Janan Ganesh ‘reviews’ Ed Ball’s Speaking Out. Political Observer comments

Headline: Generation Balls in UK politics already reeks of yesterday

Sub-headline: Picture them roaming public life like ghosts, helping out without ever being central to anything

Mr. Ganesh’s essay of September 23, 2016 is awash in bile and contempt for Mr. Balls and his ‘generation’ of politicians. Mr. Ganesh’s one salient talent as writer is stinging polemic. Nothing new, yet instead of a clear thoughtful analysis of Mr. Ball’s book, and its reason d’etre, or even its arguments, the reader is confronted by that aforementioned bile and contempt. And a collection of cliches as a rhetorical place holder for rational thoughtful criticism:

a zero-sum view of the world, post-national, strategic primacy, stink of yesterday, materialists and technocrats, conscientious social-science graduates, incremental refinement, intangibles of politics, Old Think,  Generation X, Euroscepticism, globalisation

Then comes this arresting observation on Mr. Balls’ vision of the Political:

The smartest of the bunch, he tends to see the world as a web of economic problems waiting to be neutralised by the application of reason. His generational peers in Westminster were, like him, materialists and technocrats.

Mr. Ganesh provides in a highly foreshortened pragmatic way, a working definition of Politics, in his characterization of Mr. Balls’ thought/practice : ‘he tends to see the world as a web of economic problems waiting to be neutralised by the application of reason.’  How better, in such limited space, to define politics? Mr. Ganesh is now the victim of his own nihilism, as expressed in his polemic: his ideological myopia is his undoing. All of this leaving the argued ‘centrality’ where? Does a political actor need to hold a position of power to wield influence? The questions abound.

Political Observer


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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