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Embarrassing Correligionists
July 5, 2003 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Oh, I So Wish So-And-So Were On The Other Side! Just move over, dude! For conservatives, it's often the case that our allies are a damn sight worse than our worst so-called enemies. Here's a prime example, extremely rare in its totality: an embarrassing piece by an embarrassing neo-con, John Laughland, about an even more embarrassing neo-con, Michael Ledeen, in a totally embarrassing magazine, American Conservative. Do liberals and lefties have it any easier? Who are the Center's and the Left's most difficult-to-explain compagnons de route dudes? Quite honestly - and although they're certainly not immune to the exquisite unease of political companionship - I enviously fear that they do.
posted by MiguelCardoso (64 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence—our existence, not our politics—threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.

Leeden isn't very smart; he's so giddy with his glorified sand-castle kicking that he can't (won't) see that it is precisely the policy of "creative destruction" which his enemies fear. Even Hitler was feared for his policies. Nobody cared about Hitler when he was painting bad pictures in Austria.
He sounds like one the the Truly Evil though; people so convinced of thier rightness that they can comfortably case their "mission" as "heroic". There've been as many of these on the left as the right, but they're all frightening because they're all just driving big tractors over all the people and places and beautiful things I love.

Michael Leeden: Putting the "Satan" in "Great Satan".
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:39 PM on July 5, 2003


Miguel, you really shouldn't tease like this. I mean, compagnons de route I take it that means fellow traveller...

Me, i'm firmly anti-Monopolist.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:43 PM on July 5, 2003


Leeden: Conservative as ultimate Progressive. I'm so confused.

Actually, I think I see Miguel's point, or at least a part of it. Leeden's description of America as catalyst (ie as revolutionary force) seems pretty accurate to me. This is highly problematic for some conservatives, because if you're a true conservative, you want a very good reason before knocking down or altering an institution that's been serving society for a while.

And ironically, many of the folks I spend time with who are considered "progressives" are worried that "conservatives" are kicking down the wrong institutions w/o asking about consequences: ie, globalization, less oversigh of markets. See Wendell Berry for an example of just such a worried conservative.
posted by weston at 3:49 PM on July 5, 2003


because if you're a true conservative, you want a very good reason before knocking down or altering an institution that's been serving society for a while.

Weston: well said and, I think, true. Thing is, the Left is among those institutions. If we're honest about it, social and political progress has been accomplished by the Left alone. If it were up to conservatives, we'd still be in the Middle Ages.

Fwiw, I think Leeden and not a few neo-cons are actually right-wing revolutionaries, i.e., the worst of the worst; fascists, not to put too fine a point on it.

Conservatives, in the old sense, are just against change; the unfamiliar; the future; newness; equality; the untested; trying to mess with human nature; abstraction; grand plans; suddenness. They're for friendship; slowness; conversation; enjoying what you have; difference; freedom; individuality; specificity; laziness; acceptance. No?

Fascists like Leeden are very much like even more amoral Stalinists with a repressive, reactionary agenda.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:59 PM on July 5, 2003


I mean Ledeen.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:01 PM on July 5, 2003


I don't really see why a decent Conservative should even entertain the idea of Buchanan/Ledeen being somewhat "on the same side" as him/herself. I understand that in Republican circles it's nowadays fashionable to compare Howard Dean to Chamberlain and anti-WTO protesters to sucide bombers. but again, it's done in bad faith.
a very dumb idea. apples and oranges, ok?

of course, decent Conservatives -- like those nice Eisenhower Republicans for example -- should be more worried about Ashcroft, Cheney and Karl Rove, the people who actually at least _pretend_ to be part of Lincoln's and Teddy Roosevelt's party.
Buchanan's a joke who'll never get elected to anything. Ashcroft and the others are not a joke, sadly, they're the Christian jihadist/Corporate Welfare Tools/Budget-busting politicians who should scare the real, decent, fiscally conservative and small-government Conservatives shitless.

