Guardian Columnist’s Latest Attack on ‘Heretics’

George Monbiot has been regularly smearing icons of the progressive left, writes Jonathan Cook. Now, it seems, it is comedian Russell Brand’s turn to come under his scalpel.

Russell Brand performing at Regents Park Open Air Theatre, September 2020. (Raph_PH, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Jonathan Cook

What’s been the most significant threat to journalism — the lifeblood of a free society — over the past decade? Maybe we can turn to George Monbiot, the doyen of the British liberal-left, for an answer.

He has a weekly column at The Guardian newspaper in which he exposes the abuses of state and corporate power. This critically important topic is surely something he has addressed at length.

And indeed, he has. But strange to report, what I assumed to be the most dangerous development for journalism in my lifetime has not registered at all on his Guardian-supplied radar.

The United Nations’ most distinguished legal experts have separately determined that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has endured both prolonged “arbitrary detention” and life-threatening “psychological torture” for years at the hands of the British state.

Assange, who has exposed more crimes by Western states than any other journalist in history, has been silenced for the best part of a decade. Should he be extradited to the United States, as the British courts have so far approved, he faces spending the rest of his life in solitary confinement in a super-max jail.

What is his offence? According to the Trump and Biden administrations, any journalism that exposes their crimes must be redefined as “espionage.” Should Washington win this battle, any journalist making too much trouble for the U.S. empire — and that could include Monbiot or me — can be snatched off the streets anywhere in the world, renditioned to the U.S. and locked out of sight for good.

But apparently none of that has been worth a Guardian column from Monbiot, even though Assange’s persecution has been taking place in slow-motion for years. Instead, Monbiot dedicates his latest column to a far more important, far graver matter. He promoted the article on Twitter with the question: “What the hell has happened to Russell Brand?”

Smearing Progressives

The answer is apparently that Brand, as well as the independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, have become “more dangerous than the actual fascists” of the far right. Greenwald, let’s remember, brought us Edward Snowden’s revelations, showing that the U.S. national security state, aided by Big Tech, was secretly surveilling all of us in violation of American law.

Implicit in Monbiot’s critique is that Brand and Greenwald are also more of a threat to democracy than the national security state itself, the same one secretly spying on us and slowly killing Assange after he shone a light on their best-kept secrets.

Monbiot has form. For several years, he has been regularly smearing the other few icons of the progressive left, such as linguist Noam Chomsky and investigative journalist John Pilger. Now, it seems, it is comedian Russell Brand’s turn to come under Monbiot’s scalpel.

Once again, Assange will just have to wait for another day — if he doesn’t have a second and worse stroke than the first brought on by years of confinement and psychological torture.

As an aside, let us also note that The Guardian initially illustrated Monbiot’s column denouncing Brand’s “grim trajectory” with an image of the comedian standing alongside Stella Moris, Assange’s wife and the mother of his two children. They were together at a protest outside Parliament against Assange’s continuing detention in Belmarsh high-security prison. As far as is known, Monbiot did not make the time, as Brand did, to protest Assange’s silencing.

I have criticised Monbiot plenty of times before in this space, not least for his previous attempts to smear the progressive left and his playground analysis of the West’s corporate war lobby and the endless foreign wars it has promoted. You can read those critiques here and here.

But I want to focus this time on the more general causes of a widening rift on the left — something Monbiot’s latest column inadvertently clarifies. The key tweet in a long thread by Monbiot publicising his column is here:

“Even if his [Brand’s] take doesn’t always align with theirs [the far right’s], his choice of subjects generally does. Think of an issue, however ridiculous, that animates the US far right: you’re likely to find it on his channel. Think of a major issue of no interest to them: it’s unlikely to feature.”

This is classic misdirection. But before we get to that, let us see how Monbiot expands on his theme:

“A remarkably high proportion of [Brand’s] guests are the culture warriors the far right loves. So what’s going on? I think it’s simple. This is where the numbers are. If you want bigger audiences for your videos, the far right’s culture war tropes are the way to get them.

I don’t believe for a moment that his transition is ideological. I think it’s cynical. He has, as I see it, become a culture war entrepreneur, channelling issues and guests guaranteed to attract large audiences.”

Guardian Falsehoods

For starters, let’s not assume leftwingers are “cynical” for wishing to grow their audiences. That should be the left’s ambition if it is serious about meaningful social and political change.

Certainly, Brand, like Greenwald and the popular podcaster Joe Rogan, also castigated by Monbiot, have a business model that has doubtless increased their wealth. But doubtless too, they could have enriched themselves in other, possibly easier, ways.

