Cook on Monbiot on Ukraine (again)

6 Nov

Condemning Putin is the safest, most redundant and least courageous thing that anyone in the western world can do right now. What’s a lot harder is taking a bold stand against the west’s depraved role in getting this war started and keeping it going.

Caitlin Johnstone

Monbiot revives a CIA black propaganda talking point. [John] Pilger is discredited not because his facts are wrong – after all, they’re well documented, including by senior US officials – but because bad people have shared them on the net. It’s a puerile argument … popular [too] with the Israel lobby. Write a piece exposing ugly facts about Israel and they’ll scour the net till they find a neo-Nazi site that republished it. Then they don’t need to address the facts. Truth becomes a lie just because it serves Nazi interests too.

Jonathan Cook (below)

Following my post earlier today, featuring a Caitlin Johnstone offering, I’m recycling something I first posted eight months ago to the day1 Though the immediate subject is George Monbiot’s attacks on leftist critics of the US Empire in respect of its war in Ukraine, 2 many of Jonathan Cook’s points, to which Monbiot has not responded – how could he? – have wider applicability. Indeed, in categorising this post, I’ve added the ‘science and reason’ tag to the more obvious ‘ukraine war’ and ‘media’ tags. 3

Click on the above screenshot to access the George Monbiot article.

* * *

  1. A comment below my March 6 posting opined that “someone is paying [Monbiot] big bucks to turn out this manure”. I doubt that. See my November 2017 post, Monbiot, Syria and Universalism.
  2. I’ve yet to see George Monbiot acknowledge the existence of the US empire; a blindness he shares with other media house leftists like Owen Jones and my erstwhile Workers Power comrade, Paul Mason. So deafening a silence, while enjoying the adulation of the less critical left, invariably leads to an unedifying siding with power. As Jonathan noted in another context: Monbiot has repeatedly denied that he wishes to see a military attack on Syria. But if he weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack.
  3. The services to empire of tame leftists are invaluable. Says Chomsky: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”  And as I put it in Britain decides, “a liberal intelligentsia which would never have bought the character assassinations of Julian or ‘Jezza’ from Mail, Sun or Telegraph lapped up the vilest trashings of both men in the Guardian.”  In footnote 3 of my January 23 post this year, Monolithic control at the Guardian, I wrote: “[Just] as the Guardian confers liberal respectability on a rotten status quo, so do writers like George Monbiot (excellent on linking ecocide to big money, dire on Syria) and Owen Jones (author of such worthy tomes as The Establishment, useless when his employer was trashing Corbyn) give left cover to the Guardian.”  In none of this, however, do I accuse such writers of conscious bad faith (can’t extend that courtesy to Paul Mason, I’m afraid, given the political education he received in Workers Power) though at times they sail close to the wind. In the main, as implied in footnote 1 above, I see them as confused precisely because their humanist ‘universalism’ makes them useful idiots, easily duped by the agendas of an empire to whose existence they remain for all practical purposes oblivious.

9 Replies to “Cook on Monbiot on Ukraine (again)

  1. I disagree. I believe they are guilty of conscious bad faith. I just don’t think they can be that dense. Surely the fact that their paychecks from the Guardian would disappear is a factor in their siding with empire, and going along with the character assassinations of Assange and Corbyn. The quotation about it being difficult for a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding comes to mind.

    • Well this isn’t a red line for me Margaret, so I’ll happily agree to differ (slightly). In my spell at a spiritual cult I learned many valuable things. One being that at some level of consciousness we all know what we’re doing.

      All the same, I draw a distinction between the self-serving delusionality – eloquently skewered by the Upton Sinclair quote you imply in your final sentence – of most mainstream journalists, including Monbiot, and the conscious mendacity of men like Luke Harding. Granted, it’s an at times blurry line or slippery slope but the distinction is to my mind worth preserving. And even Jonathan Cook, who detests the man, acknowledges that Monbiot is worth listening to on environmental matters.

      Bottom line? Since our difference on this small point has no practical consequences, I haven’t the energy to spare for a fight for Monbiot’s soul.

      • Self serving delusionality – I like that. I also agree with you on the distinction between George Monbiot and Luke Harding. However, they both do enormous damage irrespective of that distinction, as I’m sure both you and Jonathan, whose work I greatly admire, do. Also Monbiot can write about soil erosion and stuff until the cows come home, while the horrifically destructive agenda of war and empire is pushed by his employers at the Guardian, with him performing the role of useful idiot on that. I regard Luke Harding as almost a cartoon character but he has his followers. Haven’t been near the Guardian in years.

        I admire your work also. Find it therapeutic in an insane world.

        • on the distinction between George Monbiot and Luke Harding … both do enormous damage irrespective of that distinction

          Agreed, Margaret

  2. Hi Phil,
    Good post.
    I am really glad Margaret delivered her comment regarding her difference of opinion on your extremely generous appraisal of Monbiot et al.
    I have no kind thoughts re Monbiot, Jones, Harding or any other traitors to truth. Monbiot refuses to engage with the likes of Cook and Prof. Tim (Hayward) precisely because he knows he can only offer more lies, misrepresentations and snarky insults – THAT is not journalism or anything remotely like it.
    He is a shill and self-serving ventriloquist for the establishment who has sold his soul and any integrity (if he ever had any in the first place) to keep himself in a job and Jewish pro Israel Zionist Lobbyists good books.
    Too many times I have read his words of rebuttal to anyone challenging his hubristic drivel and seen how absolutely worthless he is, being completely unable to defend his posits without insults and fall back memes by way of defending the indefensible.
    You are a person with a genuine skill(in journalistic writing) and having a noble approach to opposition in both thought and actions, but sometimes you really are too kind. Extending generosity to the likes of those who scrape the barrel, scurrilously denigrating good people in the case of Monbiot and his ilk is probably giving them a due they do not deserve.
    Having said that, I would neither change who you are or expect anything less from you.
    Hope all is well.


      • I’m with Susan and Margaret here. Monbiot is a waste of space, and any time spent on him is a waste of time. I have tried to communicate with him a couple of times, but after the first exchange he stopped responding. He is incorrigible. He may or may not be conscious of lying in his teeth (and the fact that he won’t engage with leftist critics indicates that he is aware), but he is not going to change. Forget the creep. You will only be throwing away good pixels/electrons after bad.

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