Friday, July 09, 2010

Was Byron A Decent?

I've had this one on my mind for a while - a subset of the "Decency in Literature" project which has been kicked around in the comments and one of the valedictory posts I've wanted to get out as we slip away into the post-Aaro Great Silence. Basically, occasionally leafing through the Penguin edition of "Don Juan", one comes across a really interesting argument between the editor and the author over the subject of Byron's ridicule of Lord Castlereagh.

As Peter Manning notes in the back matter gloss on Byron's line from the introduction "The intellectual eunuch Castlereagh",

"Modern historians, who are not swayed by partisan animosity, acknowledge his merits and the shrewdness of his policy, that benefited British interests and helped to achieve stability in Europe, urgently needed after the Napoleonic turmoil. He strove to keep Russia or Prussia or Austria from gaining the overwhelming domination that Napoleon had earlier won. Partly for this purpose he cooperated with Metternich to limit the power of Russia and Prussia, and joined Talleyrand and Wellington in preventing the ruinous dismemberment of France that her Continental enemies wanted. From the conference at Aix-la-Chappelle (1818) onward, he condemned the efforts of the Quadruple Alliance to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations and pointed as precedent to the rebellions in South America. Though in 1821 he conceded Austria's legal right to quell the revolt at Naples, England under his leadership dissented from the deliberations at Troppau (1820) and Laibach (1821) that sanctioned the principle of repressive intervention. The reader of Don Juan should also remember that Castlereagh tried hard, but failed, to persuade the Congress of Vienna to abolish the slave trade. He was not the blundering scoundrel that Byron excoriated. His suicide in 1822, preceded by acute depression, was caused by overwork and the strain of his many official responsibilities.

Manning is actually being a little too easy on Castlereagh here in my opinion; the depression which caused his suicide was not really brought on quite so much by overwork per se as by the stress of being the main sponsor of the Six Acts, aimed at repression of the movement for democratic rights for the working class, in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre. Castlereagh's also not remembered particularly fondly in Ireland, although it should be emphasised that this is for political reasons (he was Lord Lieutenant and responsible for the 1800 Act of Union, regarded by O'Connell as a traitor) rather than because of brutality (he was actually a quite strong advocate of Catholic emancipation and indeed resigned over the issue; lots of literary scholars writing on Byron seem to assume that Castlereagh "enforced brutal measures on the Irish" because the British government usually did, but it's not true - Byron is particularly unfair about this).

But the Six Acts issue came late in Castlereagh's life and Ireland was pretty incidental to Byron's hatred of him. The real animus against Castlereagh on the part of Byron, Shelley and the rest of them was that in their view, he sold out the Italian city states (and Greece, but it was the Italians that really got them going). The basic reason that Byron invites travellers to "stop … and piss" on Castlereagh's grave is that he wasn't prepared to take Britain into a war with Austria for the sake of self-government in Genoa and Naples. As with all Decent causes, this is basically a just one; the way in which the great powers carved up Europe via the congresses of Vienna and Laibach and et cetera was certainly not edifying. However, this was ten years after the Napoleonic Wars! Can you really blame Castlereagh for thinking that Europe probably deserved a break from all the slaughtering and the horror and everything, particularly since it is not actually as if the Neapolitans were labouring under the Austrian jackboot, or that King Ferdinand was promising them freedom (the clue is in the word "King").

My opinion is that Byron's views were of a part with the general Decent horror of diplomacy. ("When you ask about the bloodshed, they tell you an omelette can't be made without breaking eggs. When you ask where's the omelette, they start blethering about Douglas Hurd").

A bungler even in its disgusting trade,
And botching, patching, leaving still behind
Something of which its masters are afraid,
States to be curbed and thoughts to be confined,
Conspiracy or Congress to be made,
Cobbling at manacles for all mankind,
A tinkering slave-maker who mends old chains,
With God and man's abhorrence for its gains

Byron's entitled to his view, but the fact of the matter is that the Congress of Vienna, at which Castlereagh played a major role, kept Europe at peace for decades. A congenital weakness of counterfactual analysis when carried out in the Decent press (it's the stock in trade of the Henry 'Scoop' Jackson Society), is to analyse the potential benefits of war against the potential risks of a negative outcome, while ignoring the fact that simply not being at war is a major benefit of not being at war.

So - was Byron the Christopher Hitchens of his day? Was Castlereagh the Henry Kissinger? Discuss.

