Crikey readers not resident in Blighty may recall tales of the Euston Manifesto, the statement of intent – one might call it conspiracy after the fact – of a group of pro-Iraq war and interventionist leftists in 2006.
Stung by criticism that the Manifesto was simply a cyber-ginger-group designed to buttress the arguments of a journalistic elite who lacked a real support base, the Manifesto group have been busy organising or supporting conferences – such as a one-dayer at the University of London over which most light and heat, apparently, concerned the academic boycott of Israel.
On Monday there was a grander event at Westminster Hall on “humanitarian intervention post-Iraq” – presumably in the “great short conferences of our time” series. These facts on the ground would show that the Manifesto was no virtual ghost.
Well maybe. But for the past few months I’ve been signing up fictional people to the Manifesto’s list of signatories, and so far no-one’s even bothered to check the affiliation, if any, of these members swelling its 2,000+ counter (it used to be 3,000+, but then they removed the automated spam – so “Cathy wants an-l 2” no longer supports UN occupation of Darfur).
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
I began before Christmas with someone I was sure the moderators would recognise – Ern Malley. OK, it was an Australian hoax, but it went worldwide and snared TS Eliot in its grasp, and surely someone there would twig? Apparently not – the author of The Darkening Ecliptic is still there.
After a few more names with more recent cultural references stayed up without inquiry – even when they listed the same email address – I thought I’d give them a lay-down misere and signed up Daffyd Mallard and “Buzz” Lappin within fifteen minutes of each other.
Now, the Eustonites pride themselves on being the best and brightest – so why did no-one in the bunker have the wit or high school French to see that Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny had signed up to their vision for the 21st century?
I even gave Buzz a bit of the sophomoric blather (“white kids in Hezbollah t-shirts! Gimme a break”) that the Eustonites love so much. I pictured him, a slightly dopey kid doing pre-law at Idaho State or something, having read nothing but his high school civics textbooks and Christopher Hitchens on Slate, punching the air as he watched Fox News.
Will Buzz now get blasted away by L.M.Fudd? (no, not a signatory – I think he joined “Stop The war”). Probably not – the Eustonites don’t seem to care about who’s real or not on their roll-call because, insofar as none of the names are checked or vetted, effectively none of them are.
The whole project surfs on the ability of the net to give the appearance of reality to flashing lights. Thus Julie Burchill – who’s written a brace of pieces in praise of Stalin – is signed up to this democratic manifesto too (much, I have been told, to Daffy’s dismay).
Well Eustonites, as I said, there’s a half-dozen more fictional signatories – and that’s just mine. If you’re serious about your “movement” you’ll vet the whole list A-Z. Happy hunting.