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A beginner’s guide to the Guardian

by Darren Allen

The Guardian’s revised CiF  slogan, as suggested by OffG

The Guardian’s revised CiF slogan, as suggested by OffG

The Guardian newspaper is a limited company and has been since 2008 when the Scott Trust was wound up and replaced by The Scott Trust Ltd, which appoints a board comprised of bankers, management consultants, venture capitalists and other classic left-wingers. The paper itself is written nearly exclusively by elite-educated members of the upper middle class. The viewpoint you would expect to come from this privileged set-up is what you do get.

Murray McDonald, in his Hidden History of the Guardian, explains that The Guardian was launched to undermine working-class leaders of the early 19th century reform movement (whose members were massacred at Peterloo), and during its 150 year history has denounced Ireland’s freedom fighters, Women Suffragettes, Abraham Lincoln’s campaign to end slavery, third world nationalism and pretty much any kind of genuine independence from the system. It supported Tony Blair, even when the worst of his crimes were known and continues to give him uncritical space, it regularly presents official pronouncements as news, regularly disguises adverts for its corporate sponsors as news and regularly finds time to pour bile on Jeremy Corbyn, Julian Assange, Media Lens and Noam Chomsky, who was so appalled by Emma Brocke’s infamous and outrageous distortions he forced them to print a long retraction.

In short, The Guardian is far to the right — just read a few articles by Nick Cohen, Jonathan Freedland or Michael White (with whom I had some correspondence a few years ago about thought-control in his paper) if you doubt where on the actual political spectrum the UK’s ‘leading left-liberal newspaper’ is situated — although they do employ two journalists who are slightly to the left of the rest, namely Owen Jones and George Monbiot. These two (there was a third, Seamus Milne*) appear in order to pull the actual left into The Guardian’s adverts for tech products and spa treatments and to give the paper the appearance of range that it must have to perform its function. Jones and Monbiot never venture beyond the unspoken limits of acceptable corporate thought, never seriously criticise the media (except to take pot shots at The Mail, Murdoch or CNN) and never support any genuine critics of the system.

Why is this? Clearly Jones and Monbiot have some kind of conscience. Yet, somehow, this conscience never seems to get them in trouble at work. Jones offered a clue to this mystery in a public tweet; on discovering who his new boss was to be:-

I once had a twitter exchange with Jones (on an old account of mine, now deleted) which he began by defending his elite education, prominent connections and corporate employment as ‘socialist’ and concluded by mocking the fact that I had fewer followers than he does. This juvenile snidery is a typical response of Jones — and Suzanne Moore, Hadley Freeman and co. — when faced with criticism from the actual left, no matter how courteous and reasonable.

I also had a brief email exchange with Monbiot not so long ago. I asked him why he never criticised the systemic bias of the Guardian, and he replied:

There’s a whole bunch of us working independently for the Guardian (I go into the building once or twice a year) who never get a steer from anyone about what we should be writing and what line we should take. I have used the Guardian as a platform for continued attacks on corporate power and the system of totalitarian capitalism.

Monbiot has made one tame request to have fossil fuel ads removed from his paper, quickly forgotten. He complains about vested interests controlling right-wing think-tanks, media outlets and so on, yet is curiously silent about Shell sponsoring branded content in the Guardian or the vast editorial-shaping advertising revenue it receives from HSBC, or about the indirect effect elite ownership has on his paper, or about the indirect effect earning £67,000 a year has on his journalism. He refuses to understand that he doesn’t need to ‘get a steer from anyone’ because only those who can be trusted not to go near genuinely system-threatening subjects will get a prominent column in a national newspaper, or succeed in any branch of the institutional world (explained here).

Monbiot and Jones’ disgraceful absence of integrity then is not so much in what they say (e.g. Monbiot’s shameful smearing of just about every genuine voice on the actual left), but in what they don’t say. On criticism of the left-liberal end of the media spectrum, on the propaganda model, the Overton Window and Huxleyan thought-control, on Libya and Syria, on Clinton and Obama, on the inherently destructive nature of professionalism, on their own paper maligning Jeremy Corbyn, Nafeez Ahmed and Julian Assange, on the ruinous horror of wage-slavery, on the denial of death, on the reality of the coming collapse, on the inherently reality-warping nature of market-driven journalism — nothing, or next to.

The reason I pick out Jones and Monbiot from their ‘mainstream’ colleagues is not just that they are frauds, but for the same reason I pick out The Guardian from its ‘mainstream’ rivals. The Guardian represents the limit of sanity within the slit-wide media spectrum and Jones and Monbiot represent the same limit within The Guardian spectrum; and it is that limit which must be broken if actual sanity is to prevail. It’s why I often visit their site — not to read their articles on why it’s a good idea to obliterate Libya or a bad idea to wee in the shower or the difficulties of living in a $7000 a month New York apartment — but to do my best, in the comments, to expose this insane limit, not just in the news, but throughout the paper.

Because the fundamental ‘limits of sanity’ in the Guardian (and the BBC, the Independent, Washington Post, Le Monde and so on) are not just in its reports on politics, but in its reviews of art-exhibitions, teevee shows and video games, in its comments on fashion and literature, in its opinion pieces on feminism and mental health and in its extraordinarily vapid reflections on living and loving. It is here that you see The Official World, in all its colourless banality. To be sure the distortion of political or historical truth in the news section is horrific and noteworthy, but the distortions of artistic and psychological truth in the ‘arts and lifestyle’ sections actually go far deeper than politics; normalising, as they do, ego, personality, virtual reality and an entire constellation of foundational myths concerning equality, mental illness, language, artistic truth, sex, love and pornography.

