Articles published in the British press are read and believed far beyond the UK. A good, or rather really rather bad, example of this is the Sunday Times’ concocted story about climate science in 2009. The story resulted from a successful plot by what we might as well call the pro-climate change lobby to troll climate scientists by sending so many freedom of information requests about their work so as it to render it impossible. One email among the millions they acquired in which one scientist asked another about the best way to present some information was seized upon by a climate change troll, who found a principle-free journalist at Rupert Murdoch’s flagshit periodical to turn it into a story about fraudulent climate science. The story flew around the world at great speed, and glasses were clinked in corporate offices right around the rapidly warming planet. The cause of investigating the causes of the changes in the world’s climate was set back for several years, possibly for good. Or, in this case, for very, very, bad.
What does this have to do with Jeremy Corbyn? Well, as we all at some level know, and as we all to some degree refuse to accept, the changes necessary for us to avoid the nightmare scenario of a very rapid change in temperatures are extremely radical, and they must be taken immediately. Vested interests must not just be challenged and persuade to cooperate — the power they wield must be wrested from them. As Naomi Klein points out at length, if companies such as Exxon and Shell had openly admitted the facts of climate change and its implications much earlier, such earthshaking changes would not now be necessary. But they didn’t. They hid the truth, and they paid enormous amounts of money to politicians and opinion formers to create confusion and the appearance of uncertainty about the basic facts of climate science (there’s even a new word to describe this — agnotology). So now that climate change is upon as, and with droughts assailing some parts of the planet while others slowly begin to disappear under unfathomable quantities of water, the question of how we are going to find the resources necessary to deal with all this, and how we are going to wrest the power away from those who value higher and higher numbers on a computer screen over our common ability to survive becomes so pressing and so compelling that it is hardly ever asked — or, at least, the issue is rarely mentioned in the media.
Where are the voices in mainstream politics today who are even beginning to address these questions? Is democracy even the means by which we will find answers, or will we just find that authoritarian capitalism already has all the solutions (in a nutshell: let most people die, continue to deny the causes, instruct the populace to blame the victims, and lock up or kill anyone who protests)? Well, there are but a few. One person who is doing his best to get hold of the wheel and steer us away from the edge of the cliff is the afore-mentioned record-breakingly popular Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn. So how are the British media, respected as they are far beyond the UK’s borders, responding to that challenge? Well, reader, they’re trying to destroy his reputation and his credibility as quickly as they can. They’re making absolutely sure that within any plausible future scenario there will be no visible political alternative to the dogma that no matter how big the problem, the market will be able to fix it. That’s the market dominated by companies like Exxon and Shell, who knew the facts about the effects of their activities forty years ago but hid that information so as to protect their profits. In the media market control lies in the hands of companies like News International, which conspires to discredit climate scientists and potentially disruptive politicians and whose stories, no matter how dishonestly obtained or how inaccurate, dictate the news agenda right across the world.
Ideally, a politician who took up the cause of the climate catastrophe would be acceptable to the mainstream media. He or she (wouldn’t it be great if it was a woman?!) would be feted by the political establishment and her or his prescriptions for how to address the crisis would be welcomed (they would also be a lot more radical than Corbyn’s, but that’s beside the point here). That’s what would happen in a perfect world. But it hasn’t, and it won’t. Anyone who challenges the political agenda according to which the habitat that earth affords us must be sacrificed to feed the insatiable needs of the global market, anyone who looks like they could potentially block the pipeline which runs directly from our suffering to their bank accounts, must be destroyed. That is one very significant aspect of what is happening right now in British politics and in the UK media.