Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dave lectures the Chinese on 'democracy'



"The people of Britain are what is called a democracy," said Moung Ka.
"A democracy?" questioned Moung Thwa. "What is that?"
"A democracy," broke in Moung Shoogalay eagerly, "is a community that governs itself according to its own wishes and interests by electing accredited representatives who enact its laws and supervise and control their administration.
"Its aim and object is government of the community in the interests of the community."
"Then," said Moung Thwa, turning to his neighbour, "if the people of Britain are a democracy-"
"I never said they were a democracy," interrupted Moung Ka placidly.
"Surely we both heard you!" exclaimed Moung Thwa.
"Not correctly," said Moung Ka, "I said they are what is called a democracy."


From The Comments Of Moung Ka in The Square Egg by Saki.


I don’t know about you, but the first thing I thought of when I read this- was Saki's wonderful story.


ps
Some good comment on Dave’s hypocrisy on lecturing China about ‘democracy’ and ’human rights’ from Andrew Alexander in the Daily Mail and in this Morning Star editorial.
Let's try and get a 'government of the community in the interests of the community', before we start lecturing others.
 


39 comments:

Graeme said...

I heard he'd gone to China to get ideas on handling student protests.

John said...

So I guess Cameron will be scrapping all those unpopular public service cuts then? That would be the democratic thing to do, right?
--"Mr. Piccolo"

jack said...

Britain teaching China about democracy. LOL!

Yes because British occupation was such a sterling example with its Opium wars and all and in the post WW2 sphere supporting the Kleptocracy of the Dalia Lama and his aristocrats of 200 families controlled 93% of the property and wealth and ran a regime that put the Taliban to shame and the so called “Al-Qaeda” Taliban connected Uigher separatists in Xinjing region.

olching said...

And let's not forget Dave's hypocrisy 'condemning' the Millbank trashing of Tory HQ - this coming from a Bullingdon prat who smashed hotels for fun without any raison d'etre. What comes around goes around, I'm afraid.

R. J. Stove said...

During the early 1950s there was a joke in the USSR about a Soviet delegation which had visited England, and had been greeted at Heathrow by the former Home Secretary Lord Waverley (previously known as Sir John Anderson, of "Anderson shelters" fame during WW2). The delegation was taken to the opera that evening: lo and behold, the Covent Garden general manager turned out to be Lord Waverley. Next day, the delegation went to tour a factory, where the owner was Lord Waverley. And so forth, the impossibility of escaping Lord Waverley's presence being the dominant feature of the delegation's voyage. When the delegates got back to Moscow, they reported: "We were wrong. We thought Britain was a democracy. It is not. It is in fact a dictatorship run by a man called Lord Waverley."

Gregor said...

The best part is lecturing on democracy whilst leaving Nick Clegg in charge to defend the very policies Clegg vociferously attacked when he was seeking votes.

Robin Carmody said...

That's as maybe, Neil, but ...

(... and I sort of know the rather depressing answer to this already, but ...)

... why have you made no mention, at any point, of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani or Tara Inanloo on your blog?

It couldn't be because your own (and David Lindsay's even more so) ideal Britain would be rather like Iran (every bit as much the antithesis of a socialist society as Britain or the US, just in a different way and for different reasons) without the Islamic bits, could it?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

why hasn't my post appeared here?

I thought it asked an honest question and made some reasonable suggestions.

Neil Clark said...

Graeme-perhaps....!
John- good point.
thanks for comments everyone.

robin:
in answer to your question-
i think there's more than enough people writing about the cases you mention in the US and Britain, but strangely nowhere near as much coverage about Honduras.
have you read this?
http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/hp051010.html

"It couldn't be because your own ideal Britain would be rather like Iran".

My own ideal Britain, as i thought you might have worked out being a regular reader of this blog, was the Britain of the mixed economy post-war era. The 1970s would do very nicely.

