Full disclosure: I don’t like the Economist
… my favourite opinions of the rag itself having been penned over at the eXile (The Economist: The World’s Sleaziest Magazine):
Thanks to the English magazine’s clever rhetorical strategy, calibrating an effective mixture of aristocratic contempt, two-notches-smarter-than-Newsweek diction, and occasional anti-elitist populism to pander to its majority-American readership, readers trust The Economist. They – particularly American readers – trust it because they think it knows more than they do; this is its entire appeal. They even get a sick thrill being talked down to by a dirty old aristocratic prig.
For Americans in particular, accustomed to the lifeless, dumbed-down, least-common-denominator prose in their own media, reading The Economist is its own reward, giving them the sense not only that they’re smarter than the average Time subscriber, but that it even makes them vaguely decadent, in a literary-aristocratic sort of way. They become smarter by osmosis simply by being in the imagined drawing room of The Economist’s wit-slinging editorial offices.
In reality, The Economist is one of the most appallingly wrong and evil – as in responsible-for-millions-of-dead-people evil – organs in the world today.
Nice, eh? It’s actually a very well-put-together critique, focussing on the Economist’s various writings concerning Russia and, more specifically, Putin.
New kick in the nuts! The blog GlobaLab (I can’t stand people being cleverer than me) has a run-through (literally. Like, with a sword) of a story by the Economist, concerning a book about non-profits. Did you catch all that?
From the Economist:
Social entrepreneurship — the application of business principles and practises to solve social problems — is all the rage. The new sort of philanthropist who sees giving as a social investment wants to support social entrepreneurs in the same way that for-profit investors want to back ordinary (anti-social?) entrepreneurs. Judging by the number of courses in social entrepreneurship now taught at leading business schools, many an MBA student would rather work for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) than a traditional company.
Yet even as its popularity soars, sober observers of social entrepreneurship are starting to ask if it lives up to the hype. Where is the social-entrepreneurial equivalent of a for-profit start-up like Google or Microsoft or any other large global business? Where is the evidence of massive social change?
So far, so snotty. Rejoinder!
The Economist once again shows its contempt towards the NGO sector and its lack of understanding of its internal diversity. Kicking off with a series of scathing (and unreferenced) remarks about social enterprises, which seem to reduce the debate to a pathetic comparison between the successes of Google and those of the Grameen Bank (apples and oranges, anyone?), it then sings the praises of the 12 selected nonprofits for their excellent achievements (data, anyone?).
The fact that social enterprises and nonprofits might not actually be one and the same thing, or that being based (as the 12 selected organisations are) in the US as opposed to Bangladesh might offer considerable advantages to – for example – making the most of market forces does not seem to be a relevant piece of information for the illustrious weekly.
Excellent. Where would we be without the Economist to tell us how things are supposed to work?
I’ll leave the last word with the most entertaining: the Russians.
The horrible answer is, it’s always been this vile. If you go back to The Economist’s beginnings in Victorian England, you’ll find, for example, the magazine’s brave stand on the Great Irish Famine, the English-led genocide that left up to two million Irish dead. When a cry went up to stop the famine, The Economist countered, “It is no man’s business to provide for another. If left to the natural law of distribution, those who deserve more would obtain it.”
And speaking of Hitlers, in the mid-1930s, The Economist even found time to praise you-know-who: “Herr Hitler is showing encouraging signs of statesmanship.” Yes, they really did write that.
The first and last example of genuine wit that The Economist ever produced.