Monday, July 05, 2004

Know Them By Their Fruits

Norman Geras may be a Marxist - which is one of the worst things one can be in my eyes - but in this piece of his, he puts to shame many a "liberal" in his respect for truth and intellectual integrity.

Paul Krugman on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11:

[F]or all its flaws, [the film] performs an essential service.
If you read on, what you find in the way of flaws are:
> 'promot[ing] a few unproven conspiracy theories'
> 'Viewers may come away from Mr. Moore's movie believing some things that probably aren't true.'
> Fahrenheit 9/11 'is a tendentious... movie'
And what you find in the way of an essential service is:
> The movie 'tells essential truths about leaders who exploited a national tragedy for political gain...'
Krugman also says that some day, 'when the crisis of American democracy is over', he might take a more severe view of Moore, but not now.

So, how I read all this is that it's OK, according to Krugman, to promote untruths, unproven conspiracy theories, other tendentious stuff, in the service of partisan political judgements.
For Krugman, it seems that the right ends do justify sordid means, at least in certain circumstances; lies and conspiracy theories are alright as long as there's a "crisis of democracy." Now, if we grant the truth of the argument Krugman is making here, what reason is there for us to care when he lambasts the Bush administration for supposed dishonesty and propagandizing? After all, the right can just as easily claim that there is a current "crisis of democracy" which justifies the use of deceitful means to promote what it considers to be "essential truths."

To think that Krugman used to be a respected economist - how art the mighty fallen!