Who are the Center's and the Left's most difficult-to-explain compagnons de route dudes?
well, let's make today's little MeFi poll a little more interesting:
Who are MetaFilter's most difficult-to-explain compagnons de route dudes?

on preview:
Conservatives, in the old sense, are just against change; the unfamiliar; the future; newness; equality; the untested; trying to mess with human nature; abstraction; grand plans; suddenness. They're for friendship; slowness; conversation; enjoying what you have; difference; freedom; individuality; specificity; laziness; acceptance. No?
No.
That's a cartoon, not a serious conservative. read it all again carefully

If it were up to conservatives, we'd still be in the Middle Ages.
no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
should I mention Henry Ford, TR, William Randolph Hearst and a million gazillion other conservatives? even -- gasp -- Bill Gates ...
posted by matteo at 4:12 PM on July 5, 2003


Whoah, Laughland's also a Neo-con? When I read this article the other day, I was under the assumption he was a paleo, since the publication is AmeriCon. Laughland having to mingle with a different style of conservative in order to get his snipering published makes it oh-so-much more amusing...

I must admit, though, I was disturbed at how easy it was for him to find examples of Ledeen praising fascism. I knew Ledeen was a total nutjob, but that total of one? I think the paleos might have a point about all the neo-cons being guys who went all the way around the right-left loop and for all the wrong reasons...

As for the question of embarassing liberals....someone, of course, will say Michael Moore...if Eric Alterman read mefi he'd say Alexander Cockburn....if Joe hadn't pulled off $5 mil at the last second he'd be in the running, candidate or not....a DLC operative would say Sharpton...Matt Stone and Trey Parker would say Barbara Streisand...

...I'll go with Georgia's Sen. Zell Miller. Does he EVER vote with the Democrats?
posted by jbrjake at 4:12 PM on July 5, 2003


Do liberals and lefties have it any easier? Who are the Center's and the Left's most difficult-to-explain compagnons de route dudes?

Well, we have f+m. I'm as big a critic of the US as the next... well, no, I guess I'm not.

Alright, alright, petty grudge filter aside. I voted for Nader, but sometimes the man just embarrases me and I'm sure there are greens who are embarrased to be lumped in with the Dems. The fact is that there are some folks on the "Left" who talk like Maoists, and it's where we get the Pinko/Commie designation, even if we're only socialists or even basically capitalists who don't see a huge problem with progressive taxation. Some Dems will argue that Clinton cost Gore the 2000 election by association (say what you want about the Presidential sex, the fact is, Clinton was seen by some as a prevaricating waffle waiting to go whichever way he'd get the most approval for, and I heard over and over a similar thing about Gore, and I think that came more from the image of the administration than from Gore's personal record. Not to mention the fact that it was pretty embarassing the Clinton was caught lying under oath. Not cool at all).

You might have a point, though, Miguel. Maybe it's the bleedin' heart association, but I've found that the worst epithet that usually gets applied to liberals is stupid. Something in the right-wing revolutionary end seems to bring out the perception (possibly reality) of crazy straight out meanness -- and we know they can be accused of being not to bright as well. I think from that standpoint, you could say the left doesn't have that liability.

But then again, every once in a while, it seems that people tend to want to be thought dangerous, and the right seems to be able to convert that crazy meanness into percieved (and who knows, maybe even real) strenght.
posted by namespan at 4:17 PM on July 5, 2003


Noam Chomsky is probably the most embarassing guy to have as a fellow-traveler on the left, followed closely by Eric Hobsbawm and the ANSWER/IWW. Apologists for totalitarian regimes aren't something you want to be associated with.

As a libertarian, the most embarassing ideological colleague is either Neal Boortz or the war-blogging crowd, for much the same reason in both cases. Nationalism, imperialism and libertarianism make for an unstable and ugly mix.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:22 PM on July 5, 2003


Psuedo:
Noam Chomsky is probably the most embarassing guy to have as a fellow-traveler on the left, followed closely by Eric Hobsbawm and the ANSWER/IWW. Apologists for totalitarian regimes aren't something you want to be associated with.

I've never seen Chomsky as apologizing for bad regimes, just critical of those that the US tends to set up/support. I do sense that he overstates his case sometimes. But things like Guatemala and the United Fruit Company were things I first found out about because of him (and I think that one seems pretty cut and dried).

matteo:
That's a cartoon, not a serious conservative. read it all again carefully

Actually, I think Miguel's reading isn't so much a cartoon as it is simply literally true. What would you say a serious conservative is?

