Tuesday, June 20, 2006

As Thick As Neoliberal Thieves: J. Bradford DeLong Edition

J. Bradford DeLong -- with the pretext of discussing a blog post by the insufferable Tim Burke -- attempts a characteristically thuggish smear of J. L. Matory. This is not surprising. DeLong is the grotesque imbecile who labeled Gunter Grass a "crypto-Nazi scum" (apparently because Grass opposes neoliberalism) and is congenitally prone to periodic fits about Chomsky.

DeLong correctly reads Burke's neoliberal/neoconservative handwringing for what it is, the siren song of the "White Man's Burden," and he approvingly bleats forth:

"The question is: How far do you go? What do you do with somebody like Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria--ex-dictator, called by some (according to Wikipedia) the most corrupt man in Africa, who stole more than $10 billion from Nigeria for himself and his cronies? What do you do with those who worked for him? With their families? With those who advocate "culturally sensitive account[s]" of Babangida's rule "as a corrective to standardized journalistic and political science cliches"?"

I won't take the time to critique the many enthymematic errors in DeLong's statement. But I am intrigued by the attack on Matory, who is the person that DeLong accuses of advocating "culturally sensitive accounts of Babangida's rule." [Note also the laughable equation of Matory's statement with Babangida's crimes]. In the text that DeLong links to, Matory speaks of his plan to write, in collaboration with his wife, "a culturally sensitive account of the inner workings of the dictatorship that ruled Africa's largest nation from 1985 to 1993. It is intended both as a corrective to standardized journalistic and political science cliches about the nature of autocracy and corruption in Africa and as a historical study of the genesis of Nigeria's current political crisis."

The fact is that DeLong's link does not provide anywhere near adequate information to support his insinuation that Matory is an apologist for the Babangida regime -- which Matory describes as a "dictatorship." The link, moreover, is to something Matory states that he intends to write. Absent further elaboration of what Matory means by "culturally sensitive" and how this relates to Babangida's kleptocracy, it is not exactly clear what the "advocacy" alleged by DeLong amounts to. And for a person who frothes at the mouth over journalistic and scholarly errors, DeLong may want to be clearer on why he is incredulous at a proposal to correct "standardized journalistic and political science cliches."

I suspect that what may appear to be a gratuitous swipe is actually deeply-held and longrunning resentment at Matory for his relentless championing of the cause against Larry "a-woman's-place-is-in-the-kitchen" Summers. Summers, you will recall, is the padroni of DeLong's neoliberal friend, Andrei Shleifer.

And thus the circle closes: the Orwellian irony of having neoliberal thieves (a tautology if ever there was one) -- who from all accounts should be serving time alongside Mikhail Khodorkovsky -- preach at us about integrity would be laughable were it not for the destitution wrought by their sheer venality.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Bendrix in Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is surprised by grace:

"Its a strange thing to discover and to believe that you are loved, when you know that there is nothing in you for anybody but a parent or a God to love." (Graham Greene, The End of the Affair, p. 110).