Friday, June 18, 2010

Melanie Phillips has a book out. Oi! No! Take it seriously! You rotten kids!

I am not going to review Melanie Phillips' book, still less read it, but this seems like a really pointless piece of contrarian windbaggery. There is nothing about the epithet "Mad Mel" which can be considered misogynistic - her name is Melanie, she writes like a mad person, hence Mad Mel. And if the author thinks that Michael Gove attracts less opprobrium, he's reading the wrong blogs.

No really, we have to consider the very very serious issues which Melanie Phillips raises in between her vitriolic abuse of us for being so awful. What are they, you ask:

At the heart of Phillips's new-found conservatism is a profound feeling that the postwar transition in the west towards a multicultural, sexually tolerant, more open society has come at a profound cost. The price paid for a more liberal society has been a kind of chaotic, unanchored sense of alienation and atomisation

In other words, the price paid for the right of about a billion people to live something closer to the life that they choose free from abuse, is that Melanie Phillips feels uncomfortable about it. I have considered this, in depth though I would be lying if I said at length, and my conclusion is: "fuck a bunch of that".



Anonymous cian said...

So what, he thinks "Mad Frankie Fraser" is misandrist?

One difference between Hitchens and Mel is that Hitchens has a sense of humour. Another would be that he hasn't spent 30 odd years lecturing the left on their various failings. Not the best way to make friends and influence people.

6/18/2010 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Yes, Keith Kahn-Harris - he seems a nice sort from what I've read, very "Hey, why can't we all just get along?".

Mind, since his general point is usually that I and people whose opinions are similar to mine should all be much nicer to the likes of Mel and then if we're lucky, they might stop calling us fascist commie jihado-whatevers... I'm not inclined to buy what he's selling.

On the question of "What drove Melanie Phillips to the right?", I insist that it's because she's instinctively a furious, paranoid, intolerant arse, who goes out of her way to be ACA absolutely everything. My reasoning is blunter, yet I feel it's probably closer to the truth.

6/18/2010 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Mad Mel kindly links to the Guardian's "digested read", without, of course, getting that it's all a joke.

She was boring when she wrote for the Guardian, anyway. She was just as pitifully inarticulate then. If she learns a new word, she seizes on the way a three-year-old explores the infinite richness of the language of defecation. 'Calumny' was a favourite for a while, and she still uses 'wicked' and 'vile' totemically as if her antennae were better attuned to human folly than anyone else's and she were the court dowser for turpitude. Speaking of which, she's the sort of writer who thinks that just because 'turpitude' is only ever seen out and about in the company of 'gross moral', that's just the way things have to be: she wouldn't dream of separating them in the cause of something so post-Enlightenment as scientific enquiry. She's been wrong on MMR, wrong on climate change; those alone should class her as toxic.

6/18/2010 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

CC, if you didn't like that, you should check out her pronouncements on evolution.

6/18/2010 06:22:00 PM  
Anonymous magistra said...

You don't become stridently right-wing just because some liberal atheists bad-mouth religion. At the most, you try and find religious left-wingers or more tolerant atheists to associate with. If your core religious values are about the equal worth of every human, then you stick with liberalism despite its weaknesses. If your core religious values aren't that, what were you ever doing on the left?

6/18/2010 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

FR Oh, indeed. I actually meant my - quotes - final - unquotes - to cover all the ground of pejorism. Nick Cohen, Mad Mel, and the rest. But that was just too big a subject. That Guardian article was shit. Here are a few post watching Eng-Alg in a pub thoughts.

The "Left" is not a single entity. This should be obvious to everyone. The Labour Party always (I think - looks to Chris Brooke for confirmation) claimed to be a "broad church". And the far left, well, that has always subdivided into factions, with clearly separate ideals and agendas. Besides, the concept of an ideal "left" (which Nick Cohen, for example, genuflects to) seems Platonic to me, and I'm much more taken by Wittgenstein's "family resemblances." So, point one: there is no "left" - it's a reification, a chimera, a literal take on a metaphor. Not existing, it can't do anything. The "Left" can't have pushed Mad Mel out, because there is no "Left" to do so.

