16 May 2011

Meet Cherian George, Singapore's apostle for High Broderism

We have never been fans of Mr Cherian George. When we have actually deigned to speak about him, we have not been kind. He has never given us reason to be kind even today and we will tell you why. But you'll need to read his latest essay first.

Cherian George is Singapore's pale imitation of David S Broder and the apostle for High Broderism in the archdiocese of Singapore. For those unfamiliar with American political culture the late Broder was an American journalist who, for want of a better word, was an extremist centrist who made a career and pedestal for himself out of denouncing extremists on both ends of the political aisle.

What needs to be pointed out is that the absolute mid point between two extreme political positions is not necessarily the correct position to take, that the truth can lie closer to the left than it is to the right. Sometimes the truth has a liberal bias. And yet the Overton Window of 'acceptable opinion' has easily been gamed by arch-conservatives shifting their positions further right, with useful fools like Broder advocating a shift to the new centre while denouncing... the extremist leftists!

Now read Cherian George's article again, with the recognition of his unstated High Broderist agenda of advocating a centrist position when reality and logic does not warrant it.

Note for example how Cherian Broder complains of the rabidly anti-government to moderately anti-government stance of online chatter and blogs. He forgets that PM Lee's cabinet has committed several public policy failures over the past 5 years. We would question why Cherian expects the "right mood" for the blogosphere to be more centrist. We'd assume that even wonkish bloggers, say Mr Tan Kin Lian at theonlinecitizen, would see no choice but to critique PAP public policy. Reality does have an anti-PAP bias, people.

Note how cleverly he builds up his High Broderism to present us with a false dilemma which is as intellectually dishonest as it is an advertisement for his centrist at all cost ideology: "it is a mistake to put all our eggs in the government basket, it is surely also a mistake to put all eggs in the opposition or non-government basket."

There are so many things wrong with that statement. I'm happy to point out just two.

1. For an academic, George is surprisingly politically illiterate, conflating the PAP with the government and conflating the opposition with non-government. He forgets that the government includes the civil service talent which advised and implemented the public policy failures of the Minilee government over the years, that non-government talent extends far beyond the political opposition to the much wider civil society.

2. He conflates the singular PAP ideology and talent base with the multiplicity of that of the opposition. Putting all your eggs in a singular solution means you lose all your eggs if that solution proves wrong. Putting all your eggs in multiplicity of solutions doesn't mean you lose all your eggs... But clearly, Cherian George would love to mislead us with his imagery. Just saying.

Make no mistake about it: like the late David S Broder, Cherian George is putting himself up as the arbiter of moderate political discourse, a wise man who can put down any idea and position too radical in his eyes; even if reality, truth, and logic have a certain bias.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ppl like him, gillian, eugene tan etc are just pap apologists masquerading as psuedo-intellects or analysts.