All of the liberal left, and much of the far left, have lined up in a de facto endorsement of the West’s dirty war on Syria. Some – like Workers Power and SWP – ignore those with proof that the allegations on which public consent to that dirty war has been manufactured. Others – like Owen Jones, George Monbiot and the “unrepentant marxist” Louis Proyect – go out of their way to vilify them.
It has been left to old fashioned liberals and conservatives to speak out at such affronts to truth and threats to peace. Think Tucker Carlson at Fox News, former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford and former CIA Officer Philip Giraldi.
Think Peter Hitchens. I’m less sure than he is of Bashar al-Assad’s “butchery” but my opposition to ‘our’ violence in the Middle East has never been based on a belief that the Arab and Persian leaders targeted are goodness incarnate. In any case such questions come second to the fact of Hitchens’ courageous refusal to subordinate truth to career strategy at a time when such refusal is rare indeed amid the ranks of corporate journalism.
Here’s how Hitchens opens his Mail column today:
I’m publishing the document that could save us from war
Long ago, a wise teacher told me to remember these words: ‘Truth is the Daughter of Time, not of Authority.’ I had no idea how important they were. Now, after many years of experiencing official dishonesty, they are my motto.
One day, a lot of other people, in the media and politics, will accept that in the past few months they have failed in their duty to the truth, by staying silent or – worse – joining in a braying attempt to suppress crucial facts.
But by then it is quite possible that the peoples of the Western world will have been whipped into a warlike frenzy by false information, just as happened in the Iraq disaster 17 years ago. Because if nothing is done about the scandal I have been writing about, such an outcome is highly possible, even likely.
A few months ago I was told of an attempt by authority to suppress an important truth about an alleged atrocity in Syria. Claims that poison gas had been used by the Syrian state at Douma in April 2018 were not, in fact, confirmed by the scientific evidence.
This was deeply embarrassing to three governments – our own, France’s and the USA, all of which had bombed Syria soon afterwards in the unchecked belief that the claims were true.
All three are members of the UN Security Council, and are supposed to uphold international law with special care. But the facts suggested they had all violated that law.
I did not much welcome the knowledge. It was frightening to possess it. I knew that if I published it, I would face trouble. But I had to.
And I duly did. I was immediately smeared on social media as a ‘war crimes denier’, an absurd accusation. I was falsely accused of being a patsy for the horrible Assad regime in Syria, despite my record of hostility to the Assads going back more than 20 years.
I actually have a more consistent anti-Assad record than the British Government, which in 2002 compelled the poor Queen to invite President Bashar Assad to Buckingham Palace.
I too have noticed a certain congruence between (Paleo?) Conservatives and the genuine Left. I even recall an article by the late conservative writer Roger Scruton in which, after making the customary qualifications to ward off Leftist “contamination” (metaphorically “crossing himself”), he quoted the Communist Manifesto favourably! This works to the system’s favour i.e. since it is the Right who are observing media manipulations, these observations can be dismissed as “Right Wing Conspiracy Theory”.
Before he drifted towards the kind of Left that the media prefers, Richard Seymour wrote “The Liberal Defense of Murder” in which he talked about the neoliberal appropriation of Left rhetoric to justify imperialist policies. Indeed comparison between the Hitchens brothers Peter and Christopher makes the while point in microcosm. In the end it’s the “conservative” one who is more radical!
The list of hitherto establishment voices dismayed at the turn – anticipated by marxists but bewildering to old school liberals and conservatives alike – taken by capitalism in its post 1990 forms is long and growing daily longer: Tucker Carlson, Stephen Cohen, Peter Ford, Tulsi Gabbard, Philip Giraldi, Craig Murray, Scott Ritter, Paul Craig Roberts …
This is to be expected. It is a mistake of the more vulgar leftists to confuse misplaced trust in The System with conscious and self serving mendacity, and to deem personal integrity a monopoly of the Left. In our times of rising tensions and deepening crises for capitalism, there will be more such renegade voices.
Indeed. The conservative writer Peter Oborne has written about how disgusted he was at Boris’s loutish performance on the election tour compared with Corbyn’s decency and fairness. But what this really means is that the whole political spectrum as set up by the media throughout the “bubble period” (as I call that comfortable little pastoral lull of most of my life – and I daresay I am romanticising!) is now collapsing.
My guess is that the 1960s presented a steep learning curve for the ruling class who realised that all those years of anti-communist propaganda had failed and the majority of the public continued to have left sentiments. So the tactic changed and they applied the Edward Bernays method of selling stuff by adapting it to fit in with already existing prejudices. Thus they disguised neoliberal policies under a leftish banner. Put crudely – the PR people swapped much of the left with the right. And we end up with a “Left” that is right and a “Right” that leans left!