I’ll be addressing all these things in due course, but I’ll finish with some of my comments in ‘comment is free’…**

On equality

About forty or fifty years ago, around the same time as women, ‘people of colour’, the disabled, members of the ‘LBGTQ’ community and so on began to gain important social and ethical advances, the middle and upper classes realised, with great moral-delight, that the previously excluded could be put to professional work, in upper management, and that ideological conformity is far more important than racial or sexual equality anyway. Totalitarian corporate organisations and media outlets could then proudly proclaim themselves to be feminist, pro-gay, equal-rights and so-on, coating themselves in a lovely veneer of equality and open-mindedness and appeal to the ‘left-liberal demographic’, while pursuing precisely the same corporate-establishment goals as before – perpetually expand, honour corporate clients and profits above all else, kow-tow to upper and middle-class groupthink, deprive ordinary people of their intellectual, social and aesthetic autonomy in the name of ‘professional’ care, police the eradicated commons and so on.
In other words institutions, corporations and elite-run organisations (like the Guardian) use race, gender, civil-rights and so on as a smokescreen for systemic totalitaria, which is what all feminist viewpoints and all LGBT articles in the ‘mainstream’ end up promoting.

On Video Games

I’m looking forward to ‘Unreality 7’, the latest VR immersion suite from Ersatz. Unlike the games listed in the video game section of the newspaper it doesn’t hide from its status as a narcotic and actively pumps your veins with neurotransmitters, stimulants and personality-deforming hallucinogens. Of course it still involves sitting, sense-dimmed and immobile in a dark room, communicating through the mediation of a vast corporate machine, using crude digitised imagery and even cruder appeals to fear and desire in order to move the deathless narrative along, but this is no problem for me as I live an entirely mediated life of subservience to enormous mechanisms and systems beyond my power to meaningfully change, with an indirect relationship with my fellow dependants, motivated by nothing finer than a need to acquire credits and avoid crude monsters in my ever more meaningless dreamlife.

On Defence

Thank God for all this money spent on ‘defence’. I mean, if we weren’t so well ‘defended’ we might all be living in a kind of prison, under constant surveillance, having to obey arbitrary orders from unaccountable organisations that control the minutest details of our lives. Everything we do might be subordinated to the overarching objective of making a profit and protecting those who benefit from a system that leaves everyone else living atomised, alone and in territory owned by others. Dissent might be severely punished or simply not have the opportunity to be heard, as freedom of the press would be entirely limited to those that own one.
And while we’re on the subject, thank God we defeated those bad old Nazis, eh? Because if we hadn’t we might be living in a society built on slave labour, using resources stolen from obliterated vassal states, constantly under surveillance and blaming all our problems on immigrants.

On ‘What the NHS needs’

What the NHS needs is this: more managers, more paperwork, less contact with patients, the front line staff to be ignored more often, more bullying by people who reached their position through calumny, nepotism and greasing up, loads more policies, more advertising, more meetings, more closures, particularly of smaller day hospitals and units, more centralisation, more technology, higher registration fees for nurses, fewer nurses (by cutting staff and cutting bursaries), more power to consultants, and much much more change.

What the NHS really needs – as all public-owned services have needed in the past – is to be completely bollocksed up so that privatisation can be justified on the grounds that the system as it is, is ‘inefficient.’

On Advertising

The soldier thinks he is defending people, the doctor thinks he is saving lives, the teacher thinks he is educating his students and the manager thinks he is leading his people to success. What people think about their jobs is not the same as what they actually do in them. What is the advertiser actually doing when he asks himself ‘what will catch their attention?’ or ‘what words should I use?’ or ‘what image would be most appropriate here?’ In that moment he is not looking for a way to ‘encourage people to buy one product instead of another’ (as the article suggests), he is looking for a way to excite their interest, move them emotionally and touch some kind of urge, instinct or reality inside them. People are interested in security, sex, love, truth, quality, beauty, power, nature, union and passion, and so the advertiser uses these words and images. Why? to sell a product. The result is that these words and images become cheapened, their meaning hollowed out and people cease to believe they refer to anything meaningful, which makes them frustrated and dissatisfied.

On Empathy and Caring

Empathy is routinely confused for caring. Women are regularly determined to be more empathic than men and adults more empathic than children. This is true, but what is overlooked is that men and women, and adults and children, tend to care about different things. Women, for example, tend to care more for real things (children, animals, clothes, bedrooms, bodies) and men tend to care more for unreal things (chord patterns, maps, archetypical plots, circuit diagrams, risky futures), and this has nothing to do with empathy, quality or morality; it is possible (indeed very common) to selfishly care.

It is also possible to get exhausted caring; the so called ‘compassion fatigue’ of people who spend a great deal of time around pain and suffering, while empathy, being a natural state, never runs out (see Matthieu Ricard, Altruism, although Ricard calls empathy caring and compassion empathy).

Empathy is not a value or an interest, but an experience of unself—childlike immersion in what I am not—of the quality-of-suchness in the morning light, of the hum and hue and tone of a friend’s gesture, of the deep, inviting vibration of this cup (and not that one), of the ineffable character that makes one performance electric and another flat, or of what it is to be a cow; all equally available to men, women and children. There could be no great works of art without this me-less experience, no miraculous communion between parents and infants, no heart-rending offers of help from toddlers, and no self-detonating mutual-merge during love-making (you, me and the centre of the universe), but for selves to become soft enough to feel what they are not, they either have to be raised in a room of liquid vibe or, more often than not, pummelled by the horrors of life, death, loss, madness and profound sorrow, into literal tenderness.

This pummelling helps explain why the poorer classes, who are routinely subject to self-softening pressures (physical work, reliance on others, uncertainty, discomfort, etc.), along with the disabled, tend to be more empathic than the middle class and elites. See Michael Kraus et al, Social Class, Contextualism, and Empathic Accuracy Gary Sherman et al., Perceiving Others’ Feelings, and Paul Piffa et al., Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior.

On the media

Imagine if the news section of The Guardian was written by genuine journalists and academics (like John Pilger, Mark Curtis, David Graeber and Jonathan Cook). Imagine if the director general of the BBC was Ken Loach (and our generation’s Mike Leighs, Dennis Potters and Alan Bleasedales worked there). Imagine if actors who could express artistic truth were identified and supported (rather than, for example, tall, confident elites with deep voices). Imagine if newspaper columns were written by philosophers, comedians and essayists who actually had something to say. Imagine if genuine artistic potential was detected, encouraged and was given complete artistic freedom to express itself. Imagine if great artists had the same resources and access to public space as advertisers. Imagine if we had an independent media — independent not just of the market, but of the mediocre ego which fuels it.