When a man has no freedom to fight
for at home,
Let him go fight for that of his neighbors;
Let him think of the glory of Greece
and of Rome,
And get knocked on the head for his labours


Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think he is certainly a class above someone like Hitchens - Byron did after all provide economic and logistical support to Greece and tried to run one of the battles in the Greek war of independance.

That might stem from a horror of diplomacy, yes, but he literally put his money where his mouth was - pretty much the antithesis of the armchair warrior Decents who don't seem to have even met any of yer actual Muslims, let alone Iraqis...

I'd also say that the Greek war of Independance, in particular, was a rather easier struggle to make the case for supporting than, ooh i dunno, Iraq.

7/09/2010 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A pedant writes:- Independence.


7/09/2010 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you factored in Nelson's attack on the Neapolitan liberals?

Chris Williams

7/09/2010 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous darjeeling junkie said...

According to Alan Coren (i think),he(Byron,not Douglas Hurd)designed his own uniform complete with tassels on hat to liberate Greece in.But people laughed at him so he sadly put it back in it's box.

7/09/2010 09:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Lobby Ludd said...

Of course Byron wasn't a 'decent', just like Orwell wasn't.

Being a 'decent' involves being in favour of war, not fighting it, and having as a hero someone who fought a different war.

7/09/2010 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Lobby Ludd said...

Of course Byron wasn't a 'decent', just like Orwell wasn't.

Being a 'decent' involves being in favour of war, not fighting it, and having as a hero someone who fought a different war.

7/09/2010 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

OT, but a fantastically wrong-headed article by what appears to be a Decent in teh Graun:

7/10/2010 12:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

I say yes:

"Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, Lord Byron and Dorothy Parker."

7/10/2010 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous magistra said...

Byron can't be a Decent, because he's a terrorist. Under the Terrorist Act 2000 (section 1), he's someone who's using violent action to influence a government for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause. It doesn't have to be the British government he's trying to influence.

So Byron was damn lucky he was living in an unelightened era that didn't take the War against Terror seriously.

7/10/2010 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Griffin said...

As regards Castlereagh and Ireland, he was Chief Secretary when the Rising of 1798 was put down, which certainly involved some pretty brutal measures. That's probably the larger issue, rather than the Act of Union itself.

7/10/2010 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Well sort of but not very much. It's not really to do with Decency, because Decency is and has been in favour of armed interventions that have actually happened - which wasn't the case here. Its also more about excoriating that section of radical opinion which doesn't agree with intervention, and locating largely imaginary threats to civilisation within that section. So Decency in Byron's time would have busied itself chasing after Irish rebels and their sympathisers in the working-class movement, demanding that people distance themselves from from the Pentridge Rising and so on.

As for the comparison with Kissinger - sort of, in so far as Castlereagh didn't really have much problem with Turkey's role in Greece and like Kissinger, certainly preferred Great Power repression to the radical and independence movements they repressed. But one of the strange things about Decent attitudes to Kissinger, certainly in its Henry Jackson Society mode, is that Kissinger was an interventionist. He liked nothing more than organising a nice little intervention. He just didn't fancy taking on the big guys.

7/10/2010 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Mordaunt said...

So Decency in Byron's time would have busied itself chasing after Irish rebels and their sympathisers in the working-class movement, demanding that people distance themselves from from the Pentridge Rising and so on.

One can imagine HP Sauce citing the Papacy's anti-semitism and general hostility to democracy and liberalism as a reason to oppose Catholic Emancipation. In betweeen demanding that Montalembert, or whoever, really condemn whichever bit of reactionary unpleasantness has crossed Lucy Lips' radar recently.

7/10/2010 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have our own Tardis? Cool. Next week, can we do Urquhart, and the week after, Murphy?

Chris Williams

7/10/2010 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

By coincidence a few minutes after logging off I started reading Patrick Cockburn's The Occupation and he quotes the Duke of Wellington:

"Great nations do not have small wars."

I was thinking a little more about our theme: obviously it could be complained that there's not any democracy at the time for our proto-Decents to defend, but I think constitutionalism might stand in for it, and hence I can imagine not just the divide that existed* between moral force and physical force, but the proponents of the former having to denounce and condemn the latter at all times.

Of course the French Revolution stands in for the Russian Revolution, Beethoven is never allowed to live down his attachment to Napoleon etc etc etc.

[* possibly the distinction arose a few years after Byron's death? Chris?]

