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June 22, 2010

Comments

Anna

Maybe the Guardian should hire Norm instead of Eagleton.

mlrosty

"An elected Conservative government being so much worse than, say, Soviet tanks in Budapest and hundreds of thousands of fleeing dissidents."

But Maggie steamed into Downing St in a tank, didn't she? I'm sure that's how it happened...

http://s2.hubimg.com/u/2756193_f496.jpg

sackcloth and ashes

'Maybe the Guardian should hire Norm instead of Eagleton.'

If only the Graun hired Norm, and the Indie replaced Robert Fisk with Michael Totten, they'd recover their centre-left credentials and improve their quality. However, I can't see Prof Geras being accepted by the Farringdon Road collective as 'one of them', any more than I can see the 'Indescribablysmug' replacing a deranged nutjob with someone who actually knows something about the Middle East.

Eagleton does also have form, insofar as he tried to smear Martin Amis as an Islamophobe - deliberately misquoting his work in the process:

http://www.martinamisweb.com/interviews.shtml

David

“I can’t see Prof Geras being accepted by the Farringdon Road collective as ‘one of them’.”

Yes, it’s easy to upset them. And it’s best not to fuck with The Guardian Massive™.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451675669e20133f1915b34970b-pi

What?

mlrosty

"And it's best not to fuck with The Guardian Massive™."

LOL. I bet the Guild of Evil could take 'em.

Jonathan

The “dark night of Thatcherism." Yes, I remember it well: millions of people starved to death for purely idealogical reasons, dissidents rounded up and imprisoned without trial, opponents murdered by the thousand, artists and poets sent to concentration camps. No, wait a minute......

sackcloth and ashes

'And it’s best not to fuck with The Guardian Massive™'.

Is that Charlie Brooker second from right? He's one of the few good hiring decisions the Graun has made. And I might be imagining things, but he does also look as though he wants to strangle Shameless Milne.

Anna

It looks like the Guardianistas had to sit boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl. Because of all that patriarchy.

sackcloth and ashes

Seamus Milne is a man? I thought he was that rare species of hermaphrodite devoid of brain, backbone and balls.

David Gillies

Eagleton's attack on Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie put me in mind of nothing more than the fury an apostate arouses in a Moslem fanatic. As Geras says of Eagleton's sniping, "Could it be that it's not the non-socialist state of mind as such that he condemns, but rather the change of mind?" I've never been a fan of J. M. Keynes, but his quip about intellectual rigidity is timeless: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Bob-B

Does Postcolonial Studies include the study of the USA? It is after all a former colony.

David

David Gillies,

“Eagleton’s attack on Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie put me in mind of nothing more than the fury an apostate arouses in a Moslem fanatic.”

It reminds me of the reaction among Guardianistas to Andrew Anthony’s book, “The Fall-Out: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence,” which describes the clash of smug theory and practical realities, and the author’s questioning of his default leftism. Seumas Milne reacted with his usual boilerplate (“Neocons! Neocons!”) and Decca Aitkenhead was evasive and aghast: “Ever since 9/11, hitherto sane left-of-centre staff on [The Observer] keep outing themselves as surprise cheerleaders for Washington’s neocons, the invasion of Iraq, and any number of other policies that would normally have expected to find endorsement in the Sun.”

Note the instinctive condescension. Those who disagree with leftist assumptions (and say why) are not only insane, they’ve also gone down-market. In her attempt not to engage with Anthony’s actual arguments, Aitkenhead resorted to glib dismissal and wild speculation: “Does it have something to do with a midlife panic over masculinity and mortality? These are, after all, men of a certain age, and they did seem to find Bush’s shock and awe disproportionately exciting.”

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Ms Aitkenhead that her dismissive indignation supports Anthony’s argument, not her own.

Karen M

I can't believe how snide that Priyamvada Gopal article is. Why is he getting a knighthood now? He must be a puppet of Bush! Conspiracy! It's his despair! Every paragraph is stupid. What a cow.

David

“What a cow.”

Heh. She doesn’t have an attractive mind, no.

It’s the assumption that Rushdie couldn’t possibly have his own very good reasons for changing his mind or shifting his priorities – say, in light of events and what those events have revealed about people like Ms Gopal. In fact, Rushdie has explained repeatedly and at great length why he holds the views he does. Ms Gopal has chosen not to contest these things, or even register them, and instead has chosen to superimpose her own cartoonish assumptions.

“It’s his despair!”

I suppose Rushdie might well despair at the readiness of Ms Gopal and so many others like her to direct their contempt at him rather than the pious souls who wish him (and others) dead.

Stork

"No evidence for this dastardly conspiracy was deemed necessary and Rushdie’s supposed “fondness for the Pentagon’s politics” is apparently all that needs to be said, signalling as it must the man’s innate wickedness."

Cue the ever-necessary Nicolás Gómez Dávila quote:

"The leftist, like the polemicist of yesteryear, believes he refutes an opinion by accusing the holder of that opinion of immorality."

Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 225

Peter

Zirin wasn't doing too badly until this gem: "It explains why the Algerian football team was motivated to outplay England after watching Pontecorvo's anti-imperialist classic, The Battle of Algiers."

Too bad the North Korean team forgot to sing "10 Million Human Bombs for Kim Il-sung" before their match against Portugal.

Richard

Macdiarmid is a great poet. He was also a commie nutter but his first three books are marvelous works of linguistic assimilation. He wrote a 'scots' that came from all periods and all regions of Scotland.

'Wha's the bride' from 'A drunk man..' is a genuinely erotic poem. So are many other poem and passages from 'Penny wheep' or 'Sangshaw'.

In his old age he wrote, 'The Stormcock's song', a poem in English that Larkin appreciated.

A selection is enough though. And ignore the politics.

David

Richard,

“And ignore the politics.”

Given the context in which Eagleton mentions MacDiarmid, I’d say his politics are worth noting. The politics is Eagleton’s point, isn’t it? He begins by saying, grandly, “there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life,” which is what Eagleton assumes “radical” writers ought to do. He goes on to list various figures, including MacDiarmid, who have supposedly been part of this lofty “radical legacy.”

It’s therefore worth noting just how facile and obnoxious MacDiarmid’s politics were.

rjmadden

Eagleton is so conceited he can't even hear himself. If all the good political writers have 'defected' from the left that *must* be for bad reasons because lefties are the ONLY people with principles. Simples!

There's plenty of good political satire around (on blogs like this one) and it's aimed at smug old lefties like him.

David

Ah, but to ridicule the assumptions aired by Eagleton and Gopal is to be “reactionary” or “unengaged,” a mere dupe of the capitalist establishment and Western “imperialism.”

Not radical and edgy like the good professor.

sackcloth and ashes

'It reminds me of the reaction among Guardianistas to Andrew Anthony’s book, “The Fall-Out: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence,” which describes the clash of smug theory and practical realities, and the author’s questioning of his default leftism. Seumas Milne reacted with his usual boilerplate (“Neocons! Neocons!”) and Decca Aitkenhead was evasive and aghast: “Ever since 9/11, hitherto sane left-of-centre staff on [The Observer] keep outing themselves as surprise cheerleaders for Washington’s neocons, the invasion of Iraq, and any number of other policies that would normally have expected to find endorsement in the Sun.”'

I'm sure that Milne's anger about 'The Fall-Out' had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Anthony tore him a new arsehole over a fatuous comment piece he wrote shortly after 9/11. Thin-skinned, these people.

Horace Dunn

Another lefty who hates Salman Rushdie is Shirley Williams. In case you haven't seen it, here she is on the BBC's Question Time stating that Rushdie should not have been offered a Knighthood because he has "caused offence".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcQ2XXfw_Mw

Worth watching to see Christopher Hitchens pull her contemptible claims apart, and then watch the sly and petulant way she tries to wriggle out of it.

Is there a more despicable and degenerate woman in British public life today than this Williams?

David

Horace,

“Worth watching to see Christopher Hitchens pull her contemptible claims apart, and then watch the sly and petulant way she tries to wriggle out of it.”

It was almost funny watching the craven harpy lie about what she’s just said, despite having just said it on national television. Not everyone could do that without blushing. It takes a special kind of arrogance.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/06/a-question-of-s.html


Sackcloth,

“Thin-skinned, these people.”

Dishonest, pretentious or guilty people generally are.

Here’s Milne, September 13 2001:

“It has become painfully clear that most Americans simply don’t get it... Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of... why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world – seems almost entirely absent.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/sep/13/september11.britainand911

Anthony’s basic point – which Milne subsequently chose to ignore – is that this nasty little article had to have been written early on September 12th, while human dust was still, literally, settling on Manhattan. So keen was Milne to blame the victims of the attack, he left the people of New York no more than 24 hours to absorb the shock, grieve for the dead and missing, and then embrace the kind of pretentious self-blame that Milne long ago internalised and made into an art form. And when called on this, Milne had the arrogance to get pissy and indignant.

And Milne wasn’t alone in his ideological deformity. The LRB’s Mary Beard pondered the feeling that “America had it coming,” while putting the words terrorist and terrorism in ironic quotation marks and likening jihadist terrorism to “extraordinary acts of bravery.” While Marxist art critic Julian Stallabrass got all horny over the “vanguard politics” of “Islamic revolutionaries” who “harden themselves against mundane sentiment.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2009/10/intellectual-life.html

It’s no wonder such people get irritated when they’re shown to be.... well, the kind of people they are.

sackcloth and ashes

There was also Karlheinz Stockhausen's vile comment on 9/11 being 'the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos':

http://www.osborne-conant.org/documentation_stockhausen.htm

I remember being utterly nauseated by the 'America had it coming' sentiment that manifested itself after 9/11, not least because I knew full well that the perpetrators of the attacks represented an ideology that compelled its exponents to kill thousands of Muslims from Algeria to Afghanistan during the 1990s (something else which Milne refuses to acknowledge). I had to remind an acquaintance that the organisation responsible for 9/11 were also responsible for the Nairobi and Dar-e-Salaam bombings of 7th August 1998, and asking him to tell me what the hundreds and thousands of Kenyan and Tanzanian civilians killed and maimed in these attacks had done to deserve their fate. He at least had the decency to look ashamed.