It could happen in a heartbeat. The media is the weakest link in the entire system and the balsa-wood foundation upon which all the others gain and maintain their legitimacy. Snap the supports of the media, and the whole pyramid of evil falls.

* After publishing this piece I had a Guardian journalist, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, tweet to me:

Dunno if she’s referring to her own articles about how sexist Trump is, or how ‘we need feminism’, or how great clubbing in Budapest is, or about her timeless experiences as a student — or about those of Paul Mason perhaps? Or Ed Vulliamy? Not sure, but my my point was that that Monbiot and Jones are slightly to the left of everyone else. I agree though, it is debatable. Cosslett, Mason and Vulliamy could well be classed as equally stagversive.
** Edited somewhat now I have time to ponder.

80 Comments

  1. CherryRedGuitar says

    I’ve just left the Guardian, deleted my account and logged out, after reading the paper for almost fifty years. It isn’t a place for anyone who is on the left, or even centre-left, of the political spectrum. I’ve twice posted about how New Labour MPs have been making false accusations of anti-Semitism, misogyny, thuggery and Marxist infiltration against Corbyn and his supporters and both times the comment has been vanished (not just deleted), and that was the straw which broke the camel’s back.
    I’m not sure how often I’ll be here. We’ll see.

    Like

    • John says

      I am guessing your name is probably Gibson – as they have a cherry red bodied guitar in their range.
      They make the best guitars and you have made the best decision – to leave the Guardian behind.
      Welcome to this site. Some of the people here can be verbose and fixated sometimes.
      But they all mean well and we all share a desire to know what is really happening in the real world.
      Something one can never learn from the pages of the Guardian.

      Like

      • CherryRedGuitar says

        I had a photo of my guitar as my avatar on the Guardian. It’s a PRS. Nothing to do with my name.

        Like

    • A. J. B says

      I’ve noticed your absence. You stuck it out for a long time, defending Corbyn when
      even stalwarts started to get a bit brainwashed by the ‘unelectable’ and ‘not a leader’ propaganda.
      I understand your frustration. Every time I’ve challenged Nick Cohen’s disgusting slanders,
      I get moderated. It seems they can be as abusive and slanderous as they like, but the victims aren’t allowed to defend themselves.
      I’ll miss your contributions.

      Like

  2. sabelmouse says

    my main problem with monbiot is his dilly dallying on veganism, he’s now pro again , and his writing on that and the environment makes me think that hi is a shill for big ag/the fossil fuel industry, which might seem minor to some but is actually quite influential to our survival, and that of the planet.
    it certainly makes him less trust worthy else where, and i don’t read his nonsense anymore.

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  3. First visit here ,and I must admit, you certainly get more educated reading the comment here than reading the Guardian, I too am banned from cif I stupidly mentioned Isreal in a dimm light, and as usual all the anti-semite, jew hater , holocaust denier, etc stated pouring in, and I replied asking if people believe in the holocaust happened why doe it need a law to back it up, why can you be sent to prison in some European countries, why afre we not allowed to debate it?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. bryce says

    I find that the Guardian’s BTL comments are a quick antidote to whatever nonsense was being presented as factual journalism in the main article.
    BTL is often not only more factual about the topic, but laugh-out-loud entertaining, which is the only reason for me to keep reading..

    The Independent’s Fisk & Cockburn , in general, seem to be much more credible..

    Like

    • Seraskier says

      [[ The Independent’s Fisk & Cockburn , in general, seem to be much more credible..]]

      If you can manage to hold your nose to the parade of neocon russophobic guano that fills the other 98% of the Windy Pendant’s pages these days. No wonder they went online-only – who would pay for this kind of cobblers?

      Even the once-gloried Travel Section has caught Russian Flu:
      “Trans-Siberian – Don’t Bother” (Simon Calder)

      Like

  5. I used to enjoy Seumas Milne’s columns and I’m glad he’s now working for Jeremy Corbyn. There was one CiFer remarking on one of Milne’s pieces about how he (Milne) was a public school toff and how dare he claim to be a socialist. I replied that I thought it was all the more praiseworthy that Milne had managed to transcend such a ghastly upbringing. Soon after that I started getting modded, and then kicked off altogether when I took the piss every time the Graun reported another column of Evil Rooskiy tanks crossing into Donbass.

    But then I’m an old fart. It did real journalism back when ah wer a lad.

    Like

  6. Well wriiten article, never realised the Guardian was supposed to be written by journalists.

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  7. This is fascinating. I can’t digest it right now, after a 12 hour shift. Normally I’d be in bed at this time. Today, I’m sitting in a coffee shop waiting for my abusive bank to open (after finding that my account has been suspended for my use of a vpn) and have little brain power for serious examination. I’ve started collecting articles on George Monbiot, Robert Reich and Juan Cole. Why? I keep stumbling upon progressives and progressive sites who/that give those gentlemen a pass, implicitly endorsing their establishment views. Reich seemed to promote NAFTA and did promote his criminal bosses. Otherwise, I’m not sure he’s that bad. But I have no doubt about the other two. How do progressives like Michael Albert (and others working with him?) come to approve of Juan Cole by giving him his own space on ZNet? I only recently discovered Craig Murray (who’s views on the EU and Brexit I don’t agree with), who played a central role in the relaying of Clinton’s ‘leaked’ emails to Wikileaks, and there’s Juan Cole among Murray’s links! It’s not one or two minor foibles that marks those gentlemen (possibly excepting Robert Reich) as being class collaborationists. As other critics of Cole note, his embrace (along with hero James Hansen) of nuclear power can be forgiven. If we have to have nuclear power, one could do worse than have someone like Cole in charge of policies surrounding that. But there’s more about Cole to disagree with than just his position on nuclear power. (This article by Darren Allen may be included in my list.)