Brand, for example, could have simply continued developing a Hollywood career. Greenwald could have put his principles aside and stayed at The Intercept, which paid him a small fortune even as it censored Biden-critical articles in violation of its agreement with him.

Monbiot has a business model too. That has involved sticking with The Guardian newspaper at all costs, even as it has been repeatedly exposed peddling establishment-serving misinformation.

For example, it published a provable falsehood that a Trump aide, Paul Manafort, visited Assange while the WikiLeaksfounder was arbitrarily detained in the Ecuadorian embassy. It was one of many examples of The Guardian seeking to discredit Assange with the left so that the left would be less likely to protest his persecution.

The Guardian is deeply mired in establishment attempts to demonise Assange, as I have repeatedly explained (such as here). That collusion has not prodded Monbiot into resigning from the paper. Should we characterise that failure as “cynical” – his critique of Brand and Greenwald. Or is it really ideological? More on that in a moment.

Game Is Up

So let us get to the nub of Monbiot’s criticism: that Brand and Greenwald are engaging with political issues and figures that interest the far right. Charitably, Monbiot admits that “Russell himself is not on the far right. But he is warming his hands at the far right’s flaming torch.”

This blurred framing is intentionally misleading. As Monbiot implicitly concedes, the political issues and figures Brand and Greenwald focus on are the most popular found on social media. And because social media is the preferred medium of the younger demographic, those issues and figures are also presumably the ones that most grab the attention of younger generations.

So, in short, Monbiot is attacking Brand and Greenwald for engaging with the political subjects that are most visible to, and most discussed by, younger audiences.

Is that not a good thing? Brand and Greenwald are taking the left’s fight to where most young people are, not leaving that space to the far right to exploit unchallenged.

The reality is that the far right, first under Donald Trump and now through hybrid mainstream and social media stars like Tucker Carlson on Fox News, have appropriated the concerns of the progressive left — unaccountable corporate power, dysfunctional politics, media collusion with the establishment, the war industries — and harnessed them to their own cause.


Yes, they have done so for entirely cynical reasons. They understand that young people sense the political and media systems are rigged. They understand that declining living standards are hitting the young hardest. They understand that the planet’s eco-systems are collapsing. They understand that turbo-charged capitalism offers no solutions and are determined to deflect attention from its real crises.

What Monbiot terms the far right — some of it, beyond Trump and Carlson, is simply the disillusioned libertarian right — address these issues, even if they do so out of a mixture of bad faith and incompetence.

The Trumps and Carlsons want the discredited status quo to remain largely the same, but they also know the game is up. So, they cosplay dissent to buy time — they steal ideas traditionally associated with the progressive left so they can pose as opposition to the technocratic establishment, which itself is cynically posturing as the rational, sensible centre.

These are the true “culture wars” Monbiot claims to be concerned about: a divided establishment at war with itself. On one side, the “entrepreneurial” establishment hopes to recruit support by playing up xenophobic, racist tropes among the alienated, naive and disillusioned. And on the other, the “technocratic” establishment hopes to recruit support by playing up the threats of “fake news” and “Putin assets” to older voters who smugly assume they will continue reaping the benefits of Western colonialism.

This phoney culture war masks two establishment visions of how best to continue a different war, a class one. It is MSNBC vs Fox News. It is designed precisely to exclude the progressive left, to keep it invisible.

Hushed Whisper

Brand and Greenwald demand the right to stand outside this artificial structuring of our politics. They are trying to steal back the political concerns that were appropriated — cynically — by the right.

And it will be no easy task, for two reasons. One is that the pair are mostly denied a platform by the establishment media.

When Brand recently appeared on the Bill Maher show, he exposed the blinkered worldview of the centrist host and the other guest — an MSNBC journalist — in a gently mocking way that appeals to viewers. Doubtless, it is one reason such invitations are increasingly rare for him.

Nowadays Greenwald can only find a platform on the Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, where he is allowed to reach the mainstream right. But liberals who are so quick to shout him down for doing so never campaign to make sure his cutting critiques of the U.S. domestic and foreign policy establishment are hosted on their own channels instead.

There is another reason why the task facing Brand and Greenwald is so difficult. Because those few figures supposedly on the left who have mainstream media platforms, such as Monbiot, have largely abandoned that task when it really matters.

Monbiot has never raised his voice beyond a hushed whisper about Assange’s entombment in Belmarsh prison, saying “soil loss” is more of a priority — as well as, it now seems, attacking Russell Brand.

Also, Monbiot blew with the wind on Jeremy Corbyn, the only political leader in living memory who showed any interest in challenging the establishment on issues it considers crucially important.