For me, Milne's hypocrisy is further illustrated by his bleatings over civilian deaths in Afghanistan (all of which - apparently - are NATO's fault). I would accept this as humanitarianism from someone who was not - during the 1980s - part of the faction of the CPGB most avid in its support for the Soviet intervention during the 1980s.

David

“He at least had the decency to look ashamed.”

Well, quite. But like most former communists who’ve never actually lived in the grip of communism, Milne is a fantasist. And like so many of his Guardian colleagues, he superimposes his own cartoon narrative onto whatever gets in the way.

As Anthony says in his book, the apologia for terrorism and clerical fascism was immediate and widespread in leftist publications, and despite the supposed cleverness of the authors and their claims of “nuance,” the assumptions being made were doctrinaire and remarkably uniform: “For all of them, this was an issue of the powerless striking back at the powerful, the oppressed against the oppressor, the rebels against the imperialists.” Curiously, those who made such claims didn’t seem interested in “what *kind* of power the powerless wanted to assume, or over whom they wanted to exercise it, and no one thought to ask by what authority these suicidal killers had been designated the voice of the oppressed.”

If you can forget how deranged and immoral Milne is, it can be quite funny watching him bluster and distort. As when he called Anthony a “cheerleader of the wider US NeoCon project.” (It’s a signature of Milne’s commentary that anyone who refutes his absurd claims is promptly labelled a “NeoCon,” “Islamophobe” or “warmonger.”)

A classic Milne moment was when he said:

“Anthony is in a fury with liberals and leftwingers… for supposedly appeasing terror and Islamism and abandoning Enlightenment values in pursuit of a blind and guilt-ridden anti-Americanism… His political life seems mainly to be a series of angry breakfast-time reactions to newspaper columnists, and Guardian writers in particular…”

Which was a bit rich, given Milne’s Guardian colleague Madeleine Bunting had only recently denounced Enlightenment values as “imperialistic” and “an ideology of superiority that is profoundly old-fashioned,” a claim she’s since repeated more than once. The same colleague who’d given an extended rhetorical blowjob to Yusuf al-Qaradawi - a man who endorses suicide bombing, the murder of homosexuals and the beating of disobedient women. Bunting, however, was busy praising the sadistic cleric’s “horror of immorality,” his “independence of mind” and his mastery of the internet.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/08/milneworld-2.html

And let’s not forget Milne himself had just spent three years churning out apologia for Islamism and misleading his readers in the most egregious way on an almost weekly basis. And had repeatedly given a platform to Milosevic groupies, dissembling communists, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir and defenders of ritual murder.

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/03/milneworld-3.html
http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/02/alguardian_the_.html

Self-awareness isn’t something Milne is particularly blessed with.

sackcloth and ashes

Milne's commitment to journalism was exemplified by a breathless report (‘Out of the shadows’, Guardian, 19th July 2007), based purely on an interview with an Iraqi 'insurgent' on neutral ground in Beirut. Shameless breathlessly reported the emergence of a new, national and unified 'resistance' movement that was going to sweep the Americans out of Iraq.

Funnily enough, this new 'movement' never materialised.

sackcloth and ashes

'Is there a more despicable and degenerate woman in British public life today than this Williams?'

There's always Baroness Tonge - a reincarnation of Julius Streicher in drag.

David

“There’s always Baroness Tonge.”

Oh yes, she’s a piece of work too. What with her “organ harvesting” conspiracy theories and her famous “understanding” of suicide bombers – an understanding that involves no evidence, no connection with reality and no reference to data on suicide bombers themselves, but which was announced proudly nonetheless - “I might just consider becoming one myself.” In the Guardian, of course.

It’s a wonder her skull doesn’t collapse from the apparent vacuum inside it.

David Gillies

To be in disagreement with the Eagletons and Bidishas and Buntings of this world is, naturlich, to be guilty of 'false consciousness'. That this idea is the prime exemplar of what I have latterly come to know as 'epistemic closure' is rich beyond words. It's quite delightful in its self-contradiction/reinforcement. Kafka gets trotted out rather too often, but really, who else serves? Perhaps in terms of the self-referential nature of the discourse, Douglas Hofstadter might get a look-in, but I doubt he'd thank you for it. Maybe it's my shrivelled intellect, but I can't see much rhetorical underpinning to the argument beyond, "I know you are, but what am I?"

Spiny Norman

"...Madeleine Bunting had only recently denounced Enlightenment values as “imperialistic” and “an ideology of superiority that is profoundly old-fashioned,”..."

Rational thinking, shorn of superstition and dogma, is "imperialistic" and "an ideology of superiority that is profoundly old-fashioned"?

Are these people insane? Or has the rise of an anti-Western Islamist imperialist movement so completely upset their carefully crafted Marxist fantasy world that they can do nothing but spew 19th century class-warfare nonsense? Does that make them feel better about themselves?

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