    I do find it interesting that when I recently contacted Jeffrey St. Clair about a hijacked link on the CounterPunch website, mentioning to him that I was collecting articles about these fake lefties, he replied with insults and dismissed my alert. Did the hostility have to do with the project I was engaged in? It doesn’t make sense though. I found at least one article on CounterPunch by St. Clair, if I recall, quite critical of Cole. Then I found an article by Joshua Frank parroting the NATO/establishment talking points about Putin and Russia and now I’m wondering. (I consider CounterPunch to be an awesome resource. But I’m not sure about it’s owners.) My email to Joshua Frank pointing out that his establishment-looking article about Putin was alarming was not replied to.

    So much of the useful Left is proving to be quite compromised or rubbing shoulders with unsavoury collaborationist types like George Monbiot, that principled readers who pay attention end up rewarded with great alarm and disappointment. I could go on, but I don’t want to alarm others just for the sake of alarming. There’s a time and place for everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom Warwick says

      “unsavoury collaborationist types like George Monbiot”.

      Seriously? This kind of puerile “more radical than thou” in-fighting on the left is ultimately what lets fascists like Trump and Farage win. You’ve become useful idiots, a left mirror-image of the ‘anti-establishment’ nonsense on Breitbart.

      Like

        • Tom Warwick says

          Er, right. Glad you got it. And feel free to change your name (in fact, I see from your blog that you already have done).

          I hope you don’t really think Monbiot is an “unsavoury collaborationist type”. Because that sounds neither fair nor sane. But then the above article labels Monbiot a “fraud”, so perhaps this is a site for Monbiot abusers.

          Like

          • Hi Tom,

            Thanks for the criticism, always interesting to read. I’m the author of the article. I call Monbiot a fraud because he criticises ‘the system’ yet always, magically, leaves his employers — and, crucially, the left-liberal wing of the system they represent — out. The role of the Guardian and corporate-left newspapers and media outlets like them, in shaping opinions, distorting truths and marginalising criticism is not a peripheral issue but at the heart of media corruption.

            The Guardian is in no sense left, and so to describe criticism of its corporate employees as ‘in-fighting on the left’ is incorrect.

            Blair is a mass-murderer. Not just ‘an unpopular guy’ but one of the greatest criminals of modern times. It is disgusting that he gets one opinion piece, let alone that he regularly appears on the front page without a murmur. I can’t say I’m aware of too many counter-examples, which point out, for example, that he is a war criminal; but they are besides the point in this case.

            Finally you mention that my criticism of the left sounds like that of the far right. You’re quite right there. What Bannon, or Trump says about the Times and the BBC is often pretty accurate. Can’t say I’ve been following what they say closely, but there was a classic example the other day on Radio 4 today:

            Oborne, also right wing, criticised the ‘liberal’ BBC with straightforward accuracy. The BBC is indeed superficial and grotesquely hypocritical. Conversely, what the BBC say about Trump, or what Monbiot says about Murdoch, is also usually accurate. But this is all besides the point. The point is the WHOLE THING is corrupt — left and right — and this is the point you will not hear made by a corporate employee of the media.

            I hope this makes things clearer Tom. If you still disagree I don’t think I can put my case any better. All the good to you,

            Darren

            Liked by 1 person

            • Tom Warwick says

              Hi Darren. You might be interested to know that Monbiot wrote in the Guardian that Tony Blair is a “mass murderer” who is “contemptuous of democracy” and who “greases up to wealth and power and lets the poor go to hell”, etc. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/oct/26/making-blair-eu-president-crazy

              He ran a campaign to get Blair impeached. He’s written some really outstanding, hard-hitting stuff – real journalism which reveals new information, not just the recycled “radical” polemic which one sees on sites such as this, and which is easy to write, but rarely empirical and almost always selective cherry-picking in its examples. (See also my reply to the admins below on abundant Blair-savaging Guardian material).

              It’s lazy and silly to call him a fraud. But it’s typical of this non-empirical so-called “analysis” which goes straight to the imputing of bad motives. Sorry, but that’s my sincere take on it.

              Like

              • Thanks Tom. Yes, I understand that there has been criticism of Blair, and from Monbiot — and I understand that Monbiot has criticised the state and corporate power too. As I say though, he refuses to criticise the part his own paper and the left-liberal side of the spectrum have in the system. This is a disgraceful, not to mention cowardly, omission. I stick by the term fraud — indeed in some ways its a complement: I do think Monbiot, unlike so many of his colleagues, has a conscience to a betray.

                Anyway, clearly we’re not going to convince each other, so we’ll leave it there.

                Kindness,

                Darren

                Like

                • Tom Warwick says

                  It’s simply not true that Monbiot “refuses” to criticise the left-liberal media or that he “always, magically, leaves his employers” out of his criticisms. An early counter-example (not the only one): http://www.monbiot.com/2004/07/20/the-lies-of-the-press/

                  If you were thorough in your research you wouldn’t accuse him of being a “fraud” based on such misconceptions. That’s pretty poor.

                  Like

                • Dear Darren,

                  I think you should be aware that George Monbiot was critical of Dr Nafeez Ahmed’s Insurge Intelligence article on the Iraq Body Count’s obfuscation on the numbers of post-2003 Iraq War civilian dead. Monbiot posted insulting tweets (like “pernicious bullshit”) approving another blog’s takedown of Dr Ahmed’s IBC article.

                  Dr Ahmed is the fellow whose Guardian contract to write an environmental blog for the paper was terminated after he wrote an article linking Israel’s firebombing of Gaza during July 2014 (while the world’s attention was preoccupied elsewhere) to Israel’s desire to seize Gaza’s offshore natural gas deposits for itself. Apparently this was one of the most popular articles published by The Guardian and still is well known.

                  People had appealed to Monbiot to help Dr Ahmed get his Guardian job back. And this is what Monbiot does for Dr Ahmed.

                  Professional jealousy, hmm?

                  Not to mention of course the unedifying email fight between Monbiot and Noam Chomsky over Chomsky’s decision to write an introduction to Ed Herman and D Petersen’s book “The Politics of Genocide” (I think it was called) in which the authors pick over the Srebrenica killings in the mid-1990s and call their status as “genocide” into question.

