Tuesday, March 13, 2007

"I have no idea what I'm talking about but I figure I'll write about it in a national newspaper anyway"

Chris Dillow, hardly a bastion of the capitalist right, destroys, what he is right to describe as, a candidate for worst Comment is Free article ever. There is some fierce competition and I'm not sure it is in the top ten but it is certainly pretty dismal. I don't really have much to add to the analysis itself but it does seem important to note just what a collapse of editorial judgement at the Guardian this constitutes:

"But whatever is private equity? I've looked it up and I still can't quite make it out. It's in another language: angel investing, mezzanine capital, passive limited partners and hurdle rates. What? I asked my friend Rosemary and she couldn't even be fagged to think about it. "I don't know anything about all that," says she. "Just shut up and let me get on with my gardening." Luckily, my friend Fielding saw a programme on it, and he explained."

It almost sounds like a parody but I'm pretty sure it isn't.

She has just professed not just to her own ignorance but the ignorance of the few people she has spoken to on the subject. At least Hutton claims to have some kind of insight; this article doesn't even really aspire to any knowledge on the subject. The Guardian's audience should be appreciated by its editors as an enormous luxury, a chance to speak to so many people, but instead they show a kind of contempt by accepting this, presumably on the basis of it being ideologically satisfying.

I worry that, further, they might actually have liked its style, the unquestioning acceptance that this new capitalism is a fresh evil. The light-headed, self-satisfied lack of the drive to question ideological received wisdom is being sold as a lifestyle choice. The parroting of opinions obtained casually through friends is described as a preferable alternative to the hard, ungratifying and vaguely nerdy work of trying to "make it out" on your own. Instead of trying to inform their readers they are trying to instill in them the idea that to close your mind is to prove that you are urbane and fun.

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