Those include the U.K.’s participation in endless overseas wars; its ploughing of taxpayers’ money into nuclear missiles the U.K. does not even control; British support for an Israel that demands the right to oppress the Palestinians in return for projecting Western power into the oil-rich Middle East; and austerity as a pretext for redistributing yet more of the common wealth to a tiny elite.

Unlike Monbiot, Brand and Greenwald have decided it is pointless pandering to the smug centre that assumes a few reforms, via a Joe Biden or a Sir Keir Starmer, will stop the rot. But that means venturing on to the battlefield of the right and seizing the initiative from it.

Cognitive Capture

Monbiot would better understand what Brand and Greenwald were doing if his thinking were not so captured by the technocratic centre. He has become yet another partisan in the internal wars of a divided establishment.

Here’s Monbiot flaunting his own cognitive capture by the establishment “left”:

“I can’t help noticing that most of the people who say ‘left? right? It’s all meaningless, man’ are those who have made a major shift from left to right. Denying that left and right exist any longer seems to be a form of self-justification.”

This from a “left” columnist who has repeatedly swallowed wholesale the line that Western powers are waging a humanitarian fight — rather than one for their interests, for control over resources — in their endless Middle East wars and proxy wars.

This from a “left” columnist who betrayed the OPCW whistleblowers to prop up a key Western imperial narrative after those whistleblowers revealed that the international chemical weapons body had caved to U.S. pressure and doctored its report. The goal was to shift the blame for an alleged 2018 attack in Douma in Syria from the most likely culprits, Islamic jihadists, to Bashar al-Assad’s government to justify intensifying yet another regime change war by the West.

This from a “left” columnist who simple-mindedly peddles the Western narrative that Ukraine is only fighting a war of liberation against Russian invasion, ignoring both that recent Ukrainian governments have been waging a domestic war against the country’s ethnic Russian population in the east and south, and that NATO has been aggressively expanding towards Russia’s borders for years, with Ukraine as the ultimate prize, to neutralise Moscow’s nuclear deterrent.

The truth is that younger audiences, those not reliant on the BBC, The Guardian and The Daily Mail for their knowledge of the world, no longer buy these self-serving narratives, even if Monbiot is employed to do so.

It’s telling too that, after Monbiot dedicated several of his thread posts about his new column to suggesting that Brand and Greenwald had adopted their current positions only because they want to become “the new winners of the digital economy,” Monbiot goes on to accuse the most distinguished journalists of an earlier, pre-digital age — Robert Fisk, John Pilger and Seymour Hersh — of doing exactly the same thing.

Greenwald “was a brilliant investigative journalist. But, like some others (Pilger, Fisk, Hersh) who once did great work, he appears to have found that he can do less and gain more: telling a particular demographic what it wants to hear.”

Monbiot is referring above to Hersh, the legendary investigative journalist who has just revealed — on Substack, because no establishment outlet will publish it — the details of how the U.S. blew up the Nord Stream pipelines.

Meanwhile, establishment media like The Guardian, ignoring Hersh’s credible account, have expended precisely zero effort in investigating what happened but have instead peddled the entirely fanciful conspiracy theory that Russia blew up its own energy infrastructure. Liberal media, including The Guardian, now highlight the equally preposterous claim that a few guys in a yacht carried out a supremely complex act of international terrorism, and managed to conceal their tracks from the West’s all-seeing surveillance systems.

Establishment Pile-on

Demanding our pity and admiration for his own self-sacrifice, Monbiot concludes:

“Labouring your whole life in journalism is less glamorous and certainly less lucrative. But it allows you to live with yourself, to retain your self-respect, to know you are trying to make things better, rather than flooding the zone with shit to grow your audience.”

Except Monbiot is part of a vast conglomeration of corporate media outlets that seek to control the public discourse as tightly as the U.S. seeks to control other countries’ access to the lubricant of the global economy, oil. The newspaper he uses as his platform to reach a large audience sacks journalists for writing critically about Israel. It worked overtime to destroy the only political leader ready to end corporate tyranny over Britain. It smears leading dissidents and trivialises their plight. Its main writers aggressively promote war. And its dependency on luxury advertising conspires in the destruction of the planet.

Monbiot is no hero, and his latest column is not daring, truth-telling journalism. Rather, it is just another phase in a liberal establishment pile-on, as journalists such as Monbiot desperately try to retain their credibility in the face of challenges from independent journalists such as Greenwald and Brand who are ready to tackle not just the right’s pieties but the liberal-left’s too.

