudo-left reveals its shameless hypocrisy and its wholesale abandonment of humanitarian values", usw) Did it go down with the rest of the Alan "NTM" Johnson online operation?

11/20/2009 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I think they had the domain name for 2 years after July 05, then renewed it for 2 more, and then let it lapse.

It's a shame because it means we don't have a full record of the wonderful attempt Pollard, Cohen, Tatchell et al made to unite in the face of the terror (presumably egged on by NTM)

Here's a summary (http://www.matthewturner.co.uk/Blog/2007/08/two-years-since-unite-against-terror.html). But note as I say in that piece I did ask Peter Tatchell about his, and he had the decency and lack of Decency to apologise and say he regretted it.

11/20/2009 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Happily, it is all preserved for posterity in the Wayback Machine, and I have just had the pleasure of re-reading Stephen Pollard's contribution: "The Guardianista fellow-travellers of terror, who stress its supposed causes, are the useful idiots of the Islamofascists", ect ect.

11/20/2009 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

UAT is pretty instructive, isn't it - it sets the tone for pretty much everything its signatories have done since then.

Witness David Toube's recent posts on Iran, where in the same sentence in which he claims that events over there leave him 'close to tears', he goes on to... make fun of Seumas Milne's name (which is, itself, something pretty close to racism - Seumas is after all a traditional Scottish name and if someone did something similar with a name like Moshe or Shlomo HP Sauce would have a field day).

I still can't quite work out how these people expect to be taken seriously by anyone when their campaigns are so obviously petty and vindictive. Too much of Decent output in general - even when it appears in print as opposed to online - seems to have been written in a state of genuine anger, and that's never a good thing.

On Tatchell - the regret is all well and good, but it'd be better if the people involved actually stood back and thought about what they are saying. Problem with Decency in general is that it is largely an Internet phenomenon, with the result that people sit in cul-de-sacs where their opinions aren't really tested properly because everyone agrees.

That's a difference from this site, I think, but I'm sure others see it differently.

11/20/2009 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The younger son of the former BBC Director General Alasdair Milne, he attended Winchester College and read PPE at Balliol College, Oxford."
Yes, anti-Scottish racism would be about right. PD'B

11/20/2009 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I don't get it - making fun of Scottish spellings of names is dodgy in and of itself, whatever a person's educational background might be.

11/20/2009 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Freshly Squeezed Cynic said...

Exactly. PD'B makes a snarky non-sequitur, falls flat on arse. I give him marks for trying, though!

As an aside, I hadn't realised Seumas was Alastair Milne's son. I have a soft spot for Alastair, as he comes across reasonably well in the book I read about the Thatcher and Major Government's relationship with the BBC, Fuzzy Monsters: Fear And Loathing At The BBC. The section about his forced resignation was simply heartbreaking.

11/20/2009 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Anybody see Tatchell's article on CIF today which has now been reproduced at HP Sauce.

It really crystalised for me why there is an affinity between Peter and Decency despite their obvious points of divergence.

Whilst Peter's arguments against Sharia Law are pretty unimpeachable he avoids the difficult fact that support for Sharia Law or aspects of it are pretty strong (even amongst women) in a lot of Islamic countries.

The reason I think that this links in with Decency is that both belief systems tend to view cultures as much more malleable than they are in reality. Its all very well wanting to see democracy or respect for gay people established in conservative islamic societies but I am suspicious about whether this can be achieved from outside or that finger wagging from Western liberals is really likely to make much difference. I hope I'm wrong.

11/20/2009 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

If AA/CfC had been Belle de Jour, just imagine how Denis MacShane would have reacted. (Here's MacShane on Newsnight talking about prostitutes and slagging off BdJ. Unfortunately for him, his figures appear to have been made up by the Mirror.)

