All The More Reason


Reading Intention
July 11, 2006, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In the following post, Snowball states that he has decided not to sign the Euston Manifesto. I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight a rhetorical manoeuvre used in his argument that I find weak. Here he is:

You see, while the Euston Manifesto group claims to be creating something new, it is actually rehashing the ideas of a group around in Britain 100 years ago – the ‘Empire Socialists’ and more particularly the Coefficients Club, which was organised by the Fabian socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb (their ‘partnership’ is surely equal in intensity to the new ‘partnership’ of Geras and Cohen) and held dinners from 1902 -1908.

This shift, a prestidigitator’s favourite, allows the writer to draw attention to a weaker opponent. He has also absolved himself of the responsibility of taking on whom he was originally obliged to. Let us not forget, that this was the original reason for his writing.

How does this shift happen? In three words: “it is actually…”

Interestingly, this also functions as his self-anointment. For only someone who sees through a document’s supposed intentions is capable of seeing its darker will. And of course, following this line of thought, he has a responsibility to share with the rest of us this reveal. I recognize how tempting this shift is, as it gives the writer such desperately needed approval and license to play by his own rules. This approval comes from within though and not without. Finally, it removes the need for him to thresh out the details of the original document he claimed to be critiquing.

May he play.

Jonathan Smith

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