7/10/2010 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/10/2010 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, yr moral force vs physical force distinction was remarkably fuzzy through the 1840s, largely owing to the fact that the "We're nice and reformist and all, but see that masss meeting down the road? They're _real_ bastards..." strategy [trad. arr. F. Place] had been used so obviously in 1832 that any attempt to label it as inherently contradictory would have been laughed out of court.

When does PF finally leave the stage as an essential component in any political repertoire? There's a lot of heat about this with regard to the suffragette movement, but a surprising shortage of light, perhaps because it's been framed as an argument between Keepers Of the Feminist Flame and a They Wuz Trrts! revisionist. There's more if you google 'things forgot suffragette'.

I know a historical geographer who, to my mind, needs to spend the next five years of his life graphing election violence in the UK, 1860-1940. Every time I run into him, usually in town or on a train, I explain this to him. He then changes the subject. There's no telling some people, is there?

Chris Williams

7/10/2010 11:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

OT - You wanted a post about Decent racism. Will this do ?

7/11/2010 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Ah, yes Marko. I had seen that, and thought of writing a post about it. I think I've learned two things from Harry's Place. First, that you really do need to moderate comments and even ban some people. All personal abuse ("silly cow" etc) is just going to start a fight. Sure, you get lots of comments as a result - and that's something I think they all chase, and even compete for - but most of them are just noise. The second thing follows from my belief that Harry's Place regular posters do compete (and it's a terribly macho site) for length of comment threads: they write posts that attract trolls, so the posts get uglier which makes the comments get uglier, etc.

7/11/2010 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

When does PF finally leave the stage as an essential component in any political repertoire?

Has it? I guess in terms of actual harm done there's a plausible story of continued domestication of protest movements (although not of their policing). But there's a case for taking PF as more of a floating signifier - that which justifies protest being denied political legitimacy and turned into a police matter; cf. the current definition of 'terrorism', not to mention the endlessly malleable concept of 'violence'. In which case it's more or less impossible to imagine anything recognisable as protest (and not merely a procession or a vigil) which wouldn't involve PF.

7/11/2010 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Of course the French Revolution stands in for the Russian Revolution, Beethoven is never allowed to live down his attachment to Napoleon etc etc etc.

Not sure if it's relevant, but I drew an analogy between Euston and anti-Napoleonic patriotism back here. The bullying, pre-emptive quality in particular:

before we get into the details of what a Left project might look like in current conditions, there are hard questions to be asked. One hard question in particular: which side are you on? Do you want to be ruled by a Corsican despot, or don’t you? You don’t? Well then, you’d better stop complaining, and support the only people who are in a position to protect you. God save the King!

7/11/2010 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Asteri sto diastima said...

Come on Marko - while I agree with your feelings towards HP, the post mentioning you was hardly
"incoherent and highly abusive"

7/11/2010 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

he literally put his money where his mouth was
Rather than only literally putting his mouth where the money is?

7/11/2010 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...


Seconded - the HP post, distasteful perhaps, wasn't "incoherent and highly abusive". Try as I might Marko (which, admittedly, isn't much) I can't summon up any sympathy for you over your falling out with HP regulars. Wittingly or otherwise, you've provided the Saucers with a fig-leaf to defend themselves against accusations of Islamophobia: Not us (say the Saucers) because HP recognises the Serbs as vile Nazis, and therefore support the Bosniak Muslim cause. Ergo, HP cannot be Islamophobic. Simple, innit?

You were of course careful to ensure that, on HP, any mention of Serbs was conflated with Islamofascism to help the Saucers along in, ahem, forming their own conclusions by presenting them with imagery that they might understand. You have to admit that the Saucers have been exceedingly deferential to you in the past - most notably over the Sakic business where the burial (in Zagreb in 2008) of a Holocaust camp commander in full uniform would normally have got the Saucers, with their hyper-sensitive fascisto-meters, frothing [1]. Instead, they accepted their resident Balkan expert's assurance that it was all a bit of harmless panto. Quite an achievement given that David Irving couldn't buy a black shirt in Top Shop without it prompting some notification on HP.

Probing this lapse in the Saucers normally 100% reliable fascist radar on the comments page, I was advised to clear off. And in any case, Serbs were out and out Nazi collaborators - and willing at that. Marko participated in the comments, but mostly left the business to his HP comrades whom he seems to have well groomed in the art of dealing with Serb fascists. Oh (I ask), but what about the bombing of Belgrade by the Luftwaffe, and the, er, bombardment of German troops with flowers in Zagreb? Was that a measure of just how willing the Serbs on masse were? Well, one HP regular (who seemed to be taking the baton from Marko when dealing with Serb fascists) had the killer riposte to that: the Croats sided with the Nazis because the Third Reich was a lesser evil than the Serbs. Marko, should I assume - since you didn't post otherwise - that you concur with that stunning analysis of WWII Yugoslavia?