And Miguel (and other conservatives), not to derail, but the more I think about it, I can't help but think that the most interesting part of the article is the view of America-as-catalyst. It *is*. And Ledeen is right, that's a highly distasteful thing to some societies.

Perhaps not without reason. I guess the difference between me and Ledeen is that I don't simply observe and glory in it. I think it's worth asking questions about and perhaps even putting in check. Some revolutions need to happen. Other things need to be left in place. Other things need to evolve slowly. Some things need to slowly die.

And I suspect the real political differences have mostly to do with which institutions/practices you put in what category.
posted by weston at 4:35 PM on July 5, 2003


I've never seen Chomsky as apologizing for bad regimes

Some of the things he's written can be construed as apologetics for the Khmer Rouge. Reasonable people of good will are on both sides of that question, though, AFAICT.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:41 PM on July 5, 2003


That is, some RPOGW think it was apologizing for the KR, and others don't. Not that RPOGW are in much disagreement about whether the KR were nice people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2003


Aren't so many political misunderstandings based on the questionable premiss of:

"If you're against X, you must be for Y"

or

"If you're for Y, you must be for X".

It seems to me that Chomsky is a case of someone who, because he was against American foreign policy - his country, his right to criticize - was seen as being in favour of the affected regimes.

"If you're not with us, you're against us" - I think the Portuguese dictator Salazar was the first to put it that simply - is probably the most obnoxious and dangerous of all political fallacies.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:51 PM on July 5, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe, here is a USENET thread on the subject of Chomsky and the Khmer Rouge.
After readin it I was left with little evidence to construe that Chomsky was an apologist for the KR.
posted by asok at 4:58 PM on July 5, 2003


On the subject of 'fellow travellers', Tony Blair embarasses the hell out of me, as does Prescott and most of the cabinet.
Not that anyone would call them left wing, or would they?
posted by asok at 5:04 PM on July 5, 2003


Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace.

(That's one of the most offensive things I've seen written lately. From the labelling of people as "enemies" as if this were their natural, predefined state, to the demand that they try to keep up with the pace of the mighty USA...)

The problem, essentially, is that people have got caught in the ol' Left-Right dichotomy once again. Really, I thought those terms were thrown out years ago. Any person who has original thoughts of their own knows that it's virtually impossible to truly fit into any camp. The most you can honestly achieve is a vague feeling that the sum of your beliefs lean more one way than the other. An individual's life experiences don't add up to a single vector (or even two or three) defining their place on the political spectrum - every individual thought on every issue defines your ideology, so there are as many ideologies as there are human beings.

Therefore, don't be concerned when you're "grouped" with people who's opinions you despise. Rather, joyfully renounce being grouped into any side. I don't consider McD-torching balaklava-totin' soap-dodgers (c) to be on "my side". But that doesn't mean I don't have some empathy for the emotions that drive them. Just choose your own path and stand by your own convictions. And most importantly, be aware of what the world would really be like if you got your own way.
posted by Jimbob at 5:10 PM on July 5, 2003


Reasonable people of good will are on both sides of that question, though, AFAICT.

What a wonderful phrase. I think it needs to be used more often.
posted by weston at 5:19 PM on July 5, 2003


"If you're not with us, you're against us"... is probably the most obnoxious and dangerous of all political fallacies.
Glad to hear you say that, Migs, I guess you're one of us after all...
*chortle* Sorry, I... *chortle* couldn't resist... *chortle*

As for Embarrassing Liberals:
I don't know if I'll ever quite trust Arianna Huffington, having witnessed her beginnings in California putting her "trophy husband" into politics...
Ted Rall gives me the creeps, but I don't know if it's his bad attitude or his bad drawing (maybe he only exists to make Dan "Tom Tomorrow" Perkins look good)
Some people are put off by the liberal pundits who put on a 'good-ole-boy/girl' style (complete with some variation of a Southern accent). You know who I mean: James Carville, Molly Ivens, Jim Hightower... but I enjoy their "act" MORE than that of that Northerner from Flint, Michigan... what is his name?
And, oh yes, there is a special place in Hell for the Fox News Token Liberals like Alan Colmes and Juan Williams. Wimp-hood personified.

