Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It is 1933 and I am Churchill, IF Stone and quite possibly Nelson Mandela

Doop de doop, reading the Times ...

"Of course, while these precise alliances are unprecedented, our history is rich with examples of conflicts provoking realignments. While Peter objects to the fellow-travelling of churchgoing neocons with muscular liberals, he skips lightly over the 1930s alliance between the old Imperialist Churchill and the trade unionists who opposed appeasement"

reading the Comment Central blog, doop de doop ...

"The activity of the dreadful Joseph McCarthy is still much discussed in US politics. Less so the activity of people who really did spy for the communists [...] Was the famous truth telling journalist I.F Stone, actually a Soviet agent? [...] The Commentary writers believe they have conclusively proven that such a link existed. And, I must say, I found their evidence pretty compelling."

gettin' hungry, having a biscuit, doop de doop ... reading Eric Alterman

"Stone had a few conversations with Soviet agents who were working undercover in order to help them identify people in Berlin who might be helpful in opposing Hitler and the Nazis [...] There is only one other reference to I.F. Stone’s cooperation with the KGB in the 1930s, a note listing him as one of the New York station’s agents in late 1938….these 1944 and 1945 notes do not indicate that Stone was an active KGB agent or even in direct contact with it after 1938, and given Stone’s initial anger over the Nazi-Soviet Pact, it is likely that he broke relations with the KGB in late 1939"

Aaro doesn't always agree with Finkelstein as we know - I wonder how he deals with Joe McCarthy in his book?

doop de doop, wonder what's on telly?

"In his new book Voodoo Histories, my colleague David Aaronovitch makes hay exposing conspiracy theories. Let the sun shine, I say, but let's remember conspiracies exist: I don't suppose Calpurnia Caesar spent much of her widowhood telling people that, personally, she favoured the cock-up theory of history. Nor does a conspiracy theory's unlikeliness preclude it from being true. Take this one: the release of Nelson Mandela and the ending of apartheid was all a plot by the British mining company Consolidated Goldfields to protect its business interests. Endgame, Channel 4's deeply involving drama based on this strange fact, was surely enough to persuade even Aaronovitch to put his Occam's razor back in the drawer."

deedle de doo. Have a good evening, readers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gone, man, just totally gone. Groovy.

5/07/2009 04:55:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

So Gove is a 'progressive' (on the basis of, um, supporting privatisation while feeling nostalgic for British Rail) and those who opposed the Iraq war are 'Christian pessimists'?

the deeper gulf between the restless progressive and the Christian pessimist. This division, the difference between between Prometheus and St Paul, the chasm that divides Shelley from T.S. Eliot.
Eliot who was, for all his faults, very definitely oposed to the Nazis and (if memory serves me correctly) far from an 'appeaser'? This makes no sense at all. Do people genuinely take Gove seriously as an 'intellectual'?

I'm really not sure that Shelley and Gove have anything in common at all.

This 'progressive' rhetoric was employed in the London mayoral elections last year and it's still far less clear-cut than left and right. Looks like being right-wing is still very definitely unfashionable, no matter what the Cameronites might pretend.

5/07/2009 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

Don't see why those of us who are neither Russian nor American should care whom I F Stone was working for...

5/07/2009 08:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Indeed, despite his own anti-Semitism, Eliot was thoroughly opposed to Hitler and, it was recently discovered, helped Jews fleeing the Nazis settle in Allied countries. He also apparently supported the creation of Israel, which for the Decents is usually lifetime pass material.

Once again, Gove proves he has no idea what he's talking about.

5/07/2009 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Just to say, Eliot's antisemitism isn't beyond doubt itself.

The Julius book does have a pretty interesting theory about poetic agency (ie some passages forcing the person who reads out loud to spit, and thus spit on Jews), but it's hardly the only view of poetry possible, and the best evidence is from unpublished poems, which complicates things rather a lot; some of the other stuff about his journalism etc is debatable at best; a lot of the other supposed 'historical evidence' has been comprehensively disproven. He did write a few letters in the early 20s which seem to support the early fascist movements in Europe, but these are really small beer compared with his later public pronouncements.

On Shelley - why do I get the feeling that if he was alive today he'd be treated by Decents in the same manner as they treat George Monbiot - if anything, probably worse? After all, we have his upper-class background, radical left-wing views, vegetarianism, showboaty student politics, dodgy aspects of his personal life, he's a poet (un-serious profession that it is) etc.

Simon Jenkins also got Eliot fairly badly wrong, on the subject of religion, quite recently. In general I think it's better if journalists who don't know much about literature (such as N Cohen and M Gove) keep away from it in their columns altogether. But then, I think the same about history - this is all wishful thinking...

5/07/2009 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

Don't see why those of us who are neither Russian nor American should care whom I F Stone was working general you're right, but Finkelstein was explicitly trying to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy in that post; IF Stone himself was just a bit of scenery dragged on for another attempt at a) redbaiting and b) recycling of Yank wingnut talking points.

5/07/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

Of course Geras is rather fond of quoting from Eliot, or rather from "Four Quartets", which may be all he has read. I wonder if it is worse for an academic to quote from a known anti-Semite than for another UCU member to link to a website run by David Duke when they have never heard of him and immediately stop doing so when told who he is? One for the Court of Decency I suppose.

