I've had occasion to comment on Neil Clark's unique brand of totalitarian nostalgia before. While I doubt he will ever again meet the standard set by his groundbreakingly perverse "Milosevic, Prisoner of Conscience," I still keep rooting for him. Perhaps something like: "Mugabe: Hard Worker, Loyal Husband, and All-Around Fine Person." You can use that one for nothing, if you like, Neil.
Clark seems to inhabit a kind of Addam's Family or Fungus the Bogeyman world. You know, where the through-the-looking-glass people say something is ugly, or horrible, or dreadful, but they mean it in a positive sense. "That's a dreadful hat you have on my drear." "Thank you darling. You're so awful."
Or rather, since Clark is a political writer, it's more like:
Straight man: "you know, [fill in the name of any random mini-Stalin or contemporary totalitarian dictator] has killed a lot of people and turned the lives of those left standing into a living nightmare."
Clark: "yes, what a dreadful man - isn't he dreamy?"
Or words to that effect.
There was a column by Clark in Thursday's Guardian, and while it's no "Milosevic: Prisoner of Conscience," it does have its moments. Tim Worstall critiques the column's topsy-turvy economics here; but the basic spirit of the thing is that the wrong side won the Cold War and it's really a shame that 1989 ever had to happen. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, life in eastern Europe's police states was spectacularly horrible. And that's "horrible" in the sense of "like some joyous, delicate dream."
"All is not lost," however, according to Clark. With any luck, a concerted effort by "popular fronts against the tyranny of neo-liberalism" may well be able to bring back that swell iron curtain and plunge half the world into darkness once again. What a dreadful idea, darling.
UPDATE: the New Statesman charges for content these days, so I replaced the link, which was originally to the NS version of "Milosevic: Prisoner of Conscience," to the Pravda version. Have at, shadies and gentle-devils.
UPDATE II: Harry's post on the Clark article is worth checking out.Posted by Dr. Frank at February 12, 2005 03:19 PM | TrackBack