Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Far out contrarianism

Prospect Magazine claims to have 'acquired a reputation as the most intelligent magazine of current affairs and cultural debate in Britain'. Given the state of the competition, it wouldn't be hard.

But as ways to lose a reputation for intelligence go, this month's cover story is as good as it gets. It's by a 'public intellectual' called Edward Luttwak, who was last spotted writing about how Barack Obama would be a bad choice as President because he is an apostate Muslim.

It's about how in fact President Bush's foreign policy will be seen by future historians as a great success (and Iraq recognised as a sideshow). He argues that '
"You are with us or with the terrorists" was the right slogan and the right policy'. It almost goes without saying that the article is an absolute total mess of bad faith arguments, unsupported claims and so on.

The Prospect blog gleefully admits that this is a piece of 'far out contrarianism' which they hope will get people to read their magazine. So much for the approach of trying to sell a magazine with the strategy of 'here are some intelligent and thought-provoking articles that you might learn from'. It's almost enough to make the New Statesman look good.


At 11:05 am , Blogger Andreas Paterson said...

I've not read the Luttwak article yet, although I do remember another cover article entitled "Protectionism is good" by someone called Ha-Joon Chang.

This article did seem controversial, but was quite thought provoking and for me at least, changed the way I looked at international economics. I suppose it's all a bit hit and miss, but personally, I do think it's a worthwhile publication.

At 8:53 am , Blogger Nick Humf said...

Given that Prospect, while scrupulously trying to remain balanced, has a slight left (or at least liberal) slant I admire it when it puts emphasis on an article that challenges the prevailing wisdom. There will be plenty of articles that refute the claims of it in the following editions. Even if the guy is wrong better to have it out with him rather than to close your ears and call him names.

At 2:17 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It depends on whether the argument in the article is clear and logical. I am all in favour of conventional wisdom being questioned, but there is too much "contrarian" writing at present which is neither clear nor logical.



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