                  Like

              • @ Tom Warwick: While it’s true that George Monbiot has tried to bring Tony Blair to justice, it’s also true that Monbiot did support the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Media Lens had a debate over this issue with him in 2002.
                http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2002/226-update-george-monbiot-responds-on-iraq-and-just-war.html

                The argument that Monbiot raised to support his stand, based on the Empathetic Principle, seems dubious at the very least. How could Monbiot have known that the vast majority of Iraqis were suffering under Saddam Hussein’s rule? Wasn’t a large proportion of that suffering due to the sanctions the West had imposed on Iraq? Even if much of the blame could be sheeted home to Saddam Hussein and his government, couldn’t his removal have been achieved by means other than invasion and war? Was it not possible that, as has been seen in reports about Syrian atrocities which turn out either to have been faked with no evidence attached (as in the recent case of the Amnesty International report on Saydnaya Prison) or paid for by organisations and governments with axes to grind (as in the case of the Carter Ruck report paid for by Qatar on Syrian prison tortures and killings), some if not most of Saddam Hussein’s brutality might actually have been made up by the West and its minions? Bear in mind that the US invaded Iraq on the pretext that Iraq had WMDs which were later found to be non-existent.

                The historical principle Monbiot relies on doesn’t even bear thinking about. Removing Hussein as Iraqi leader is good simply because we put him there in the first place? What if Iraqis had accepted him as legitimate because in spite of all the bad things he had done, he also did some good things – like trying to restore the country to some semblance of what it was before the 1991 US invasion? One might as well reorganise the borders of modern Middle Eastern countries (and for that matter, African and Asian countries) because they were created by Europeans … um …

                The fact that Syrians are content to live within the borders created by the 1917 Sykes-Picot agreement (more or less) shows how they have accommodated to the situation that the agreement created and perhaps even benefited from.

                Like

                • Tom Warwick says

                  Thanks, Jen, but your claim that “Monbiot did support the 2003 invasion of Iraq” is simply false. Whether this distortion of what Monbiot wrote is yours or your source’s (Medialens), I don’t know – but it’s an ugly smear and should be withdrawn.

                  Monbiot in fact wrote that he supported a hypothetical “just war” that met various conditions (indicating that he wasn’t an ideological pacifist). But he was clear that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was no such thing. Here are his actual words:

                  “What this means is that I believe that there is such a thing as a just war. I am also firmly of the opinion that the current plans to invade Iraq constitute nothing of the sort.”

                  It seems there are quite a few people on this site who are prepared to distort the facts in order to damage Monbiot’s reputation.

                  Like

                • Unfortunately Monbiot also penned these paragraphs in his original article “See You In Court, Tony [Blair]”, originally published in The Guardian (26 November 2002):

                  “… But just because we do not favour an attack of the kind the US proposes does not mean that we cannot support attempts by other nations, whose record is unsullied and whose motives are unmixed, to destabilise or overthrow the regime, if their action is legal and if we know that this is the limit of their ambitions. Indeed, if we do succeed in preventing an attack by the US, we surely have a responsibility to lobby for a just means of helping the Iraqi people to depose Saddam, led by nations with no imperial ambitions. And we may find that this requires military force.

                  But even this, more legitimate warfare might not be necessary. Troy Davis of the World Citizen Foundation has been sketching out an ingenious means of pulling the rug from beneath Saddam’s feet. The UN, he proposes, should help the opposition groups based abroad and in Iraq’s no-fly zones to establish a democratically elected government in exile. This government is then given the world’s Iraqi embassies and the nation’s frozen assets. It gradually takes control of the no-fly zones and the oil-for-food programme. Saddam would find himself both isolated diplomatically and confronted by a legitimate alternative government. It is not hard to see how his authority over his own people would be undermined, permitting him to be toppled more easily. This plan also ensures that democracy is less likely to be frustrated by the installation of a puppet regime.

                  But if this option is tried and fails, and if war turns out to be the only means of removing Saddam, then let us support a war whose sole and incontestable purpose is that and only that; which will not stop until the people of Iraq are running their country themselves, but will stop the moment that this happens; and whose purpose is not to seize the oil wells, to support the ambitions of some of the most ruthless and dangerous people in the western world, or to overturn the norms of international law. But there will be neither a just war nor a just peace unless we stop the unjust war from being waged. Taking the government to court may be the best chance we have.”
                  https://indymedia.org.uk/en/2002/11/47646.html?c=on

                  Where does Monbiot say that he or Troy Davis would first consult the Iraqi people as to whether or not they would agree to Saddam Hussein being deposed, rather than be subjected to criminal charges that can be examined and proven in court and on that basis be forced to step down from power and be impeached or dealt with according to Iraqi political and legal frameworks and institutions? How does Troy Davis’ “ingenious” idea differ from what is currently being done to Syria by the US, Saudi Arabia and Qatar through their proxy armies in the form of ISIS, Jabhat al Nusra, the Free Syria Army and others? Does it even occur to Monbiot that Iraqis might not approve of Davis’ idea?

                  How does Monbiot justify supporting a war whose only goal is to remove Saddam – and perhaps leave behind a power vacuum? Is he being facetious when he says this? How would Monbiot know – or how would anyone know – when such a war will stop? He says “when the people of Iraq are running their country themselves” – how would we know that? Regular elections alone do not mean the people of Iraq are running the country if they have to vote for parties that do the bidding of foreigners.

                  Like

                • Tom Warwick says

                  Nice try, Jen, but no cigar. Everything you quote from Monbiot here (and, indeed, everything he wrote before and after) confirms that he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

                  Yet you persist with your ugly smear that “Monbiot did support the 2003 invasion of Iraq”. I think it’s time for you to concede your falsehood and withdraw it. Otherwise people might start to question your motives.

                  Like

                • Tom Ell says

                  Tom Hardwick – all that quote confirms is that he was against a US-led invasion. Actually everything in this quote confirms he would have been comfortable with an invasion led by someone else. So actually, it was a nice try and cigar fully deserved.