And who was Marko's tag-team partner on that occasion? I believe it was "Graham". [2]

Oh, and you have indulged in a fair bit of chauvinistic name calling yourself - recall your "Fascism and hatred of women" piece?

[1] Quite rightly too. Only there was next to no mention in the Western press, as is generally the case since the hacks seem programmed to seek out fascist malarkey only in Serbia. Though a Sun(!) reporter later on did stumble on some yoof-full high spirits at a footie game in Zagreb:

[2] I did try to retrieve the posting via a Google search, but it seems that HP no longer keeps the comments. I do recall it quite well though since it was such a corker.

7/11/2010 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/11/2010 10:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...


You're right; HP is very largely a blog for trolls, who are made to feel very comfortable there. HP cannot reign in the trolls, because if once they started, where would they stop ? They'd be blowing away much of their bedrock readership.

Really to tackle the trolls - the highly abusive and highly bigoted - would mean a massive shake-up and change of course, and though some of the bloggers are undoubtedly uncomfortable with the tone and content of many of the discussions, they really don't have the stomach for such a shake up.

7/11/2010 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...


The "Fascism and hatred of women" piece did show Marko's – shall we say 'strong feelings' towards the nation of Italy, I can put that down to a bit of unconscious patriotism, we all have our loyalties.

7/12/2010 01:51:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

though some of the bloggers are undoubtedly uncomfortable with the tone and content of many of the discussions,

I'm not so sure they are. I'm consistently surprised by how many of the apparently reasonable people who run the site turn a consistent blind eye to the right-wing loons who by the admission of an HP contributor make up over 50% of its readership.

The surprise is, however, compounded by their seeming willingness to 'take on' anyone they consider far left, which in practice means anyone critiquing posts on HP from a left-wing orientation. It's particularly the case with what seem to be newcomers, ie 'Neil D', 'Graham' and Wardytron.

I don't know the ins and outs of Marko's HP past, but Marko, if you've not done so already, you might want to look up the views of one Chas Newkey-Burden, someone David Toube really likes (to the extent of defending his, ahem, 'radical' views on Israel/Palestine) and who's contributed to HP Sauce in the past...

The Laurie Penny debacle (which the majority of contributors seem proud of, incidentally) sums the place up - it's a place for people who are, in the real world, generally mild-mannered (and fairly well-off), to indulge their macho, blokeish, working class personae. Anyone remember David Toube's 'Fuck off, Shami Chakrabati'?

7/12/2010 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I certainly did think "abusive and incoherent" was a pretty accurate description of "Graham"'s post and Marko pretty much nails some uncomfortable home truths about HP (although I am not sure I agree with his theory of what went wrong which seems to me too close to the fabled "egg of decency").

The basic problem though is that gradually over time the "of course, we want to put lots of clear space between ourselves and Geert Wilders" element of HP has rather diminished. This is the sort of thing that Zizek and Foucault have a lot to say about - the fact is that "how can you be tolerant of intolerance?" is actually a really difficult question for liberals to answer, and there's always a temptation to end up giving the Pin Fortuyn answer. I suppose this is as close to the "Decent Racism" post as we're going to get.

7/12/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

A great struggle is brewing all over Europe and beyond. On the one side stands the liberal order and its defenders, representing the values of secularism, internationalism, cosmopolitanism, pluralism and respect for human rights. On the other stands the forces of reaction, which itself is composed of two rival but essentially similar wings. Extremist Muslims (an unrepresentative minority among the Muslim communities of the democratic West) and certain fellow travellers on the extreme Left represent one wing of the anti-liberal reaction, and assault the liberal order under the banner of anti-Semitism (or ‘anti-Zionism’), anti-Westernism, anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism.

Sorry Marko but I could get past this opening paragraph. Perhaps you could explain how torture, extrajudicial executions or our long term strategic reationshp with the House Of Saud form part of the 'liberal order'. You might also ponder what the Changos Islanders think of our moral superiority. Or perhaps you might want to think about whether the world is really as black and white as you suggest.

7/13/2010 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

On the other stands the forces of reaction, which itself is composed of two rival but essentially similar wings

The axis of reaction, eh?


re: Byron a Decent.

I would pose a related Q: Is Decency Romantic?