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I'm not denying that US-friendly (and, often, installed) regimes are equally prone to human rights abuses, I'm just saying that it's wrong, simplistic and insulting to the mass of people to believe, as you appear to, that regimes the US doesn't like can do whatever they want and it's OK simply because of who doesn't like them, as though that justifies any amount of human rights abuses (which are hardly a "middle-class" concern, as you once described them, because it tends to be the oppressed poor in all oppressive regimes - whether modern-day Iran or Pinochet's Chile; I see nothing contradictory about condemning both absolutely unreservedly - who suffer from them the most). That is just crude gesture politics.

And I'm not suggesting that your ideal Britain would be an Islamic theocracy, just that it would be sufficiently authoritarian and censorious as to resemble *the non-Islamic equivalent* (what Karl Naylor described as "British fundamentalism") more than my own view of liberal democracy (small l, small d - *that* party has betrayed both). I have a great deal of sympathy with and admiration for the post-war consensus, as you know, but I recognise that you can't wave a magic wand. As it is, you resemble - at least in terms of your view of which regimes should be criticised and which should be almost beyond criticism - the precise inverse of the Pinochet apologists of 30 years ago, and you don't get any better than the far-right by being their inverse; in fact, you usually end up being pretty much the same thing.

Neil Clark said...

Robin,

"I'm just saying that it's wrong, simplistic and insulting to the mass of people to believe, as you appear to, that regimes the US doesn't like can do whatever they want."

You clearly never read this piece of mine on Cuba.
http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/514326/castroandx2019s-cuba-was-no-place-for-a-socialist-like-me.thtml

I’ve never fallen into the trap of believing that just because a country is in the US’s bad books it is necessarily a model the rest of the world should be following.
And I've never taken the line that just because a country is in the
western 'camp', it can't be a good model: you must surely have read at least one of my many articles praising Belgium?

The ‘crude gesture politics’ you refer to is being played by those who demonise any country which the US does not approve- for example, labelling the country a ’dictatorship’ even if it’s a functioning democracy, like Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, or Yugoslavia under Milosevic.

"I'm not suggesting that your ideal Britain would be an Islamic theocracy, just that it would be sufficiently authoritarian and censorious as to resemble *the non-Islamic equivalent* (what Karl Naylor described as "British fundamentalism") more than my own view of liberal democracy."

Really Robin? I can’t think of any measure that has been passed
by the British govt over the past few years that is more ’authoritarian and censorious’ than the draconian ban on smoking in public places, which was enthusiastically supported by many of those who claim to be ’liberals’ and ‘democrats‘(including the Lib Dems themselves). I’ve always been opposed to the ban and think it should be repealed. How about you?

Best wishes,

Neil

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and very much agreed with the latter (I cannot know whether you are right about the former). What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad - or more specifically the shoring up of paranoid insularity that created him - is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail more often than any other paper.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke (which they still have and which they are most unlikely to lose) must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for daring to use Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to get people mixing in the "real world" (whatever *that* is) and restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and very much agreed with the latter (I cannot know whether you are right about the former). What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad - or more specifically the shoring up of paranoid insularity that created him - is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail more often than any other paper.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke (which they still have and which they are most unlikely to lose) must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for daring to use Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to get people mixing in the "real world" (whatever *that* is) and restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and very much agreed with the latter (I cannot know whether you are right about the former). What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad - or more specifically the shoring up of paranoid insularity that created him - is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail more often than any other paper.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke (which they still have and which they are most unlikely to lose) must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for daring to use Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to get people mixing in the "real world" (whatever *that* is) and restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and very much agreed with the latter (I cannot know whether you are right about the former). What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad - or more specifically the shoring up of paranoid insularity that created him - is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail more often than any other paper.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for daring to use Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to get people mixing in the "real world" (whatever *that* is) and restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and agreed with them. What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad - or more specifically the shoring up of paranoid insularity that created him - is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail more often than any other paper.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for daring to use Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to get people mixing in the "real world" (whatever *that* is) and restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and agreed with them. What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad - or more specifically the shoring up of paranoid insularity that created him - is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail so often.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for using Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and agreed with them. What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard the current Iranian regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that Ahmadinejad is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail so often.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for using Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and agreed with them. What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard Ahmadinejad's regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that he is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail so often.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for using Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and agreed with them. What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard Ahmadinejad's regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that he is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail so often.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

I especially didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for using Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to restore your post-war utopia?