The problem with talking about Sharia Law is that there's not only Sharia Law as it's adapted into civil law in the West (where it's simply the basis for agreed contracts; and this is no more controversial than religious no-interest bank accounts), which I suspect Peter Tatchell is against, but also the full-on head-chopping criminal law side which is in no danger of being adopted in the West, but which is quite probably popular among the sort of people who would read the Mail. While I agree with Peter Tatchell that there are many ugly prejudices in Arabic nations, most of those prejudices exist here too, and I really only believe in pleading for clemency, rather than trying to change the legal system or basis of government in other countries. I don't think there's any choice but to hope that they evolve as we have.

11/20/2009 05:21:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

While I agree with Peter Tatchell that there are many ugly prejudices in Arabic nations, most of those prejudices exist here too

Careful old boy you are likely to be accused of slipping dangerously close to moral relavitism :)

11/20/2009 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

I support Serbian anti-nationalists and human-rights activists like Sonja Biserko, whom SS hates as 'stooges of imperialism'.

Serbian, eh? Funny thing is, Sonja Biserko keeps her biographical details well hidden. A wiki page lists her as Croatian, whereas a poster on some forum claims that:

her brother was a member of Croatian troops, so called "Zbor narodne garde" and was killed in fight with Krajina Serbs.

The same poster also has it that Biserko held positions in the cabinet of Budimir Loncar.

Is any of this true, Marko? You seem to know her quite well, so perhaps you could put us straight on this.

11/20/2009 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Frunobulax reveals his true colours; he's attempting to discredit Sonja Biserko, the brave Serbian human-rights activist, by suggesting that she isn't 'really' Serbian. He's explaining away her human-rights advocacy by painting her as an ethnically impure element in Serbia. He obviously believes that any Serbian person who opposes their regime's human-rights abuses must have an ethnically dubious background.

He is the successor to those Frenchmen who attributed Dreyfus's alleged treason to the fact that he was Jewish.

11/20/2009 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

PS For the record, Sonja is a Serbian citizen and her homeland is Serbia. The rest of Frunobulax's defamatory rumours are unworthy of comment.

11/20/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

A prompt and (predictably hysterical) response from Marko. To paraphrase your earlier post, I think we can both agree that the difference between us is that I can distinguish between having an agenda (for perfectly understandable reasons) and being an "ethnically impure element".

My Serbian relatives (living in Serbia) would count as "ethnically impure" by your criteria since they were (to varying degrees) opposed to Milosevic's regime. Of course, you can't even countenance that possibility because they're not on record in one of your condemnathon blogs.

The rest of Frunobulax's defamatory rumours are unworthy of comment.

There's nothing "defamatory" about having a sibling die in brutal civil war. Tragic, horrible, etc. yes. Perhaps a war crime depending on the circumstances. But not defamatory. So why not a simple yes or no?

Equally, it's hardly defamatory to note what one of her previous jobs was, is it? Embarrassing perhaps, if Loncar was - back then - responsible for locking up a few 'intellectuals'. Remind me, what's the banner page for "Harry's Place"?

11/20/2009 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta say that so far I'm scoring the above exchange as
MAH 2 0 Fo'B
F 'o B's intervention was a nasty bit of racist insinuation.

Chris Williams

11/20/2009 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Rather, it's about being honest in declaring your involvement with a situation. In the former Yugoslavia there are few partial observers, and most of the more vociferous commentators have some agenda or other. MAH's evocation of Biserko is clearly intended to present her as offering the voice of criticism from within. In other words, far more potent than if was voiced, say, from Zagreb.

As for racist/fascist slur - seems to be the default position nowadays when you hear something that you don't like:

http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/swfuller/entry/norman_levitt_rip/

11/21/2009 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Ooops, impartial!

11/21/2009 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

In what sense does your information suggest that Biserko is not criticising the state of Serbia "from within"?

11/21/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Serbian human-rights activist Sonja Biserko

Sonja Biserko, a Serbian human-rights activist and patriot who has, perhaps more singlemindedly than any other individual, spent the past two decades fighting to free her country from the darkness that has engulfed it, and to drag it out of the Hell that its political classes have pushed it into.

