Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friends of friends of friends

Time for a trail of the long-awaited and as yet not-even-outlined "Decent Racism" post. Great Moments in Decency meets Real Xenophobic Nutters of Genius. Uptown!

Bear with me, occasional readers, because this is a bit of a concatenated series of links, but the payoff is gold dust.

Via Matthew Yglesias, the semi-mainstream media have picked up on the split (noted at the time in AW comments, whoever spotted it speak up for a shout-out) between Charles "Little Green Footballs" Johnson and other right wing nutters, over the issue of support for Vlaams Belang.

This is mainly of interest to us on AW because one of the deeply involved participants in this blogspat was Andrew Bostom, "Anti-jihadi" blogger, supporter of Geert Wilders ... and, subject of a Democratiya interview, in which he was allowed to rant at length about the inherent evils of Islam, with occasional mild interruptions from Alan NTM of the form "Comrade Bostom, some might say X ... why are they wrong?". It is quite literally true that the Decent Left's theoretical journal is happily publishing people who are regarded as far-right nutters by Little Green Footballs. What a world.

Also worth a squint - Tom Griffin's (and now that I come to think of it, his was the original tip, thanks Tom) article at Liberal Conspiracy about how deep this all goes. These are the people, btw, who want us to believe that they're serious about a united "anti BNP, anti Islamofascist" movement which they are sadly too busy to organise themselves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Cohen and Martin Bright have had cosy chats with a weird far right website called Shire Network News
whose tagline is 'Defending the Anglosphere'.

On their blog

An allusion is made to their own split over links with the Vlaams Belang.

Why Cohen and Bright have anything to do with these fruitcakes is an interesting subject of investigation.



Word verification, 'deberati' - are they the writers of chick-lit?

4/23/2009 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Decentiya is indeed a thoroughly bizarre journal. it will include pieces which lambast people intimately connected with the journal (admirable perhaps, but highly unusual in academic circles) but will at the same time host fawning interviews with these kinds of far-right nutcases. It'sl also entirely un-edited.

The stuff in the main post is all instructive in the 'Cohen vs the Fabians' debacle, isn't it? I mean Cohen came out with a load of rot about the Fabians 'platforming Islamists', where the majority of his examples were non-Fabian events where Fabians happened to speak and where people Cohen considers islamists were speaking.

But here we have a Decent-approved journal which is far more literally platforming far-right nutters. it's also pretty weird that HP Sauce would give over its 'your view' sections to people like Chas Newkey-Burden (outspoken admirer of Lieberman) and Alexander Hitchens, who seems to be a hardline neoconservative.

I still don't quite understand this 'anti-BNP, Anti-Islamofascism' idea anyway. As (i think) ejh pointed out on liberal conspiracy, it's very unclear what this movement (all of whose loudest anti-fascists are far too busy on teh internets to bother organising) is meant to look like.

Judging by the actions of these supporters, it'll involve whingeing at length about minor leadership changes in the SWP, loudly supporting every action of the state of Israel (despite that state having a fascist in a major position in government) and slinging around dubious chages of antisemitism at people one already disliked. In essence it'd just be another reincarnation of Unite against terror/euston, involving will-you-condemnathons ad nauseam, tedious attempts at 'isolation' of the standard baddies, and absolutely zero action.

4/24/2009 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger fatbongo said...

A big problem with a Decent 'anti-BNP, Anti-Islamofascism'initiative is that the SWP have been doing anti-racist work against the NF/BNP for decades.

Whatever, you think of the SWPs motives and tactics, this is going to be hard to ignore.

And as the sole purpose of the initiative would be to illustrate 'how the left are cunts'.....

4/24/2009 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Griffin said...

Thanks for the plug. The Lib Con piece was based on research I was doing for the Neocon Europe site, which has since gone live. It's very much a work in progress but you might find it useful.

4/24/2009 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous john fallhammer said...

There's an on-topic piece by Terry Eagleton in the Graun. Familiar ground for AWIWOD readers, mainly about how crucial tolerance is for liberalism to be meaningful. The comments area looks like it might turn into a lot of excrement-hurling by enraged decent-atheists.

4/25/2009 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Good piece by Terry. Great to see he still won't leave Amis alone. Should make for another interesting chat around the water cooler at Manchester Uni staff room on Monday. (Not literally obviously).

4/25/2009 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

there's also a two page profile of Michael Gove - could someone read and summarise it for me please? I have already puked up my breakfast twice in the first paragraph.

4/25/2009 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger fatbongo said...


