Farewell, Aarowatch

Aaronovitch Watch claims to have watched its last Aaro:

the Times is going to go paywall at the end of this month, and that seems to us like a natural point to bring “Aaronovitch Watch” to a close. Whatever the ease or otherwise of getting Aaro’s weekly column on the down-low, the fact is that with his disappearance behind the paywall he’s going to be a less influential and less important columnist – with the passing of New Labour as well, this was always going to be the case anyway.

In the wider “World of Decency”, I also feel that a historical moment has largely passed by. There are still imperial wars out there, of course, still ludicrous double standards on human rights and even the New Labour project is not 100% dead yet. And Harry’s Place and Normblog and all will presumably continue to be as ghastly as they ever were, while Nick Cohen is unlikely to shut up as he is to ever write a readable column again. And all of these baleful social phenomena will still have their crowd of cheerleaders from a soi-Decent Left perspective, with willyoucondemnathons and all. But, well, do you care as much as you did five years ago? I know I don’t. If we carry this thing on beyond its natural life, it’s almost certain to end up as another site about bloody Israel.

Aaronovitch Watch, 20 May 2010, “Closing down sale”

(Prescient, because a week and a half later, the flotilla happened and even the most reluctant blogs threatened to become “another site about bloody Israel”.) I can’t remember exactly how I first found Aaronovitch Watch – probably by googling some combination of the words “Nick Cohen” and “is wrong” – but it’s been one of the best things in my RSS feeds ever since I subscribed to it.

As well as rustling up well-informed analyses (not just of Aaro, but of pretty much any rhetoric from the bizarro world of liberal beligerance that huddled under the tag of Decency), Aaro Watch has always been pleasingly provisional. Loads of blogs are written on the premise that the author knows a Great Deal about something and you have come to imbibe their worldview; the writers of Aaro Watch say things like, “It’s perverse, but I like being wrong. If I’m not wrong at lot of the time, I know I’m not trying hard enough.”

And, probably because the blog has always been written in explicitly discursive style, a strong and interesting community of discussion has gathered around it. I’ve only ever been an irregular commenter on there, but the threads are always worth reading: long without turning cyclical, smart and usually funny too. I’m going to miss that part of the blog maybe even more than I’m going to miss it as a centralised location for Nick Cohen abuse.

Text © Sarah Ditum, 2010

6 thoughts on “Farewell, Aarowatch

  1. I don’t loathe him (how can I now we’ve bonded over the prickishness of Phillip Blond?) – but nor do the Aarowatchers. They’re critics, not haters. I’ve actually been thinking about subscribing to the Times, but mostly on the back of the Gaga interview. I don’t think I’ve got the strength of character to put myself in charge of Watching anyone.

  2. I’ve been considering subscribing myself – more for Ruthie Gledhill than Aaro, though Dave himself is usually worth a look. There’s also this question of whether Decency’s time has passed, although Nick actually seems to be getting worse if that’s possible, and HP Sauce and Normblog will carry on being as terrible as they’ve always been.

    It makes a sort of sense, and you’re right, those threads will be sorely missed. But I wouldn’t mind a centre for Nick Cohen abuse, if only to save me the trouble of actually reading Nick.

  3. Funny, I found your blog through Aarowatch. You’d just discovered Aarowatch (via AW’s link to your blog), you’d gone over there to see what was going on and commented something like “What a parochial little blog”. You were right.

  4. Nah, Aaro watch found me because I’d commented on there – I said that Nick Cohen had written a “weird, parochial column”. And I was indeed right.

  5. Nick Cohen abuse? It seems his dep. ed. chum at Private Eye makes sure that no such abuse will appear in the pages of Private Eye — here’s a letter they chose not to publish (shamelessly posted elsewhere including AW, but just in case you missed it):

    To: strobes@private-eye.co.uk
    Subject: iPad and iRaq


    As an owner of an iPad I was most disconcerted to learn from journalist Nick Cohen that I am now implicated in the deaths of workers at the Foxconn factory in China. Being, of course, obsessed with everything Apple I naturally assumed that the iRaq application – so much in the news – also originated from Cupertino. The purpose of the iRaq application, I’m told, is to install the ‘Western Liberal Program’ on platforms previously thought unsuitable. Whilst this seems such a clever and benign application, I wonder if Nick Cohen could use his investigative skills to determine if iRaq has resulted in as many fatalities as iPad?

    Yours (on the basis that one big fatuous conflation deserves another),

    -(Name Supplied)

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