Wednesday, July 23, 2008

That Aaro Column

Say what you have to in the comments. I haven't a clue what he's on about.

DA is clearly running scared of libel tourism[1]. He's not going to satisfy any George Carmans de nos jours by actually naming names or giving us even a hint who he's thinking of.

They, I think, are more realistic than those who manage on one day to laud the Democrat as not being a real politician, and on the next to praise him for his sensible left-trimming when seeking the party's nomination and his equally sensible centre-hugging once it was in the bag.

Who are these people? Where can I find them?

This in the country that has sent Big Brother, Pop Idol, Wife Swap and Location, Location, Location over the Atlantic in the other direction, while taking delivery of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Wire.

And The Simpsons. Actually, Big Brother isn't British. It's Dutch. I'm not sure about the others.

In part I think that anti-Americanism is linked to a view of change as decline. The imagination is that dynamic capitalism, associated with the US, is destroying our authentic lives, with our own partly willing connivance. It is a continuing and - at the moment - constant narrative, uniting left and right conservatives, which will usually take in the 19th- century radical journalist William Cobbett (conveniently shorn of his anti-Semitism), and end with an expression of disgust over the Dome, the Olympics or Tesco. Just as bird flu is a disease from out of the East, runaway modernity is a scourge originating to the West.

But the Dome was crap. Disgust over the Olympics is usually about Chinese human rights abuses rather than modernism. (He can keep Tesco.) Surely if one were to look for "runaway modernity" the far East - Japan, Singapore, South Korea are places to go. And if "runaway modernity" is the issue, where are the pickets against iPhones?

[1] Ooh look: Harry's Place praises Policy Exchange now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mary Beard reference still annoys me. Quote:

I can't help recalling those - the most honest - who commented, in journals he writes for and on the very day after September 11, that the Americans had had it coming.

I guess we can parse the plurals as something to keep the lawyers happy, and assume he's talking about the Dread anti-American Beard.

But the very day after September 11? Oddly enough, John Sutherland said in November 2001 that Beard, of course, wrote this hours after the bombing, but Sutherland (of course) was wrong - the first line of Beard's contribution to the 4th October LRB is

"In a telephone poll last week, readers of the Cambridge Evening News voted decisively against any military action aimed at those responsible for the attacks on the USA.

Which presumably dates it to 18th September at the earliest.

And, to the extent that Beard associated herself with the sentiment that the USA had it coming, she certainly never suggested that 'the Americans had had it coming'. Quote:

I did not say that 'America had it coming.' I observed ... that 'that is ... what many people, openly or privately, think'.
To believe that the United States 'had it coming' is not to believe that the victims deserved to die. It is, rather, to recognise a causal connection between US foreign policy and the events of 11 September; to see those events as a sad but predictable outcome of US actions elsewhere in the world.

That's an important difference - but it's precisely the difference Aaro is trying to obscure (i.e. between criticism of the US and just plain hating Americans).

7/23/2008 11:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are Nick and Aaro having nervous breakdowns? I don't ask that faecestiously; their writing seems to be genuinely falling apart.

7/24/2008 03:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think that by "disgust over ... the Olympics" he meant "disgust over Britain having the Olympics in 2012" rather than because China hosts them in 2008.

He's got a point there - but I suspect the media commentary on getting the Games (we're incapable of getting things built; it's in London only so there's no point) wouldn't have been so jaundiced if it hadn't happened under Labour leadership, both nationally and in London.

Which may be DA's broader point, that Labour is being deserted by fastidious middle class writers on aesthetic grounds. New Labour is just too vulgar for them.

7/24/2008 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's lazy, and consciously lazy, I think. If Aaro was asked to back up the "those" claim he couldn't do it - but how often is Aaro is a position where you can make him back up his claim? That's the advantage of being a columnist - people can disagree with you all they like, but you never actually have to get into the business of backing up what you say unless you want to.

Can anybody trace a link to the recent (it was this week, I'm sure) report about comparative life expentances, health and so on in different countries? You know, it might be possible that some people dislike the American model not because they think it's vulgar, not because they have a fear of modernity, but because they think in certain impotrant ways it's inequitable, ruthless, destructive of social protection and politically inaccessible to all but the rich.

It would be possible to have a discussion about that - whether it's true and how far - but it can't be had if you just start with the claim that the people who think so are "anti-American". Now I actually tend to think that that's pretty much the whole idea - that comfortable and complacent people don't really want serious social criticism of the US model, it's beyond the edges of what they consider sensible contemporary thinking. Perhaps that's why the Times and David Aaronovitch are such a good fit.

7/24/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DA: This in the country that has sent Big Brother, Pop Idol, Wife Swap and Location, Location, Location over the Atlantic in the other direction, while taking delivery of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Wire.

Though DA ignores the remakes of The Office, AbFab, Life on Mars and all the chocolate box costume dramas we do so well. Oh, and the UK also gets Shipwrecked, The Apprentice (Trump Edition) and various Police! Stop!-style CCTV footage on Five.


7/24/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

That report about comparative life expectancies.

7/24/2008 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the prejudice is that American culture has had a negative influence on the world, tabloidising our journalism, subverting the gentle land of Ealing with the violent pleasures of Die Hard 10 and commercialising our most intimate lives


This in the country that has sent Big Brother, Pop Idol, Wife Swap and Location, Location, Location over the Atlantic in the other direction, while taking delivery of Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Wire.

These two summaries are equally simplistic and laughably untrue. but only one is meant to be satirical...

both countries export good stuff to the other, and both countries export bad stuff to the other. plus there are an awful lot of US/UK joint productions.

7/24/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Mainstream US TV is far worse than British, though. Most American TV is just awful.

7/24/2008 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaro is not only afraid of libel tourism. He doesn't want to say coherently who said what because then somebody might look it up and see the distortions.

Moussaka Man

7/24/2008 05:27:00 PM  

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