Tuesday, February 19, 2008

WILLIAM KRISTOL on Orwell and Kipling

This is a joke right ?

Someone seems to have hacked www.nytimes.com and put in a parody Op-Ed in which a parody William Kristol argues that George Orwell would have supported warrantless wiretapping (he did seem enthusiastic about big brother didn't he). Attempting some shred of plausibility, the faux Kristol did not go on to argue that Kipling was an anti-imperialist.

Of course, I don't really think that it is a parody. Neocons are well beyond parody. Also, it seems that the curse that compels them to make fools of themselves by trying to steal Orwell (who wrote "well worth stealing") has passed unto the second generation.

Kristol quotes Orwell's essay on Kipling in little bits intermixed with explanatory paraphrases. Oddly, the quotation does not seem to distort the point of the passage which was a critique of the irresponsibility of the permanent opposition of lefty literary intellectuals. Since this was one of Orwell's obsessions, and one of the two issues on which he agreed with neoconservatives (he also didn't like communism) the only surprising point is that Kristol presents this as a new discovery.

He neglects to mention that, later in the essay, Kipling demonstrated his refusal to face the new realities of the 20th century, which made his imperialism untenable. In particular the fact that his countrymen no longer were eager to "paint the map red."
A comprehensible error, since he was old at the time and his countrymen had been entusiastic imperialists in his lifetime. I would sum up the essay as arguing that Kipling is a valuable writer (who people quote unawares as his writing has become part of the language) whose repulsive political views are totally irrelevant to the modern world since they were obsolete by 1915 (by then enthusiasm for painting the map red was drowned in blood by then).

Orwell could not have guessed that Kipling's bloody minded imperialism would be reborn and survive 66 years after he wrote the essay.

Now the rest of the op-ed argues that Democrats are irresponsible because they have been in opposition. Thus they have no willingness or ability to answer the question "" ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’.”"

This claim is insane as the Democrats presented a clear program in 2006 and have implemented it except when blocked by the filibuster in the Senate and the veto. Kristol must know this and choses to lie. Also Democratic candidates have long tiresome policy proposals while a certain Republican nominee doesn't know that he voted for C02 caps.

The claim that Democrats refuse to say what they would do if elected is as absurd as the claim that Orwell was an enthusiast for the surveillance state. In contrast, Republicans refuse to say what they have done, often because it is illegal.

Kristol defines a proposal to withdraw from Iraq as no proposal, because ? well because he feels like it. He also lies about the debate on warrantless wiretapping neglecting to mention that McConnell admitted that the issue was telecom liability not current surveillance. He claims that policy choices different from his are a refusal to make policy at all.

Basically all he has is a sneer at intellectuals. He claims he just discovered this view about yesterday.

However, he does protect himself from any trace of any risk one form of ridicule. When he quotes "“Kipling identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition.”

“In a gifted writer,” Orwell remarks, “this seems to us strange and even disgusting, "

Oh my Kristol wouldn't want to suggest that Orwell would find him strange and even disgusting would he ? No he would not, and so he made it absolutely sure that no one will ever suspect him of being a gifted writer.

Now it is entirely possible that

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