Friday, February 17, 2006

Reductio ad Hitlerum in the Guardian

The Guardian today carries an editorial entitled "Denmark's new values" which, as evidence for the dominance of the far right in Denmark, includes the following:

"Where else could liberal politicians get away with saying that one of their party's main aims is to stop Turkey joining the EU?"

Now, I support Turkish entry to the EU enthusiastically but to suggest that anyone who opposes their entry with any force must be a fascist is bizarrely absurd. Plenty of people oppose the entry of the Turks due to their own problematic labour markets, difficulties in reconciling such a large and poor country with policies like the CAP and regional funds and the Turkish human rights record. None of these concerns make someone a fascist.

The author (apparently a Danish musician) also believes that the statement "Freedom of speech should be used to provoke and criticise political or religious authoritarians" is indicative of a desire to tell others how to live. To see the encouragement of free criticism of authoritarianism as indicative of a desire to control requires a bizarre leap of logic.

How does the Guardian find these people? Why does it publish their work?


El Dave. said...

Where do they find these people? Floating around associated left groups. Not quite the alphabet soup, but of that tendency that would like to characterise as part of civil society.

It publishes their work because there is, despite their protestations to the contrary, an illiberal tendency (not necessarily in the economic sphere) on the left to which the Guardian feels the need to appeal (much as I respect him, I suspect people of the Mark Steel variety). I would say that the Independent avoids this tendency and that you have to remember that the Guardian publishes idiots like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Johann Hari.

They are not prepared to accept that people who disagree with them can have a sensible set of arguments behind their position.


Jana Zolotarevskaia said...

Matt, I share your wonder as to where these people are found. In fact I would much rather want myself to be found and give an account for the political situation in Denmark.

I’d probably agree that the Danish government have become more nationalist lately. But having said that they are not by far as nationalist as many European countries, including Britain. Surely they are the most nationalist country in the region. Yet you can hardly blame the Danes for being surrounded by countries like Sweden and Norway (in particularly Sweden where the Prime minister is not allowed to take an objective standpoint on international issues without certain ethnic minorities forcing him to take it back by plain blackmail).

Sorry for this aggressive comment. It’s just that I’m starting to get really fed up by this debate.

El Dave. said...

To be honest, Jana, I don't think that the UK is that nationalistic. There is an amount of nationalism in terms of Scotland and Wales, although I think that it is fairly (and certainly in the case of Scotland) civic nationalism. Cornwall is so minor as to be irrelevant and Northern Ireland is another question altogether.

There has been some posturing by Brown of late, but that's more jingo than actual nationalism, and he's certainly not putting out the ethnic nationalism that I think you have in some of the other European countries, particularly in Scandinavia.

Although France and Italy were founded on explicitly civic nationalisms, I do think that they have become increasingly ethnic in character. France has turned its secular-republican ideal into, in the words of Gladstone, 'the negation of God erected into a system of government', where secularism itself becomes a religious doctine with the possibility of repression that goes with any other faith. Italy, I think, is going the same way, although with a more explicit Catholic edge, under Berlusconi.


El Dave. said...

Just saw this... made me laugh. It's about Calderoli, the Italian politician who put the Jyllands-Posten cartoons on a t-shirt.

'The 49-year-old former dentist from the northern city of Bergamo was minister without portfolio for institutional reform and devolution.'

Minster without portfolio
Institutional reform and devolution

Go figure.