Brexit: Clive Lewis vs Ellie O’Jones

agitpod
Agitpod is a fortnightly podcast by Owen Jones and Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Agitpod is always annoying, but the Clive Lewis one put me off my cheese and salad baguette.

I listen to it despite the nauseating chummy banter because it’s a useful insight into the wobbly end of the Corbyn coalition — the panicky, one-foot-in-the-mainstream types who verged on calling for him to go last summer.

Jones and O’Hagan are probably decent people, but I don’t trust them. For years, I’ve watched them and journos like them mock the suggestion that working at the liberal end of the corporate press compromises them politically — only for them to prove themselves embarrassingly susceptible to media groupthink about Corbyn just at the point when the project needed loyal intellectual outriders the most.

But for once, the most frustrating thing about an Agitpod episode wasn’t them. Continue reading “Brexit: Clive Lewis vs Ellie O’Jones”

Explaining Venezuela – Alejandro Velasco on The Dig

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Venezuela’s gone south, and finding nuanced explanations why is hard.

The media’s obviously unsubtly propagandising in favour of elite Western interests – painting Maduro as a savage dictator, and cheerleading a coup-prone, US-funded opposition movement led by embittered members of the pre-Chavez Establishment.

Many leftists, on the other hand, are rushing to blame the deepening crisis on bad old-fashioned American imperialism – echoing arguments made by the Maduro government itself. Continue reading “Explaining Venezuela – Alejandro Velasco on The Dig”

We’re probably all doomed – but that doesn’t mean give up and go home

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If we don’t get rid of it, capitalism is going to destroy society.

It’s a system geared around delivering ever-increasing profits to big business, and enriching the sociopathic corporate elite that runs the economy.

To do that, it needs constant economic growth. To fuel that growth, it needs fossil fuels and never-ending consumerism – and in one mad, 150-year binge after 200,000 years of relative human sobriety, it’s brought the ecosystem that supports us to the brink of catastrophic breakdown.

But we’re not doing anything about it. That’s despite melting icecaps, acidifying oceans, soaring temperatures, the loss of half the planet’s wildlife in the past forty years, and the loss of a third of its farmable land in the last thirty. Continue reading “We’re probably all doomed – but that doesn’t mean give up and go home”

Someone asked me what I thought of the Owen Jones thing so I wrote them this

(written in response to: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/01/corbyn-staying-not-good-enough)

I’d seen the fuss about this but hadn’t read it before now — largely because I think Owen Jones has been saying the same thing over and over again for about six months.

Now I have, and it’s basically what he always says. Labour’s heading for calamitous defeat, Corbyn’s got to get his act together, otherwise he’s got to go.

I think he’s right that Labour will lose the election. Then again, I’ve thought that since 2015. Regardless of who was in charge.

In my view, Jones always massively underestimates the level of bias and hostility Corbyn or anyone radical faces in the media. The way he tells it, it’s a challenge for Corbyn to get his message out, but, if he and his team were clever enough, they’d have a fair shot. I think the slickest media operation in human history can’t help you when you’ve got an agenda that far outside the neoliberal consensus. Continue reading “Someone asked me what I thought of the Owen Jones thing so I wrote them this”

Don’t trust the news on the NHS

The media side-lines, belittles and, often, entirely ignores the real reasons behind the healthcare crisis

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For ample evidence that the telly news remains the principal truth-distorting organ of our hell-in-a-hand-cart neoliberal dystopia, look no further than how it covers the NHS.

The health service is facing the biggest crisis in its history. A&E waiting times are the longest in 13 years. Cancer operations are being cancelled through lack of beds. More than 20 NHS Trusts have declared they can’t cope with overwhelming patient numbers. The social care system is on the brink. Mental health provision was already pretty dire. Now, for thousands of patients, it’s virtually non-existent.

The explanation you hear on the news exactly echoes the litany of distractions and excuses issued by the government. It’s down to fat people, old people, bed-blockers, foreign health tourists, and the worried well. In other words, just about everyone except the real culprits. Continue reading “Don’t trust the news on the NHS”

The Corbyn movement is obsessed with an election it can’t win

Next election-ism is the biggest threat to radical Labour

Edit: I’m delighted to say the argument I made in this article has been proved wrong – Corbyn supporters were right to throw themselves into electoral politics, and it’s much more possible than I ever thought for a radical party to win an election. But I still think that left-wingers need to not get sucked into seeing politics purely in electoral terms. I don’t think a Corbyn government, or a socialist project more broadly, will ever be successful without widespread grassroots organisation to build institutions outside the mainstream.

The charge most often thrown the Corbynistas’ way is that they don’t want to win elections. They’re supposedly fixated on ideological purity at the expense of getting into government.

But go to a Momentum event or a New Model Labour Party meeting, and you’ll find the opposite is true. Corbyn supporters are obsessed with winning in 2020, on the whole — to an extent that’s setting themselves, and socialism’s best chance in decades, up for a massive, quite possibly catastrophic fall. Continue reading “The Corbyn movement is obsessed with an election it can’t win”

2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think

For billions of human beings, Brexit, Trump and dead celebrities are the least of their worries

pay-the-celebs-who-died-in-2016-as-sergeant-peppers-lonely-hearts-club-album-cover
That viral Sgt Pepper’s 2016 picture that’s since had to be updated about twelve times

A year that started with the death of David Bowie and ended with Donald Trump as President Elect was never going to go down well. The ‘curse of 2016’ narrative surfaced early. Famous faces were kicking the bucket by the busload. Fascist-looking right-wing populism was on the rise. By now, as people look back on Trump, Brexit and a frankly surreal procession of celebrity deaths, talk of that ‘curse’ has hardened into a more blunt and straight to the point social media catchphrase — ‘fuck 2016’.

What it proves, more than anything, is our catastrophic insularity — our short-sightedness, our fixation with the trivial, and our profound detachment from suffering elsewhere in the world. Is it a shame some talented people have died? Yes. Is it terrible that far-right rhetoric is winning elections. Yes. Continue reading “2016 was terrible – but not for the reasons you think”