Friday, December 05, 2008

Democratiya Open Thread

Thanks to BenSix's comment, we learn that there's a new Democratiya.

Honestly, I can't be bothered with any of it. Well, I was impressed that someone named 'Progress' wrote Progressive Multilateralism: The truly global society. Progress turns out to be Brian Brivati and readers won't be surprised to learn that he continues to fight a valiant war on English as we know it.

At the core of everything we do must be a commitment to furthering social justice, enlarging human security, nurturing democracy and protecting human rights. This must infuse all of our foreign policy and, as we move towards a new economic order, it should influence our worldview at every level of policy.

In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.

And I'd like to note Obama, the unions and labour law reform:

Eric Lee is the founding editor of LabourStart, the news and campaigning website of the international trade union movement. He writes ‘Global Labor Notes’ for Democratiya in a personal capacity.

On the home page, the word between 'and' and 'law' is spelled the US way; the UK spelling is used in the article itself. Oddly, the piece ends with the above paragraph, so Alan 'NTM' Johnson can't have just used find and replace to alter spellings in the document. (Umm, second thought before hitting the 'publish post' button: yes he can. The author credit para is from a separate document.) From the Democratiya style sheet:

Please use UK English spelling and double-check all non-English words.

But ‘Global Labor Notes’ is a regular feature?


Blogger BenSix said...

From here...

Some readers will find themselves exasperated by Lévy's very French form of discursive, emotional writing. It lacks both the concision and specificity of the best English-language essays such as Nick Cohen's What's Left which covers similar ground.

Is he arguing that What's Left is one of the best English-language essays, or is he just a very poor writer?

12/05/2008 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger BenSix said...


I meant, from here...

12/05/2008 07:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maajid Nawaz is another British Muslim who was stupid enough to join Hizb-ut-Tahrir and apparently thinks this gives him a special insight into the travails of young Muslims, rather than just a special insight into his own stupidity.

Martin Shaw gives a good smackdown to some guy from the University of Haifa who thinks that Ilan Pappe's credibility is irreparably damaged by the fact he has been attacked by Efraim Karsh.

12/05/2008 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely not the same Brian Brivati who last year penned The End of Decline: Blair and Brown in Power which extolled how New Labour had forged a Britain 'confident in three vital areas: political economy, culture and our role in the world'?

Martin Shaw's rebuttal in the letters section was excellent. I particularly enjoyed his comment that:

I do indeed believe that the foundation of the state [of Israel] in 1948 was a historical disaster, involving the brutal destruction of much of Arab society in Palestine, and fundamentally compromising Israel's moral basis

I bet the people who run Democratiya are really regreting they invited Shaw on board to try and give the journal a bit of intellectual ballast.

12/06/2008 01:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd wonder why Dementyia would publish
such a rather insulting letter as a response to Shaw. Must be a point to that.

A bit like the discussion with Shaw over @ engage. Hirschele suggesting Shaw's last contribution is antisemitic, and the crowd in the comments following on: anti-semitic! anti-semite! holocaust denier!!

Damage done, I suppose.

12/06/2008 11:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, remember I told you last week that I once met minor-league fruitcake Tony 'Davos Watch' Gosling? Well, we invited Eric Lee to the same conference, and they had a bit of a row towards the end, over the issue of batshit crazy antisemitic conspiracy theories (TG: for. EL: rather against). I was washing up for most of it, so I only got the highlights.

So, um, all this might actually be the result of an argument in Secular Hall in 1999 and hence my fault. Soz.

Chris Williams

PS ISTR that Hillel Ticktin, Alice Nutter and Charlie Stross were also there. Stick that in your Horowitz nework, by all means.

12/07/2008 02:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Not as funny as I thought it was' department:

In the cold light of morning I'm now pretty sure that the Gosling/Lee conference was different to the Nutter/Stross/Ticktin one. Damn.

12/07/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred Siegel's piece, as brought to us by BenSix, begins:

"One of the few certainties of the 20th century was that the apostles of Marxist materialism and the adherents of Muslim theocracy were mortal enemies. In Afghanistan, they went to war."

Taking apart this stuff is not hard but, hey, I've got a few minutes spare...

Apart from Stalinists, I am under the impression that most "Marxist materialists", certainly the SWP-types, and virtually the entire liberal-left opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Sometimes to the point (mistakenly) of supporting Western aid to the Mujahideen.

What Siegel has wrongly decided is a shift on the left is actually a very good example of the broad ideological consistency over time of the various left-wing opponents of Decentism.

Siegel's interpretation of 18th century French politics is just as poor.