Whilst none of the above is strictly incompatible with having a brother who died fighting the Serbs on the Croat side, it would be childish to suggest that would not confound generally accepted notions of 'patriotism', especially for people in the public eye. If it's true, then it was foolish of Biserko to hide this and other aspects of her past.

And, yes, I wholeheartedly denounce the threats and violence directed at Biserko (before anyone hauls me up on that one). The same goes for Slavenka Drakulic who had a very similar experience:

Drakulić started to receive telephone threats; her property was also vandalized. Finding little or no support from her erstwhile friends and colleagues, she decided to leave Croatia.

11/21/2009 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

fighting to free her country from the darkness that has engulfed it, and to drag it out of the Hell that its political classes have pushed it into

Marko - have you ever considered writing the blurbs for paperbacks?

11/21/2009 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Toni Negri had a brother who died fighting the Partisans for the RSI. And?

Marko described Biserko as a "Serbian human rights activist". Your response seems to consist of pointing out that she's not a Serb. It's not a good look.

11/21/2009 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Sonja Biserko comes from an ethnically mixed background; her father was an ethnic Serb from Croatia. As such, she is fairly typical of the heterogeneous population of Serbia's capital city - a large part of which has its origins in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and other countries, and/or has ethnically diverse roots.

Sonja is not responsible for what her brother did or didn't do during the wars of the 1990s. Family members frequently fight on opposite sides in civil wars.

It is indeed racist to try to discredit a Serbian human-rights activist by pointing to their supposedly 'un-Serb' ethnic background.

I wonder if Frunobulax would like to try to discredit all Serbian progressives in this way - Natasa Kandic, Nenad Canak, Cedomir Jovanovic, Srdja Popovic, Latinka Perovic, etc.

Perhaps he thinks they each have a Croat grandparent or two in the closet ?

11/22/2009 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

As a rule, it is perhaps often better to wait until somebody has actually said something rather than wondering whether they would say it. Otherwise one runs the risk of mislaying one's point amid the mess of rhetoric.

11/22/2009 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Vinny said...

A much better article on the egregious Alan Green.

"Why We Deserve Better Than Alan Green"


http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?p=2022

11/22/2009 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Firstly, thanks Marko for being candid in your response.

It is indeed racist to try to discredit a Serbian human-rights activist by pointing to their supposedly 'un-Serb' ethnic background.

No, no and thrice no re: racist. I'm rather in favour of ethnically mixed backgrounds - which is precisely what my offspring has. If anything, the fallout after the collapse of the FRY might have been less if there had been greater numbers with an ethnically mixed background. Whatever, we'll never know.

Given where you happen to live and/or what you happen to have on your passport is no guarantee of where your er. sentiments might lie. I'm sure you know of Ljubica Stefan. She lived in Belgrade for 30 years, though it hardly dented her zeal when it came to turning out rabidly anti-Serb tracts. She is gushingly quoted on a number of nationalist Croat websites.

Back to Biserko. It's all about, of course, the presentation of 'Brand Biserko' - everywhere, but especially on Greater Surbiton. Aside from Kandic, the other progressives you give in your reply rarely, if at all, are mentioned on GS. I found one or two mentions of Cedomir Jovanovic, but nothing at all for the others. Biserko seems to be your numero-uno Serb, with perhaps Kandic a close second. The rest don't really figure. Marko's criteria for Serb-U-Like seem, if anything, to be rather more stringent than those of HP for Muslim-U-Like.

I think we can both agree that Biserko and Kandic are pretty unpopular across Serbia. Articles with titles like "Biserko: Serbia Still ‘At War’, Using Other Means" certainly play to the gallery, but perhaps not one in Serbia. As an aside, I wonder if there would be agreement between Biserko/Kandic and the other progressives your (now) mention - answers on a postcard.

