Thursday, April 07, 2011

Shorter Rodent: Bullshit

I love this opinion piece by Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz.  Summary - the Left are more worried about actions and behaviours that they can directly and democratically affect than those they can't, and this somehow reflects badly upon the Left.

Ignore the fact that Shavit is talking about the Israeli left particularly and pay attention to the fact that he's calling for greater general left condemnation of the horrifying behaviour of the foreigns, since this piece could've been written at any time in the last twenty years in Britain, the United States or France, to name but a few.  The basic point is that an undefined Left is far too concerned with the actions of the authorities it can elect, is governed by and is compelled to fund, and isn't nearly exercised enough about the behaviour of the individuals and states that it can't practically control, affect or even vaguely influence.

I could go on forever, but really, three straightforward points...  First, you know this as well as I do - man bites dog trumps dog bites man.  Shavit is on about journalism here.  I don't like it any more than you do, but the fact is that repressive theocracy theocratically represses citizens is much less newsworthy than, to invent a random issue, liberal democracy imprisons political dissidents.  Ask a journalist - the unusual gets the ink and the everyday gets the shaft, and if you think that's unjust, then I suggest that you rail against market forces rather than institutional bias.

Second, you'll notice that the right manages to produce vast numbers of lunatic enthusiasts for total war against more or less everyone, without devolving into internecine conflict bordering on mutually-assured destruction.  By way of random example, even the reasonably sane and humane Alex Massie at The Spectator manages to peacefully share a stable with a deranged and intentionally inflammatory demagogue like Melanie Philips, and yet I can only recall him ticking her off once.  Nobody regards that as an indictable offence.  I don't wonder why that is, by the way.

Finally, if this ridiculous nonsense is the source of some epic split in left wing politics, then it's back to the drawing board.  We're back at basic theory here, and if it's a wildly controversial idea that people tend to be more upset by the activities of their own governments than they are about those of other states, then it's time for a major reorganisation, because - and correct me if I'm wrong - focusing on the behaviour of your rulers is the foundation of modern democracy. 

Shorter: Bullshit.

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