12/07/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh yes, Siegel really is terrible. For Foucault, disillusion with the USSR, as with Virginia Woolf who finally discovered that Hitler wasn't a nice guy, meant that it was their own liberal societies which were truly fascist.

I don't think Foucault ever quite said that. He was best read as a provocateur. I think that no liberal consideration of the prison system or mental asylums is complete without having read him. You don't have to like him, but if you believe - as I do - that everything should be challenged, he's a much more important intellectual than BHL.

I'm much less informed about Woolf. 'The Hours' is one of my favourite films ever, but I can't even get past page 1 of 'Mrs Dalloway.' However, Google books has Virgia Woolf as Feminist online and here's a relevant passage.

This text [an undated holograph mislabeled "Women Must Weep" around 1935] includes a lengthy comparison of Hitler and Asquith (in respect to the way the English Prime Minister treated the Suffragists) ... The logic was now clear: sexism at home and fascism abroad were the same thing.

Comparing the 'Cat and Mouse' act to fascist tactics isn't unreasonable. Denying half the population the vote is liberal now? And it's clear from that the Woolf didn't consider Hitler to be a nice guy (and why should she? Leonard was Jewish).

12/07/2008 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To my amazement I actually got an email from NTM in person bringing the good news of the latest issue being available.

OK, I know I'm nothing more than one of any number of names on his mailing list but I'm buggered if I know what I've done to get on it.

12/07/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I was unfortunate enough to discover today that John Rentoul, previously the Invisible Man of Decency, has a blog, or rather a "blog" seeing as it's basically a series of columns hosted by the Independent. Needless to say he's a big admire of James Purnell (on whom, today, Jackie Ashley does a Polly Toynbee Imaginary-Labour-Minster-In-My-Head piece in the Guardian, by the way).

Anyway, I mention it here because it transpires that like Brian Brivati, Rentoul teaches Contemporary History. I like the idea of Contemporary History as a discipline, but can anybody assure me that it isn't entirely taught by mediocre courtiers? Not so much history being written by the winners, as contemporary history being written by the winners' fan clubs.

12/08/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can anybody assure me that it isn't entirely taught by mediocre courtiers?

My MA was in Politics and C. H., and my doctorate was in street protest and political violence in the 1970s, which I'd class as c. h. However, I've had very limited success in getting anyone interested in having me teach or research anything in that area; I currently teach Criminology. (At least, I currently teach students who are doing Criminology degrees.)

12/08/2008 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to note the enduring barrel-scraping of the approach to securing contributors and the general poverty of the editing.

The supposed expose of the Israel Lobby is actually a boring book review - essentially a couple of paraphrases of fairly uninteresting stories - by someone with no real credentials to speak of, and who claims that the Mearsheimer and Walt book is 'funnier' than the one she's reviewing - only to reveal in the footnotes that she's actually only read M&W's article as opposed to their book. You wouldn't get away with that as an undergrad politics/contmp hist student. Alan NTM clearly doesn't proofread the articles.

12/08/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember David Bowie wannabe Rentoul on Head2Head a while back. His Tory counterpart (Ken Clarke?) was attacking the government's record on health and asking why they disregarded the views of those working in the NHS. Rentoul accused him of pandering to producer interests. It was a real "end of Animal Farm" moment.

12/08/2008 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Griffin said...

Bostom is an interesting choice of interviewee.

He along with Bat Ye'or was at the conference in Brussels last year where the 'counterjihad' movement linked up with elements of the European far right, notably Vlaams Belang, the (the former Vlaams Blok). (pdf)

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs had a major row with him and broke with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch over this issue.

I guess Democratiya doesn't share Little Green Footballs' scruples.

12/08/2008 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And David Hirsh wilts at this stern correction from Marko: "Croatia then succeeded in establishing itself as an independent state through its war of independence against Serbia and the Yugoslav army in 1991-92, but this involved no ‘campaigns of ethnic cleansing’, much less ones that ‘drew on the Ustasha tradition’."

Oh dear, our famously impartial historian is being somewhat 'economical with the actualite'. The The Lašva Valley ethnic cleansing (92-93), involving numerous massacres, was actively supported by Croatian leaders. And there were many others similar acts before Operation Storm(front) in 1995. Marko of course is all for attributing the actions of RS to the leadership in Belgrade. The Zagreb-HVO connection seems however to be one of his many blind spots.

Perhaps Marko should consider some of those memory-boosting 'superfoods'.


12/12/2008 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I guess some sad bastards just never learn...

12/12/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not with you there, JM. Marko's responding to a specific statement about Croatia's war of independence against the JNA (1991-2). I don't think the fact that he doesn't mention Croatia's proxy war against the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992-3) is proof of anything.

12/12/2008 03:31:00 PM  

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