Normalisation is word much used by Biserko, e.g. title "Genocide denial vs normalisation in the Balkans" (on the HJS website, no less). The tough nut here is that, from both her and your perspective, it would appear that Biserko is the datum against which the Serbian nation must normalise. Perhaps we need to be reminded of Marko's motto: 'The perfect is the enemy of the good'. Regardless of the right or wrong, does it make any sense to try to 'normalise' a nation to someone who is about a zillion-sigma away from the norm? Biserko is across-the-board taken to be a anti-Serb, and much of her stuff are opinion pieces indistinguishable from what you will find on nationalist Croat websites. How far would we have got in Northern Ireland with that sort of approach to 'normalisation'?

11/22/2009 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

I don't think there is is anything particularly damning in 'exposing' Biserko's family background, none of it will affect what will unfold in Serbia. Her history is fairly well known in Belgrade, and no one takes much notice of her anyway. If anything it makes her rhetoric more instead of less understandable: "Why not? If Serbs had killed my brother, I'd hate them also" - there's nothing racist in noting that! Rather, it's her serving as an apparatchik with Loncar that is perhaps most damaging to what little credibility she might have. She had no choice over her family situation, but perhaps she could have chosen not to keep quiet whilst others were banged away for exercising little more than 'free speech'. If that is indeed what happened. You are a big fan of people going on record to prove that they did the right thing, or rather thought the right thought. Perhaps you could convince her to be rather more open about what she did back then.

ejh: Marko - have you ever considered writing the blurbs for paperbacks?
That snippet is a mere trifle, you really need to read the entire post:

Fascism and hatred of women

It's written in a breathless 'Behind Enemy Lines' style. Enjoy.

-Fblx

PS. Marko: One thing I can't understand re: current spat with HP is seeming to get equally worked up by the vile invective from nasty trolls like 'Exile' and 'Mettaculture' (I share your sentiments on those two) and what most of us would think of as simply a bit of Kamm joshing i.e. the puns (mostly lame) on his name (I didn't look too closely, but they seemed harmless).

11/22/2009 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nope, yr sand in the face attack is deeply unconvincing, Fo'B. Best to fess up to having inadvertantly revealed your world-view: that only pure-blooded members of group X can ever credibly criticise the ethnocentric policies of group X.

Even _if_ other people think this way, it's still wrong. Drawing attention to the sins of the other lot in this respect is no defence.

Chris Williams

11/23/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Nothing to fess-up to. Try to ignore the race element, and why not transpose the situation to Northern Ireland. Not exactly a 1-1 match, whatever. How would it play? Not terribly well, for the same reasons. In the former FRY no less than anywhere else it's better to be honest. Indeed, Marko has done more than a fair bit himself exposing differences between 'presentation' and 'reality'. If the situation were different, Comrade Biserko is just the sort of character that would attract Marko's attention.

sand in the face attack Dear me, have you read any of Marko's exposes/attacks? Ah, but those targets are beneath the pale because er. Marko said so. QED.

I appreciate there's currently a wave of sympathy for Marko, but that's still no reason to view the FFRY through exclusively Marko-tinted specs.

11/23/2009 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

'Biserko seems to be your numero-uno Serb, with perhaps Kandic a close second.'

The reason I specifically brought up Biserko on this occasion, was that I was responding to Splintered Sunrise's comment, and SS singled out Biserko for description as a 'stooge of imperialism'.

The reason I wrote the 'breathless' post that Frunobulax links to above, was that Sonja is a personal friend, and she was harrassed at her home by thugs the day after I had spent an evening in her company.

So sue me.

11/23/2009 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FoB, NB:

"Even _if_ other people think this way, it's still wrong. Drawing attention to the sins of the other lot in this respect is no defence."

FFS.

CW

11/23/2009 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

only pure-blooded members of group X can ever credibly criticise the ethnocentric policies of group X.

I don't think that's quite what they said, is it?

