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23 February 2007

George Monbiot: denial, petards and the true colours of ‘radical’ left politics

In a true testament to the information age, just five whole years on from the events of September 11th 2001, ideas, questions and theories about what happened in New York have begun to ignite some coverage in the UK mainstream media, from the dead trees right through to the BBC, complete with more than a little heated debate. In keeping with most discussions about the events of 11/9, the debate has been highly polarised with the extremes of polarity demonstrated nowhere better than the recent treatises on the subject by Guardian regular, George Monbiot.

Monbiot’s first outing on the 11/9 front, A 9/11 conspiracy virus is sweeping the world, but it has no basis in fact, saw George entering the fray with a few shots across the bow of what is generically referred to as the 9/11 Truth community with a critique of a popular 9/11 movie that has taken the Internet by storm, Loose Change (1st edition, 2nd edition, and 2nd edition recut). The approach is flawed on several levels, not least of which is that the topics covered by Loose Change, or the assertions made, are not necessarily representative of the many questions that anyone might have about what happened. This, however, didn’t deter George and he proceeded with judicious use of condescension and a barrage of disparaging terms such as "gibbering idiots" and other emotive language like "virus", "disease" and "infect" to describe both the questions and the questioners, terms not required for Monbiot to have made the point he was endeavouring to make. In fact, it could be argued that avoiding the use of such terms might have added some much needed gravitas to his article by making it appear more balanced and less like a petty playground sniping match. 11/9 is after all a serious issue.

Monbiot’s first 9/11 article received a grand total of, wait for it, 777 comments which you can read here and inspired Mr Monbiot into a flurry of activity once again to ‘defend’ his right to an opinion in exactly the opposite way to the way he was seeking to deny the right to an opinion to anyone that disagrees with his particular worldview. The “gibbering idiots” had understood what Monbiot had written, took offence at being labeled and dismissed as such and some responded in kind with a few insults of their own, providing much needed fuel for Monbiot’s second diatribe directed at anyone with questions about the day that changed the world.

This time he took a slightly more aggressive and derogatory tone, demonstrably upset by the responses to his first effort. The response was ‘9/11 fantasists pose a mortal danger to popular oppositional campaigns’. To which the only logical response from anyone with a vaguely rational mind would be, “What popular oppositional campaigns?” – the Tories? The Greens? The BNP? Or Stop The War, who didn’t, haven’t and who, in all likelihood, won’t stop the next one either? Further, given the subheading of the article, “These conspiracy idiots are a boon for Bush and Blair as they destroy the movements some of us have spent years building”, the question more specifically must be, “Which popular oppositional campaigns that George Monbiot has ‘spent years building’?” Since either of those questions might meet with potted media-friendly, challenge-nothing answers, deliverable complete with customary middle-class whine, the next obvious question wouldn’t, nor could it: “What has the popular oppositional campaign, at least in part built by George Monbiot, here or in the U.S., achieved – say, since 11/9, that benefits the greater mass of humanity?” Thinking caps on, folks.

9/11 article two from Monbiot sees him teaching the ultimate lesson in doublethink and making a virtue of indignance, which is somewhat strange when you consider that Monbiot is the same man who just weeks after 11/9 wrote this little gem about the very same incident:

Gagging the sceptics

The US, founded to protect basic freedoms, is now insisting that its critics are its enemies

... If we are to preserve the progress, pluralism, tolerance and freedom which President Bush claims to be defending, then we must question everything we see and hear. Though we know that governments lie to us in wartime, most people seem to believe that this universal rule applies to every conflict except the current one. Many of those who now accept that babies were not thrown out of incubators in Kuwait, and that the Belgrano was fleeing when it was hit, are also prepared to believe everything we are being told about Afghanistan and terrorism in the US.

There are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. The magical appearance of the terrorists' luggage, passports and flight manual looks rather too good to be true. The dossier of "evidence" purporting to establish Bin Laden's guilt consists largely of supposition and conjecture. The ration packs being dropped on Afghanistan have no conceivable purpose other than to create the false impression that starving people are being fed. Even the anthrax scare looks suspiciously convenient. Just as the hawks in Washington were losing the public argument about extending the war to other countries, journalists start receiving envelopes full of bacteria, which might as well have been labelled "a gift from Iraq". This could indeed be the work of terrorists, who may have their own reasons for widening the conflict, but there are plenty of other ruthless operators who would benefit from a shift in public opinion.

Democracy is sustained not by public trust but by public scepticism. Unless we are prepared to question, to expose, to challenge and to dissent, we conspire in the demise of the system for which our governments are supposed to be fighting.
The true defenders of America are those who are now being told that they are anti-American.

And in one slickly executed fell-swoop, George Monbiot hoists himself deftly by his own long-established petard.

Of course, this complete about turn in Monbiot’s stated views is far easier to place into a useable and understandable context when one considers one of George Moronbiot's books, 'The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order', in which he outlines a New World Order, where notions such as Anarchism and Communism are very, very, very bad indeed and mustn't exist, no doubt because Mummy and Daddy would be very upset if a more equitable system than the barbarism of Capitalism manifested itself through the desires and actions of the people.