Reasonable people of good will are on both sides... AFAICT.
Reasonable people of good will are on both sides of MetaFilter, but there's something about these comment threads that bring out something... scary. I blame the 006699 color scheme.

And, ROU_Xenophobe, what the feck does RPOGW stand for?
I foresee a "'D'oh!" moment for myself soon
posted by wendell at 5:28 PM on July 5, 2003


Part of the difference might be that while there is no shortage of loudmouthed idiots on the left, they're generally ignored or laughed at as faceless caricatures at protest rallies. Meanwhile the same mentality on the right, loudness and being absolutely sure of yourself, will land you a pot on AM radio before you can say 'Hillary'.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:33 PM on July 5, 2003


Part of the difference might be that while there is no shortage of loudmouthed idiots on the left, they're generally ignored or laughed at as faceless caricatures at protest rallies. Meanwhile the same mentality on the right, loudness and being absolutely sure of yourself, will land you a pot on AM radio before you can say 'Hillary'.

Well, somewhat true. The idiots on the left, instead of landing on AM radio, land tenured positions at Universities.
posted by gyc at 5:40 PM on July 5, 2003


Weston> There's some question of Chomsky's position towards the Khmer Rouge. I personally found asok's link a little confusing. Here's a fairly balanced article dealing with Chomsky on Cambodia.

Mostly though, it's just that a lot of criticism doesn't get through to Noam. I don't know if you read his exchange with Christopher Hitchens in the Nation, but he came across as incredibly patronising, self-righteous and frankly incoherent. A lot of his post-September 11th stuff has seemed like that - such as when he quotes Robert Fisk approvingly in an interview (the transcript of which is in his book 9-11) saying that bin Laden "knows little of the outside world", then insists later on that bin Laden's is reacting to world-wide imperialism by the US (not that he is reacting to the Middle Eastern branch thereof, mind you - Chomsky name-drops Nicaragua a couple of times as pertinent to bin Laden). It's been so long since anyone who he pays attention to took a swing at Chomsky that he's become a very lazy debater, and it shows in his latest round of interviews and articles. Whether you agree with him or not, it's embarassing to have such a prig on your side.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 5:45 PM on July 5, 2003


Clearly Reverend Moon is the most embarassing member of the Right.
posted by inksyndicate at 6:13 PM on July 5, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe, here is a USENET thread on the subject of Chomsky and the Khmer Rouge.

I myself have no opinion on that issue, and didn't mean to sound as if I did. Chomsky can be or not be an apologist for anything he wants, as far as I care, and it's no skin off my nose either way.

The only point I meant to make was that I've seen reasonable people of good will -- people who aren't raving loonie right-wing thugs, people who aren't just axe-grinding automatons, people who've seemed open to persuasion -- have made that claim. Including, if memory serves me, left-leaning people who found him a bit embarrassing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:19 PM on July 5, 2003


wendell: what the feck does RPOGW stand for? I foresee a "'D'oh!" moment for myself soon.

I doubt it.
posted by trharlan at 6:24 PM on July 5, 2003


And, ROU_Xenophobe, what the feck does RPOGW stand for?

Reasonable People Of Good Will.

Their new single, "We Agree That While Both Of Us Have A Right To Voice Our Opinions, Neither Of Us Will Ever Convince The Other, So Let's Agree Not To Bring Up That Subject Again So As To Encourage An Atmosphere Of Civility," will be out next week. From the album, I Don't Know Who Pissed In Your Wheaties, But I Assure You It Wasn't Me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:25 PM on July 5, 2003


Reasonable People Of Good Will of whatever stripe are for friendship; slowness; conversation; enjoying what you have; difference; freedom; individuality; specificity; laziness; acceptance... and mom & apple pie.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:25 PM on July 5, 2003


It's been so long since anyone who he pays attention to took a swing at Chomsky that he's become a very lazy debater, and it shows in his latest round of interviews and articles.

Yeah, I can see that in some of the transcripts I've come across, too.