                  I don’t dislike Monbiot, in fact I rate him highly, but I fully agree with Darren’s position here. Probably because I am like Monbiot – in that although I share Darren’s views and am essentially a “good person”, that won’t stop me working for a bank when I need some cash!

                  Just to clarify the specific quote I’m referring to: “But just because we do not favour an attack of the kind the US proposes does not mean that we cannot support attempts by other nations,”

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Tom Warwick says

                  Hmm… funny that people here have such difficulty acknowledging that a falsehood is a falsehood.

                  The falsehood in question being the claim that “Monbiot did support the 2003 invasion of Iraq”. It’s simply false – ie untrue, erroneous, wrong, inaccurate, fallacious, mistaken, fictitious, bogus, false.

                  Like

                • I’ll repeat that first paragraph quoted, Tom:

                  “… But just because we do not favour an attack of the kind the US proposes does not mean that we cannot support attempts by other nations, whose record is unsullied and whose motives are unmixed, to destabilise or overthrow the regime, if their action is legal and if we know that this is the limit of their ambitions. Indeed, if we do succeed in preventing an attack by the US, we surely have a responsibility to lobby for a just means of helping the Iraqi people to depose Saddam, led by nations with no imperial ambitions. And we may find that this requires military force …”

                  Monbiot implies that if, say, Denmark or Sweden had offered to invade Iraq to destabilise and then overthrow Saddam Hussein, he would be quite comfortable with that scenario. Where does he say that Denmark or Sweden has obtained the consent of the Iraqi people to depose Saddam Hussein by means that may require military force?

                  How can Monbiot know that deposing Saddam Hussein only (with a subsequent withdrawal by the nation or agent that has deposed him) will not have harmful consequences for Iraq? So the Danes or Swedes kick him out and then leave straight away with a gaping vacancy in the Presidential seat. How does Monbiot propose this will be filled? Would it not be incumbent on Copenhagen or Stockholm to come up with a plan as to what replaces Saddam Hussein? In all of this, what place is there for the Iraqi people to say their opinions and have them heard and carried out?

                  Make mine a Montecristo #2 :-).

                  Like

  8. Tom Warwick says

    Darren Allen’s piece is too selective in examples, and too overgeneralising in conclusions. For example, it argues that the Guardian supports Tony Blair and gives him “uncritical space”. In fact the Guardian has published any number of articles that savage Blair in extremely critical terms. Sure, it’s also published a lot of stuff supportive of Blair (probably more than the critical material), and given him space to write, but if one’s criticism is of the Guardian as a whole, then you have to take account of all the counter-examples to your thesis. Otherwise it becomes an exercise in confirmation bias.

    Note also the irony that such critiques of “liberal” “corporate” media sound similar in many respects to what the likes of Steve Bannon (of all people) are saying. This is true only to the extent that they are broad-brush in denouncing “corporate” “mainstream” “liberal” media. Less true of course when we get down to specific examples and focus on being more empirical in approach. We can learn from this.

    Like

    • Some sources would help here. Maybe links to some of the Blair-savaging articles? You would agree though that editorial line continues to present Blair as a respectable elder statesman and to court his opinion on any manner of issues? Compare its treatment of him with its treatment of Corbyn, for example.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tom Warwick says

        The Guardian pieces savaging Blair aren’t hard to find, and neither are they in short supply. Search for Guardian pieces with search terms such as “Blair bloodbath”, “Blair war criminal”, “impeach Blair”, etc.

        Here are a few for starters (by some of the better known writers):
        https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/sep/10/iraq.iraq
        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/06/anti-war-movement-chilcot-blair-face-charges
        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/07/west-criminal-bloodbath-iraq-media-cover-up

        Seumas Milne was comment editor of the Guardian for several years, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that not all of its content is establishment-friendly Blairite BS. Look at the writers that it has often published – it’s a long and fairly diverse list, many from a Chomskyan perspective.

        If you focus only on the Freedlands, the trivial consumer stuff, and the material which confirms your thesis, then you can make generalisations about the “Guardian” which are based on “evidence” but not in any real empirical way (since it dismisses a vast amount of counter-evidence which doesn’t fit your narrative).

        Like

        • You will notice that all three of these articles are opinion pieces by non-Guardian journalists. Yes, the Graun gives them space, but that is hardly representative of the paper’s own editorial line, is it? I asked you last time, but you didn’t answer, so I ask it again – You would agree the editorial line continues to present Blair as a respectable elder statesman and to court his opinion on any manner of issues?

          You also would agree that the space given to such dissenting voices has declined markedly in recent years, no?

          Like

          • Tom Warwick says

            I think you’re right that the editorial line is generally respectful to Blair. But those respectful (and generally dull) editorials rarely get many readers.

            If your critique is of “The Guardian” as a whole, and not just “the Guardian leader/editorial”, then you have to look at the whole of its content. The dissenting comment pages often get huge audiences. And not all the ferociously anti-Blair stuff is from outside writers. (Monbiot has written many pieces attacking Blair, for example. Seumas Milne, as I mentioned, was an insider).

            I can’t tell if the space given to dissenting voices has decreased in recent years. It doesn’t seem that way to me. You’d have to conduct a proper empirical study demonstrate that. I see more voices from the right commenting, but then I also see the inclusion of more truly radical material, from the more celebrity end (Frankie Boyle, David Graeber, etc – if you consider them radical) to more obscure voices who previously only had radical blogs, etc.

            Like

            • Thank you for acknowledging the editorial line is indeed pro-Blair, though defending that by saying such editorials “rarely get many reader”might seem a tad bizarre.

              Beyond that, if the frankly astonishing neoliberal pro-war, anti-Russian, anti-factual jingoism demonstrated by the Graun in recent years has passed you by, and/or you’re not disturbed by this allegedly “left-leaning” paper teaming up with CIA propaganda outlets and other questionable entities in its New East Network, – well I suspect there is little to be gained by further discussion.

              🙂

              Like

      • Tom Warwick says

        I posted a reply with links to Guardian pieces critical of Blair (which are numerous) but it’s been held in moderation for hours. Hopefully it’ll turn up. (Could be worse, I guess – I could be posting at Cif).

