December 14, 2008

Lenin's Tomb, Harrys Place and other short stories

Lenin's Tomb has an ever so slightly bad tempered post about corporate lawyer, David Toube's, latest attempt to get someone sacked for writing something he would prefer people not be allowed to write or read. What made me think the post was worth posting was that Lenin (screen name of Richard Seymour) alludes to a certain behaviour of David Toube's that a couple of people have drawn my attention to and I've been on the receiving end of it myself. Toube has this habit of writing to people as if they are mates or he writes to them falsely accusing them of past affiliations or demanding apologies for some fancied slight or other. He writes to them in the name David T and if they object to his anonymity he insists they know who he is. I should point out here that I wrote to him once, before I knew that he was a serial liar, to congratulate him on an honourable mention he got in Private Eye magazine but my excuse was that I rarely looked at Harry's Place and he may not have lost the plot then as he seems to have now.

Anyway, here's Lenin on what this is all about:
David T of the Harry's Place blog is attempting to get someone fired for reviewing a book I wrote, positively, in The New Statesman. Now, this could be because the reviewer namechecked the Harry's Place blog in passing. It could be because, so far, Mr T has not found a way to get me fired from anything. It cannot, however, be the result of any personal animus. I know this because David T would like nothing more than to be friends. Every now and again, he will send a missive to invite me to his birthday party, or to try and get a rise out of me in some way. He will coyly approach if he spots that I am available on Google chat, and try out a new opening line. This despite the fact that I had made it perfectly clear online that I regard him as something of an unstable creep. Even after I 'outed' him, when he launched a witch hunt against selected academics for thought crimes, he still didn't turn off the charm. Only the other day, he wrote to say that he had dreamed about me the previous night - me and him doing lawyer talk, apparently.

David T's post contains the job threat in the headline, Owen Hatherley is the New Statesman’s Dilpazier Aslam which has now been updated with No he isn't really. Let's check out Lenin again to save me typing it all out:
Describing the reviewer, Owen Hatherley, as the "Dilpazier Aslam" of the New Statesman (recalling a case in which a trainee journalist was fired from The Guardian, having written an article that included praise for Hizb Ut-Tahrir while he was a member of said organisation), the post on Harry's Place claims that Owen Hatherley is a member of the Socialist Workers' Party. He is not, and never has been. But it is on the basis of this single fabrication that the author of the post launches a lengthy diatribe effectively demanding that the New Statesman publish a correction and fire the reviewer. It is a small irony that, while in effect demanding a purge on the basis of an invention, David T fantasises that it is SWP members who are 'totalitarian'.
It's a funny thing but in the comments there's a chap who also uses "T" for a surname suggesting that his name (or second initial) sake wasn't trying to get the reviewer dropped by the New Stateman. I don't know if this is a legalistic panic on Toube's part but he (Toube) does have quite a lot of form for trying to lose people their jobs and Matt Seaton of the Guardian even wrote thanking him for helping him remove an Iranian blogger from Comment is free before writing to me to say he had done no such thing.

Following Lenin's piece, T corrected the headline as I said and he added on another two updates as you will see, if he doesn't change those by the time you get there. But look what he has left in place:
This could therefore not have been an honest review. The New Statesman has deceived its readership by hiding the fact of Mr Hatherley’s membership of the Socialist Workers’ Party from its readers. I ask the editor of the New Statesman, Jason Cowley, to remedy this failure online as soon as possible, and it its print edition next week.
Now why on earth should the New Statesman check out the political party affiliations of its writers? And why should it be assumed that one member of the SWP cannot critically review the work of another? And remember of course, the guy isn't even an SWP member but T's explanation of this is downright childish and ultimately, typically, dishonest:
Were Hatherley to have provided a critical assessment of Seymour’s book on the pages of the New Statesman, he would risk discipline and expulsion from the Socialist Workers’ Party.
Anyone who has read the Socialist Worker two weeks running will know that this is simply not true. The comrades are criticising each other all the time. But you don't actually have to do that. You can read the whole of the Harry's Place post where T ends up shooting himself in the foot by exposing his own stupidity and dishonesty in his first update:
"a", in the comments points out that the New Statesman has form. Here’s Richard Seymour reviewing a book by his party boss, Chris Harman. Seymour does not mention the fact that that Harman is a Socialist Workers’ Party activist, and the New Statesman doesn’t disclose Seymour’s membership of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

What contempt for its readership.

But Richard Seymour and Chris Harman are such high profiles in the SWP, anyone who reads New Statesman will know who they are. The first comment points out that both are in the SWP, the sign-off says that Richard Seymour's blog is Lenin's Tomb the writing in which T describes as an "echo chamber for the politics of the Socialist Workers Party" and Richard Seymour does criticise Harman's book in a way that T pretends is out of the question:
There are a number of points where engagement with recent scholarship might have altered Harman's account. On the subject of the First World War, for example, he in part accepts the idea that the German masses greeted the war enthusiastically, a view that has lately been demolished by the historian Jeffrey Verhey. And one could split hairs over some of the formulations. It is surprising to see Harman defend a version of Marx's conception of an "Asiatic Mode of Production". It is also surprising that he does not discuss the controversies over the origins of capitalism. Given the demands of concision, it is an understandable omission. Nevertheless, it might have been useful to give the general reader at least some indication that they exist.
Richard goes on to describe these as "minor quibbles" which they are not. Perhaps he was pandering to some party discipline...not!

I think it should be clear by now that David Toube is not quite the free speech martyr he has fooled some "useful idiots" into thinking he is and he is no judge of honesty.


Post a Comment