I don't have a specific position on this argument, since it involves a lot of stuff said elsewhere that I don't have the timer or the inclination to read, but I do have a general view that good arguments don't need to be put aggressively to be convincing and bad arguments don't need to be exaggerated to be opposed.

Marko - I can appreciate your position but I think, as per above, that we very rarely post well when we are angry any more than we do when we are drunk. (Being an angry type myself I'm in a position to realise this.) Indeed your friend Splintered Sunrise recently wrote a rather good post ("The Jabbing Fionger") about this.

11/24/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Aaronovitch Watch does not have a party line on anything to do with the former Yugoslavia, but in a personal capacity I'd make the following points:

1) it seems to be settled that Sonia Biserko is Serbian and is a human rights activist and thus it is sensible to call her a "Serbian human rights activist"

2) although we do not have a party line, I think it's in accord with the general principles of AWism to say that there is no general obligation on anyone to always bring up biographical details of anyone they talk about just because those might be convenient to one's political enemies (viz, among others, Tariq Ramadan).

3) If Splintered Sunrise or anyone else thinks that someone is a stooge of imperialism, then they're entitled to say so, this is well within the bounds of acceptable discourse and one shouldn't be accused of "hating" unless it can be independently proved, still less of endorsing threats and violence - it is after all not OK to make threats at people just because they're working in the service of imperialism.

4) While we're perfectly content to provide a surrogate comments box for Greater Surbiton (and this can be taken as an extended offer, and supersedes all previous complaints about the phenomenon), frunobulax and Marko might perhaps want to consider whether, 82 comments in, this is really all going anywhere.

11/24/2009 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

'If Splintered Sunrise or anyone else thinks that someone is a stooge of imperialism, then they're entitled to say so, this is well within the bounds of acceptable discourse.'

Really ? I thought the whole point was that you are entitled to criticise someone, but there's 'no need to be a cunt about it'.

'I do have a general view that good arguments don't need to be put aggressively to be convincing and bad arguments don't need to be exaggerated to be opposed.'

Yes, that was my feeling when Daniel here accused me of being a 'bloodthirsty loon' because of my position on the Georgian war. I thought, 'Fair enough if you disagree with me, Daniel, but there's no need to be a cunt about it. Good arguments don't need to be put aggressively to be convincing, etc.'

[Disclaimer: 'No need to be a cunt about it' is a phrase popular at this blog, and I am therefore repeating it ironically]

11/24/2009 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Indeed, you are allowed to criticise Splintered Sunrise (though not necessarily to have anyone take that criticism seriously), you are indeed a bloodthirsty loon (or at least, you were at the time you were banging the drum for war with Russia, you might have changed since I suppose) and there is, indeed, no need to be a cunt about it.

11/24/2009 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

So terms like 'stooge of imperialism' and 'bloodthirsty loon' are acceptable, but not 'objectively pro-fascist' ?

In the circumstances, Daniel, your ceaseless complaint about the Decents' use of intemperate or extreme language when criticising others seems rather hypocritical.

You should take a leaf out of Justin's book; remember, 'good arguments don't need to be put aggressively to be convincing and bad arguments don't need to be exaggerated to be opposed.'

11/24/2009 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ejh on me:

"only pure-blooded members of group X can ever credibly criticise the ethnocentric policies of group X.

I don't think that's quite what they said, is it?"

Well, the bit that set me off was this:

"Serbian, eh? Funny thing is, Sonja Biserko keeps her biographical details well hidden. A wiki page lists her as Croatian, whereas a poster on some forum claims that:"

It seemed to me that F o B was using ethnic grounds, and those alone, question Marko's right to refer to SB as 'Serbian' (and of course, her right to describe herself as the same, as if she gives a toss about FoB), despite the fact that she's a citizen of Serbia. It wasn't explicit which is why I decribed it as an insinuation.

I now return you, gentle readers, to the touching reconciliation scene between MAH and BB, which is about to enter its third round. Ding!

