Sunday, June 14, 2009

You'll just have to trust me on this, but I can't get through a three-month period without somebody emailing me to ask whatever happened to The Encyclopedia Of Decency. Every ninety days or so, regular as clockwork.

If I can be forgiven some unjustified vanity, I think the Decentpedia got hits because it filled a gaping space in the market for mockery of some particularly deserving targets. Some of it was funny and, I like to think, made some good points about the obvious propaganda scams of an unusually dishonest political tendency, but a lot of it was basically filler.

I think it was a project worth pursuing, since the blog's purpose was essentially the same as this one, i.e. 1) urinating noisily over the notion that the internet creates a space for better, more incisive political debate, rather than enabling propagandists and bullshitters who should be 2) laughed at rather than engaged in discussion. Useful debate and discussion surely require participants to keep a sense of proportion; to be reasonable, open-minded and fairly honest, and to grant their opponents at least some intellectual charity. By this metric, Decency = Epic Fail.

Well, that gap in the market is now closed, and in the end it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the horrible personality flaws of Decency's chief players, the woeful failure of the political causes they spun for and the military bloodbaths they wanted.

Harry's Place has long since been called out for the nasty, wingnut toilet that it is, and now even the reasonable posts they put up are so tainted by the lying bullshit the Saucers proliferate that no sane person would take them seriously. Professor Norm spends his evenings grousing and bitching like an aging drag queen; David Aaronovitch can't publish a recipe for beans on toast without attracting four thousand comments calling him a paid mouthpiece for the status quo.

Meanwhile, the Euston Manifesto continues to languish in obscurity and Ollie Kamm's output is recognised as the tepid, right wing bumfluff it is.

Tragedy in the classical hubris/nemesis form has struck HP mentalist David T., who increasingly resembles a late-period Richard Nixon, large scotch in hand, presiding over a party of hateful wingnuts from a darkened Oval Office while feverishly scribbling new names onto his enemies list. Nick Cohen - the only one of them who struck me as being a really unpleasant and probably deranged person - is surely only weeks away from dismissal from The Observer for submitting a column scrawled in his own faeces.

So the world's moved on, thankfully rendering the Decents and myself obsolete. The wreckage the Blairite project has left is going to be swept away and something new built in its place, but it seems clear it'll happen without the assistance of mid-life crisis-stricken ex-Trots demanding that the Left condemn every news story that plops into their email inbox, and calling anyone who fails to show sufficient enthusiasm for the task a Nazi.

Why, if it weren't for the still-raging wars and the gruesome, 27-car pileup that is the Labour Party, I'd almost call it a happy ending.

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