Point two: I've no idea who said it first, so my credit goes to Hans Eysenck. "If a man is not a socialist at 20, he has no heart; if he is not a conservative at 40, he has no head." That's not the right quote, but it's well enough known. People move to the right spontaneously. Therefore, with Occam's Razor, you don't need a force to push MM to the right.

Point three: even without point two, people have always moved from left to right (whatever those terms mean; and one definition that works for me is from "being outside the system" to "being inside the system"). Malcolm Muggeridge is my favourite example of this. OK, he was 'pushed' by what he saw in the USSR, but I also think he had reaction coming, so to speak. He embraced it rather more than Orwell did.

Point four. Phillips just deserves to be ignored. She ignores arguments against her positions (eg evolution, climate change, Wakefield) of which there are many.

Point five: Phillips' style of argument is to call any doubters 'wankers' only marginally more politely. When people rise to this, she calls them anti-Semites.

Finally, both Hitchens and Gove have senses of humour. I've liked Gove on non-political TV like "University Challege for grownups" (or whatever it was called); and P Hitchens was good at that Nick Cohen thing. Full marks to Mad Mel for dispelling that nasty Jewish stereotype I'd built up.

6/18/2010 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

The price paid for a more liberal society has been a kind of chaotic, unanchored sense of alienation and atomisation.

Oh Jesus Christ. Read Nausea or L'Etranger, you small-minded, small dicked wanker. No, there were no alienated literary (anti-) heroes before, er, quite recently. Loss of faith happened sometime after Erica Jong (that whore!)'s "zipless fuck." Anyone who cites Thomas Mann, Andre Gide, Hermann Hesse and so on, are just eggheads bent on ruining society. What will happen if Mad Mel ever meets the deeply conservative and religious Mr Eliot? Oh, I forgot, the Anglo-Catholic Eliot wrote only about how nice England was in 1922, anyone who sees the Nietzschean abyss, rape, murder, mental illness, etc etc in The Waste Land is just so sick po-modernist projecting. Like those girls Freud cured. They weren't really abused: their families were Jewish, and they don't do nasty things like that.

6/18/2010 10:26:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse said...

I see Mad Mel links to two other blogs that defend her, both mistaking the 'digested read' feature for a 'review'.

The CIF-watch blogger calls it a "bizarre review". It doesn't say much for the quality of his "watching" of the Guardian site if he is unaware of the digested reads format, which has been a weekly feature in the Guardian, and its website for years.

6/19/2010 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah Ditum said...

I don't think I've ever told anyone this before, but I've actually read a whole Mad Mel book. It was on my sister's childcare studies reading list, I was 18 and it terrified the living crap out of me with its cascade of cherry-picked data about the decline of the family. She really *is* a humourless, shrieking harpy.

6/20/2010 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

If only Kahn-Harris had read NS Profile - Melanie Phillips, he have saved himself a lot of bother. It's actually very good on Mad Mel's move to the right, and how the Grauniad "betrayed" her.

When Phillips joined the Guardian, Peter Preston took a shine to her. She was groomed for higher things. The tantalising dream of being the paper's first woman editor beckoned when she was appointed news editor in 1983 to give her management and production experience. At the same time, Rozenberg was given a senior job at the BBC. The glittering couple seemed set to run the two bastions of liberal journalism.

But things did not go well. Her tenure as news editor was generally regarded as a disaster long after the drama of her first day. Her imperious style, which brooks no argument - so effective in her writing - was less effective when dealing with other people.

6/21/2010 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

Check out her latest blog post. Jordan is Palestine, apparently.

6/22/2010 06:15:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Darius, yes I've seen that argument used before by some of Israel's more, er, vocal supporters - "the Palestinians want their own state, well they already have one called Jordan". Presumably they think the problems in Northern Ireland could have been easily solved by all the Catholics moving south.
Of course if Jordan is Palestine then logically so is Israel...

6/22/2010 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

There was that bonkers neocon fantasy a few years ago, wasn't there, of moving everyone one step to the East, so the Israelis would get the West Bank, the Palestinians would get Jordan, and a Hashemite monarch would be installed on the throne in Baghdad?

6/22/2010 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

That's a particularly bizarre piece even by Mad Mel's standards. Everyone quoted seems quite happy to annex and divvy up someone else's country. As far as I know, 'Arab Unity' is a bonkers and minority project.