Chris Williams

11/24/2009 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

the particular point which caused me, and I think a few others, to conclude that you were being a cunt about it was to go beyond your current formulation of

"SS looks favourably upon Serbian BNP-types like Tomislav Nikolic, whom I view as fascists"

and instead call him

"an unabashed sympathiser of the neo-Nazi Serbian Radical Party"

and say that I personally had

"a total absence of integrity"

for being on polite terms with the author of the Splintered Sunrise blog.

Did you forget what you had said or something?

11/24/2009 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

I also can't find the phrase "bloodthirsty loon" on AW site search; it might have been in the comments.

Marko's position on the Georgian war was both "bloodthirsty" in that it advocated sending British troops into a shooting war against Russia, and "loony" because, well, etc, so I am not going to be surprised if it does turn out I used that succinct description, but the only post I can find on the subject is this one, congratulating Marko on his seeming promotion in the Cold War re-enactment society of which he is a member.

11/24/2009 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Why is it acceptable to call someone a 'stooge of imperialism', but not to call someone 'an unabashed sympathiser of the neo-Nazi Serbian Radical Party' ?

Why is it acceptable to call someone a 'bloodthirsty loon', but not to accuse someone of having a 'total absence of integrity' ?

You accuse the Decents of using intemperate and extreme language to demonise their opponents, Daniel, but this is precisely what you yourself do.

And as Chris says,

'Drawing attention to the sins of the other lot in this respect is no defence.'

11/24/2009 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Why is it acceptable to call someone a 'stooge of imperialism', but not to call someone 'an unabashed sympathiser of the neo-Nazi Serbian Radical Party'

I don't think this is difficult to see; the first is fairly standard knockabout political rhetoric, while the second is a specific (and false and defamatory) accusation. Saying that someone's a stooge of imperialism is making an interpretation of their behaviour, while saying that they're an unabashed supporter of a Nazi party is specifically accusing them of doing something.

Why is it acceptable to call someone a 'bloodthirsty loon', but not to accuse someone of having a 'total absence of integrity' ?

See above on whether this actually happened, but even if it did, once more, one is a comment and the other is an accusation.

In both of these cases, btw, you've put up a dyad of statements of which one is clearly defamatory and the other isn't, so I really do think you should make the effort to understand.

11/24/2009 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Or to make it clearer, if I'm going to call someone a "bloodthirsty loon", then I need to show that in the relevant context he or she advocated doing something that could reasonably be expected to result in bloodshed, and which was well outside the bounds of reasonable policy. It's possible to agree or disagree about whether a particular description was merited or not, but that's the standard - it's "comment".

On the other hand, if I'm going to say that someone has "a complete lack of integrity", then I have to show that they are either systematically dishonest, or have done something so extremely dishonest as to merit the description. If my only evidence supporting such a charge is that they called someone "a member of our extended family", combined with an equally false charge against that person, then there's nothing to argue; it's just wrong.

11/24/2009 04:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Why is it acceptable to call someone a 'stooge of imperialism', but not to call someone 'an unabashed sympathiser of the neo-Nazi Serbian Radical Party' ?

1. I'm not seeing 'stooge of imperialism'; I've got Sp.Su. numbering Biserko among "the little coterie of neo-Jacobin farmhands in Belgrade who actively want the Yanks to occupy their country", and a reference to "Sonja Biserko and her little clique of Imperial caddies". Which may be a difference that makes no difference, I dunno - it's certainly not a very complimentary characterisation of Biserko & co. But I think you're overlooking the distinction between public figures and bloggers when it comes to what's acceptable in a blog-based debate. Calling me or Daniel names makes it hard to debate with me or Daniel & hence poisons the debate. Calling Haris Silajdzic or Milan Dodik names doesn't have that effect.

2. This isn't acceptable for two reasons. One, tendentious misreading: the attitude Splinty expressed towards the Radical Party, while not being one I personally sympathise with at all, can't reasonably be summed up as that of 'unabashed sympathiser'. Two, tendentious phrasing: dropping 'neo-Nazi' into the sentence serves no purpose other than an emotive one, of rallying readers against the Radical Party and anyone who sympathises with them.

