Hot air from the Eustie Boys

If you haven’t already seen it, I urge you to read this article by Stuart over at Indecent Left. This is, by far, the best review I’ve yet seen of Nick Cohen’s What’s Left? – it really obviates the need for me to write one, although I probably will by and by. Nick is too tempting a target to miss, and from the look of it his book has enough howlers, tendentious assertions and jarring logical jumps to keep a critical reader busy for months.

While on the subject of the Euston Manifesto crowd, I note this precious little piece from Norman Geras favourably quoting his pal Oliver Kamm on the question of whether blogging is good for democracy. Norm and Ollie conclude that it is indeed a good thing to let a thousand flowers bloom, but unfortunately “blogging debate… includes a lot that isn’t conducive to deliberation, in a good meaning of that word, or to open-minded consideration of the views of others”. Norm argues that what is needed is “to improve the culture of Internet discussion”.

I need hardly point out that Norm and Ollie promote open discussion by running blogs that don’t allow comments. Physician, heal thyself, I think is the phrase.

Update 21.02.07: For another cracking review of Cohen, check this out.


  1. WorldbyStorm said,

    February 12, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Or Nick either unless I’m much mistaken…

    Yeah, I can understand they might take a lot of flak, but without some discourse it makes it all very drab really…

  2. ejh said,

    February 13, 2007 at 12:23 am

    To be honest, in their place I’d turn off the comments facility because they’re going to get too many comments and too much is going to be abuse. You might well retort that (a) some of that abuse would be well-merited if it came from some of the victims of their mendacity ; or (b) it’d also prevent people pointing out the huge holes in what passes for their arguments. True, to a degree (and a very large degree in case b) but I’m sure you see my point.

  3. splinteredsunrise said,

    February 13, 2007 at 8:23 am

    I take your point, but maybe if Norm ‘n’ Ollie allowed comments it might keep them a bit more honest. And with the likes of Cohen, Wheen and Kamm citing each other as authorities all over the shop – well, they might have to rely on empirical facts for a change. And that couldn’t be a bad thing.

  4. ejh said,

    February 13, 2007 at 10:29 am

    The mutual support act between the prominent Decents is a pretty unattractive feature, isn’t it? Quoting one another as authorities and so on. Not to mention the notorious anti-Chomsky letter.

  5. AN said,

    February 13, 2007 at 10:36 am

    What I have noticed is that there are diffenent types of blog comments

    Blogs like Harry’s Place and Lenin’s tomb seem to get vast amount of comments from numpties patting each other on the back, an exercise in self affirmation, and building a sort of pack mentality.

    Whereas some blogs do get a serious debate – within the limitatons of the medium.

    I fear that any comments from the leading Decents would simpoly replicte Harry’s place, and one of them is enough

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    February 13, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Rush Limbaugh calls his loyal phone-in guys “dittoheads”, and I think it applies just as well to the Tomb or HP Sauce crowd. But there’s nothing to stop Cohen or Kamm or Norm preventing abuse by having a moderated comments box – Aaro does it, after all.

    Yeah, I don’t like the way they quote each other as authorities either. I was thinking of reading Adam LeBor’s biog of Slobo until I saw the note in the acknowledgements thanking Wheen for his insights… and when Francis writes on the Balkans his expert quotes are all from the Noel Malcolm-Brendan Simms-Attila the Hun set. Mostly tracing back to Attila’s mum.

    It’s a strange little incestuous universe, the world of Decency, isn’t it?

  7. ejh said,

    February 13, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Blogs like Harry’s Place and Lenin’s tomb seem to get vast amount of comments from numpties patting each other on the back

    It’s a bit off to compare LT with HP. (Interest declared: I’m often in the comments box on LT and indeed have posting rights there.) You get people saying “great piece” or “keep up the good work” but not, I think, a mutual-congratulation crowd. Indeed if the comments box has ever been clogged by anything it’s been by trolls including 9/11 conspiracists and anti-Galloway obsessives, fortunately less common now that comments are moderated. There are, also, debates in the boxes, though sometimes less politely conducted than I would personally prefer.

  8. WorldbyStorm said,

    February 13, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    I dont know ejh, no insult meant to you, but there’s a bit of a pack mentality down at LT on the comments side of things (and HP too). And perhaps an underlying strain of machismo on both – the putdowns often have a sort of sexual tinge. We’re always delighted to get voices which diverge from the consensus (although I accept that trolling is a pain). The only thing I really detest is spam. Which seems to have become weirdly intelligent (or intuitive) recently.

  9. Martin Wisse said,

    February 14, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    I’d disagree as well that the Tomb’s comments are a mutual admiration society, but it is a place where certain assumptions are made and discussions takes place within these assumptions.

    This is not a bad thing.

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