Wilders has told the truth. With the west’s collective brain twisted beyond reason by lies, he will of course be vilified and dismissed for doing so. The bigger the truth, the greater the vilification and the more ‘right-wing’ the truth-teller becomes in order to neutralise his challenge to the lies.

Would it be unfair to say that an Austrian former WWI corporal and housepainter had some ideas, which were naturally "vilified and dismissed' by 'bien-pensants', lefties, eggheads, and the like, and he became very right-wing...?

From the comments: Oh for a Geert Wilders for England

Don't 'we' have Nick Griffin?

[Mad Mel's presentation of brains, reason, consciousness etc is very odd. And reason isn't dependent on truth. If you believed (falsely of course) that Daleks were likely to break into your house in the night, you could *reasonably* (Ben Aaronovitch notwithstanding) deduce that they couldn't get you upstairs.]

One other thing, from the New Statesman profile:

So she seemed to set about trying to save the paper. Near the beginning of 2000 she wrote in the NS: "Over the past 15 years or more, I have come to the conclusion that great harm is being done to some of the most vulnerable people in our society through the collapse of normative rules of behaviour - harm which I think is inimical to a liberal and civilised society. This position is said to be reactionary." For 13 of those 15 years, Phillips had been writing for the Guardian or its sister paper, the Observer.

Her blog posts on this sort of thing used to be illustrated with a Hogarth woodcut (e.g. this one). I've always assumed, but can't prove, that this was her choice (other Spectator bloggers don't do this). Now, if Hogarth depicted (NB worth reading) social breakdown in the 18th Century AND there has been a recent "collapse of normative rules of behaviour" then these "normative rules of behaviour" must themselves be recent, post-Enlightenment at least. But Phillips also believes that the Enlightenment is where we went wrong.

6/22/2010 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jokey bit starts:

Don't tell the Iranians about that one, FFS. Still, why stop there? After twenty more years of ultra-Orthodox demography (where does Mad Mel stand on that particular set of welfare benefits, incidentally?) Tel Aviv will probably have more in common with Limassol than it does with Jerusalem...

Jokey bit ends.

KKH is the cowboy in the Far Side cartoon saying to his comrades, as their arrow-impaled mate staggers back towards to fort "Let's wait and see what they said to Ed."

Chris Williams

6/22/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course these days Phillips does deserve to be ignored; her work is hectoring, poorly argued and increasingly eccentric, appealing most to a coterie of bloggers and conspiracy theorists. And she is entirely humourless...

But it's not enough to call her a contrarian or a turncoat. In fact she is a mediocre, English variant of the anti-Enlightenment conservatives campaigning in Europe. Jacques Ranciere has claimed that this 'hatred of democracy' comes from those (French ex-Maoists as it goes) who mourn the loss of an original religious-pastor figure to civilise the masses; MPs habit to sentimentalise filial pieties and religious customs as a remedy for decadence is the same as this. Either ignore her, or call her out as such a radical right reactionary and make her explain herself as such.


6/23/2010 07:07:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Check out her latest blog post. Jordan is Palestine, apparently.

A standard pro-IDF wingnut argument, that one. The idea is that as 'Palestine' used to incorporate Jordan, Israel and what is (or is not) now Palestine, teh Arabz should be happy with Jordan (since it wasn't really ever 'theirs' anyway) and leave the entirety of Israel/Palestine to the Jews. Phillips even reuses some of the usual wingnut 'quotations from Arabs which prove this'.

The problem is, of course, that not only does this ignore any kind of yer actual history, not only will it involve massive ethnic cleansing (not, I'd imagine, a big problem for our Geert), but (from my experience in 'battling' wingnuts in the past) it's all based, at root, on the idea that history only started when the bible says it did - thus the Jews have an undisputed claim to 'Greater Israel' because they were its very first inhabitants, ever, [1] and because teh Arabs are originally from Arabia, they should fuck off back that way.

I can see why Mel is happy with that. Glad to see that some of her readers point out the fact that her idea of history is actually just susperstition and mythology.

[1] just to clarify on this - I do believe in Zionism, I believe Jews have every right to live in what is and was Israel, I just can't accept that they have a unique right to do so which pre-empots the rights of others - thus the two-state solution, while appearing even more impossible than it used to, is the only real way forward, in my eyes.

