Jonathan Jones in the Guardian tells us arson is ok when you do it to Russians


Pyotr Pavlesnky standing proudly in front of his “superbly well-aimed piece of political art.” AKA a door to a public building he just set on fire

The Guardian’s “Let’s Hate Russia” crusade, like the old Windmill Theatre, never closes. It’s a 24/7 op and needs a constant supply of attack pieces to keep those fires of division and racism stoked. So it’s not surprising a lot of barrel-scraping has to be done, and in fact sometimes the results can be so unintentionally self-parodying they become almost an art form all their own.

I hope someone somewhere is keeping a scrapbook of the best examples, as it would be a shame if posterity didn’t get to appreciate the 21st Century Graun, and its staffers as the fine specimens of journalistic excellence they really are.

Just this week we’ve had…

i) The blockbuster saga of that majestically impartial organ, the World Anti-Doping Association acting as the lame mouthpiece of US foreign policy announcing the results of its serious and impartial enquiry into uniquely corrupt Russian doping practises;

ii) A questionable “amateur video” of an alleged Russian bombing of a hospital in Sarmin (US propaganda is not subtle, ever since it was revealed to have deliberately bombed a hospital in Kunduz it’s done nothing but plant stories saying “oh yeah, well Russia bombs like hundreds of hospitals!”). Very oddly this video was first published as a fragment on October 22, with the qualifying caption “video footage posted to social media, purporting to show an alleged Russian airstrike…”. This time round those qualifiers have disappeared (we will probably return to this story).

iii) Ash Carter telling us all that the wonderful world peace we’ve been enjoying lately is now in danger since Russia started bombing terrorists.

Jonathan Jones...and his shirt

Jonathan Jones…and his shirt

And yesterday appeared this truly vintage piece from alleged art critic, Jonathan Jones.

It doesn’t help his credibility that JJ looks like Petro Poroshenko’s slightly less bloated, sartorially-challeneged brother, but we’ll leave that to one side as being not germane to the issue. And his article needs no help when it comes to revealing the author as an idiot hack, prepared to put his name to just about any load of tripe for a pay check and a chance to see his piccy in a national daily.

Jones’ current piece is about a Russian “artist” called Pyotr Pavlensky, who became a hero for western media after nailing his scrotum to the floor in Red Square (seriously, you can read all about it in the Guardian, in a piece called Why I nailed my scrotum to Red Square).


As a result of this brilliantly seditious act Pyotr was given a blanket and some antibiotics, de-nailed and sent home. Which, of course, just proves that Russia is, in Pavlensky’s words, “turning into a big prison and a police state.” In free societies you see, people can nail their scrotums to public walkways and sit there for as long as they want. I’m not sure, but I think there’s even an amendment to that effect in the US Constitution.

Jonathan Jones is, predictably, a huge fan of this guy (or is paid to pretend he is), and he happily puts his place in art history on the line to go on record saying Pavlensky’s latest masterpiece – setting fire to the door of the Lubyanka Building in Moscow – is just fan-freaking-tastic. In fact he can’t believe the Russian police have taken such a relentlessly negative view….

Pavlensky has been charged with “hooliganism” – yet this is a superbly well-aimed piece of political art.

So, can this be right? Is JJ telling us he thinks arson is…ok?

Normally, setting fire to a building would not win my approval.

Oh, good…because it really seemed as if it would…

Someone might get hurt.

Quite. Which is probably why it tends to be widely discouraged as a means of expression.

And this is a historic front door, on a historic building.

Exactly. So, remind me again, why is it ok to set it on fire…?

In assaulting the FSB headquarters, Pavlensky has drawn attention to an architecture of terror. This building is a living symbol of all that has gone wrong in Russia since the 1990s.

Ah. I see. Light of a sort is dawning. You are saying it’s ok to burn down parts of public buildings if by so doing you are “draw[ing] attention to an ‘architecture of terror'”? Arson becomes completely legitimate, in other words, provided you burn down a place that happens to be a “living symbol of all that has gone wrong in [insert name of country here] since the 1990s” ?

And what if in this process ‘someone gets hurt”, as you say? Or dies? You seem to be implying this would just be collateral damage in pursuit of artistic excellence. Would you care to elaborate on that?

And how about the GCHQ building? MI5 and and MI6? The NSA HQ? The CIA? The FBI? The US Marines? Congress? The Houses of Parliament? The Rada? Most would agree they are all “living symbols of all that has gone wrong” in the countries that house them. So, are they fair game for arson too?

I’m assuming you will say quite a firm “no” here, am I correct? I assume you will say that’s different, and maybe even invoke “Whatboutery” that faithful friend of sophists everywhere. I’m fairly sure if some peace activist nailed his scrotum to Tony Blair or set fire to MI6’s front door you probably would not be cheering on this marvellous example of “political art”?

Yes. Thought so.

But the real reason for JJ’s piece is contained in the penultimate para. Here, half-heartedly expressed maybe, you will find the talking point he’s been paid handsomely to sell, and which he’s tried his best to camouflage and rationalise with all this embarrassing, pseudo-art-critiqueing (it makes it easier to take the money if you can convince yourself you’re saying something remotely connected to your supposed specialty).

This is the real message du jour:

It [the fact Lubyanka still exists] puts our own fears of spies (or lack of such fears) into perspective. In Britain the intelligence services are accused of intruding on privacy. In Russia they are suspected of political murder.

I trust you all take due note, oh newly awakening Guardian-reading masses? JJ’s bosses want you to think how much worse things could be, and go back to sleep.

Do we even need to break down this pathetic offering? Do we need to point out the clumsily dishonest use of language? That British security forces are not “accused of intruding on privacy”, they are proven to do it, continuously and persistently. That being “suspected of political murder” means only as much as the identity of those doing the “suspecting” – a detail JJ carefully leaves out. That, contrary to his lie-by-omission- point, the British security services are themselves not only “suspected” of political murder, but openly accused of it.

No, let’s not bother. This is a Minitrue hit piece by a hired hack, devoid of ethics or talent, celebrating another hired hack, paid to nail his genitals to the pavement.

History will know well enough how to deal with them both.


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