A recent New Statesman article berated Brand for betraying the left because he supposedly promotes “every right-wing signalling trope” by attacking “the ghoulish media; the dishonest and untrustworthy pharmaceutical industry; the West’s shameful treatment of Julian Assange and ‘American hero’ Edward Snowden.”

As Greenwald notes:

“For as long as I can remember, those views – contempt for corporate media and Big Pharma, anger over mistreatment of ‘heroes’ Assange and Snowden – were deeply associated with the Western left.

It is indeed true that all those views – hatred of corporate media, distrust of globalized (multi-national) corporate giants, holding the US Security State in contempt and its adversaries as heroes – are now right-wing markers. Much has indeed changed. But Brand and I haven’t.

Similarly, distrust of the motives of the US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine is also a far-right signifier. Here we have yet another inversion: the liberal-left reverses western security agencies, globalized corporations and their wars as benevolent. Only the ‘far right’ distrusts them.”

Monbiot’s column is stuffed with similar misrepresentations to The New Statesman’s, as well as the gross over-simplifications of which he accuses Brand. Watch this video dismissed by Monbiot as “a rant against Bill Gates.” In fact, it’s a very funny digression on how the billionaire becoming the largest private owner of farmland in the United States might not be an entirely good thing, especially in a time of food crisis.

Another video that seeks to understand why Trump still has so much political weight, while criticising the substance of his policies, is mischaracterised in knee-jerk fashion as “appearing to support Trump.”

Monbiot’s criticism of Brand for his choice of targets is laughable. Why is The Guardian columnist so keen to defend the World Economic Forum founder, Klaus Schwab; or former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; or the former U.S. chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci; or a World Health Organization financially captive to the Big Pharma lobby; or, even more bafflingly, the Covid-profiteering pharmaceutical giant Pfizer?

The truth is Monbiot has become just another advocate for managerial, technocratic liberalism — a liberalism that has been entirely discredited since the financial collapse of 2008, and is now the target of contempt and ridicule from that same younger demographic and figures such as Greenwald and Brand.

Monbiot is desperate to maintain his credibility. And he imagines he can keep it a little longer by widening the circle of people on the left he smears: from Noam Chomsky and Pilger, Fisk and Hersh, to Brand and Greenwald. But the only person he is damaging is himself, narrowing his relevance down to a group of liberal cultists, those who still believe that the very same people who destroyed our world are the ones who will fix it.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the U.K. in 2021. He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006), Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008).

If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support.

This article is from his blog Jonathan 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

48 comments for “Guardian Columnist’s Latest Attack on ‘Heretics’

  1. Hank
    March 17, 2023 at 14:22

    The greatest threat to the left is the compatible left – from Orwell and Arendt to Frankfurt school, Zizek, Monbiot and Paul Mason, it is too easy for state actors to amplify the voices of so-called leftist who offer zero challenge to Capitalism and Empire. Most do not even realize that they are being aided/funded/published by the CIA, the ones that do, the Gloria Steinems, simply say that the CIA is very progressive. There is no left in the west. None that I can see. There are well paid professors, radical youtubers who exploit people’s anger for clicks, and young radicals who are interested in advancing their brand through identity politics. The momentum for challenging the system is only from the right because this type of challenge, Tucker, Trump, libertarians, once again do not challenge Capitalism, Empire etc. I am grateful for this site however.

  2. ted markstein
    March 16, 2023 at 21:00

    Umm, perhaps we are in alternative universes but on reading and rereading Monbiot’s article I can find zero references to Greenwald. Is it me?

    • Chris
      March 18, 2023 at 09:10

      Monbiot makes the comparison in his tweets promoting his article.

  3. lester
    March 16, 2023 at 19:54

    I read the Guardian the way I read China Daily: it gives me a point of view. It isn’t inerrant like a fundamentalist’s Bibe.

    I remember that in 2014, covering the CIA coup in the Ukraine, it was the Guardian which told me that the CIA had installed Nazis in power, the Azov battalion and the Right Sector.. Western media, including the Guardian, ignore Ukraine’s Nazis bowadays.

  4. Dario Zuddu
    March 16, 2023 at 15:37

    Another amazing piece by Cook.
    It dissects this crucial issue brilliantly.

    The only line I would disagree with is where he argues that far right groups have appropriated certain issues, traditionally “leftist”, out of entirely cynical reasons.
    This is not completely accurate, even historically.
    A certain far right, including the fascist one (fascism actually arose largely out of opposition to both communism AND capitalism), has always been ideologically opposed to a certain segment of the business establishment, also targeted by the left, mostly those multinational companies that, not by chance, are involved in foreign policy of intervention.

