Red-lines real … red lines reductive

29 Apr

I recently had an email from a reader wanting to know how I could possibly see any good in George Monbiot. My attitude to this columnist is overall negative – see my post, what’s the point of George Monbiot? – but we Librans are fair-minded and always like to give the other chap a crack of the whip, so to speak. In another post I’d described George as excellent on linking a trashed environment to big money, dire on Syria.

My correspondent replied to the effect that Monbiot was beyond the pale for him. (He didn’t say why but I know this reader’s views well enough to infer at least three ‘red lines’: Russia, Syria and Covid.) He would not demean himself by reading the man’s columns – in my opinion superbly argued and evidenced – on the environment. Or indeed, on any other subject..



Things are moving so fast on Ukraine that I’d already forgotten my post, written exactly three weeks ago, on Professor Richard Sakwa’s response to my old Workers Power comrade, Paul Mason. I was surprised therefore to find, a few days ago, a new comment on it. (Since I have my site set to flag for moderation any first comment from a reader, I noticed it where otherwise I might not have.)

In that post I’d followed a reference to a piece on the Trotskyist site, WSWS, with this caveat:

As with other WSWS pieces I cite, I baulk at full endorsement …

Which prompted my new reader and interlocutor to write this:

Why do you believe the WSWS is unreliable? I find their stuff solid enough. But I have to say, their coverage of the Ukraine conflict has been strange.

They seem, like the StWC [Stop the War Coalition] and the SWP [British Broadcasting Corporation] to morally condemn, demand a ceasefire yet are against NATO and call Putin’s intervention as disastrous etc. I’m neither one nor the other – but at this stage at least, whilst there has been no obvious, immediate magical victory for the Russians and they have lost a ship, the war isn’t going that badly for them. Yet all the groupuscles on the left seem to be revelling in Moscow’s ‘imminent’ defeat. I tentatively mentioned this point in their message section but it got binned lol.

It’s as if they want to stamp their anti-Russian credentials on anyone they come into contact with.

Anyway – just stumbled upon your site today and have favourited it – see you again…no flinching no sneering…. keep the flag flying.

We Libran bloggers don’t believe in astrology but nevertheless can have our sagging spirits lifted by such a comment. Within a lengthier reply to Steve, I included this:

… as best we can call it in the fog of war – where media lie to us not only about the reasons for what is happening, and not only about “war crimes”, but also about how the war is progressing – I agree with your implied assessment; viz, that Russian forces are likely doing rather better than Guardian, Economist, BBC and their equivalents across the Western world would have us believe.

WSWS? I actually find it a very useful site, and often cite it – usually with reservations but rarely in tones of outright condemnation. I often cite, approvingly, sources I may not be in full agreement with. As a matter of fact I find the reductivist ‘red lines’ of the many zealots and psychological sectarians, among currents of thought I broadly share, quite depressing. When someone says to me – and they do – “you [or some other source] have The Wrong Take on [take your pick] 9/11 or Covid” or whatever ‘acid test’ they are currently applying to determine whose views on pretty much any subject under the sun may safely be ignored, I wonder whether they are actually interested in change, or are simply drawing lines in the sands of club membership.

There be red lines no one may cross, on pain of exclusion from decent company. And there be red lines indicative of little more than the insecurities of a fragile ego.

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