By way of additional context, the author of A Manifesto for a New World Order happens to be the same George Monbiot whose father, Raymond, is the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and Chairman of the National Convention as well as a big noise in the meat and poultry world, and whose mother, Rosalie, is a Conservative councillor who led South Oxford district council for a decade and is Norfolk County Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services.

It’s plain to see that George Monbiot was always destined to be a revolutionary left-wing radical extremist, ever since his early days at Stowe and, later, Brasenose College, Oxford.

Monbiot’s approach to the many issues that surround 9/11 leaves a lot to be desired and is symptomatic of a much wider and deep-rooted problem among the established ‘left’; principally the belief that the greatest threat of terrorism comes from one man hiding out in a cave on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and he -- and he alone -- has the wit, resources and ability to orchestrate an event with the military precision required to pull off 9/11.

Still, if nothing else, Monbiot has, seemingly unwittingly, led everyone into the murky and not-oft discussed world of 11/9 Class Politics. Let’s see if anyone picks up and runs with it.


Shahid said...

Cutting insight and excellent research again Mr. Antagonist.

It's a shame, because I've always liked Monbiot. You make an excellent point though - what have any of these movements of which Monbiot is so fond actually achieved?

It's a grim picture you paint and a sign of the times when an activist of the calibre of Mobiot falls into the laser sight of your precision writing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he should call himself Lackey for the New World Order. I don't know what it is, but when people start advocating submission to the NWO, I begin to have my doubts as to their good intentions, and even suspect that they are part of what may be termed a diabolic conspiracy. But as George would no doubt say, that is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Feel free to delete this, Antagonist, if you feel it's out of place which admittedly it is. This being a link to the video Conspiracy of Silence by Yorkshire Television back in 94 which just in case you are not familiar with.....
Very important video, so just passing it onto you.

Anonymous said...

One of the great movements he no doubt laments is the g8/make poverty history panto, where many people of good intent were dragooned into a miserable procession, and then neatly blown into irrelevancy by the mysterious events of july the 7th.
Was that the ct'ers fault?

His new world order sounds uncomfortably third wayish, a goldilocks version of now where people are not to capitalist and not to socialist, as orwell said:
All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

Its still almost unfathomable why cockburn, monbiot et al get their underwear in such a knot over these things though, why they feel the need to describe a genuine, independent grass roots phenomenon as a danger?

The Antagonist said...

Shahid: Thanks. Four years on from an illegal war, for which the war criminals have yet to be prosecuted, that 1 to 3 million people in the UK marched against says it all, non? A withdrawal announced after they've killed a million civilians, fucked up the country, the environment, public services and everything elses about 'their way of life' in Iraq, is positively shameful to such a degree that words fail me.

You're right, it is a grim picture but maybe an explanation for Monbiot's complete about turn of opinion might just be easy to fathom.

Andrew: It seems Monbiot laid out his plans in New World Order tome. Stakeholders with vested interests in endeavouring to level an inequitable system don't ever want to see anything change too much, else they might fall from their positions of privilege, respect and adoration.

In the meantime, is the war stopped? Is poverty history in Africa? Fuck it, is poverty even history in the UK? Does everyone on the planet have access to clean water, to food and to shelter? Have the CIA stopped whisking people off the streets around the world and torturing them in their Cuban concentration camp? Are governments around the world still turning a blind eye to torture flights? Are the same administrations responsible for waging aggressive wars still roaming free and terrorising the planet?

Until there is some real and tangible progress from so-called 'progressive' movements, it's pretty clear how much attention anyone should pay to the opinions of the reactionary, media-friendly, book-toting bourgeoisie 'intelligentsia'.

Paul: Same responses. Vested interests and maybe a dash of anything other than the official story being a little too much to comprehend, despite countless examples history since the end of the second world war to providing a wider context from which to learn.

Having said all that, there's nothing anyone in the UK can do about 11/9, that's America's problem. We have a big enough mess to sort out on our very own doorstep.

Anonymous said...

The bourgeoise intellegentsiaa gutless shower, by and large. "Because you are neither hot nor cold, I spit you out of my mouth", as one famous advocate of humanity put it. These people's depth seems to amount to wondering a little about the ethics of the execution of Saddam Hussein, and wallowing in a life of good food, wine and congratulating themselves on being well informed in a country in which the press is free. Oh and believing conspiracy stuff to be nonsenes, probably because it might mean they would have to actually start changing their lives. Since I've become aware of so much of what's really going on, it becomes so much easier to see how phenomena like the Nazis happened. Their own countries laws careering down the path of totalitarianism, but do they notice or care?

DE said...

"Moonbat. A term of abuse aimed at leftists implying a level of disconnection with the real world. It is a source of delight to many that George Monbiot’s surname resembles this term."

Anonymous said...

These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

The Antagonist said...

Rosie: Thank you very much for stopping by and for your appreciative comments.

This post was cited on an education forum by someone taking George Monbiot to task over his about turn from defiance to compliance regarding the official story of 9/11.

To date, Mr Monbiot has yet to respond to the challenge.

Anonymous said...

Your Mr Moronbiot is at it again

A 'Malign Intellectual Subculture' - George Monbiot Smears Chomsky, Herman, Peterson, Pilger And Media Lens