For one thing, Romanticism is (regarded as) more transferable - Decency being very much (essentially?) bound up in a nexus of individual histories, rivalries, political allegiances and gossipy chat. It's neither a coherent philosophy nor a clearly-diagnosed general tendency.

For another, they probably wouldn't like it much (depending on how the answer panned out). I was slightly perturbed at the thought of the ego-frottage likely to result from 'was Byron the CH of his day?'.

7/13/2010 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

On Decency and Romanticism, here's a link to David Runciman's review of Christopher Hitchens's memoir from the LRB.

7/13/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

he heard about the death in Mosul of a young soldier from California called Mark Daily, who had left behind a statement explaining his reasons for having volunteered to fight. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Daily had thought hard about a war whose justice he had initially doubted, and eventually felt the call to take part: ‘Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him

Hitchens = Jean Brody?

7/13/2010 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Hitchens actually probably doesn;t mind being called a Romantic. Aaro & Nick would be uncomfortable about it though, I should think.

7/13/2010 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Good call!

7/13/2010 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

and assault the liberal order under the banner of anti-Semitism (or ‘anti-Zionism’), anti-Westernism, anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism.

Oh dear.

7/13/2010 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marko missed out Anti-Jemima.

7/13/2010 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous snuh said...

on the topic of whether kissinger is to hitchens as castlereagh is to byron, on the one hand, hitchens once said (while promoting his book about kissinger):

Before Henry Kissinger was the magnificent mammal that we all know today, he was a member of a fairly well known Washington East Coast tribe of 3rd-rate, power-worshipping, pseudo-intellectual academics. In that capacity, he'd been grinding along, he'd written a couple of books…and he wrote another book. It's in praise of the short-lived, reactionary, myopic regime imposed on Europe by Prince Metternich of Austria, and the British Prime Minister Lord Castlereagh. And it's called "A World Restored." Kissinger says that Castlereagh and Metternich are the sort of politicians that one needs more of. And Shelley and Byron and many others of what is now I think wrongly called the Romantic movement -- it was a revolutionary, radical, very political and democratic movement -- challenged the settlement of Prince Metternich, a settlement that excluded from Europe the Irish, the Poles, the Greeks, the Italians and many others. [etc etc about Shelley
(part 1, starts about 4 minutes in).

and on the other hand, in the book about kissinger itself, hitchens made the following dedication:

For the brave victims of Henry Kissinger, whose example will easily outlive him, and his "reputation." And for Joseph Heller, who saw it early and saw it whole: [quoting from Heller's Good as Gold] "In Gold's conservative opinion, Kissinger would not be recalled in history as a Bismark, Metternich or Castlereagh but as an odious schlump who made war gladly."

so i dunno, basically. interesting to me (considering we're talking about decency) is that hitchen's book about kissinger came out 5 months before september 11.

7/14/2010 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I know decency is all meant to be about enlightenment, but the general Decent tendency to privilege autobiography and memoir over other forms of writing (reading lolita in Tehran, hirsi Ali, The fallout, clothes for chaps on chomskyan linguistics, dinner party anecdotes etc etc) is pretty Romantic.

7/14/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Whatever one thinks of some of the sentiments expressed in Marko's piece it's clear from reading it (and from things he has written at HP) that he is not far politically from most of the HP contributors so the fact that they have managed to make an enemy of him is quite telling. The same goes for Conor Foley for example - hardly a Decent but a moderate leftist who is not a million miles away from some at HP but gets an enormous amount of stick whenever his name is mentioned there.
And it's easy to blame the right wing nutters who hang out there but they are only part of the problem - some of what would probably be called their mainstream commenters are incredibly unplesant.
"Graham" mentioned above is one, the individual mentioned in Marko's piece another.
It wasn't the right wingers who called me a "middle class cunt" and told me to fuck off and go and drown myself (to their credit the moderators actually deleted this)in a recent thread.

7/14/2010 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Veering wildly from one topic to another, I don't suppose anybody has a clue what this is about? (I ask because Barry Martin is a longstanding Ray Keene crony.)

7/15/2010 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Marko Attila Hoare said...

"Or perhaps you might want to think about whether the world is really as black and white as you suggest."

(apologies for the strange syntax in what follows, but I am writing this from a foreign internet cafe whose keyboard seems to lack several symbols, including the apostrophe and hyphen)

Put it this way. I have had some harsh words in the past for the left liberal mainstream; for the Guardianistas, LibDems, mainstream antiwar types, champions of the UN and multilateralism etc. I have not changed my views about them.