Dawkins strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq, but preaches a self-satisfied, old-fashioned Whiggish rationalism that can be wielded against a benighted Islam.....Whether they like it or not, Dawkins and his ilk have become weapons in the war on terror. Western supremacism has gravitated from the Bible to dawkins should do what exactly?

It's a crap article.

4/25/2009 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The only interesting thing I could find in th Gove was his refusal to discuss anything to do with foreign policy. As the writer put it, that's pretty weird for someone who wrote the (excerable) Celsius 7/7... Is this another example of someone who believes in TGISOOT being able to ignore it as and when he chooses?

Eagleton is a bit sloppy on McEwan, I think. the latter seems to have always been a 'rationalist' (or whatever), it's just that he used to use his novels to play out the tensions between (say) new age ideas and 'rationality'. What's changed is his admitting in a New Yorker interview that he was always firmly on the side of 'the rational' and that characters in his books who believe in 'spirituality' are meant to be jokes. Which not only rather demeans his art, it also makes him look pretty stupid given his response to Amis (ie itrrationally ignoring what Amis said then saying 'terrorism is bad').

By the way, is there an ageing writer alive anywhere in the world whom Amis won't pen a boring tribute to in tehgraun?

4/25/2009 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

García Márquez, I'll hazard. And Grass.

4/25/2009 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

the argument eagleton is quietly helping himself to re grayling, dawkins et al, can also be found here (subscribers only, sorry), where our tel for once can't avoid acknowledging it's lifted pretty directly from the book he's just been reviewing (ben wilson's what price liberty?)*, and where i'd say it was a lot less glibly made*

*(i got the print version myself or i'd cut and paste)

4/25/2009 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

I'm really quite tired of people lumping Grayling and Dawkins in with Hitchens and Amis. It shows the most superficial understanding of their output. And I'm tired of literary theory-spouting arses like Eagleton pretending to higher knowledge of pretty much anything aside from literary theory. If Dawkins was disqualified from writing about religion by a lack of theological qualifications then why the hell would I listen to Eagleton on liberalism?

But most of all I'm tired of this suggestion that because Decentists like to strike a secularist Enlightenment pose the case against religion shouldn't be made. It's exactly as stupid as the tediously familiar "argument" that Stalin discredited atheism. It changes not even slightly the unfortunate underlying truth that Eagleton's Catholicism is founded on an absurd story book arbitrarily plucked from an array of equally implausible competitors.

4/26/2009 12:30:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

OT but Aaro has written up the Oxford 'debate'.

Pisspoor stuff really. It's pretty clear that nobody comes out of that 'debate' with their reputation enhanced.

4/26/2009 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Oh and Nick Cohen in writing a not entirely shit column shocker. But his approval of absolutely everything Denis MacShane (again, who looks like Cohen's only real source for anything these days) says is odd, and Nick can't help putting his foot in it:

I do not know if the crisis is making a few of the sophisticates who used to jiggle their fingers and put postmodern quotation marks around the so-called war on terror think again.[...]

We should end the use of "Af-Pak" to describe the war against Islamism in south Asia. Not only is it an ugly and faintly racist - would we call tensions between China and Japan "Chink-Jap?" - but it misses the true nature of a triangular conflict.Can nick really not see the difference between the two phrases? Equally, why are the quotation marks around war on terror 'postmodern'? I can't work the 'jiggling fingers' bit out at all either. Anyway, MacShane is right to note that Pakistan is still largely worried about India, but a lot of that is exactly the kind of conspiracy theory scaremongering that Nick, Aaro etc are meant to dislike and that they're meant to be opposed to our 'appeasing'. And the new column still contains pointless crap like this:

tackle the power bases of the religious far right in British universitieser, how, exactly? This is typical decency - we must tackle / engage / etc etc while offering no suggestions of how it might actually be done. I'm also far from convinced the situation in universities is as bad as HP Sauce etc make out.

while we're on that, how exactly is this going to work:

put pressure on India to temper its hostile stance and give Pakistan the time to confront the internal menaceCohen is right to criticise any idea of singling out Pakistani refugees and immigrants for special treatment and goes into some admirable detail as to why it wouldn't be a good thing, and why it might not work. But in the piece there about 10 other suggestions that exist purely in the realms of fantasy. Getting better, but still must try harder. And as usual he's weakest where his old prejudices emerge in all their ranting 'glory'. can he really not give the 'postmodern' stuff up?

Oh yeah - I wenr to that Tate exhibition that Nick was so opposed to the other week. Can't be bothered to explain why but his piece contained numerous clangers of misinterpretation... and there were works of art that specifically addressed his most vociferous objections too.