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have read your pieces on both Cuba and Belgium, and agreed with them. What I'm disagreeing with is the way you appear to regard Ahmadinejad's regime as almost beyond criticism, which ignores the fact that he is basically your (and my!) hate figure GW Bush's creation; in the pre-WoT late 90s, the country seemed to be modernising and liberalising. Be honest here: would you have mentioned Sakineh had her case happened in a country the US was at ease with? I find it hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would think there could be too much talk about people under threat of being stoned to death for adultery, or being executed for being gay; mind you, I find it equally hard to believe that someone genuinely of the left would cite the Daily Mail so often.

What exactly is "censorious" about making it clear that, if people want to smoke themselves to death, they must not inflict their fumes on anyone else? A decent society needs give and take, checks and balances, rights and responsibilities; a person's right to smoke must be balanced against other people's rights not to have to breathe it in. Surely you grew up watching Roy Castle on TV, and remember how, although he had never smoked, he died because he wanted to be among his friends? Your opposition to the smoking ban is, ironically, rooted in selfishness and individualism (as long as I can give myself some pleasure, who cares if others suffer?); it is for the common, collective good not to smoke in public. And before you say "people didn't feel that way in the 1940s", I have a hunch that they would have done had they known what we know now about tobacco. Also, the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now, whether the heavy cuts to mainland European films in the 1970s, or the restrictions on American music on the BBC in the 1950s.

Robin Carmody said...

Also, I didn't like the way you sneered at the opponents of the current Iranian regime for using Twitter. In authoritarian states throughout the world, sites such as Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked; would you do the same, so as to get people mixing in the "real world" (whatever *that* is) and restore your post-war utopia?

Neil Clark said...

Robin- I’m not sneering at Iranians who use Twitter, but criticising those in the west who believe that because some young Tehran-based Iranians are 'twittering' against the regime, that their view is the majority opinion within the country- and that last year‘s election was ‘stolen‘.
http://neilclark66.blogspot.com/2010/02/iran-anti-government-protests-news.html

I recommend you read Robert Baer’s excellent piece on the Iranian elections, which I linked to here.
http://neilclark66.blogspot.com/2009/06/robert-baer-on-iranian-elections.html.
(Baer is a genuine Iran specialist and not a neocon propagandist with an agenda.)

Is it really the case that the opinions of Iran's Twitterers are more important than the millions of Iranians who don’t Twitter, or don’t even use the internet? That seems to be the implication behind much of the western coverage of Iran.

Re: the human rights issues- there are plenty of countries in the world whose human rights records are worse than the Islamic Republic of Iran, but they receive very little coverage in the west. the question you need to be asking yourself is why is there such enormous focus in the US and Britain on Iran at this moment in time.


Re the smoking ban- what about the 'selfishness' of the anti-smokers who want to deny people from enjoying something they don’t like?
Britain could have gone for a compromise solution which many many European countries have adopted- ie allow pubs and restaurants to have smoking and non-smoking areas. But no, Britain’s illiberal liberals got their way.

one more point. you say
"the society you idolise - while it had many good points - was also far more censorious of "foreign" forms of mass entertainment than it is now".
I'm sorry, but I don't agree. I grew up watching good continental films on terrestial tv. How many are on BBC1 and BBC2 today.? And let's not even get into the subject of children's tv programmes and the large number of imports from continental Europe- both east and west. And what about the high number of continental artists in the record charts?
Britain was far more open to 'foreign' cultural influences in the 60s and 70s than it is in the 'globalised' world of today.

Neil Clark said...