6/24/2010 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

"I do believe in Zionism, I believe Jews have every right to live in what is and was Israel"

Why? Why should a Jewish neighbour of mine, say, whose family have no recognisable roots in Palestine, have a right to a state, and permanent ethno-religious sumpremacy in that state, in some other territory already occupied by other people who would be totally or partially excluded from that state? Why should the assumption of the right to colonise by some Americans, Brits, Frech, etc. be supported by anyone else?

And a two-state solution IS built on the idea that the 'rights' of Jewish people with no real historical claim to a right to live in Palestine DO trump those of the people already living there. There just is no way around it.

I mean, I just can't understand this. I can understand the desire for an/The Israel, but not the assumption of a right to The Israel, or the acceptance of this assumed right by those who would be excluded from the resulting ethno-religious state.

It's got less justification than granting some Americans - i.e. the white ones, for the most part - the right to settle in the UK on the basis that hundreds of years ago some of their ancestors were British, while at the same time denying the right for native, black, latino, and asian Americans the same right. Such a policy would 1) have at least some firm historical backing, and 2) wouldn't be built on the necessary dispossession of people already living in Britain - though it would send a strong message that Britain does not want certain kinds of people, including a portion of its current population.

6/24/2010 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT (for this thread) - here's one of the (many) letters that Strobes chose not to print in the latest edition of Private Eye:

Subject: iPad and iRaq


As an owner of an iPad I was most disconcerted to learn from journalist Nick Cohen that I am now implicated in the deaths of workers at the Foxconn factory in China. Being, of course, obsessed with everything Apple I naturally assumed that the iRaq application - so much in the news - also originated from Cupertino. The purpose of the iRaq application, I'm told, is to install the 'Western Liberal Program' on platforms previously thought unsuitable. Whilst this seems such a clever and benign application, I wonder if Nick Cohen could use his investigative skills to determine if iRaq has resulted in as many fatalities as iPad?

Yours (on the basis that one big fatuous conflation deserves another),

-Name Supplied


The previous edition plugged Cohen's Observer piece on the iPad.

6/24/2010 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Sorry, Anon, but TANSTAGWA*.

*...Good What-Aboutery.**

*I advance this as a general law in the confident expectation that someone will come up with a persuasive counter-example before today is out.

6/24/2010 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Cheeseboard: There are at least two different definitions of Israel. My definition is an area of the Middle East defined as the State of Israel by the UN in the late 1940s. Its capital is Tel Aviv and it only includes some parts of Jerusalem. The other definition is the one used by Mad Mel; it is vague what its boundaries are, but undoubtedly they are wider than the ones of the first definition; it includes all of Jerusalem and indeed its focus is Jerusalem.

As far as I am aware, Zionists support the latter definition. It is based on a particular reading of the Bible rather than present-day international law. For that reason I certainly would not say that I believe in Zionism. If Jewish people feel a strong identity with Jerusalem that is their business, but there is no reason why the rest of us should move international boundaries to accomodate that feeling.


6/24/2010 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Why? Why should a Jewish neighbour of mine, say, whose family have no recognisable roots in Palestine, have a right to a state, and permanent ethno-religious sumpremacy in that state, in some other territory already occupied by other people who would be totally or partially excluded from that state?

basically because:

a) there are about seven million people living in that physical piece of ground who believe, on good evidence, that if they don't have a guaranteed ethnic majority in their state, their neighbours will massacre them

followed by

b) once you've accepted the legitimacy of the existence of that ethnic-majority state, it follows that it's allowed to give citizenship to your neighbours.

It is definitely very very unfair indeed on the Palestinians, but every other possibility is very predictably going to end in disaster.

6/24/2010 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

there are about seven million people living in that physical piece of ground who believe, on good evidence, that if they don't have a guaranteed ethnic majority in their state, their neighbours will massacre them

Isn't that what the white South Africans used to say?

