Friday, October 13, 2006
The dinner party tendency. posted by Richard SeymourSpeaking of dinner parties (see passim). The term "bruschetta brigade" used to be a favourite on the left-imperialist circuit to describe those 'well-meaning' liberals they knew and condescended to about their unbearable disdain for Bush. But why should it be that Nick Cohen's favourite point of reference, when commemorating the old satirical sense whose carcass is now displayed in every weekly column, is the fabled "dinner party"? The Islington "dinner party", no less? Why do those old cynosures of reactionary discourse insist on making constant reappearances? Look here: dinner, dinner, dinner. I'm sure you could find more. He never shuts his face about filling his face in reputedly bourgeois locales, and yet these events are offered as a kind of inherent critique of his political opponents, they of the "chattering classes", the shallow, silly, sanctimonious yet 'well meaning' twits who insist on criticising the Prime Minister or being against the war. I am sure most of the events described are sheer fabulation: it is only in the fantasies of petit-bourgeois, would-be litterateurs, belle lettristes and conversationalists, that the dinner party is actually a source of rivetting controversy.
It's not only Cohen. The Observer is filled with this shit, and you will undoubtedly find it in the other broadsheets, and probably the 'middle class' tabloids as well. It is, I suppose, the sort of writing that writes itself. It condenses a family of prejudices and cliches in such a small physical and mental space. It is economically efficient, downsized, rationalised, capitalist writing. (Of course, you will never find me resorting to cliche: no sir, never in a month of Sundays, it never rains but it pours, the truth will out, you mark my words, boys will be boys, the grass is always greener, and you can spank my arse and call me Suzy if it isn't so). When BBC Newsnight wanted to do a segment about liberals and their attitudes to immigration, they got eight wine-drenched hacks to sit about at a dinner table shouting one another down and talking unadulterated crap. This was their idea of a stirring debate. And they showed that. On television.
As I said to Tarquin the other day, while washing a mouthful of mange touts down with a glass of Rosé, the chattering class liberal intellectual Hampstead woolly Islington civil libertarian child botherers couldn't advertise their self-hatred more if they wrote about it in navel-gazing column inches every weekend.