It's funny, I've had a similar thing happen to me: I'm a staunch critic of Microsoft's business practices, and for a long while spent time around people who either shared my views or didn't know much about the SW industry so took me at face value. One day after a few years of this I ended up in a debate about with a friend from Seattle who saw them as something of a champion and american success story. It took me an hour to actually start pulling some intelligent debate out of the back of my head.

Moral of the story: it's never good to get lazy when people start to listen to you.
posted by weston at 6:26 PM on July 5, 2003


"If you're not with us, you're against us" - I think the Portuguese dictator Salazar was the first to put it that simply

It was said a lot earlier than that:

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with
me, scatters".

--- Matthew 12:30
posted by SPrintF at 6:39 PM on July 5, 2003


"If you're not with us, you're against us" - I think the Portuguese dictator Salazar was the first to put it that simply - is probably the most obnoxious and dangerous of all political fallacies.

Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

***

I think first there must be an obvious difference between a British conservative and an American conservative : I noticed, for example, while watching debates on the coming war in Iraq, that many british conservatives were not gung-ho at all about going in. In fact, many argued against any intervention, anywhere -- that's a pretty "conservative" view I suppose -- leaving things as they are in other countries.

And then there's the whole what makes one a "neo-con" and not just a "con?" ( If anyone want to explain that, I'd like to know )

And then there's the difference between political conservatives and social conservatives who can easily part ways depending on the issue.

But since there are many cross-overs and mangled definitions I'll leave that because I'm not so sure an easy distinction can be made. ( But if someone wants to try, I'd love to read it )

For me, embarassing "conservatives":
Sean Hannity, and Post-911 Ann Coulter

embarassing "liberals":
Michael Moore, Chomsky, and anyone in ANSWER who actually knows about the organization - not protestors who went to their rallys who were not associated with them.

embarrasing to both:
Arianna Huffington
posted by alethe at 6:44 PM on July 5, 2003


Conservative as ultimate Progressive. I'm so confused.

I think part of this confusion stems from the habitual conflation -- or confusion -- of conservative with political 'right', and liberal with the 'left'. A lot of those conventionally labelled 'conservative' are more properly designated right-wing radicals.

My own take on this (although, I guess it's a pretty commonplace one) is that a number of those who have made the shift from left to right since the '60s have brought with them an unsophisticated and vulgar Marxism. Though now advancing a right-wing agenda, they do so using the simple-minded economism -- with an emphasis on the need for revolutionary change in the face of 'crisis' -- that marked an earlier brand of left discourse.

I'm not saying that Ledeen, for example, is necessarily a former Marxist, only that the radical discourse he's using, with its emphasis on laws of history and 'historical mission', sounds pretty damned Left Hegelian. Ledeen's 'creative destruction' could easily be translated as 'permanent revolution'.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:49 PM on July 5, 2003


Sonny Jim, I think that could very well be applied to Andrew Sullivan. Anyone who swings from Communist to neo-Conservative is obviously carrying a lot of baggage - a fact that his readers would do well to remember before they take everything he says as gospel.
posted by Jimbob at 6:59 PM on July 5, 2003


Well put, Sonny Jim.
posted by stonerose at 6:59 PM on July 5, 2003


Ha ha. You funny people with your left/right, liberal/conservative, black/white, 'with us'/'against us' world of politics.

Haven't you ever heard of nuances?

It's politics, folks. Not the pepsi challenge.
posted by spazzm at 7:08 PM on July 5, 2003


Yep, it's "D'oh!" time... ROU_X spelled it out one post before...

Well, I can guess what Google's #1 search pick for RPOGW is going to be tomorrow... (And ROU_X gets credit for inventing a new acronym)

Reasonable People Of Good Will of whatever stripe are for friendship; slowness; conversation; enjoying what you have; difference; freedom; individuality; specificity; laziness; acceptance... and mom & apple pie.
Ooooh, and I almost qualified until it got to that pie thing... I guess love of Lemon Meringue just ain't reasonable.

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters". - Matthew 12:30
Does that mean we have to add "agnostic" to the RPOGW list? Or does that "12:30" thing mean Matthew said it during Lunch Hour, on his own time...