Robin, fyi. on how Britain has become less open to foreign cultural influences in recent years:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/28/1

Neil Clark said...

Robin: here's the link again.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree
/2008/jun/28/1

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I have never at any point suggested that human rights abuses in Iran are, de facto, worse than human rights abuses in more US-friendly countries, merely that there's something profoundly hopeless and lost about romanticising it as you tend to, a sense that lapsed Leftists have given up on meaningful change in their own countries and become Peter Simple by other means (which comes back to the internet / social networking issue: of course the opinions of people who don't use those things need to be respected, but some of your references to Twitter suggested a vaguely fogeyish, misplaced-nationalist *opposition* to these things because they break traditional national boundaries, in other words just as great a bias in one direction as some may show in the other).

The idea that Iran is criticised because it is some socialist utopia simply doesn't hold water when you look at its actual policies. Obviously there are neoconservatives who criticise it for their own reasons, but you seem to believe that nobody can criticise the repressive Iranian state out of a sense of social(ist) solidarity, and that any Leftists who are against *all* repression, regardless of how US-friendly or not the country is, are really neoconservatives in disguise. Do you *really* think this is any more mature and balanced than the Thatcherites who thought, 30 years ago, that anyone who criticised the Chilean regime was a Communist?

re. smoking, there is no attempt to deny people something they don't like - they can still do it in their own homes; they just can't inflict it on those who don't want it. If smoking had been banned *full stop* I would agree with you, but it hasn't been, and it is most unlikely to be.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was always deeply middlebrow (I tend to prefer the Godard of 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end' to the more MOR culture you seem to lean towards). But let nobody doubt that I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's current 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) to make sense now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication behind the BBFC's structure, the power of the Musicians' Union in broadcasting &c that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (as even the Moody Blues, happily contended Butskellites compared to their rockier contemporaries, acknowledged: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (before you say "but what about McDonald's & Burger King", their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits happening in the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, not a country that enjoyed much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Jacques Brel song. Don't dismiss the culture of the present off hand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was always deeply middlebrow (I prefer the Godard of 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But let nobody doubt that I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's current 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) to make sense now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication behind the BBFC's structure, the power of the Musicians' Union in broadcasting &c that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (as even the Moody Blues, happily contended Butskellites compared to their rockier contemporaries, acknowledged: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (before you say "but what about McDonald's & Burger King", their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits happening in the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, not a country that enjoyed much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Jacques Brel song. Don't dismiss the culture of the present off hand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was always deeply middlebrow (I prefer the Godard of 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's current 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) to make sense now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication behind the BBFC's structure, the power of the Musicians' Union in broadcasting &c that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (before you say "but what about McDonald's & Burger King", their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits happening in the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, not a country that enjoyed much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Jacques Brel song. Don't dismiss the culture of the present off hand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer the Godard of 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) to make sense now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication behind the BBFC's structure, the power of the Musicians' Union in broadcasting &c that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (before you say "but what about McDonald's & Burger King", their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits happening in the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, not a country that enjoyed much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Jacques Brel song. Don't dismiss the culture of the present off hand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer Godard's 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) to make sense now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (before you say "but what about McDonald's & Burger King", their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits happening in the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, not a country that enjoyed much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Jacques Brel song. Don't dismiss the culture of the present off hand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer Godard's 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) to make sense now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (I know about McDonalds &c, but their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits happening in the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, which didn't enjoy much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Jacques Brel song. Don't dismiss modern culture offhand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement that the BFI's 'Boom Britain' project is capturing very effectively, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (I know about McDonalds &c, but their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits crossing to the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, which didn't enjoy much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Brel. Don't dismiss modern culture offhand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive in parts, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (I know about McDonalds &c, but their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits crossing to the UK - Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina's "Stereo Love" (from Romania, which didn't enjoy much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as any Brel. Don't dismiss modern culture offhand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country better than Britain. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - there was a general feeling of hope and excitement, and the consensus of betterment brought many fine films and songs into the mass consciousness. Although they would have to take a different form (less top-down) now, these are all things we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (I know about McDonalds &c, but their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits crossing to the UK - "Stereo Love" (from Romania, which didn't enjoy much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as Brel. Don't dismiss modern culture offhand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country good. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

re. that 2008 Graun piece, I read it at the time and it's quite well-argued and persuasive, though a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end'). But I have a great affection for many of the products of that era - the consensus of betterment brought much fine work into the mass consciousness. Although it would have to take a different form (less top-down) now, this is something we could do with more of.

