I still occasionally come across people who proclaim themselves to be ‘on the right economically, but on the left socially’. Such people, who wring their hands at the spectacle of homelessness while supporting the whole-scale destruction of public housing, occupy the category of those who, to borrow a phrase I can’t track down, welcome the means but bemoan the ends. Tellingly, it’s never the other way round: no one is ever ‘on the right socially, but on the left economically’. Those who believe in enforced inequality, rule by unaccountable elites, the denial of public services, etc, recognise laissez-faire economics as the perfect tool to realise their nefarious goals. That’s what being on the right is all about.
Speaking of tools, here’s another: Russia Today, and all who sail in it: Sam Delaney, Max Keiser, Jonathan Pie, the former journalists formerly known as John Pilger and Glenn Greenwald, the failed politician George “oh ffs” Galloway, the unashamedly far-right cheerleader Neil Clark, the ongoing train wreck of Craig Murray’s attempts at self-promotion at any cost, and so, so many others. With its puerile conspiratorial nonsense mixed in with the odd morsel of anti-neoliberal critique, RT is essentially Fox News for people with a Noam Chomsky book (which they’ve never actually read) in pride position on their bookshelf, nestled between the dog-eared copy of ‘Da Vinci Code’ and a pristine edition of ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’.
Those ‘radicals’ who shared lazy, cynical fake news memes against Hillary Clinton and argued that the two were equatable are the true owners of this supremely dismal, unprecedentedly depressing, unavoidably despair-ridden historical moment. They also own Orbán, Salvini and every other lifelong racist scumbag fondling the reigns of actual political power. When Sean Hannity burbles on (inanely, but by no means inconsequentially) about the “Deep State Crime Family“, that’s their worldview on display in all its subversive sophistication. When any journalist with a moment to spare glances into a Jeremy Corbyn Facebook group and see countless links to videos expounding the hidden truth about Soros, the Rothschilds and that evil Mr Fagin, that’s the result of hard work done by millions of people who thought they were somewhere on the left, only to find they had become deeply embedded into a global movement led by some of the very worst people on earth, that their perspective had been coloured, colonised and co-opted by the far-right.
Of course, there’s always sunken cost theory to explain why, when people (who also happen to inhabit a bubble of outright misinformation) have invested so much into their propagation of an ideological viewpoint, they can’t simply back out and instead seek out information which demands a nuanced understanding and which may force them to question their faith in the official unofficial narrative. I have long argued that the degree of cognitive dissonance necessary to function in an age of both environmental collapse and hyper-consumerism suggests that our civilisation is by and large psychotic. But what self-respecting creature with even the minimum amount of conscience and mental capacity can nod sagely as sneering government officials trot our their standard denials of chemical attacks, according to a script seemingly composed by a particularly obnoxious and sadistic six-year-old bully? Of course, facilitating and then dismissing the gassing of civilians isn’t merely naughty, it’s absolutely evil. Anyone who feels a kneejerk urge to believe the denials of Assad and his Russian sponsors deserves to have their nose tested in much the same manner: a not-so-gentle tap in the middle of the face with a distinctly non-medical hammer.
So do I defend the imminent “allied” airstrikes? It’s certainly not wise for the British or French Governments to join a coalition led by a witless psychopath (aptly described as an “evil Forrest Gump“) who will do literally anything to hang onto the power he should never in a million years have been granted. But I’m not going to join any demonstrations against it, joining hands with all manner of Wikileaks apologists, raising my voice for peace with useless idiots like Brian Eno and other public “intellectuals” who can’t even tell the difference between left and right. While Putin is a prick, and Trump his arsehole, Assange is the perineum that runs between the two. Maybe that’s why he (reportedly) stinks so very badly. (It’s not streaming internet and a laptop he needs, but running water and some shower gel.)
Here are two useful analogies which may, by some miracle, make some sort of impact on the conspiracy-addled brains of those who, without meaning to, have become foot soldiers in an army of arseholes and pricks. There was once a Korean couple who were addicted to a computer game in which they brought up a baby. The got the highest-ever score in the game: their infant was well-fed and more than adequately cared-for. They also had another baby, an offline one, which died of neglect in the most horrifying circumstances. The internet is, in essence, a tremendously compelling form of entertainment, but the consequences of all that fun – imagine online trolling and mischievous meming as the computer game, democracy and human rights as the dead baby – are unavoidably catastrophic.
In another time and place, in Britain during the Cold War, the far-left sect known as the Socialist Worker’s Party used the slogan ‘Neither Washington nor Moscow, but international socialism’. We’re a long way from the latter, and heading in exactly the wrong direction (btw, if you happen to be in the SWP: the Brexit stage door led not to the left, but to the far right). If you still think that Putin is some sort of master strategist/anti-imperialist hero, remember that it was very much his genius idea to put Trump in the White House in the first place. For those who made excuses for Russia’s puppitry, a moment’s honest reflection would have revealed that one of the greatest risks was that Trump’s inevitably pathetic and hamfisted attempts to ‘prove’ that he wasn’t a mere marionette would lead to a catastrophe even worse (get this!) than seeing a woman enter the White House (do tell us again the one about how Hillary Clinton and the “Deep State” were secretly planning to start a world war – I could do with a fucking laugh). Hence, if Putin’s your man (and RT’s your news source of choice), Trump’s your boy (and Sean Hannity is among your allies). You’re on the side of both Washington and Moscow, and this is very much your nuclear war. Cheers, pricks.