...what makes one a "neo-con" and not just a "con?"
Obviously Pat Buchanan and the gang at amconmag are old-line conservatives, with more than a touch of isolationism. (I remember the good old days when Republicans would point out that the last century of foreign wars all started under Democrat Presidents... no longer true). The "neo-cons" are distinct for being more and more openly interventionist... (that, and their love of Keanu Reeves)
Can't... resist... dumb... jokes...

BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS...
Have we forgotten all the MeFi hubbub over political compass, which is a TWO-dimensional measurement (and could easily be expanded to three or four or seven)?
posted by wendell at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2003


Actually, spazzm, I think that's a point many of us are trying to make here and probably the foundation of this thread: this isn't a basketball game. There are nuances and many axes on which to slide.

on preview: I guess it works as a reply to wendell's comment too. I like the poltical compass, which at least didn't flatten the political vector space to one dimension.
posted by weston at 7:31 PM on July 5, 2003


The idiots on the left, instead of landing on AM radio, land tenured positions at Universities.

Huh?
posted by Space Coyote at 7:36 PM on July 5, 2003


I almost qualified until it got to that pie thing... I guess love of Lemon Meringue just ain't reasonable

Only a nun-raping hamster-dancing squid-fondling foliage-defoliating gap-toothed pervert of the worst kind who was worse than hitler and dumber than a box of rocks would even condone such a thing, much less love it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:58 PM on July 5, 2003


Tomorrow, this page will also be the #1 Google Search Result for "nun-raping hamster-dancing squid-fondling foliage-defoliating gap-toothed pervert". You've done it again, ROU_X.... (And let me formally declare I did NOT fondle a squid... it was an octopus)

BTW, Miguel, that "dude" link was FPP material by itself (by my low standards). You should've given it to Carlos and convinced him it was his idea...
posted by wendell at 8:17 PM on July 5, 2003


Michael Moore would have my vote. Even long-held personal beliefs become distasteful when run through his espousal machine. He does for the liberal cause what Paris Paramus does for Israel: negate and demean it through support.
posted by umberto at 8:29 PM on July 5, 2003


Today, however, RPOGW has exactly one Google result:
http://www.tgpsubmitter.com/tgp-submitter-dojiqtaco.html
Which is full of invisible text (view source) that's either gibberish or in a language I don't read, but which seems to belong to an organization that spams web forms.

This thread is definitely an improvement over that. :-)
posted by kewms at 8:30 PM on July 5, 2003


And by the way, Ron Rosenbaum completely ignored Parker and Stone's contribution to dudocity. Both 'South Park' and 'Baseketball' precede 'Dude, Where's My Car?' by years. The mass acceptance of the term, "sweet' can also be laid at their door. Ron, Ron. Loved his article on Angleton and the Great Mole Hunt, though.
posted by umberto at 8:39 PM on July 5, 2003


that's either gibberish or in a language I don't read

If there weren't so many long words, I'd think it was just ROT-13'd English. But there are so many long words, so it's probably just what you get when octopi, squid, or other cephalods who've been groped or otherwise molested by wendell take out their vengeace on an innocent keyboard.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:18 PM on July 5, 2003


The idiots on the left, instead of landing on AM radio, land tenured positions at Universities.

Huh?


See, they're idiots, so they don't know to land them at airports like normal people and land them at universities instead, because they're idiots. I assume a "tenured-position" is technical talk for a good landing that's not all bouncy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:21 PM on July 5, 2003


Michael Moore would have my vote. Even long-held personal beliefs become distasteful when run through his espousal machine. He does for the liberal cause what Paris Paramus does for Israel: negate and demean it through support.

Hear hear, Umby. Couldn't have said it better.
posted by Ryvar at 9:26 PM on July 5, 2003


How has fold & mutilate gotten away with only being referenced once in this entire discussion, is what I wanna know. That guy (and others here) have done more to push me over to the ranks of the right wing than any number of tax cuts & patriotic speeches ever could. I was so much further left before I started reading Metafilter.
posted by jonson at 10:01 PM on July 5, 2003


The idiots on the left, instead of landing on AM radio, land tenured positions at Universities.

