Tag Archives: The Guardian

Platform Thirteen

Eve Garrard points out that Catherine Bennett is rather more sexist than the “blogger blokes” she criticises.
In her piece on bloggers in the Guardian yesterday, Catherine Bennett is struck all of a heap by the fact that men will be boys, in the blogosphere as elsewhere. She finds them coarse, even gross, and trivial and lumpen, especially in their attitudes to women, which are sexist and patronizing and dismissive and leering. We all have to admit that there’s some truth in what she says, though it applies less to the political bloggers in whom she’s interested than to some of the commenters who infest their comments boxes (and also, incidentally, the comments boxes, immoderate and unmoderated, of her own employer’s blog). But as many many people have already pointed out, a propensity to draw on crude and dismissive stereotypes is not a peculiarly male characteristic, it’s a peculiarly human one—women do it too, and Ms Bennett’s own piece includes some fine examples of this unlovely trait.

She also claims to find support for her view of bloggers in the proceedings of the Euston Manifesto launch, where, she complains, women were very little in evidence, and such women as were involved were present because the men allowed them to be. That is, having failed to find anything dismissive or neglectful of women in the manifesto itself (because it isn’t there to be found), she decides that the women involved in the launch don’t actually count, they’re not genuine political participants. This view of the formidable women who, for example, chair the Euston Manifesto Group, design its material and jointly manage its website can be attributed in part, perhaps, to Ms Bennett’s ignorance; but she does seem to assume that women are either targets or tokens, either the victims of coarse masculine stereotyping or allowed to take part in important activities because the big boys sometimes give them permission to do so. If this picture of women in politics as passive little girls had been presented by someone other than Ms Bennett—had it been voiced, for example, by a MAN—it might very well have produced some exceptionally coarse and dismissive and deeply stereotyping responses from the women in question.

Eve Garrard is a moral philosopher with a visiting position at the University of Manchester

The Guardian: The Path Out Of Denial

Was the Euston Manifesto written, as some wags now say, in a pub? Well, no. Would you want beer spilt over your manifesto? Would you want it smelling of smoke? The document was mooted in one pub and discussed in another. But it was written where things get written these days, on computers. And this, in a sense, is also where it came from—out of the blogosphere and into the world.

The manifesto, which has its public launch today, states a commitment to certain general principles and identifies patterns of left-liberal argument that we think fall short of those principles. So we commend the democratic norms and institutions that typify the liberal democracies, despite their shortcomings, and criticise those on the left who make excuses for undemocratic movements and regimes. We affirm the importance of universal human rights, rejecting the cultural-relativist arguments and double standards by which these values get watered down or inconsistently applied. We express our opposition to terrorism and to indulgently “understanding” (where this means condoning) it because it is thought to be motivated by legitimate grievances. We state an attachment to a broad ideal of equality in all spheres, from gender relations to economic justice. The full text is at www.eustonmanifesto.org

Since it was published in April, the Euston Manifesto has generated an enormous volume of comment, from supportive, through critical, to jolly unfriendly. The abstract generality of its principles is one point of complaint. But we make no claim to have formulated a programme for government; we hope merely to remind people on the liberal-left of the values they ought to be defending. A related point is the suggestion that this wish to remind is needless, since the manifesto’s criticisms don’t apply beyond a tiny section of the far left. But this suggestion isn’t true, as has been amply documented on the blogs.

link to full text of article online

link to original text at normblog

Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters

Norman Geras questions the modesty of Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s modest proposal.

The Guardian: Big idea

James Harkin:

A fortnight after it charged forth from behind the fetid turrets of the blogosphere into real life, arguments about the Euston Manifesto still ricochet around the worldwide web. Named after the London road where the plotters met in a pub (O’Neill’s), the manifesto is a political movement born out of frustration among sections of the left with the anti-war movement. Prominent bloggers, journalists, activists and academics, including my Guardian colleague Norman Johnson, have already lent it their support.

The Euston Manifesto is a tiny alliance, but one indicative of a broader shifting of intellectual chairs. To their critics they are known as “muscular liberals”—to distinguish them, presumably, from the flabby and weak-willed ones. But there is much that is useful and spirited about their manifesto—the signatories score some eloquent points against the left’s opportunistic flirtation with radical Islam, its lazy anti-Americanism, and its retreat into flaccid relativism. Nor does it make any sense to label them as neoconservatives and apologists for American imperialism. The American neoconservative right and the Eustonian left might have arrived at similar positions, but they did so from vastly different premises and backgrounds.

link to full article online

Platform Eight

Eve Garrard answers Natasha Walter’s feminist critique.

The Guardian: We live in changed times. The Euston group, alas, does not

A manifesto of the ‘pro-war left’ is a cry of pain and an argument about ownership of a corpse

You will have to read the Euston Manifesto in full for yourself. Likewise the churning arguments that are developing about it on commentisfree.com and other weblogs. But there are two big things you need to know as the debate on this latest leftwing prescription begins to move into the mainstream press. The first is that the authors’ main purpose is to rescue what remains of the British left from an obsession with the Iraq invasion and American imperialism and to shake it out of apologising for violent Islamists. The second is that the document is a cry of pain.

link to full article

Platform Five

Alan Johnson addresses recent commentary on the manifesto in the serious press.

Platform Three

Brian Brivati addresses Martin Kettle’s centre-Left critique by clarifying the intention of the manifesto.