Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Aaro in the mist

Who reads the Times? I don’t have an image of a typical Times reader, in the sense that I have one of a Guardianista or Telegraph reader. These might be caricatures, but at least they give the eager columnist a sense of an audience out there. I think Dave’s struggling too.

THESE ARE THE strangest of times. Liberal interventionists lie down with neoconservatives, hardline Marxists make awkward love to religious fundamentalists, the Tory best hope is a Blairite and Ariel Sharon founds his own centre party. It reminds me of those TV home video shows, full of cheeky mice playing with tolerant cats. This is what globalisation really does, it changes the arguments.

Globalisation caused the war in Iraq and led Ariel Sharon to found his own party? How’d that work, exactly? I think Dave’s having the same trouble I have with defining his readers. Let’s take a hack at it. A Times reader is…no, it’s foggy…hang on…something to do with process management, maybe? Anyway, I’m pretty sure he just takes a half hour prêt a manger break to scan the op ed pages. “The conventional wisdom” he asks himself nervously. “Is it still wise?...why, yes, so it is. Phew!” And then it’s back to value engineering the project.

Now this is just fine in theory. Aaro’s right where he should be in his long waddle through the institutions. But there’s no give in this audience, no laughs and no heckling. They just sit there, waiting to be told that all’s basically right with their world.

This tends to leave Aaro a bit hesitant. He needs something big and general – a kind of ASDA variation on Timothy Garton Ash (as someone here once commented). Right, you can hear him saying to himself. Globalisation. That’s a good thing. Let’s start with how globalization is a good thing. It changes things. It changes everything. It changes any old thing. It changes arguments.

OK, sorted. We’re part of the cool kids club. We know that the arguments have changed. From what, to what and by what agency? Hey, if you have to ask, you’ll never know. Anyway, I’d better tell them I’m not a social democrat type anymore.

And this is the next weird alliance — that of neoliberals of the market kind, and social progressives, which is what I hope I am.

See? I’m on your side. I mean I think it’s your side. Hey it’s our side. And I’ll just go ahead and prove it. Those old fashioned social democrats are just Daily Mail style reverse racists. They don’t like foreigners taking their jobs. I’ll prove it by padding the whole of the rest of my column out with copious quotes from a report by an obscure group in favour of migration. As market neoliberals, you might approve of labour arbitrage reducing the cost of your goods and services. As a social progressive, I think cheap au pairs and Moldovan women enslaved into prostitution are cool, funky and just show how open and tolerant we all are. Will this do? Is there anyone out there?

Rioja Kid


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff - well-written, insightful and funny.

11/24/2005 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sharp and witty - good shot

Ann on

11/24/2005 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - perceptive and funny

11/25/2005 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot On! Aaronovitch does not write insightful or intelligent articles .Unfortunately, news editors think he does

12/02/2005 06:25:00 PM  

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