Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In which Aaro goes a little bit stark staring fucking mad

Did he use the Hitler analogy? Yes he did, folks. David Davis is ... Hitler. He's Hitler, can't you see it? Look at his Hitlery face, I ask you guv, what a Hitler!

Blood & Treasure, as usual, had the pundosphere pegged on the issue of Davis; he's a mad careerist with lashings of warm Hitler. It is very funny indeed to see Aaro thrashing around in this one; the trouble is that what he wants to do is carry out a principled opposition to stuntism, plebiscite and the general free-jazz approach to improvising constitutional devices[1]. But this would put him in the position of having to criticise Saint Martin of Bell, and he's too wily a fox for that[2].

So, in between the careerist and Hitler, we get Aaro's once-more apologia for the database state. It's no better than (indeed, no different from) the last time we Watched it. Aaro still doesn't get the idea that it's the abuse of the system that people are worried about, not its use. If someone in power took against Aaro (as in principle they might), then the combination of ID cards, CCTV, DNA databases, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all would make it very easy for them to play merry hell with him. It's what Edward Luttwak memorably called "the infrastructure of repression".

And while it's true that the British are really quite unlikely to elect a Fascist government, it should also be noted that the powers granted under the last Terrorism Act are currently in use by councils up and down the country to police the practice of putting down a lodging address in order to apply to a popular school. A power that can be used on a pretext as trivial as that is clearly a completely discretionary one that can be used for any reason at all; it's not just the Central Government OMG Big Brother that we have to worry about; it's the freedom from malice, caprice or pettiness of every single local government officer in the land.

I mean:

" It's worse than that: unless you're doing something odd, or a crime has been committed, no one watching the pictures cares about you or even notices you."


[1] Remember, Birtism. Aaro's fundamental political principle is what Henry Farrell calls the "as long as it doesn't frighten the servants and horses" argument. His main political principle is that as few impedimenta as possible should be put in the way of an enlightened technocracy providing "public services" to a subset of the population who can be identified as "decent, hardworking, ordinary", while keeping the rest of the buggers down, with the constitution of the ranks of the decent, hardworking and ordinary subject to a periodic five-yearly election, in which the views of national columnists can be given their due influence. It's what one might call "taking the politics out of politics".

[2] I believe Aaro has had a go at that doctor down in Wyre Forest in the past but can't find the link so I might be wrong. Btw, if Martin Kettle writes something on this subject, please try and keep the news away from me.


Blogger Unknown said...

It should also be noted that official state actors are not the only potential abusers, there are criminals too.

There will be so many people with some kind of access to the system and that access will be so valuable to the wrong hands that it is almost inevitable that it will be abused. We can't really expect higher standards for ID card data that we can for "Top Secret" restricted circulation JIC briefings and there will be more and better attempts to access it.

It is also one less tripwire should a government veer towards fascism.

6/17/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Bloody hell, I read the Times (because it available at 'student price' at the Uni I work at and it has an excellent set of puzzles), and Aaro is the worst of it. I expect nasty crap from the right-wingers, and the mental ex-RCPers who seem to populate the Thunderer column. But Aaro pretends to be 'left'.

The column includes this defence of the DNA database: "Mr Davis says he would only maintain the records of those who had been imprisoned "but the innocent get taken off". What he actually means is, the guilty who haven't been to prison will also get taken off. Those crimes won't be solved."

It is clear from the context of the passage that when Aaro says 'the guilty who haven't been to prison' he doesn't mean people who have been convicted and then fined or given suspended sentences. He is lauding the ability of the DNA database to solve crimes by virtue of it holding "DNA evidence that had come from people not convicted of crimes". In other words, Aaro is a mentalist from a bad dystopian sci-fi novel - the category of people who are 'guilty but have not been to prison' includes people who are innocent but in the FUTURE will commit a crime for which they will be convicted.

6/17/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger AndyB said...

By the way, that reasoning means that while Aaro might make an argument for David Davis being an authoritarian in the Adolf Hitler mould, only without the genocidal imagination, there is a much stronger argument to be made that Aaro's views on guilt and innocence are those of Sidney De'ath, only without the endorsement of capital punishment.

Or, the Aaro is an idiot, who doesn't understand what he is writing. Or, that Aaro is slippery, despicable Government propogandist. Given that this column has him repeating the frankly stupid Government-pushed talking point (see letter by Ben Bradshaw in the Guardian) which runs 'David Davis doesn't like gays, we do, therefore we are liberal, he is illiberal - therefore back us on policy that has nothing at all to do with gays [except we hope you read the hidden subtext - the brown people we lock up are terrorists who don't like gays either, so '42 days' is liberal policy, see] and everything has do with illiberalism'.

Stupid? Sorry, I meant as nasty as Aaro.

6/17/2008 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Bugger! I considered posting a prediction that Aaro would cover this one... And then bloody Kelvin MacKenzie changed his mind! Murdoch didn't approve. So I didn't. I thought, "ah-ha! that's going to the Times line; just ignore the whole thing." DA should read his emails.

Oh, I've also upset Michael White (who even bothered to reply to me in the Guardian comments). Have to be really really nasty now.

6/17/2008 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Andrew, that interpretation might be too harsh. Doesn't DA mean it will help solve unsolved crimes, ie. people who haven't been caught for crimes they have already committed?

6/17/2008 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Link! link!

6/17/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Or, that Aaro is slippery, despicable Government propogandist. "

That'll be the one...

6/17/2008 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to get all legalist and pedantic, but if you haven't been proved guilty in a court of law you are not guilty. Only you and God know exactly what you did and why you did it; the court doesn't know whether you did what you're charged with, but by the end of the trial it does know whether you've been found guilty. A DNA match may make it harder for you to get off, but it doesn't enable the police to try and convict you all on its own - that really is Nazi thinking.

(Sorry, but it is. I did the Nazis in my MA. Just like that, they were.)

6/17/2008 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, "to try and convict" means "to put on trial and convict" - not "to try to convict".

6/17/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Doesn't this make Aaro a Holocaust-denier? Or, rather, it would if "the worst argument in the history of the interwebs" (tm) had any merit


6/18/2008 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

DD if by "link, link!" you meant the Michael White and myself argument, it's here. I'm DaveW. I replied to him; he didn't come back to me.

I admit that I wrote my original comment when just waking up and that the Powell reference reminded me of Jamie's post on this. But his comeback was condescending; I considered taking him up on other stuff too: Powell and Foot 'friends' - news to me. I knew they'd been paired, and respected each other's Parliamentary skills, and had conspired together (on Europe, IIRC), but that's still far short of friendship.

6/18/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Aaro have to keep on reprinting NuLab talking points for the rest of his working life, because of the help he got from Mandelson in getting into journalism?

Moussaka Man

6/24/2008 06:28:00 PM  

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