So, let's see, number of bozos calling in to AM radio nationwide... number of tenured professors at universities... so you're saying that there are a lot fewer idiots on the left, is that it?

Their new single, "We Agree That While Both Of Us Have A Right To Voice Our Opinions, Neither Of Us Will Ever Convince The Other, So Let's Agree Not To Bring Up That Subject Again So As To Encourage An Atmosphere Of Civility," will be out next week. From the album, I Don't Know Who Pissed In Your Wheaties, But I Assure You It Wasn't Me.

I love that album! For me it was really the creme de la creme of RPOGW's output. My all-time favorite track was always "Some revolutions need to happen, other things need to be left in place, other things need to evolve slowly, some things need to slowly die, and I suspect the real political differences have mostly to do with which institutions/practices you put in what category" - man, I can hear it now, like a veritable Proustian madeleine... "Some revolutions need to haaaappennnn..."
posted by soyjoy at 10:14 PM on July 5, 2003


*cue cheerful pop licks, somewhere between Badly Drawn Boy and Harper's Bazaar*

"Some revolutions need to happen
some things need to slowly die
it's an evolution that we're mapped in
from sunrise to dusky sky

It's what I think when idling over
the differences I see
and the institutions and practices
we each decide to keep"

Soyjoy, in honor of your fandom, I think RPOGW might just decide to call their next album "Like a Veritable Proustian Madeline" instead of "nun-raping hamster-dancing squid-fondling foliage-defoliating gap-toothed pervert".
posted by weston at 11:32 PM on July 5, 2003


Sorry about that link, it was confusing (it was late). Thanks for the alternative Pseudoephedrine.
I would suggest that Chomsky may not be too clever at getting his points across to a hostile audience presently, but that would not make him too different from many elder statesmen who are ensconced within their philosphies so comfortably that they have forgotten how to explain themselves to non-believers effectively. Or members of this community ; )

'Politics makes strange bedfellows, and journalism makes strange politics.' - Amy Gorin
posted by asok at 2:06 AM on July 6, 2003


Almost 50 comments and no mention of John Pilger. My first ever Metafilter comment I recall was a bad-tempered snarl at one of his pieces. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't basically agree with much of what he says, but oh ... the way he says it ...
posted by grahamwell at 3:13 AM on July 6, 2003


Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

Then there's:

Mark 9:40
"For he who is not against us is for us."

Discuss.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:50 AM on July 6, 2003


How has fold & mutilate gotten away with only being referenced once in this entire discussion, is what I wanna know. That guy (and others here) have done more to push me over to the ranks of the right wing than any number of tax cuts & patriotic speeches ever could.

Hear, hear. Since the dawn of the New Left in America, there has been a tendency among many "leftists" to conceptualize their ideas and believes as originating in virtue, as opposed to self-interest. This creates a rhetorical landscape where people who are opposed to ideas from the left are not merely acting in good faith, or RPOGWs, as it were, but actually evil people, because if you stand for good, then those who stand against you must be for evil, and there is little rhetorical room for any other opposing position, with the possible exception of the misled fool.

Now, this kind of mindset has been embraced by the "right" in the past 10-15 years, (with elements of it here and there before hand, i.e. McCarthysim, red scare, and whatnot,) but I think that the "left" has been doing it longer, and it has yielded mixed results.
posted by Snyder at 7:34 AM on July 6, 2003


I was so much further left before I started reading Metafilter.

I thought I was the only one who felt that way.
posted by fuzz at 7:47 AM on July 6, 2003


>>Now, this kind of mindset has been embraced by the "right" in the past 10-15 years, (with elements of it here and there before hand, i.e. McCarthysim, red scare, and whatnot,) but I think that the "left" has been doing it longer, and it has yielded mixed results.<<

The genius of the "right" has been to wrap its views of "good," "evil," and "virtue" in the cloak of religious certainty, with frequent reference to scripture. This is a game that the "left", with its strongly non-sectarian roots, simply cannot play effectively.
posted by kewms at 6:32 PM on July 6, 2003


Alethe, you're so right on that I erased my whole post on preview.
posted by swerdloff at 8:34 PM on July 6, 2003


I was so much further left before I started reading Metafilter.