I found that post of Splinty's pretty distasteful, I have to say. But I found your take on it extremely unhelpful, inasmuch as it denied Splinty any possible benefit of the doubt & hung a label on him - that of sympathiser with Nazism - which could be calculated to disqualify him from just about any debate. He didn't deserve that & it wasn't a productive move, in my opinion.

(Oh, and three: tendentious over-generalisation. It's quite telling that we're talking about a single post, from a fairly prolific blogger. What proportion of posts on S.S. are about the ex-Yugoslavia?)

Why is it acceptable to call someone a 'bloodthirsty loon', but not to accuse someone of having a 'total absence of integrity' ?

That's actually quite straightforward. It was OK - or within the bounds of OK - to call you a bloodthirsty loon, because it was on the basis of something you'd written - DD could stand up the accusation if necessary & others could challenge it. It wasn't OK to accuse DD of having a total absence of integrity, because the grounds of the accusation were his association with (or failure to boycott) somebody else.

11/24/2009 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Shorter Daniel and Phil:

'There's one rule for us and another rule for you.'

11/24/2009 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

oh how terribly weak.

11/24/2009 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

Quite frankly, dear boy, I don't think anyone could read through your and Phil's stupendous series of verbal somersaults and contortions without either bursting out laughing or cringing with embarrassment, so I'm quite ready to leave it at that.

11/24/2009 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Quite frankly, dear boy, I hope you're convincing yourself because you're not convincing anyone.

I would, genuinely, be interested to see if you actually can provide the citation for either "imperialist stooge" or "bloodthirsty loon", because I must say that I can't find either. It would surely be hilarious if the actual answer was "the difference is that you actually said that, Marko".

Although of course, it makes no difference, since your views on Georgia were bloodthirsty and loony, while I am not lacking in integrity in being friendly with Splinty, and he is not an unabashed supporter of a Nazi party. The difference here is still between things that are true, and things you made up.

11/24/2009 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

god, looking back at that thread I am most impressed with the quality of jokes I used to come up with back in the good old days of 2008 before the credit crunch beat the fun out of me:

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

name me a Decent line as good as that!

11/24/2009 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Shorter Daniel and Phil:

'There's one rule for us and another rule for you.'


Oh come on, Marko. Over on Dave's Part I've just been accused of being an 'associate' of yours - and through you, as it were osmotically, an associate of the HJS - apparently on the grounds that I underestimate the genocidal hatred of Serbs felt by other groups in the region. I responded by taking a certain amount of distance from you, which I felt slightly bad about afterwards - in my view* you were very much on the right side at a time when not many people were. I'm tempted to reconsider my regret.

Can you really not see that "this blogger is an unabashed sympathiser with neo-Nazis" is more offensive - more destructive of debate - than "this person written about on blogs is a stooge of imperialism"? Or that "he's a bloodthirsty loon (because he wrote this, this and this)" is less offensive - less destructive - than "he's a man of no integrity (because he refuses to dissociate from someone I think he ought to dissociate from)"?

I think you ought to enable comments - not having anyone to argue with seems to have made you lazy.

11/24/2009 07:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

FFF**

*Which I know is not shared by everyone here, but don't really want to get into.

**Free-Floating Footnote

11/24/2009 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Of course, one can understand why physically harrassing and intimidating a sixty-year old woman might be appealing for the fascists in Serbia. They have shown themselves to be amongst the most cowardly fighters in the history of modern warfare. Unwilling to fight the Germans or even the Italians in World War II, then routed by the Yugoslav Partisans; beaten by the Slovenes in ten days of fighting in 1991; beaten by the underarmed Croatian Army in 1991-92, and rescued from defeat by the hated ‘Western imperialists’; driven from the whole of central Croatia in a mere few days in 1995; beaten by the Bosnians and Croatians again in the autumn of 1995, despite their massive superiority in weaponry, then rescued from defeat by the ‘Western imperialists’ for the second time; and beaten by NATO in 1999 without having managed to kill a single NATO soldier - the Great Serb chauvinists have shown time and time again that they flee before any opponent who actually fights back against them.

