Great Strides Forward
Feast of Cliché, World of Dumb


Here’s something for readers who find the Today programme’s coverage of events in Iraq habitually biased and triumphantly negative. Michael J Totten’s Middle East Journal documents reconstruction work throughout Iraq, most recently in Iraqi Kurdistan. If you can, take some time to browse through Totten’s archives. You’ll probably find quite a few surprises. Some of you may subsequently wonder why so little of this has been reported by Today or by other left-leaning news media.


Quote of the day, by the Devil's Kitchen:

“Socialism is worse than racism. A racist is a stupid, ignorant bigot, but at least he cannot, and will not, try to force me to believe what he believes and force me to pay for the implementation of his beliefs. Socialists do.”


The following is from Fabian Tassano’s Mediocracy, a barbed and pithy ‘devil’s dictionary’ which highlights the fashionably loaded terminology of academia, politics and cultural commentary. Tassano defines mediocracy as (1) the rule of the mediocre, and (2) the triumph of style over substance. Each entry gives examples of  the original ‘incorrect’ usage and the ‘correct’ (i.e. tendentious and mediocratic) definition, along with illustrative quotations and brief comments. For instance,


Incorrect: The analysis of reality without personal bias.
Correct: Spurious concept which posits the existence of a reality independent of social construction.

“‘Truth’ is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and operation of statements.” Michel Foucault

“There is no possibility of a wholly disinterested statement.” Terry Eagleton

In a mediocracy it is not considered possible for an individual to make a statement untainted by personal or ideological bias. It is regarded as a truism that perceptions and judgments depend on the observer’s position in social space. This rejection of objectivity is designed to make it impossible for anyone to criticise the prevailing viewpoint. Some mediocrats may worry that relativism potentially undermines the legitimacy of reform to make things even more mediocratic, in that it assigns equal validity to anti-mediocratic viewpoints. However, this fear is unnecessary, since the destruction of bourgeois culture turns out not to require validation by bourgeois standards of logic or consistency.

Further ruminations on phoneyness and PC vacuity can be found at Tassano’s blog. The above phenomenon is also unwittingly illustrated by the Guardian's “leading thinker” Madeleine Bunting, as shown here and here. Readers are, of course, welcome to submit more examples via the comments below.