6/24/2010 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I think there is an unarguable moral case for a Jewish homeland, and given the Jews' historical affinity with the area Palestine is obviously the most natural and desirable place for it.
I don't believe that the Jewish people had a right to a nation state, and the argument that they would be uniquely prejudiced by being denied one is palpably false but I do think that is was on the whole the right thing to establish it.
There was though the slight practical problem that there were already people living there. They are fully entitled to have their rights and interests protected and I have no sympathy with any pro-Israel argument which is dismissive of this fact (not that anyone here is guilty of this).
Of course that is not just Israel's responsibility and AFAIK it is true that the surrounding arab states have been notably lacking in providing support in order to mitigate the problems faced by the Palestinians.

6/24/2010 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/24/2010 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Meanwhile, a truly sad and momentous occasion is almost upon us.

Oliver Kamm has commented that his blog at The Times will also be behind the pay wall. The comments section to his post on the matter is full of those who have said that this decision means that they will no longer read his blog, and these comments include those made by many long term readers. His blog will also not be read by the majority of users of the Internet around the world, even for those using Google to search for information. If they have to pay, they will not bother and try and read something else.

No doubt Oliver will continue writing his blog, and the next time Noam Chomsky writes something silly, he will expose him. But this will not assist an average Internet user around the world confronted with a Chomsky argument in an on line debate. For them, the day that The Times starts charging for content will be the day that Oliver Kamm ceases to exist.

One can only wonder how average internet users around the world will cope with this.

6/24/2010 08:02:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Dear Anon, have the guts to give a name, and you can say what you like. Cowards get their anonymous (and purely negative) comments deleted.

PS Oh noes, it's like we agree on something! DW

6/24/2010 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

there are about seven million people living in that physical piece of ground who believe, on good evidence, that if they don't have a guaranteed ethnic majority in their state, their neighbours will massacre them

They may believe that, but whether that's based on good evidence or just their own propaganda is debatable. Meanwhile it's only one side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has perpetrated mass ethnic cleansing and is continuing to do so and it ain't the Palestinians.

As gastro george said, the Boers used to use that justification as well. The Palestinian territories in Gaza and the Westbank look a lot like the old homelands as well, for that matter.

6/25/2010 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

who believe, on good evidence, that if they don't have a guaranteed ethnic majority in their state, their neighbours will massacre them

Add my name to those who don'tagree with this. Both Arabs and Jews have good reason to be fearful of one another, but I don't acccept that one's fear is greater than the other and I alsothink that "they will massacre us" is both potentially and in practice a justification for almost anything.

6/25/2010 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

my position is pretty much the same as Andrew Adams's, up there. My belief in Zionism is not the same as the majority of those who self-identify as such today - this idea of 'greater Israel' is abhorrent, as is their general tendency to ignoire the fact that there were already people living in what is now Israel/Palestine. One historical crime does not outweigh or indeed justify another, which is why a 2-state solution, with Jerusalem an 'open city', would be the best compromise. The problem is that hardliner Zionists, post-68, seem to want the entire thing (except Gaza since the only thing that seems to have happened there in Holy Books is Samson being put in prison), because of 'historical significance' of certain places in the West Bank. The extent to which this has been accepted by the powers that be, not just in America but all over the world, means that there is now no clear border - even the 'security wall' is not really enough since Hebron in particular falls outside it, and there's not enough water.

As a result, once the frankly evil policies of segregation which do resemble aaprtheid become unworkable (and they will, eventually), in all likelihood Israel is going to end up being one state, a bit like Lebanon, with govt divided between differing ethnic and religious groups. It's a sterotypical thing to say, but Israel's govts, in their desire to appease the right wing of their country and to look tough, have effectively destroyed its long-term viability as a coherent nation state.

No doubt Oliver will continue writing his blog, and the next time Noam Chomsky writes something silly, he will expose him. But this will not assist an average Internet user around the world confronted with a Chomsky argument in an on line debate.

I still can't understand why people who dislike Chomsky think that Kamm offers the best rebutalls of ol' Noam. But Kamm is a black spot for me - I can understand, even, why people would want Mad Mel writing for them. Kamm I just don't get. He deosn't seem to offer anything original or interesting; the only thing he can offer is a willingness to pontificate on anything under the sun, but so can pretty much every journo in the world...

6/25/2010 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

To be honest, I don't care what any Holy Books say. Any state that is demanded on the basis of claims made by referring to books written thousands of years ago of dubious historical accuracy is asking for trouble.