In WW1 Serbia lost 275,000 to 350,000 soldiers (depending on source), one of the greatest proportionate losses of all nations that were engaged. I assume you're not referring to these. Though in truth it's hard to tell. As ever, it's the insinuation that counts.

BTW, I understand that the cost to the Reich of occupying Serbia was - per capita - six times that for the occupation of Croatia. One must assume that the heavy burden put on the Nazis was due to the vast sums spent on crack SS composting units to deal with all the flowers that greeted them on their arrival.

There is no greater evil than misogyny, and misogynistic abuse or actions are among the best indicators of the evil of a cause.

Hmmm, some feminists might take issue with this one.

Violent misogyny has its own inglorious tradition in Serbia.

Dear me, when Dad rowed with Mum I had no idea they were merely acting out a bit of Serbian tradition, something to which he was evidently compelled.

The roots of Serbia’s twentieth-century disasters can be traced back to a psychopathological misogynistic crime: the murder of King Aleksandar Obrenovic and Queen Draga in 1903.

Them Serbs, eh? Doomed to violence, they are. Doomed! (helv-font-pvt-frazer)

We are speaking out against the very lowest form of scum that the human race is capable of producing.

The only trace of non-fascist, non-scum Serbs in your article are Biserko and her Dad. Anyone reading it would be forgiven for not realising that Serbs formed a good part (if not the largest part) of the Partisan forces. Serbs are, in the article, exclusively "fascists" whereas the Partisans are "Yugoslav". Also, I don't believe that the Chetniks en masse fit your description.

The reason I specifically brought up Biserko on this occasion, was that I was responding to Splintered Sunrise's comment, and SS singled out Biserko for description as a 'stooge of imperialism'.

Fair enough, but you almost never mention any of the other "progressives" you now make note of in passing here. For a blog devoted to political commentary and analysis there's precious little of either. You seemed (genuinely?) surprised a while back on HP when I pointed out that essentially every article on GS contained multiple references to Serb-fascists, orthodox-fascists, even Serb-women-hating-fascists.

11/24/2009 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

The reason I wrote the 'breathless' post that Frunobulax links to above, was that Sonja is a personal friend, and she was harrassed at her home by thugs the day after I had spent an evening in her company.

The concern is understandable. 'Brand Marko' however leads us to expect the considered thoughts of the scholarly historian (who occasionally blogs). If circumstances are occasionally such that it is otherwise, then perhaps apply some rating system to your postings to help us out. Maybe something like that used on beaches - 'Calm thoughts: safe to read', 'Some blustery hyperbole: proceed with caution', etc.

Back to the politics and Biserko. If - from your perspective - you do believe that there truly is some hope of "progression" in Serbia, then please do write about it. But that really needs to be something rather more substantial (and helpful!) than simply holding up as an ideal someone that precious few (if any) Serbs can find any sympathy for or with. If you don't - from your perspective - believe that any "progression" is possible, then simply say so, e.g. 'they're no good the lot of them, pour it in!'

Do let us know.

11/24/2009 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Unwilling to fight the Germans or even the Italians in World War II

I can no longer keep track of who wrote this, but it's a really, really sad piece of chauvinism. "Or even the Italians" (guffaw, and we know what they're like, don't we lads?). Any argument that has as one of its stages the attribution of national characteristics on the basis of "what they did in the war" is highly indicative of the character of the person making it.

11/24/2009 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

"I can no longer keep track of who wrote this"

My apologies, everything in italics (in my two posting above) is from Marko - either his "Fascism and hatred of women" article on Greater Surbiton or his responses to postings here.

11/25/2009 07:59:00 AM  

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