Sunday, September 23, 2007

Not So Much Shouting As Sighing

I once had an interview for an editorial internship at the LRB, which I cocked up magnificently, stumbling all over the place because of a question about whether I would have published articles which I thought were not only wrong but somewhat dishonest. Now, what I should have done was either straightforwardly follow the conventional Millean line on freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas, which would have been personally dishonest as well as slightly question-begging - that someone is committed to the public existence of ideas contrary to their own does not commit them to articulating those ideas - but probably better than spending ten minutes at best saying nothing and at worst repeatedly contradicting myself, or said that I wouldn't be in charge of editorial policy, so it wasn't any of my business. What was I was trying and more or less utterly failing to get out, though, was something similar to the rather complex mix of feelings I have about this Perry Anderson piece in the most recent edition. It's infuriating at points - does Anderson really think that every piece of government business must be directly legitimated by the relevant public?; has he forgotten the British referendum on EU membership in the seventies, or the rather more complicated mix of motives, some of which were clearly closely related to barely reconstructed fascism, involved in the French and Dutch rejections of the EU constitution?; is Robert Kagan's hyper-realism really something that those on the left want to be invoking, and is it really entirely fair to treat the invasion of Iraq and the various NATO campaigns against Milosevic as obviously equivalent? - yet somehow still really... well, if not good, at least worth reading. Do so.

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