It's just that I acknowledge the bad points as well; there was heavy film censorship (and not just of exploitation movies, though even if it had been, the implication that a self-selecting elite knew best could not have survived the forces let loose by the 1960s), a good deal of sexual abuse of children in unaccountable (often church-based) institutions, millions of people still living stunted, insular lives (Moody Blues: "Sunday roast is something good to eat, must be lamb today 'cos beef was last week"), a narrower range of mainly inferior food available (I know about McDonalds &c, but their existence is counterbalanced by the range of food we have from most of the world which was barely available 40 years ago).

I regard the neoliberal system generally as socially destructive and damaging to most people's lives, and would love to see it crumble. But it would be as wrong to dismiss every single aspect of modern culture as it would be to blindly praise it all. There are still wonderful European hits crossing to the UK - "Stereo Love" (from Romania, which didn't enjoy much pleasure or entertainment during the 60s & 70s) has every bit as much magic, entrancement and, yes, *otherness* as Brel. Don't dismiss modern culture offhand simply because you dislike its dominant economic system (as I do). By the same token, being "heroic" and "independent" does not *in itself* make a country good. You need more than that; in case you still have the wrong idea of me, I will certainly defend Venezuela in most cases.

Robin Carmody said...

Also, what a lot of socially conscious people are doing when you think they should be breathing in other people's cigarette smoke:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-life-of-Iranian-queer-feminist-photographer-Tara-Inanloo/116991425031697

Is this another "quisling" you think should be "kept out"?

Someone on Comment is Free once said, in response to one of your pieces, that the only way to stop people being concerned about cases like this would be to forcibly stop the global communications revolution. I get the impression this is precisely what you want to do. As I said, magic-wand politics.

Neil Clark said...

Robin: I've spent a lot of time this week replying to your questions and comments in a polite and courteous way, and you respond in an aggressive and petulant manner (I'm referring to your last comment). Why?
There's an irony here. You're accusing me, without foundation, of wanting to 'stop the global communications revolution', yet I wonder if you'd find another print journalist who would engage with you as much as I have done online. Try asking questions in such a manner to other journalists who blog and see what response you receive. I'm very disappointed that you can't debate issues in a polite, civilised manner.

If you can't act with civility, and without aggression, then please don't bother posting here again.

ps "a lot of the stuff you mention was deeply middlebrow (I prefer 'Pierrot le fou' and 'Week-end')"
I'll leave readers to draw their own conclusions about the person who made that remark.

Robin Carmody said...

Neil,

I'm sorry if you have found my posts offensive. I'm sure it rankles with anyone if someone they had previously seen as "on their side" reassesses their opinions and decides that they had got certain things wrong - it does with me. But I have never been anywhere near as rude and insulting as some commenters on the Guardian and other sites have been about some of your pieces, and I have asked you some questions which - perhaps understandably - you haven't really dealt with. It's not a complete falling-out, rather it's a belief that you need much more to defeat the organised right-wing than your own rather petty "Daily Mail socialism" - with its refusal to recognise that phenomena such as Facebook can be and are used for positive, progressive ends, and are not *inherently* neoliberal - and use of "neocon" as a *universal* insult, rather than a more nuanced worldview.

re. your last comment, surely you're not suggesting that Godard's films of that era are themselves middlebrow? On the assumption that you're not, I suspect many will come to a rather more positive conclusion of someone who finds them more stimulating and challenging than, say, 'Monte Carlo or Bust'.