Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rancid Humanism and the Vulgar Left

Oliver Kamm has an article on rendition in Comment is Free. As usual, his clarity and economy of words make a precise and fully intelligible position.

But the comments following his article do not, as Stephen Pollard notes:

I mean no disrespect to my friend Oliver Kamm when I say that the real interest of his excellent piece in the Guardian (about extraordinary rendition) is in the comments on Comment is Free...

This one (by 'Weeper') is especially choice:

Kamm, you are an apologist for a criminal organisation called the govt. of USA and its ugly partners, UK and Israel. And you are a liar. Have you any evidence that bin Laden was behing 9/11? I have a lot more evidence that Cheney/CIA/ISI (Pakistan) were behind it. And you are convinced that the "war on terror" is genuine! How many muslims have these countries killed and how many in these countries have muslims killed? The ratio is 1000's to one. That's assuming 9/11 and 7/7 were not inside jobs, which is very doubtful.

You have the gall to talk about this unholy alliance implementing international law when they have trashed same, and destroyed muslim countries in order to grab their resources (see the article by John Hilary in yesterday's Guardian), and told the UN to sod off!

Every molecule of my body loathes you. I am also against torture but I will make an exception in your case.

Don't you just love the fraternal spirit and love of one's fellow man of the Left?

"Weeper" is the kind of Leftist into whose mind Brecht was climbing in his poem, here.

And of course the "Left" that Pollard invokes is not exactly the Left that Norm Geras thinks about when he talks about the Left:

The main thing is that Crace feels it necessary to assure his readers that Burleigh is no mad 'gobby, rightwing apologist'. And for why? Because Burleigh insists that 'one man's terrorist is another man's terrorist'. Just like that - without complication or prevarication. It's almost as if Crace expects there to be Guardian-readers who will find so forthright a condemnation of terrorism self-evidently 'rightwing'. Terrorism being the deliberate killing of innocent people, i.e. a form of political murder, isn't that a strange expectation to have about people of left and liberal outlook? The sad thing is that you'd be hard put to it, today, to show that Crace's expectation was groundless.
________

Update:

Oliver Kamm posted another short article about the subject, responding to Norm's critique and dealing both with the question of rendition and quoting people who dislike him.

15 Comments:

At 8:23 PM EDT, Blogger Will said...

What makes you think 'Weeper' is of the left?

Don't be so ridiculous with your accusations or pointing of fingers -- 'Weeper' is merely a lunatic. They exist on the right as much on the left and Weeper could be of either branch of lunacy (even if you buy into the non-scientific bullshit of left/right categories).

Kamm's article was also pish by the way -- utter garbage -- like what most of what he writes.

 
At 8:53 PM EDT, Blogger Will said...

PS. Norm is too polite to say the same as me -- that's a failing of him -- not me.

Kamm -- what a disgusting dickehaed he is.

Tory filth.

 
At 9:03 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I agree that left/right categories no longer serve the purposes of clarity in a discussion about politics. But then neither would a lunatic/sane category. Until we have better articulated political categories, and in the interest of some transmission of meaningful content, I see no choice but to use these absolete terms.

Oliver Kamm is a lucid and highly intelligent writer. He has a way of shafting his ideological rivals with the precision of a bull fighter, and just as elegantly. He is coldly witty and his sarcasm is always understated, for extra impact. Calling his article "utter garbage" doesn't do much by way of rebutting or disputing what he says.

You are always shouting. I can't hear what it is you say.

 
At 9:08 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Norm is too polite to say the same as me -- that's a failing of him -- not me."

I doubt it. Norm Geras holds Kamm in very high esteem, by his own account:


"If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > I'd like to see my friend Oliver Kamm take a shot at it. I think he'd do well."

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2007/07/the-normblog--2.html

 
At 9:27 PM EDT, Blogger Will said...

Another example of Norm being too kind (and wrong). Far, far too kind and far, far too wrong -- Norm has been that way for a long time now. Too many of his former comrades have let him down and he's went the way of so many before him -- i.e. gravitated to the company that makes him gather solace -- rather than maintain intellectual lucidity and coherence. Trying to keep everyone onside in otherwords -- bad for the soul so it is. Far better to identify enemies and destroy them and fuck the consequences re friendships.

 
At 9:30 PM EDT, Blogger Will said...

"But then neither would a lunatic/sane category."

Wrong. That would be a category that would serve the purposes of clarity in a discussion. Just saying shit because it sounds 'reasonable' doesn't mean it is true or reasonable.

 
At 9:42 PM EDT, Anonymous nwo said...

Far better to identify enemies and destroy them and fuck the consequences re friendships. ---- will

Thus, extraordinary rendition.

LOL!

Thumbs up!

 
At 9:55 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Far better to identify enemies and destroy them and fuck the consequences re friendships."

Well, it's a philosophy I somewhat subscribe to myself, depending on the gravity of the disagreement.

When I read Norm's words, I am always struck by the consistency in the application of his principles, even if he disagrees with a friend. But he also is very even-tempered and always charitable and respecful, even in disagreement. You might be mistaking his polite tone, and the fact that he always tries to present an adverseial position as based in good intentions.
_______

I would be wary of classifying people as lunatic or sane based on their politics. These are medical diagnoses, how can they describe a political position? Who gets to decide which is the lunatic and which is the sane? You?

 
At 10:07 PM EDT, Blogger Graeme said...

"Oliver Kamm is a lucid and highly intelligent writer. He has a way of shafting his ideological rivals with the precision of a bull fighter, and just as elegantly. He is coldly witty and his sarcasm is always understated, for extra impact."

Oliver Kamm is a boring writer. End of.

 
At 10:30 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Oliver Kamm is a boring writer. End of."

May I ask, which writer you consider interesting?

 
At 12:28 PM EDT, Blogger Graeme said...

Charlie Brooker.

 
At 1:32 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

The name means nothing to me. I'll google it.

 
At 2:24 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Hmm. I see why you think he is interesting...

 
At 8:17 PM EDT, Blogger Will said...

"You might be mistaking his polite tone, and the fact that he always tries to present an adverseial position as based in good intentions."

Yes -- I may well be -- but consistency isn't a function of those traits. I'm consistent - but I don't give my enemies the benefit of good intentions. That would be completely unnecessary. Intentions are also beside the point -- truth and justice are the point -- not abstract intentions.

 
At 3:01 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I'm a bit uncertain as to how I should understand "I don't give my enemies the benefit of good intentions".

For one thing, I'm not sure what it takes to become your enemy. I have stopped responding and reading your posts on the Drunk Trots because they are rarely coherent enough for me to figure out. When I asked for clarification, I got told to "Fuck off" and my comments were deleted.

So I have to assume I am one of those "enemies" you mention here. And that I'm your enemy because you suspect I have bad intentions (isn't this what not giving someone the benefit of good intentions means?). If I have, a-priori, bad intentions then of course what I deserve is a string of curses. And no explanation whatsoever. No need to explain yourself to someone whose opinion differs. One explains oneself only to those who share each and every nook and cranny of one's position.

If I have to choose betwen Norm's way and your way, I opt for the first. When he disagrees with you, he expains why, in the interest of clarity because clarity makes communication possible. And for clarity to be achieved, courtesy and dispassion are necessary.

It's about the noise to signal ratio. Very little, if any, noise on Norm's blog.

 

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