It seems there is a view abroad that Our Madeleine of the Sorrows... sorry, mustn't do that... that Madeleine Bunting has had rather too much flak directed at her by bloggers. They have disparaged and even belittled her. See the addendum here and also here to find out what I'm talking about. Consider on top of this that, as one of the blogger culprits, I am bound to confess to having also occasionally mocked her, and you will understand how serious things are.
I feel terrible about it, and have therefore resolved never to say another word about Madeleine Bunting that isn't couched in terms of the utmost respect. You must know how it comes upon you - the feeling of remorse and repentance. You have somehow slipped into a pattern of conduct, and you haven't really thought about what you're doing. Then, prompted by a wise observation or sometimes merely a hint from someone else, you see how you've been in error. A feeling of shame sweeps over you. There's only one way to deal with it: you must speak openly the wrong you've done; you must tread the path of rectitude from now on.
My days of having a go at Madeleine Bunting are over. If there is a disagreement between me and her, I shall express it in staightforward terms. I will laugh at her no more nor hold her up to ridicule.
On Friday our most sorrowful Maddy joined the debate on Comment is Free about Naomi Klein's new book. I was, of course, agog - trembling with anticipation to learn what new insights about the state of contemporary society she would favour us with. I was not to be disappointed. First, she gave us this:
The world which failed to stop Bush's war in Iraq is not about to recover from shock therapy; it is riddled with such a narrow understanding of its own capabilities that it has lost all hope.The world has lost all hope, do you see? Scarcely had I got over the shock of trying to take that in, than Herself of the Miseries came back with a truly awesome follow-up:
[E]ven if the central thesis threading them together is fragile, the stories themselves are scandalous. They will inspire outrage.A world just ripe to be inspired by outrage. Such is Madeleine's forte (or should that be fifte?) - she has no equal in putting her finger on the emotional pulse of the planet, of the state of our society and the society of our state, and communicating the results without fear or favour.
But hang on a sec! How can the world be without hope but ripe for outrage. If you've lost all hope, what's to be outraged about? What's the point of the outrage? On the other hand, if you are outraged, why not hope someone will listen? You can hope your outrage might get through. These are troubling questions. Has the finger of sorrowful intuition slipped and missed the true beat of the global pulse?
Not a bit of it. One must remember that, as well as hopeless outrage and outraged hopelessness, there's also fear and anxiety, remoteness from nature, strange beliefs about water and soil, inordinate shopping and, above all, fragmentation. Well, in a fragmented social milieu and the chaos of ignorance and confusion it produces, hope and outrage might well fall out of harmony.
Who could possibly want to laugh at an observer of such discernment?