CT, Left exposed again

by Kieran Healy on December 31, 2003

Here in Australia it has been 2004 for some time. My advice from the future is, buy IBM. Reading around this morning I see Glenn Reynolds going out on a high, high note for 2003, reminding us all why he dropped his tagline “The New York Times of bloggers” in favor of “If you’ve got a modem, I’m shouting in your ear!” Meanwhile Tacitus closes 2003 with a variant on one of the most popular themes of the year, viz, “I’ve noticed a disturbing tendency on the American left…” Yeah, me too. It barely exists. I hope you won’t stop reading Crooked Timber now that Tacitus has shown that “the American left” relies wholly on “murderous racism based on junk economic theory.” Another of our sins is noted by Steven Den Beste, who observes that we at CT think “white men don’t actually matter.” In case you haven’t twigged, CT policy is that white males are only good for use as the sexual playthings of rich and beautiful women. Email me for more details about this.

All of this rhetorical overkill reminds me of a line about the late rants of F.R. Leavis: “In his later books he libelled his literary opponents so scandalously that when he tried to condemn Stalin he had no harsh words left over.” Excitable bloggers take note.

Update: Checking back on this post reveals a comments thread swept up in a wave of huffiness, demands for apologies and assertions of lost credibility. Oh my. I guess I’ll have to work on spelling things out rather than letting the tone make the point. Tacitus says that the “American left” is either an unwitting apologist or a hopelessly naive water-carrier for what is really “murderous racism based on junk economic theory.” That’s why he accuses the “American left” of suffering from “battered wife syndrome” in their supposed denial, downplaying or defence of communist atrocities, and why he orders them to “cut the crap about communism.” If you think there’s nothing wrong with each step of his argument then you will not see the point of my original post, which was intended to show that this reflected reality about as well as the statement “Crooked Timber believes white men don’t actually matter.”

Tacitus’s post would have been a good deal less obtuse (though wrong for other reasons) if he had begun with a generalization he could support. The post refers in passing to identifiable entities (e.g., the Democratic party) that have a history of anti-communism but are still left-wing, and Tacitus probably thinks this immunises him against charges of illegitimate generalization. In fact, it just exposes the strawy nature of his imaginary target. What he really meant was something like “I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in some of the comments to this Calpundit thread,” which seems to have been the inspiration for his post. But I suppose saying a few bloggers got up your nose doesn’t give you the same buzz as indicting a notional “American left” tout court without a shred of evidence.


by Chris Bertram on December 31, 2003

I spent three days over Christmas reading Antony Beevor’s “Berlin”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0142002801/junius-20 . It really is a magnificent account of the final battle of the Second World War [in the European theatre — see comments] and a suitable companion volume to his “Stalingrad”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140284583/junius-20 (which I read at Christmas a couple of years ago). When “Berlin”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0142002801/junius-20 first came out, most of the reviews focused on the book’s detailing of the extensive rape of German women by the invading Soviet soldiers. That is indeed a prominent feature of the book, but there is much much more going on.

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Globollocks, again

by Daniel on December 31, 2003

One more in our occasional ill-tempered and extremely unfair series keeping track of breathless and/or mendacious “Globalisation” commentary from neoliberal commentators. This time, we take a look at an interview in Reason magazine with Johan Norberg, a Scandinavian who “used to be part of the left but then saw the light and is now back with a book explaining it all” (where have we heard that before). I realise that some will call “no fair” on using a Reason interview, because it’s a bit of a libertarian house mag, but Norberg is unlikely to confine himself to the specialist media going forward, and I thought I’d get my retaliation in first. Besides, as a piece of Globollocks, this one is off the scale.

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Network Hacked

by Jon Mandle on December 31, 2003

Not a big deal, you say, that someone hacked their way into a corporate network? According to the CEO, the intruder took advantage of a network security hole “that we were a patch behind on.” Happens all the time, except that this company is VoteHere, which is “developing encryption-based software for secure electronic voting.” I admit I’d feel a little better if they were one patch ahead. Yes, encrypted voting results were stored on the network, but according to the CEO, “there is no evidence that any election was compromised.” Most reassuringly of all, it turns out that the system had only been tested on some “British local elections and nongovernmental tallies such as the Country Music Awards.”