Novelty, Tights and Beer
Friday Ephemera

MilneWorld (3)

Seumas Milne’s readiness to abandon facts and rhetorically fellate theocratic thugs has been noted many times, along with his fondness for Stalinism and nostalgic Communists. At the Guardian, under Milne’s editorial wing, Milosevic groupies and other assorted rogues have been favoured with a platform from which to misinform readers. In today’s Guardian, the former comment editor and current associate editor accelerates his descent into cartoonish absurdity and attempts to paint religion as an ally in some radical crusade against the evil capitalist system. A system of which Seumas, son of Sir Alasdair Milne, is a notable beneficiary.

Milne sees the scope for

Stronger alliances between the secular left and religious progressives against poverty, capitalism and war… Religion can play a reactionary or a progressive role, and the struggle is now within it, not against it. For the future, it can be an ally of radical change.

Well, perhaps. But given Milne’s extensive history of regarding religious fantasists and bigots as “progressives” and worthy of propaganda space in a “progressive” newspaper, some doubts may spring to mind. This, after all, is a man who gave space to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir and apologists for ritual murder, and who describes Tariq Ramadan, who dreams of an Islamised Europe, as “progressive” and a “liberal academic.” Even less convincing is Milne’s depiction of those who take a different view – say, by criticising aspects of Islam or insisting on the separation of church and state – as

Secular absolutists whose attitudes uncannily mirror those of religious literalists.

Thus, an advocacy of critical thought and self-determination is deemed to “mirror” an urge to impose on others the purported will of hypothetical deities. The arguments of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are, it seems, in no way distinguishable from those of people who do this. Or this. Or this. Perhaps Seumas has started channelling the wisdom of his colleague, Madeleine Bunting, whose search for “authenticity” and disdain for Enlightenment values - of which she, a female journalist, is another beneficiary - are aired at regular intervals. Certainly, a sense of déjà vu is hard to miss, not least when those who criticise religion, and one in particular, often for very good reasons, are denounced by Milne as

Apologists for western supremacism and violence.

As Alan Johnson pointed out, and as was subsequently confirmed, it’s a signature of Milne’s commentary that practically no-one may disagree or refute his claims, even on matters of basic fact, without immediately being labelled a “NeoCon”, “Islamophobe” or “warmonger”. Words which, among some, are immensely effective in shutting down rational thought. One particular passage stands out to illustrate Johnson’s point and highlight Milne’s contortions:

Panicked by the rise of radical Islamism and the newly assertive religious identity of migrant communities in a secular Europe, the anti-religious evangelists are increasingly using atheism as a banner for the defence of the global liberal capitalist order and the wars fought since 2001 to assert its dominance. At the same time, they are unable to recognise the ethnic dimension of their Islamophobia, let alone the deeper reasons why people continue to search for spiritual meaning in a grossly destructive economic environment where social alternatives have been pronounced dead and narcissistic consumption is king.

One might wonder if the above also illustrates how the mind of a true believer, in this case Mr Milne’s, can so easily come undone.

Comments

Matt M

So Dawkins joining forces with the Bishop of Oxford to protest the teaching of creationism doesn't count in Milne's world? I guess these sort of alliances only matter is they're against the right target.

David

Milne’s outpourings often make sense only as pantomime or psychodrama. The facile equivalences and wilful, habitual distortion suggest he’s indulging in role-play or is gripped by some slightly paranoid fixation. (Being enthralled by Communism can do that to a person.) Or, as with many well-heeled lefties, maybe he’s just working out some personal issues and projecting them onto the world. Whatever the explanation, it’s hard to think of an authoritarian movement that *hasn’t* given Milne an ideological erection.

I think it was Hitchens who pointed out that many on the anti-war left are actually pro-war, but on the other side. Hence the urge to fellate whichever totalitarian brute happens to be at hand. If you ever have the misfortune of reading the Socialist Worker you’ll see what I mean.

TDK

"I think it was Hitchens who pointed out that many on the anti-war left are actually pro-war, but on the other side."

I think Mr Kamm might dispute this claim
http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2008/03/the-army-and-th.html

David

TDK,

Ah yes, possibly so. I was actually about to link to the same piece. :)

Milne has been a keen propagator of the “Islamophobia” meme and has claimed that a dislike of Islam is little more than veiled racism. The enormous number of perfectly rational reasons to dislike Islam – irrespective of the skin colour of any particular Muslim - somehow doesn’t register in his thinking. And, again, today we get the claim that “anti-religious evangelists” are “unable to recognise the ethnic dimension of their Islamophobia.” Presumably, he thinks Dawkins and Hitchens are de facto racists, warmongers and cheerleaders for the “global liberal capitalist order.” (I’ll skip over the assumption that opposing capitalism will, somehow, solve poverty and war.)