And really, the reason why Gaza is now excluded from Israel's claim is more about demography than religion. Excluding the millions in the Gaza prison camp still ensures a Jewish majority in case a one state solution rears it's head.

6/25/2010 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

"Both Arabs and Jews have good reason to be fearful of one another, but I don't acccept that one's fear is greater than the other and I alsothink that "they will massacre us" is both potentially and in practice a justification for almost anything."

No, ejh, the 'they will massacre us' justification is why a Jewish Englishman, Frenchman, American etc. has a right to live in an ethno-religious supremacist state thousands of miles, and distant cultures, from his family home, necessary dispossessing others in the process. The 'they will massacre us' justification is not that Arabs will massacre Jewish people, but that the non-Jewish populations of the UK, of France, and of the United States will do so.

6/25/2010 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Ejh, that you misunderstood the justification as being about fear of Arabs, rather than fear of Americans, is an indication of how looney that justification is - essentially, Jews are so scared of a pogrom in America they seek refuge in a state is engaged in constant (apparently existential) war.

6/25/2010 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Israeli nation, more or less up and running by the 1930s, pre-dates the Palestinian nation, which only really cohered around the 1967 war.

If we're going to declare an Israeli nation, built upon the Jewish ethnos, to be illegitimate, and demand that a new nation-state be constructed upon territorial demarcations descended from empire, we may as well campaign for a return of the one-state solutions of the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, Romanov and Ottoman empires. Indeed, why not refuse the uppity nationalist narcissism of the Irish republic and restore the glorious UK one-state solution?

Marc Mulholland

6/25/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Looks like BB's fears of AaroWatch turning into "another blog about bloody Israel" were well-founded, eh?

6/25/2010 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I'm afariad Marc's posting above is quite uncharacteristically nonsense. Why does he think that there was no state based on the Arab peoples in Palestine in the Thirties? Because they didn't want it?

If we rejected an state based on a single ethnicity in the area in favour of one based on all peoples there (and not on "territorial demarcations descended from empire") how would that resemble a return to empires? Who would be the equivalent of the Hohenzollerns?

And what's the use of "uppity" all about? What point is Marc trying to make with its use?

6/25/2010 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the priority of the Israeli nation: Arabs in 1930s Palestine generally looked to Syria, seeing Palestine as Southern Syria. Nothing like the Jewish Agency emerged for Arabs as a Palestinian proto-state. Nor indeed did Palestinian Arabs then have a nation-bearing civil society. There was no Arab equivalent to the cohesive Jewish proletariat - Histadrut etc - or Jewish bourgeoisie carried in by the fifth Aliyah. The Arab masses were primarily peasant fellaheen, localised in political orientation, and a substantially de-classed, even lumpenised, urban proletariat. Arab leadership was in the hands of essentially feudal Muslim families - the Husaynis, the Nashashibis, the Alamis and the Khalidis - who looked to the Hashemite monarchy. As I say, nothing like a nation-state consciousness; rather 'feudal consciousness' in the process of disintegration under pressure of socio-economic change, British repression and Zionist land buy-ups. By the 1940s, indeed, Palestinian Arabs were on the brink on societal collapse.

*All* nation-states are based upon an ethnos, variously defined, but always in a historicist teleology. This is the basis of the democratic imagined community underlying national claims to self-determination; such claims should be accepted given a certain tests including a tolerably civic definition of the nation-state. Israel shouldn't be any different (nor, indeed, should the Palestinians - hence two states, not one).

On 'uppity' - I don't know what to explain here.

Marc Mulholland.

6/25/2010 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah Ditum said...

That NS profile is full of interesting stuff, but it's got a weird old mess of a structure. I felt like I'd read two versions of the same feature, with slightly different anecdotes, by the time I got to the end.

//Not talking about bloody Israel.//

6/25/2010 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

The Israeli nation, more or less up and running by the 1930s, pre-dates the Palestinian nation, which only really cohered around the 1967 war.

Sorry but that is nonsense. Nationalist sentiment in Palestine predated the arrival of the first Jewish settlers in 1882.

But its also a really strange position. You could make the same argument about all the post WW2 former imperial colonies who are now independent nation states.