But a far, far worse political tendency is represented by the BNP lite types that often dominate discussion at Harrys Place. The anti immigrant, anti Muslim, nativist, blood and soil, anti elitist champions of the "white working class" against the supposedly decadent liberal elite.

I am sorry to say that some elements in the Decent Left are in bed with this group, or have merged with it.

In such a contest, I am on the side of the Guardianistas and moderate antiwar types against the Islamophobic and immigrant hating champions of the "white working class", who are either fascists or close to fascism, and their Decent Left fellow travellers.

But that does not mean I drop my opposition to leftists who suck up to other groups of fascists, such as the Islamists or Serb Chetniks.

Elements of the Decent Left are becoming just like the old left in their readiness to get in bed with fascists and bigots. Only instead of getting in bed with Islamists, anti Semites and Serb Chetniks, they are getting in bed with Islamophobes and anti immigrant racists.

I hope that is sufficiently nuanced for you.

7/15/2010 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to Marko.

Marc Mulholland

7/15/2010 01:33:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

O/t -

7/15/2010 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

mainstream antiwar types, champions of the UN and multilateralism etc

Bastards eh?

Marko, just a word of advice. Can I recommend that you steer clear of the large statement and the wide-ranging overview for the while? I don't think it's what you're best at.

7/16/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

Off/old topic, but a nice skewering of Decents' favourite Pascal Bruckner's book here:

7/16/2010 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding BenSix's link:

"By kind invitation of Robert Halfon MP, the Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to the UK launch of the Friends of Israel Initiative, with The Hon José María Aznar, The Hon. Marcelo Pera and Andrew Roberts."

Does anyone fancy bringing up Roberts' address to the Springbok Club? Or some of Roberts other, more...ahem...interesting views.

I know feelings are mixed on the lad Hari, but I thought this old article of his provided a fairly (small d) decent laundry list.

Von Pseud

7/16/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

That Eaglestone review chimes with my reading of parts of Bruckner's book. I'm also pretty surprised it got published by Princeton, it's a scattergun, one-eyed polemic. Can ee why Cohne lieks it, but it's far from a proper scholarly work.

The review also hits on that main problem with a lot of the 'west is best' stuff:

With a patrician-sounding condescension, Bruckner explains that the French youths "of distant immigrant origin who hate France but have nowhere else to go, who boo ... when the national anthem is played at soccer games" (no cricket-test for nationality in France) "and wave Algerian flags" (just in case you thought the distant origin of the immigrants might be, for example, white Dutch or white British) need to "take themselves in hand ... undergo self-reconciliation and to transform their anger into political action, into collective improvement". In short, they need to learn to love Asterix, the Republican ideal and secularism.

But, oddly, it is this France, obsessed with heritage culture, that gets it in the neck in the penultimate chapter, suffering, Bruckner argues, from "a unique combination of arrogance and self-hatred". Are the flag-waving Muslim boys supposed to love this? It seems more as if Bruckner, too intelligent to fall into a simple nostalgia, has also got "nowhere else to go".

the football example seems to come exclusively from one game, when france played algeria in 2001. I think that's the real issue with all these polemics, as eaglestone sums up well:

Did "anti-Americanism" win Harold Pinter the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, or was it, in part, perhaps, his astonishing influence on modern theatre? Is Tariq Ramadan really a "fundamentalist preacher" or a more complex figure? Did the "cream of the European intelligentsia" blame the US for 9/11, or was it one or two commentators?

7/16/2010 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Did the "cream of the European intelligentsia" blame the US for 9/11, or was it one or two commentators?

Fair do's, Mary Beard is the cream of the European intelligentsia... (Not that she said anything so simplistic as that she blamed the US - or indeed anything I disagreed with.)

7/16/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to remind you all of Marko's views

'I say this by way of a preliminary, for despite all the crimes against Serb civilians that accompanied Operation Storm, the fact remains that it was an entirely necessary, legitimate military action that should rightly be celebrated.'

This was the largest single act of ethnic cleansing in the wars of the former Yugoslavia.

7/17/2010 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off-topic for this thread but relevant to our monitoring of Decency:

This report argues that the UK government did nothing to understand the levels of violence in Iraq after the invasion and that sometimes UK officials fostered a deliberate institutional ignorance of the subject.

It is inexplicable how a Government that was apparently hyper-sensitive to the suffering of Iraqis pre-2003 neither undertook nor supported independent efforts that would have helped understand what was happening post-2003.


7/18/2010 10:09:00 AM  

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