Nick Cohen’s latest column is headlined: Farage meets Assange in a shameless illiberal alliance, but might more properly be entitled “Why I drink more than I used to, and how it’s all your fault.” In it he seeks to conflate everyone he doesn’t understand, everyone he doesn’t like, anyone who disagrees with him and all the idiotic proles who make the wrong decisions, into one vast group of “other”. A mauling, rucking mass of herd like humanity who just aren’t smart enough, or cynical enough, to get on his level and see the way the world works. Bitterness weighs heavy between each word. There are almost audible sighs in the paragraph breaks. He’s a man besieged on all sides by fools, armed with only the double-sided smugness afforded to those who never veer one degree from the middle of the road.
About one thing, however, we do (sort of) agree:
Nigel Farage’s social call on Julian Assange’s hideaway in the Ecuadorian embassy was a clarifying moment that ought to have flooded light on a dark world. To those who are willing to see, it revealed that far left and far right are now one movement.“
I would almost-semi-begin to agree with the bolded line, with a very important qualification. Namely, I would disregard entirely his use of the word “far”. For one thing, Assange has never displayed any real political loyalty, let alone to the far left, and however conservative and unpleasant Farage maybe…he’s hardly a Nazi. But that’s beside the point – Many people in the alt-news, and some battle-weary mainstreamers like John Pilger, have long said that the left-right paradigm of Western politics is dead. There is no left/right anymore, not in the mainstream.
Red and blue don’t apply any longer, they met in the middle and ran together. The slow, deliberate re-medievalisation of society has split us, not into leftists and rightists, but into those inside the castle looking out, and those outside looking in. Communists and fascists and everyone in between united shovelling shit, and angrily braying for change. I’m sure, from Nick Cohen’s seat in the tower, all the peasants look the same. If only they’d understand that this is just the best way of doing things.
It’s very telling of the current climate that Farage visiting Assange following the “Vault 7” dump has received more condemnation in the Guardian than any of the content of said leaks, in his column Cohen doesn’t mention them once. Marina Hyde’s toxic little contribution saw fit to be flippant about them (it’s a dreadful article, one that deserves its own reply. Watch this space.). That a prominent political figure should visit a world-famous political activist days AFTER a big leak of incredibly damning CIA files is hardly noteworthy, let alone a sign of conspiracy. It’s possible Farage just popped in to tell Assange his brand of TV, and ask if it’s still safe to drive his BMW.
The supposed political differences between the closet racist and alleged rapist in no way prevented them becoming chums.
Cohen’s imagination is rather running away with him here – they met. Once. Maybe. He’s smart enough to know that this is deliberately misleading language, he just doesn’t think we are. A point he makes crystal clear later on. As for his descriptions of the two men – Farage very might be a racist, but to describe Assange as an “alleged rapist” is the height of intellectual dishonesty. It is, technically, true…but it is also a lie. The case was obviously heavily politicised – the original Swedish prosecutor threw the case out. She was replaced, the new prosecutor then immediately reopened the case. Since then, the charges have been dropped by one of the two women involved, and she claimed to have been “rail roaded” by the police who, she says, fabricated evidence. This is all public domain information, to ignore it is a willful act of deception. It is, for all intents and purposes, a lie.
Farage is an inspiration to and friend of Donald Trump. He admires Putin’s contempt for human rights and his hatred of the EU.
That Farage and Trump are friends is true, the rest? Less so. Putin has never expressed any “hatred” of the EU, or any “contempt” for human rights, quite the opposite if you listen to his speeches. And if we’re going by actions? Well Putin has never condoned the use of torture, which America has been doing for 16 years. Russia doesn’t have the death penalty, which America does. They don’t have private prisons, America does. They don’t have indefinite detention without charge, or assassinate people with drones either. They also don’t (that we know of) have a global spying network funneling them information from private citizens’ TVs, cars, phones and computers. As usual, Cohen seems blind to America’s abuse (or indeed “contempt for”) human rights.
This is just more fabricated moral high ground. Speaking of…
If Wikileaks were dedicated to exposing injustice wherever it occurred, I would have no difficulties with it. But in characteristic regressive style Assange provides support services to the gangster capitalists of the new Russian empire. He proved his loyalty when he published hacked emails from the Clinton campaign, thus helping Putin and Farage’s preferred candidate win the US presidency.
