Friday, 19 June 2009

Ticking Over

I'm currently reading Peter Hitchens' book, The Broken Compass , largely because of the incredibly amusing index. It's actually quite an interesting read, though comparable to the experience of getting involved in a discussion about politics with a drunken nut down the pub: every now and again he comes up with a point that seems reasonable, but then just as you try to seize on that to convince you that he's basically okay, he then embarks on an incredible riff on how the reasonable point he's made is evidence of a vast marxist conspiracy to destroy the family, the church, and the dear old Queen, and turn us all into a race of communoids. And you wince, put your head in your hands, and carry on wondering how you can extricate yourself from this conversation and get to another bar before closing time, all the while half-listening to the monologue until, almost by chance, another reasonable point slips in and...the whole process repeats again. It doesn't help, of course, that he keeps on throwing in barely-concealed pot-shots at his more successful brother . 'I regard Muslims as allies against the current fashion for millitant atheism, and the moral chaos which it is creating,' Pete? To what do you refer?

Probably the best bit is the first fifty pages or so, during which Hitch minor ably dissects the way in which particular political crazes grip the Westminster village - essentially as a result of collusion between pols and journos looking to advance their own careers, something which seems fairly plausible following the work of Nick Davies and Peter Oborne (seen here on the excellent Newswipe - about the 3:33 mark) - and examines the role of this process in the anointing of David Cameron as PM-in-waiting. After that, though, Hitch starts going on about how this is clearly the work of a cadre of ex-Marxists with a devious plan to undermine the church, the family etc etc. He talks candidly of how he himself used to be a committed Trotskyist, and it becomes gradually clear as you read that he still thinks most people are motivated by ideology rather than self-advancement. Which is touching, but leads inevitably to the assumption that it's all a gigantic conspiracy. He admits that the Tory party only really cares about getting elected - but he doesn't realise that, increasingly, this is all Labour are interested in too.

Do read the index, though, it's hilarious.

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