6/25/2010 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an odd parody of Orientalism that MM produces. Almost Mad Mel quality.

The "Arab masses", "primarily peasant fellaheen, localised in political orientation, and a substantially de-classed, even lumpenised, urban proletariat" were lacking in "nation-state consciousness."

The priority described ("on the priority of the Israeli nation") seems oddly congruent with a more basic form of discrimination.

Quoting Colonel Kurtz: "it's judgment that defeats us."


6/25/2010 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time to call AW a day, before it becomes ACABI. It's been real.

Chris Williams

PS - We'll be looking out for the 'decent racism' post on 'dsquared', bb.

6/28/2010 01:23:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

kerching, and off topic, but an apparently serious post from HP Sauce today - the site apparently has:

That gutsy tellin’ it like it is style. Full of resolve. Implacable in its pursuit of all that is noble. Telling folks what they don’t want to hear. If HP was a person, it would be a more sweary Mo Mowlam. If it was a popular tv series of the 1980s, it would be the A-Team. If it was a food, it would be the anti-bruschetta – pie, mash and eels. Fuck yeah.

also, Cohen's latest standpoint missive on the Spiked crowd's 'infiltration' of the BBC is worth coment - i don't really know enough about them to offer anything much, but still.

6/29/2010 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I will have a couple more valedictory posts, but the more I look at "Decent Racism", the more I end up concluding that it's basically impossible to do it fairly without giving the subjects some sort of right of reply. The trouble is that there's no point in doing "Decent Racism In The Abstract", and if you go into specific cases, then you're making quite serious accusations that have to be handled with a suitable level of care - I mean, I don't think there's any excuse at all for Alan NTM's association with Andrew Bostrom, but presumably he thinks he's got a legitimate reason for it - similarly, Clothes For Chaps presumably thinks that his material on the "white working class" was just telling uncomfortabel truths. And I really couldn't face wading through the pile of self-exculpatory bullshit that any such exercise would involve. So, with regret, I don't think it's going to happen. I will do the John Birt post though.

6/29/2010 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I definitely don't have the time for it, but I think if i were to address 'decent racism' it would probably be via the general Decent dislike of political correctness and the glee they derive from what they consider breaking taboos. As I've said, i think a lot of them are letting rip on everything they felt they were not allowed to say while onside with fairly radical lefty organisations, but that leads to (and you'll have to forgive me for not having the reference) Andrew Anthony effectively saying that black people have good natural rhythm, and sundry other examples. That's before we get to the whole 'blame tehmuslims' and 'endorse far-right Israelis' part.

The other side of it is the 'damned by association' thing as you say - I'm sure Nick Cohen has 'decent' reasons for thinking Douglas Murray an admirable chap but still, the critical faculties seem to desert cohen on that one.

The other problematic aspect of that topic is that it does involve guilt by association - fairly serious charges in some instances, I think, especially when using people like Murray as 'anti-racist, non-extreme' sources completely uncritically, but is often a fairly difficult thing to nobble someone with eg the HP Sauce comments argument (saying that, HP Sauce has now run a post effectively supporting the EDL...)

6/29/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Dan, one thing for the 'Decent racism' post, see David Neiwert. Am sure you knew this already.

I keep meaning to write a valedictory post myself - one consisting entirely of links to the sites of our wonderful comment-writers. I don't want to out the pseudonymous writers of AW against their will, so need to check with them too. Also am worried about forgetting someone.

That Nick thing in Standpoint. Er... well, I've referred to Spiked! as a cult too (certainly on Twitter) and Nick's point that they'll argue against any supposedly widely held opinion is certainly correct. But have they "taken over" the BBC? They are, as he says, over-represented on a certain type of talking head discussion programme. BUT, trend spotters, what about other former "Lefties" now representing barking right-wing views? Melanie Phillips is on "The Moral Maze" (a complete waste of time, anyway) and Peter Hitchens was on 'Question Time' last week. (I've watched half of it on iPlayer and can't decide if his initial peroration is better described as "stream-of-consciousness vapid hogwash" or "an inept concatenation of superannuated platitudes.")