4/26/2009 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

jiggling fingers is presumably making the physical gesture of air-quotes (he's right, this is annoying - not that i've seen anyone do it in a non-joking way for a good ten years)

the shtick here is quite similar to eagleton's: "It is fashionable today to speak of being open to the 'Other'" -- yes if by fashionable you mean a handful of people did it a lot in a particular milieu 15-20 years ago and its rhetorical effectiveness is long played out, hence excellent as a semaphored cartoon of people thinking lazily (if less good as an actual spearing of current fashions)

jiggling fingers and air-quotes are shorthand for "my stupid opponents trapped in their brainless conformist postures": as always -- and sadly i think this applies to dawkins as much as cohen or eagleton (grayling i know nothing of) -- if you assume the root of your opponent's position is stupidity (that's to say, if you don't at some point also argue with the best and deepest possible reading of his/her argument) then all you're ever doing is juggling with stupid ideas, and the blowback becomes only too obvious

(terry can be much slyer when he believes he needs to be: as i say, i think the argument made in the LRB piece cedes enough good rhinking and justification to the liberal secular enlightenment argument to make it actually more thoughtful than posturing, for a change; it's a dialectics of enlightenment position rather than a "whig history of militant reason" -- but as stuart says, eagleton's very far from forthcoming when it comes to stating the basics of his own religious faith and beliefs... but then he's always been like this; he's a slippery fucker with an eye on his own future needs, manoeuvre-wise)

(and he's just as bad when it comes to lit theory)

(evidently i have a bee in my bonnet abt eagleton; ignore if O\T)

4/26/2009 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

So far, I haven't seen any specific criticism of anything Eagleton said in his piece, nor on his attack on Dawkins (probably best exemplified in this infamous one ).
Eagleton's position appears to be firstly that secular militancy disallows an intellectual relationship to religion that sits alongside theism and atheism rather than is forced to choose sides. Or as belle la trieste says: "(there is) enough good thinking and justification to the liberal secular enlightenment argument to make it actually more thoughtful than posturing, for a change; it's a dialectics of enlightenment position rather than a "whig history of militant reason".
That he lumps Dawkins in with Hitchens/Amis is less a leap, more a short-cut to his curiosity that part of the intellectual arm of the war on terror uses secular militancy as a trojan horse.

4/26/2009 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous mary said...

organic cheeseboard said...
OT but Aaro has written up the Oxford 'debate'.

Pisspoor stuff really. It's pretty clear that nobody comes out of that 'debate' with their reputation enhanced.

4/26/2009 08:58:00 AM

and we have our own commentary on his piece:

4/26/2009 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

DJ Taylor, in the Indie today:

Going back to Orwell, I spent Wednesday night at the Foreign Press Association watching the award of this year's Orwell Prizes for journalism, books and – just to show how up-to-date we are – blogging. The most curious feature of the event was the way in which almost every speaker contrived to refer to the Observer journalist Nick Cohen. "This is my Nick Cohen moment ..." somebody would declare, to gales of respectful laughter. Or: "As my old drinking companion Nick Cohen once said ..." The source of this tide of (mostly) occluded reference wasn't hard to find. At last month's debate, convened to mark the announcement of the shortlists, Mr Cohen, who had perhaps lunched rather too well, made several flamboyant interventions, denounced the judges and was captured in full hectoring flow on YouTube.

What we were witnessing, I soon deduced, was the creation of a myth. No matter what Mr Cohen does, and however brilliantly he continues to comport himself as a journalist, he will always be remembered for this performance, and the tale will only grow more elaborate in the telling. Something very similar happened to the poet and man-of-letters Peter Quennell, over whose 1920s exploits at Oxford there hung a veil of quite fantastic legend. Anthony Powell recalled meeting a fellow Balliol man during the war who demanded: did he remember that fellow Quennell, who used to walk through the quad holding a lily in his hand? In fact, Quennell had done nothing of the sort. Poor Nick Cohen! In 10 years' time party-goers will be reminding themselves how he swung from the chandeliers while reciting from Das Kapital or offered to fight a duel with Lord Mandelson on the House of Commons terrace, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.

4/26/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Nick Cohen! In 10 years' time party-goers will be reminding themselves how he swung from the chandeliers while reciting from Das Kapital or offered to fight a duel with Lord Mandelson on the House of Commons terrace, and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. ...but who needs myth when you have Youtube?


4/27/2009 08:40:00 AM  

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