It’s paranoid and juvenile, and comically bad, but unfortunately it’s pretty standard fodder at the Guardian and across much of the “anti-war” left. For not dissimilar views, see the confused Communist and CND mouthpiece Kate Hudson, or the Socialist Worker, or Respect, or the Stop the War Coalition, or Paul McGarr of the National Union of Teachers.

http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2008/03/the-army-and-th.html

Norman Geras has more on Milne.

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2008/03/simplicities-on.html

georges

The argument makes no sense because both Bush and Blair claim to be deeply religious, and Blair actually said (words to the effect of) "Let God judge me" over Iraq. But God doesn't get to vote on polling day...

David

Being a terribly middle-class member of the Communist Party and working for Straight Left no doubt eroded Milne’s grip on reality. Being “committed to working class unity” and “raising class consciousness” is hardly a marker of realism or intellectual honesty.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straight_Left

If anyone needs a reminder of how ludicrous things can get…

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/01/lefties-revisit.html

Brendan

I'm not a doctor of course, but I can sense the veins in David's virtual head pulsating as I read that. It may be prudent to lay off reading the Grauniad (or the Socialist Worker for that matter) for at least a couple of days in my view. You seem very close to hitting the "all caps" key at some points. With good reason of course, no argument here.

a concerned reader

John D

I thought David was having fun. He seemed to be.

David

I am having fun. I’m particularly tickled by Brendan sensing the veins in my pulsating virtual head. No, wait a minute. Pulsating veins, not pulsating head. A pulsating head would be much too weird.

Homphobic Horse

"“anti-religious evangelists” are “unable to recognise the ethnic dimension of their Islamophobia.” Presumably, he thinks Dawkins and Hitchens are de facto racists, warmongers and cheerleaders for the “global liberal capitalist order.” (I’ll skip over the assumption that opposing capitalism will, somehow, solve poverty and war.)"

Milne is at the beginning of a good point that he will probably never complete because I think his outlook is so intensely distorted and warped. Milne is not completely wrong, Hitchens and Dawkins are indeed against religion, Dawkins desires to eliminate the God concept all together, Hitchens is a warmonger and isa cheerleader for liberal, global, capitalism. Unfortunately Milne simply responds by identifying with and apologising for the latest and currently biggest enemy of those things: Islam.

Interestingly many of the ideas Milne espouses are perfectly in tune with the Neocon liberal capitalist world view he ostensibly criticises. He believes with fervent Hegelian presumption that religion can play a reactionary as well as progressive role. Apologists for the Iraq war often say that Radical Islam is a perversion of Islam and Islam in its normal form is a peaceful tolerant religion of personal salvation that ultimately expresses the same universal truths of Brotherhood and peace (i.e. Islam is Christianity) - ideals that are highly favourable to democratic government. Islam is none of those things.

This is an essential plank of the entire liberal capitalist world view and its dealing with Islam ("The War on Terror").

Anyone who observes the insanity that has surrounded Geert Wilders film Fitna, a film that quotes the Koran, will see the self-delusion that the the liberal and multicultural capitalism of Europe and North America is based on.

But anyway, it's a large topic. The moral and intellectual degeneracy you see in the far left is not at all limited to them. In-fact this retarded liberal culture is pernicious and rampant as I have hopefully begun to demonstrate to you (assuming it hasn't already occurred to you, I apologise in advance for any presumption on my part).

David

The Fitna saga has certainly been bizarre. I saw the film a couple of days ago and wasn’t impressed. Despite the build-up and fuss, it’s actually rather boring. Juxtaposing acts of terrorism with the Qur’anic verses and sermons that are used to justify them is, to me, old news. And while the texts cited are certainly used to mandate atrocity, and have been for centuries, there’s no attempt to explain the theological context or the lineage of these ideas, or how they’re propagated and rationalised. A much better film, which does provide context and analysis, is Islam: What the West Needs to Know.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8105709395775858867

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-871902797772997781&q=Islam+What+the+west+needs+to+know&total=85&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1

But while Wilder’s film is unoriginal and dull, the reactions to it have been instructive. In the Guardian, Ali Eteraz bemoaned the “disgusting conflations of the Qur’an with acts of violence, murder, kidnapping and anti-Semitism,” which is almost funny in its ignorance of Islamic history and jurisprudence. As usual, the disgust is directed at those who point to the sacralising of terror by others, rather than those who actually *make* terror a matter of piety. And, predictably, the company hosting the film online has pulled it after receiving “threats of a very serious nature” to its staff. Which shows that Islamist thuggery - whose religious roots we must not speak of - very often works.

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/03/28/liveleak-pulls-fitna-after-receiving-very-serious-threats/

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