5/07/2009 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

While we're on the subject of the Times, there's a horrible final paragraph in Melanie Reid's piece about the list of people barred from entering the UK where she comes out and says that no white person on that list belongs there and they were only put on so that the government wouldn't offend the Muslims. I'm sure the families of the twenty people Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky pleaded guilty to killing will be reassured to hear that they were just "toothless lions", in Reid's phrase.

Of course, the problem is that Reid doesn't have a clue why they're considered undesirables, nor does she want to educate herself on the issue, but she does want to cook up a lazy piece of "it's political correctness gone maaaaaaaad" red meat to throw at her readers. And so another columnist ends up excusing violent extremism in the name of criticising those who, er, excuse violent extremism.

5/07/2009 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

The Julius book is really heavy-handed re the TSE anti-semitism argument. Akin to something like Elisabeth Nietzsche's reading of her brother's work.

I'm unsure why decency feels propped up in its pathetic poker game by chucking around cards pictured "famous "Nazi" empathizers".

As said by OC: "In general I think it's better if journalists who don't know much about literature (such as N Cohen and M Gove) keep away from it in their columns altogether. But then, I think the same about history - this is all wishful thinking..."

Damn right

5/07/2009 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gregor said...

Not relevant to this post (though as soon as I see the words 'Michael' and 'Gove' my brain automatically switches off) but to Aaro's scoffing at Conspiracy Theories. I thought this link was interesting, and as far as I know, largely accurate:

5/08/2009 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Aaro interviewed in the Scotsman today. Going directly against his last column he describes his book as 'what I call, in my vanity, my war against stupidity'. He goes on 'My object is not just to debunk but to explain. I'm just making the case for scepticism'. Sits oddly with TBP and CND.

Also looks like Aaro has gone for the old Clothes for Chaps approach of projecting his own previous idiocy onto others:

when as a 16-year-old, I saw Henry Lincoln's first programme on The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, because of who he was and the fact that it was being shown on the BBC – I bought it.

Most people dealing with conspiracy theorists will just say I don't care, I'm not bothering with it," he admits. "And because of that, it's like arguing with Trotskyists: you have to be prepared to be the last person in the room when the vote is taken, and that takes some bloody stamina.
A bit like arguing with Atzmon, eh? Aaro didn't seem to have very much 'stamina' there... weirdly though the piece ends thus:

the next time you're assailed by some nutter who thinks that a superpower that can't even plant weapons of mass destruction in a desert.
Does someone else want to tell the interviewer...?

Oh and since EJH isn't around, yet another unconvincing piece on Churchill's play on HP Sauce today. And the last 'your view' thing - by some bloke who posts on the internet a lot called Brian - is worth looking at until the end when he betrays his rather 'interesting' opinion on Independent Jewish Voices...

5/09/2009 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello everyone, just got back to civilisation. This may be slightly OT, but has anyone seen the latest Schwerpunkt? We get a Nick twofer in it, not only a crappy TV review, but a big article on the McBride/Draper saga, which again leads into the story of how G Brown got M Bright sacked from the Staggers. I'm sure Martin appreciates this...

Also, a debate on immigration wherein two white people talk about their fear of the Other, and Simon Heffer bigging up Ayn Rand. And lots more wackiness from Nick's "comrades".

5/09/2009 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Martin Bright linked to that piece on his Spectator blog. it's a pretty funny article really - Cohen berates 'the press' for not revealing who briefed against Bright but it turns out that Cohen also didn't reveal the briefer's identity. Bringing it up a year after it happened obviously counts for 'bravery' in Nick's book. The piece is getting props in the right-wing blogosphere but I don't quite understand why - in addition to being really fucking boring, it also reveals precisely nothing new. Spin doctors brief the press in public but off the record and the relationship is reciprocal. Did he actually get paid for that revelation? It's hardly characteristic of the Brown regime, it's pretty much always gone on and let's face it, when it comes to being briefed off the record on contentious issues Nick can't really claim to be innocent, what with his invitation to meet Wolfowitz and his habit of quoting govt sources anonymously... Bonus points for a totally pointless, and really quite odd, Martin Amis reference. Which he stole from a commenter on his website.

having just looked at the Standpoint website, there's an unintentionally hilarious piece (all the intended jokes fall flat, but there's some gold when he tries to be 'serious') by Louis 'son of Martin but I got this job because I'm such a good writer' Amis on the G20 protests...

5/09/2009 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Louis Amis? Oy gevalt! What have we done to deserve this?

The old joke about the world's least likely book being My Struggle by Martin Amis just got new relevance.

5/09/2009 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Amis junior piece ends with "COMMENTS: 0 ", so he is not really making his mark. The boy really lacks sense, while he is busy randomly sticking long words into his prose (v odd use of "catastrophically" for example) he misses his own story. Havign sat thru the whole days events, he reports "I cower in a doorway during one of these [baton charges ]and am left stranded behind police lines, where a tiny WPC pounces on some floored protestors one by one, swearing and savaging them with her baton" If he had written up his experiences properly he could have had a prominent story in the Daily Mail from that, instead of his dreary grumble

5/10/2009 12:06:00 PM  

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