        Like

    • magictom8 says

      If you present us with some statistical analysis, I may be inclined to agree.

      However in its absence I will say my non-academic non-quantified take on it is that I agree with Darren on this. My perception is that your examples are exceptions rather than the norm. And Darren does take a moment to explain that these exceptions are actually a vital part of what helps ensure the charade can continue, so their presence doesn’t discount what he’s saying I don’t think.

      Like

  9. Frank says

    Yes, it is noticeable that non-mainstream opinion along with contrarian and heterodox analysis has been thoroughly purged from the Gruan. Sean Milne seems to have disappeared completely, along with Jonathon Steele, and Tariq Ali who now only makes an annual appearance (if that). Additionally, Eurosceptic Larry Elliot now seldom seems to make the business pages. The only non-neo-conservative who makes an occasional appearance is Simon Jenkins, who is politically high-Tory and a foreign policy realist among what amounts to a rat’s nest of neo-cons. Peter Hitchens at the Daily Mail is also a maverick in the Jenkins mould. But pride of place for political toxicity must go to the Russophobic, warmongering ex-Trot turned neo-con, Paul Mason. How well we know his sort; the adopted persona of tough-mined, working class lad from the north of England, when in fact he is simply a political opportunist on the make. Comparison with the bunch of New York leftists in the early 60s who apparently underwent a Damascene conversion founding the neo-con movement at home and abroad comes to mind. Mason’s metier is NATO socialism. Unfortunately, this political mutation – log cabin to White House – is not uncommon.

    Like

    • I thought that Paul Mason was one of the good guys. I don’t have enough information to decide, but I at least am now alerted to the possibility that he is not, which is good.

      Like

      • Frank says

        Take a look at Mason’s foreign policy position. Pro-Nato, Russophobic, pro-Trident renewal.

        Like

          • Did he?! Back when I was a dupe for the pseudo progressive media, I remember listening to interviews with Paul Mason (forge the subject) and thinking that he’s one of the good guys. Which means, It’s crucial that pseudo progressive media be outed. But always critically. That is, One must always say why the org is being outed, otherwise there’s no education happening. Also, We could shoot ourselves in the foot. Take The Intercept, for example. As disappointed (majorly) as I am in Glen Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and as appalled as I am with Hussain Murtaza (pro USAID, pro White Helmets crap), I would not want to tell people to stay away from The Intercept. (Part of me ‘does’ want to do that.) I don’t believe there isn’t still lots to learn there. Therefore, There still lots for others to learn there. We must be responsible.

            I think that if I were to take the odour detection and filtering to the extreme, I might be left with one or two out of a thousand self-identified progressive organizations.

            Having said that, I also ‘do’ believe that I could take it to that extreme and it wouldn’t change the outcome for this godless, temporary world. In the end, God ‘will’ sort it out.

            Like

            • Good point, I just get very frustrated at following left thinking people only to find their heart is not in it, There was only one person of prominence in my opinion who had the interests of the working class at heart was Athur Scargill, you will never see him in the house of noddies that’s for sure.

              Like

    • Milne took a year’s leave last year (or was it the year before?) to work for Jeremy Corbyn as his communications director. I think he’s now working for Corbyn permanently.

      Like

  10. I find the Guardian to be a useful tool in finding out what the latest propaganda narrative the NeoLiberalCons are pushing.

    Also, if you conclude that whatever the G is reporting, pretty much the opposite is true, you can get a fairly accurate picture of the current state of affairs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Manda says

      BBC radio 4 Today program was my establishment narrative weather vane but I can no longer stomach it even for that use.

      Like

  11. rtj1211 says

    One of the key questions is whether regional papers can replace national propaganda in the eyes of ordinary folks?

    Can the Yorkshire Post be a newspaper, as opposed to a tax-avoiders’ plaything? The Liverpool Echo is part of Trinity Mirror, how independent can its editor be?

    The other thing is that technology has overtaken the national media’s original majority. I read the national Press less and less and seek independent opinion more and more. I treat every national commentator as a mouthpiece until proven otherwise, national journalists as Presstitutes churning out words for a fee.

    The concept of trustworthy sources is now crucial. Typical independent sites which grow traffic can go native. http://www.wattsupwiththat.com, which was for several years a climate science blog without political bias has turned into a Republican cheerleader and now routinely suppresses any criticism of thst psrtisanship, even when emphasising a lack of affiliation to the democrats.

    It shows how difficult it is to retsin independence whilst building readership….

    Like

    • Manda says

      Re final paragraph, very true. I have followed a few AGW skeptic twitter accounts and blogs for some time and have been very disappointed by the new injection of political bias, some of it extreme and very unpalatable. It will grossly undermine their cause as the AGW debate heats up and more go looking for facts and reliable sources.

      Like

    • Hewlett Packard is a major target for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) policy for those who support Palestinian freedom.
      Does this not conclusively establish that The Guardian is a zionist-front organisation?

      Like

  12. Brad Benson says

    Super article. How is it that you haven’t been banned like so many of the rest of us? You must have to change names and passwords at least once a week!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Alan Moore says

    Interesting to see Jonathan Cook’s blog about OJ the other day:-

    http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2017-02-15/why-is-owen-jones-helping-to-subvert-corbyn/

    …and, a propos of thinly disguised ad’s I recently commented that having seen, I think, the 17th article about the new Nintendo games machine (Nintendo Switch) it seemed to me that this was a thinly disguised advertisement or money was changing hands…and got mod’d off for being ‘off topic’!

    A complaint to the Reader’s Editor and the Mod’s got me nowhere…

    Like

    • Owen Jones has become the usual ex-journalist rent-a-gob mouthpiece for the zionist cause.
      Being employed by The Guardian will eventually bring that about.
      The zionists are cultivating him – just like they did with the American neo-cons – into becoming a neo-traitor, prepared to further the interests of a foreign hostile military power (the zionist state) over the interests of the nation that raised him and sheltered him, and the state that has protected him for his entire life.
      How else to describe him than as a neo-traitor to Britain?

