Monday, 4 January 2010

Guardian Extracts Urine from Readership

Anyone seen this bizarre parody of a Daily Mail columnist over at the Graun's site? As if their readers are going to be fooled into thinking he could win an award for commenting on stuff. I will now proceed to the snark.

The reason Britain has been so attractive is its long tradition of political tolerance. This is history Britain ought to be proud of, even if it has been abused by people such as Karl Marx.

Heh. It's a good opener, 'cos then you just know teh stupid will only get hotter...


To see what a society looks like when tolerance goes wild, observers only have to look at southern Europe or much of the third world. China shows what a socially tolerant society looks like. While China is not tolerant of political differences, the people are generally tolerant of behaviours that would not be acceptable in Britain.

You're right, it's like a different country or something.

He then proceeds to bollock 'the Chinese' for several paragraphs. I actually think the way that he assumes a nebulous notion like 'tolerance' is going to be a useful analytical tool in sociological assertions is close to cute.

After which, there's some praise for Dawkins-style intolerance for a bit, including some fairly sinister praise for the Inquisition and a barely concealed yearning for torture. Then it's back to China* bashing:

It may well have been the tolerance of traditional China that meant the scientific revolution never took place and hence China did not industrialise.

You're right, that's it - 'tolerance' did it! For better analysis see here or here:

Jacques Gernet notes, 'The age of the warring [Chinese] states is one of the richest known to history in technical innovations', with the 'development of a considerable trade in ordinary consumer goods ... The richest merchants combined such commerce with big industrial enterprises' [...]But the independence of the merchants-entrepreneurs as a class was curtailed. They were unable to establish themselves as a force with their own centres of power, as they were in the cities of late Medieval Europe. Instead, they were increasingly dependent on the state bureaucracy.
(Harman 2008:55, 59)

It's a lot more complicated than that of course, but this is an excerpt from an actual analysis involving the actual material conditions of society, rather than the arrogant fart-gas of a toryboy blowhard, which is the point.

Litter is not unavoidable and should not be tolerated. The waste of billions of pounds in badly designed IT projects is not a fact of nature but a blot on society we choose to accept rather than challenge. We can find our inner Inquisitor and we should express disapproval of behaviour that we do not need to tolerate. Britain can be the tidy, clean and safe place it was 50 years ago if only we, as a society, have the will to embrace intolerance for antisocial behaviour. [Emphasis added]

*Awooga! Awooga!* Reference to 50s utopia detected, commander! Dradis confirms one HYS commenter closing fast! Begin jump prep to SYB immediately!

It's a shame he peters out right there though. The last paragraph is, of all the lame cop-outs he had to choose from, a Tutter's Charter:
So this holiday everyone should express a little mild disapproval when someone cuts you off on the road, or towards a youth who puts his feet on the railway seats or towards a tourist talking loudly in an art gallery.

What kind of armchair fascist are you, MoveAnyMountain? If you want to tell people how to live their lives, you should be indignantly tweeting at the very least...

*And no, this isn't because I have any great love for China. It's because this fool fails to heed the most powerful axiom of our times.


Sarah said...

It was a fist-bitingly bad article - I'm glad someone took it to bits. It's all very well letting a commenter play in the top half of the page, but you'd think once he'd been commissioned someone would have edited him too.

lustgarten said...

It sounds to me like some desperate stab at satire. There are lots of issues in the air at this time and 50's style social order (much as full employment, low crime and one B/W TV channel might be welcome) does seem to be hurtling towards the top of the agenda, but is the Graun ever a place where genuinely original thinking takes place?

Christie Malry said...

I'd suggest reading the whole article. I defy you to show that it's an attempt at satire, as opposed to what it appears to be: really fucking stupid.

But hey, I'm open to correction...

As to original thinking in the Graun, that's why they have Ben Goldacre. Also Marina Hyde.