So you can see, Cohen would have no problem with WikiLeaks if they only published information damaging to people he doesn’t like. Very big of him. Of course, it is easily accessible on WikiLeaks website, and mentioned again and again by Assange, that they have leaked 1000s of documents from other nations, including China and Russia. This information is all there. Cohen chooses not to see it, because it is in his interests to present the world a certain way. For a man who so readily throws around the word “charlatan”, this repeated voluntary blindness is an act of craven hypocrisy.
No focus is made of the fact that Clinton et al were shown to be fixing the Democratic primaries, or the institutional bias demonstrated in these leaked e-mails. Just as Cohen offers no reference to the fact he’s driving a car that the CIA could decide to steer off a bridge should he say the wrong thing. Why is that? I guess that question answers itself.
Next, Cohen turns his fire on the film All Governments Lie, which I haven’t seen – so I will not agree or disagree with his remarks on its content or quality. But I will point out several holes in his logic:
The camera pans over the offices of the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post, making sure that the viewer knows that liberal organisations rather than Fox News or Breitbart are the liars’ accomplices. The work of a Donald Trump supporter, perhaps, determined to expose liberal globalists?
To suggest that the offices of the NYT or WaPo are somehow pure compared to their more “right wing” competitors is nothing but reassuring self-congratulation at this point. They were all equally complicit in the crimes of Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya. They all equally turned on Assange and Snowden and Manning. They all fight for the same side in the end. And CNN? They are the worst of the bunch, being caught in hilariously bad outright fakery, time and time again.
Further, his allegation that it was a “Trump supporter” trying to discredit the hard-working folks at CNN or the NYT displays either dishonesty or a serious lack of research. Simply clicking the link in his own article will tell you the documentary is the work of Glen Greenwald, Michael Moore and Jeremy Scahill. None of whom could ever seriously be called a Trump supporter.
But then the producers try to persuade the audience that there is a monolith called “the media”. This idea made little sense in the 20th century, for what did journalists at the New Yorker or Financial Times have in common with journalists on the National Enquirer or Sun? Nothing that anyone could see.
To answer his last question first – what all those journalists have in common, Nick, is that they all went to same schools, they all meet at the same parties, they all want to live in the same big houses, and they all work for the same 6 companies that own 90% of the news and entertainment media. Oh…and none of them want to die in inexplicable car accidents.
The smug bridling at the idea that the media is a monolith would be hard to take at the best of times, but when he follows it up with this:
I have many objections to the view that democratic consent is “manufactured”. The strongest was provided by the supposedly brainwashed US electorate last November. Trump received just two endorsements from the editorial boards of America’s 100 largest newspapers.
…it becomes hilarious. He is seriously suggesting that the idea that the media is a monolith is laughable…it just so happens they were in 98% agreement on the most important question of last four years. That makes complete sense.
Here Cohen reveals himself to be a man out of time, stuck in the old conflicts of the past – as if he’s debating sandal-wearing hessian weave socialists in the smoke-filled backroom of a pub in Islington circa 1981. He insists that the media can’t sway public opinion…
Chomsky and his many adherents on the defeated radical left say the masses are brainwashed into voting against their interests by journalists, who are under the control of rich proprietors and advertisers….I have many objections to the view that democratic consent is “manufactured”. The strongest was provided by the supposedly brainwashed US electorate last November…Trump’s victory [has] disproved the conspiracy theories…”
…whilst failing to realise that we live in a changing world. The internet has undermined the power of a media that has become undeniably monolithic. The Guardian begs for pennies at the bottom of every GCHQ press release, because they need the money. Because people don’t read them, or buy them, or listen to them. Newsmedia is a business going only one direction.
In that sense, you can see Cohen’s words as half of a gut-wrenching admission. Ten years ago Trump would never have made it past the primary stage. Nor would Bernie Sanders. Ten years ago Owen Smith or Yvette Cooper would be leading the labour party, and Britain would have voted to stay in Europe. Ten years ago Hillary Clinton wins in a landslide. The truth is that the media don’t have the power to completely manufacture consent anymore. The mainstream media IS a monolith. A totem of hierarchy, erected by a million slaves who never new any better. Ancient…and crumbling.
When you really dig down into the heart of it, that’s probably why he’s so angry.