March 14, 2003

Pinter or Ali? The New

Pinter or Ali?

The New Statesman now charges for 100% of its content on the web, so I rarely encounter the writing of Neil Clark when I'm not in England.

Clark is a genuine puzzle. If his determinedly perverse contrarian take on contemporary politics has a theme beyond contrariness/perversity for its own sake, it is defending the modern inheritors and practitioners of the Stalinist ethos. His "Milosevic, Prisoner of Conscience," upon which I commented last year, is no longer available on the New Statesman site, but here's the the Pravda version-- sub-head: "Neil Clark raises a lone voice for a man whose worst crime was to carry on being a socialist." And here's a nice piece where, as I pointed out here, Clark comes rather close to arguing that British interests would best be served by forming an anti-American alliance with Iraq and other "Ba'athist governments." (Fortunately, Britain has not taken Clark's advice; that is, Britain has not become France.)

Is he Harold Pinter, or Ali G.? That is: kook or satirist? I still can't decide.

But here, for what it's worth, is exhibit "C": a piece in today's Guardian denouncing assassinated Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic as "The Quisling of Belgrade." Noting with disdain the western eulogies to Djindjic, Clark urges the reader to look "beyond the CNN version of history," and to see this assassination in the context of the unjust, perfidious desire on the part of western "serial regime changers" to topple benevolent and virtuous Stalin-esque strongmen like Slobo and Saddam.

In this article, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the tragedy of the erosion of "social ownership" of Yugoslav assets and enterprise; there is not one word about the "social murders" of thousands upon thousands of innocents under the genteel auspices of Slobo's Workers' Paradise. So it goes.

Clark predicts, and arguably appears to relish the prospect of, further assassinations of imperialist stooges by downtrodden Serbs, Afghans and Iraqis who have been deprived of their cherished leaders:

The lesson from Serbia for today's serial regime changers is a simple one. You can try to subjugate a people by sanctions, subversion and bombs. You can, if you wish, overthrow governments you dislike and seek to impose your will by installing a Hamid Karzai, General Tommy Franks or a Zoran Djindjic to act as imperial consul. But do not imagine that you can then force a humiliated people to pay homage to them.

Satire, or mere depravity? I report, you decide. The note at the bottom indicates that Clark is writing a book about Yugoslavia's recent history. Perhaps all will become clear.

Posted by Dr. Frank at March 14, 2003 10:54 AM | TrackBack
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