Maybe not, jonson (and fuzz). Maybe the distance to the end of the left spectrum just looks a lot farther.

Curiously enough, the same experience is also available for the right.
posted by weston at 9:09 PM on July 6, 2003


Alethe, you're so right on that I erased my whole post on preview.

That must've been some post if you were working on it for two solid hours.

I think RPOGW might just decide to call their next album "Like a Veritable Proustian Madeline" instead of "nun-raping hamster-dancing squid-fondling foliage-defoliating gap-toothed pervert".

The strange thing is, they won't need to change any of the lyrics to the songs.
posted by soyjoy at 10:07 AM on July 7, 2003


Jonson if what a few folks say is enough to alienate you from what you thought as your political view, then maybe you never really were far from the right anyway.
posted by john at 7:45 PM on July 7, 2003


Now that I re-read this thread, I'm forced to ask: can one actually defoliate anything other than foliage in the first place?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:01 PM on July 7, 2003


Of course you could. You could erase Eddie Murphy's character from Beverly Hills Cop, thereby de-Foley-ating the movie.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:45 PM on July 7, 2003


grahamwell beat me to John Pilger's name for the embarrassing ranting end of the left; I'm surprised that no-one's mentioned that illiterate lickspittle Mark Steyn as a permanent embarrassment to the right.
posted by riviera at 2:46 PM on July 8, 2003


Anything associated with the Po-Mo anti-enlightment left is very embarassing to me personally as a leftist. Also, many environmetalist groups that are more pagan nature worshippers than politically minded organizations.
Pseudoephedrine: having actually read what Chomsky has written about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge I can assure you that reasonable and fair minded people, who have actually read Chomsky (a small minority of his critics I'd say) cannot assume that he was ever in support of the KR regime.
As for Eric Hobsbawm? Why would he be an embarassement to anyone?
posted by talos at 3:55 AM on July 9, 2003


Well, there's the fact that Eric Hobsbawm thinks that Stalin was on the right track, even after the whole "genocide" thing came out. That would certainly embarass me were I to consider him an ideological fellow-traveller of mine.

And I'm rather leery about that "cannot". No offense, but if you're unconcerned that Eric Hobsbawm is an avowed Stalinist, I do not think you are part of the afore-mentioned "reasonable and fair-minded" people much spoken of on this thread.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:50 PM on July 9, 2003


I'm unconcerned that EH is an avowed Stalinist, because he is not. He was in his youth. The following description is accurate:
As the reality of Stalinism gradually loomed from the ideological fog shrouding the Soviet regime, doubts and reservations arose in Hobsbawm, to be uneasily swallowed; his visit to the Soviet Union in 1954 proved dispiriting after his encounter with the “career communists” of Stalinist academia.

The year of crisis for Western communists was 1956, with Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev's “secret speech” to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union revealing the crimes of Stalin. 1956 was also the year of the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

Hobsbawm and his fellow historians in the CPGB became the nucleus of a vocal opposition to the pro-Stalinist leadership of the CPGB, before most of them resigned to produce the New Left Review, an independent Marxist journal. Hobsbawm remained a party member but quietly withdrew from party activism.

If anything, since the eighties he's been a Neil Kinnock rather than a Tony Benn kind of leftist. From the same article:
Hobsbawm has long rejected “the dream of the October Revolution” which was “bound to fail” because it followed the Leninist path (which he simplistically equates with “Bolshevik party dictatorship”). .

He himself has stated the following:
EH: I must leave the discussion of Amis's views on Stalin to others.
I wasn't a Stalinist. I criticised Stalin and I cannot conceive how
what I've written can be regarded as a defence of Stalin. But as
someone who was a loyal Party member for two decades before 1956 and
therefore silent about a number of things about which it's reasonable
not to be silent - things I knew or suspected in the USSR - I don't
want to be critical of a book which brings out some of the horrors of
Stalin.

Now, where did the "avowed Stalinist" come from and what were we saying about fair-mindedness?
posted by talos at 5:20 PM on July 9, 2003


The Hobsbawm interview I referred to. [Google cache]
posted by talos at 5:22 PM on July 9, 2003


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