      Like

  14. I’m sick of the Guardian begging me for donations, maybe if they changed their editorial policy people might actually buy the thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brutally Remastered says

      I love those entreaties, their unctuous, mealy-mouthed tone give me great pleasure. If ever I pass one (rarely now) I get a highly cynical frisson.

      Like

  15. Monbiot lost any credibility he may have had when he declared for the nuke industry.

    Jones never had any. He’s a celebrity gatekeeper.

    Like

  16. Reblogged this on Radiation Free Lakeland and commented:

    George Monbiot has trashed solar calling it “Eco bling” He has trashed wind power alongside the M6 at Shap… Instead he has been telling Cumbrians that what they need is lovely new nuclear and not nasty old coal. Now it looks like Cumbrians are to be frogmarched into both diabolic Nuclear and Coal (in very close proximity) on the West Coast. There is a deathly silence from George and the Guardian on this abuse. Apparently, in the world according to George, the Herdwick is the greatest threat Cumbrians have ever faced.

    Like

  17. One thing about Twitter – you get to see the real face of some of these journalists, their arrogance and disdain for anyone questioning them.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Manda says

    I have zero respect for Jones particularly and find him very dangerous to the true ‘left’. Monbiot, environmental issues are his subject I think he should stick to them myself.

    As to the Guardian as a whole, not worth even looking at anymore in y opinion unless you are a media critic and it’s your job. Like BBC and most other main stream and public service outlets it is emotionally and intellectually wearing to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thelma Follett says

    Thank you for being in the forefront of what I hope will become a deluge of finally naming names with regard to the global “1%” – or whatever you want to call it of corporate owned media. Call out each and everyone of these criminals.
    There is noting more shameful (and harmful) than the lies and propaganda that have controlled the world’s populace for the last 60 or 80 years. Here is your real crime against humanity.

    Like

  20. Martyn Wood-Bevan says

    An excellent article spelling out a fundamental truth about how right-wing and establishment the Guardian is in reality and who so many people on the left of political debate are so disillusioned by what it is is, u
    in reality. The recent attempt of the paper to encourage more public spending on the Guardian through prescriptions and memberships seems to want to promote the quality and fearless independence of its journalism, a view that lacks any credibility – too many articles are either full of opinion or are on subjects with minimal research. Complete waste of space in reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr Shigemitsu says

      “too many articles are either full of opinion or are on subjects with minimal research”

      Indeed.
      The Guardian does ‘reporting’, and it does ‘opinion’.
      What it absolutely does not do, is ‘journalism’.

      Like

  21. bevin says

    I particularly liked this:
    “Incredible news that @KathViner is new Guardian editor! Nearly whooped in the quiet carriage. That’s how excited I am.”
    The old trade union mentality, the non-conformist instincts, the fierce personal independence. …

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ‘The working-class Manchester and Salford Advertiser called the Manchester Guardian “the foul prostitute and dirty parasite of the worst portion of the mill-owners”.[20] The Manchester Guardian was generally hostile to labour’s claims.’
    ‘Scott’s friendship with Chaim Weizmann played a role in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and in 1948 The Manchester Guardian was a supporter of the new State of Israel.’
    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guardian.
    Even today, this newspaper continues to support these lines.
    That suggests it’s apparently “progressive” nature is largely illusional.
    At best, it can only be kindly described as social democratic in nature.
    These days, it could easily be argued they are more neo-liberal or even neo-conservative in nature.

    Like

  23. I was a loyal Guardian reader for 35 years and have witnessed it’s decline to the extent I now refuse to buy it. The paper is now owned by the Guardian Media Group which is run by a high-powered Board comprising elite, well-connected people from the worlds of banking, insurance, advertising, multinational consumer goods companies, telecommunications, information technology giants, venture investment firms, media, marketing services, the World Economic Forum, and other sectors of big business, finance and industry and the founder of Wikipedia. This is not a Board staffed by radically nonconformist environmental, human rights and peace campaigners, trade unionists, NHS campaigners, housing collectives; nor anyone else who might threaten the “Establishments” status quo. The Guardian still insist that The Scott Trust Ltd runs the paper but some of those on the Trust are also board members of GMG and includes a Rothschild banker among others. It is NOT independent.
    It has become a mouthpiece for the “Establishment” narrative and agenda and does NOT give a balanced view of world affairs. It sways public opinion with it’s propaganda and keeps the truth from it’s readers by refusing to report stories which go against it’s paymasters. It also is happy to associate itself with the arch funder of colour revolutions and criminal George Soros.
    It is far too London/Washington-centric and apart from the occasional article I now tend to disagree with most of it’s world view. It is now far from independent and a mere shadow of its former self.
    Many years ago I remember a Guardian TV advert where they were in essence saying “we should look at every angle to a story”. A video clip showed a skinhead running down a street, seemingly away from an approaching car towards a woman. Visuals move to show the same man running past the woman violently towards a man who turns around and sees the skinhead approaching him and holds his briefcase up in defence. Visuals change again to show the skinhead running towards the man who is walking beneath a rack of bricks that is about to fall on him. The skinhead pulls him aside out of harms way. An event seen from one point of view gives one impression, seen from another point of view it gives a different impression, but it’s only when you get the whole picture you can fully understand what’s going on. Sadly, The Guardian today rarely shows the other side of the story to their neo-liberal propaganda.
    There are many, many alternative and independent media sites available to synthesise what is really happening in the world than the poor old Guardian.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Reblogged this on Worldtruth and commented:

    The Guardian has long since been a propagandist and sordid mud slinger. Their only leftist leanings are Monbiot and the self serving pseudo leftist Owen Jones, who has no moral standard or ethics and is most definitely not a socialist – he just likes to sound off.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Frank says

      ” Their only leftist leanings are Monbiot and the self serving pseudo leftist Owen Jones, who has no moral standard or ethics and is most definitely not a socialist ”

      And you might include the ex-Trot-cum-neoconservative Paul Mason. Well they pay is much better of the other side.

      Like

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