Maybe the former RCP have mounted some sort of coup at the Beeb, or maybe there's just a wider policy of hiring former "progressives" as converts have a bit more sturm and drang. Or maybe the Institute of Ideas (I just typed the acronym, with a lower case 'o') are just the Lembit Opiks, Kerry Katonas, and so on of the chin-stroking circuit.

6/29/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Am I right in thinking that sense about Science is a furedi-ite org?

Because Nick uses them a lot in his writing.

Christ, the man is a walking 'street of shame' piece. A 'shame' then that he'll never be featured... mind you i wouldn't know, I've let my subscription lapse.

6/29/2010 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Yes, OC, I forgot that. I think Sense About Science (where do they get their acronyms?) is Kenan Malik, whom Nick admits to liking in his piece (I agree with him sometimes too). Yet, as always, Nick comes over as bitter because they won't give him a gig. (DA has been on R4 twice in the last week! It's so unfair. And he did Marr with Mariela Frostrup. Unforgivable.)

There's lots of R4 without the IoI, of course. I just imagine that booking people at short notice leads to chaos. (God, I really need to buy the complete series of that.)

6/29/2010 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

Sense About Science are (perhaps were, now) run from the offices of a PR company specialising in massaging public and political opinion re: big pharma, the chemical industry etc.

Even if they weren't an RCP front, why on Earth does anyone trust them?

6/29/2010 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Nick is asking for nuanced and balanced commentary on the radio here.

He'd probably claim that in his media appearances he'd only do what he was being asked to do, but still, whenever he appears on TV and radio he behaviour is just as cantankerous and myopic as that he's decrying in this piece.

the article is also just written badly. He has this habit in his pieces of offering advice - of saying, if you want to do X, then you should do Y - but in this one, his advice is to become a former radical lefty. How does that work? I guess the Decents do have a Tardis...

also just to note that for the third time in recent months, Nick's TV column is about a BBC radio station. I don't think he lieks TV much - he seems to actively hate radio 4, mind you, yet is forever writing about it.

6/29/2010 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Is that "Fair and Balanced" as in the Fox slogan? ;-)

I think the thing here is that there is a demand for people who will have an argument - so you always need someone who will take the other side. Actually, most of mainstream politics is highly consensual: the differences between the Coalition and Labour are really tiny. Labour threatened cuts; Labour made nasty noises about immigration, and so on. If, say, Today needs talking heads for a particular issue, it will try to get people who represent both sides. But if you want someone who will controversial on Question Time or Any Questions you really need professional contrarians (like Hitchens, Phillips, the whole Spiked crew). I avoid all this stuff now. It's a total waste of time.

R4 has a budget, and these things are cheap. They can be knocked out in the time it takes to record them. Programmes like 'More or Less' take research and thus time.

The thing about not liking TV much seems spot on to me. I know this is letting the side down, but I like 'Top Gear'. I don't like cars much, but Clarkson does, and that's kind of fun to watch. And it's a better comedy show than almost every other one.

6/29/2010 11:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the difference between Clare Fox and (say) Hilary Wainwright is that the former's 'contrarianism' is somehow always less threatening to the comfortable suburban middle class. It's never "Capital has had it too good for too long and what we now need is for labour to get back behind the cosh", is it?

That's the way to get the gigs.

Chris Williams

6/29/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

by the way, it's fair to say, i think, that nobody needs to take Standpoint seriously any more. its cover story this month is little more than an advert for a new novel by Piers Paul Reed.

not sure who reads it, but if i were a subscriber I'd feel very short-changed.

6/29/2010 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just been to that (deposits coins in the box) HP Sauce post on the EDL.

Fucking hell!

If that's what the Decent Left looks like these days it's devolving at an impressive pace.

Von Pseud

6/29/2010 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

The capacity of wilfully stupid people to do wilfully stupid things never ceases to amaze me

6/30/2010 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger AndyB said...

What, visiting Harry's Place or defending the EDL?

6/30/2010 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...


6/30/2010 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous democracy_grenade said...

"Peter Hitchens (who also journey from left to right)..."

That is just a dumb error, correct? (Although one which is reproduced in the hyperlink accompanying Hitchens' name). Or was PH some kind of lefty before joining the Express in 1977?

7/03/2010 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

d_g: Yes, he was.

7/03/2010 06:46:00 PM  

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