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If this is blowback, we've won

Anthony Barnett
17 March 2009

Anthony Barnett (London, OK): On Sunday I responded to Rafale Behr's desperate attempt  in the Observer to ham up criticism of the Convention on Modern Liberty. Today it is the turn of David Aaronovich in The Times:

So how depressing it is that there are Grand Conventions in defence of liberty and none in defence of politics; that we count cameras but won't join parties; that we obsess about biometrics and databases and refuse our support to the democratic politics that is the real safeguard against authoritarianism or chaos. 

Another complete miss! I was expecting an attack on the Convention for having dared to be influential. But guys, you will have to do better than this! If he even glanced at the videos of the twenty parallel sessions now going up on the Conventon website (or just watched the 4 minute video of Voices from the Crowd) Aaronovitch could have seen that this was an event that created politics. it is, I'm afraid, many of our politicians and some of our columnists lead the way in obsession while members of the public are wiser and want better. Henry Porter put it rather well immediately afterwards in his Guardian blog, which Aaronovitch shows no signs of having read:

This was not simply an event about the attack on liberty but something far more moving – an assertion of a culture. After years of watching the slow extinction of parliamentary debate and the triumph of irony and cynicism in the media, it was sheer delight to hear people talk so earnestly. Talk, discourse, parleying is ever more important in an age that has found so many ways to insult remotely.

There could hardly be a better defense of politics.

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