    But Cook exposes the nature, form and consequences of the decline and double-standards of the MSM admirably.

    The lows attained by the mainstream press like the Guardian are appalling.
    Certain lines from Monbiot are actually chilling: “Even if [Brand’s] take doesn’t always align with [the far right], his choice of subjects generally does. Think of an issue, however ridiculous, that animates the US far right: you’re likely to find it on his channel. Think of a major issue of no interest to them: it’s unlikely to feature”.

    Seriously? And what does that even mean? And beside any deontological consideration, already largely addressed by Cook, is there even anything resembling a FACTUAL objection in that paragraph?
    That is plainly, typically, “guilt by association” nonsense, usually used by government propaganda to silence dissent.

    Think of the extra-pumped chain reaction “disagree with criticism of Russia – ergo Putin puppet” and you get the picture.
    That that is done by a “leftist” (never quotes were more necessary than that) journalist of a respected, large-scale circulation paper, and in such a miserable, pathetically unsophisticated fashion, really is troubling.

    One may reply that we were clearly heading this direction.
    Indeed, usually the good thing about hitting rock bottom is that you cannot go down any further.
    MSM has managed to surprise us.

    Cook and the readers here correctly point out that certain leftists turned to conservative hosts because they were the only ones willing to publicly address sensitive issues that, most regrettably, ostensibly progressive media have abdicated to take on.
    It’s a process in plain sight everywhere in the West. In France the most authoritative commentators, such as Éric Dénecé from CF2R, frequently had to resort to conservative hosts because those were the only venues willing to hear criticism of the western narrative on Ukraine.

    A recent, even more dusquieting case concerns Tucker Carlson and the media coverage of the JFK assassination.
    Carlson may have been the only MSM journalist in memory to explicitly accuse, in his program last December, the CIA of having been involved in the Kennedy assassination.
    I’m a long time researcher and observer of the JFK administration and its academic and media coverage.
    Until just five years ago, if anyone had told me that ANY mainstream journalist, let alone a Fox News one, would make such a comment in public, I would have laughed him off the room.

    And yet here we are.

  5. Jack
    March 16, 2023 at 15:14

    Greenwald is no hero. He stayed at the Guardian – and in a position of authority – for a long time while it was suppressing (and ultimately completely shutdown) research on the Snowden archive, which still remains unavailable and largely undisclosed. His 15 minutes are over.

    • Caliman
      March 17, 2023 at 14:10

      There are very few “heroes” in the actual world … most people are flawed to a larger or lesser extent. The point is whether Greenwald deserves attention for the arguments he makes and the truth he digs out (he does) and whether the attacks on him by Monbiot and other system-leftists are appropriate (they are not).

      Btw, as imperfect as it was, the Guardian of pre-2014 was a very different beast than the current one … they had a talking to, as the Brits say, by someone and they totally changed their MO since.

  6. March 16, 2023 at 13:11

    Monbiot is an idiot…lying idiots like monbiot should be put on what behaviorists call an ‘extinction run’
    meaning that liars are best ignored and not gratified with any attention. The liars deserve no explanation of
    Their stupid lies as occurs when articles like this appear in the ‘progressive’ press.

  7. Newton Finn
    March 16, 2023 at 10:07

    Left and right have become meaningless political categories because both have reduced themselves to criticism, at best, name-calling, at worst. Neither can articulate a positive vision of a good society, or, at least, a decent and viable one. Only when new societal visions emerge will political categories, pro and con, for or against such visions, again become meaningful designations. Until then, all we have is a status quo and a bitch-fest.

    • Tim N
      March 16, 2023 at 16:20

      What “left” are you referring to?

      • Newton Finn
        March 17, 2023 at 00:04

        My point precisely…

    • Hank
      March 17, 2023 at 14:15

      just because the left has been hijacked by the powers that be since there was a left does not mean there is no left and no right. I would be willing to say that the left which is interested in economic justice for all and the right which is not the neocon right should bury the hatchet until the ship is set right, but I think once the war with China begins in earnest, we will see that there is a right and left.

  8. Francis Lee
    March 16, 2023 at 05:35

    In 2011 the UK investigating journalist, Guido Fox, produced a video highlighting the Guardian Media Group’s (GMG) financial hypocrisies, and provoking a rambling article from the editor, Alan Rusbridger, and also another self-justifying piece in the paper blaming the decision to place hundreds of millions in assets offshore in the Cayman Islands on their investment partners Apax.

    Rusbridger argued essentially that it is a tough world for his newspaper so they can’t be pure in their business practices. A transparently self-serving argument. It remains the case that despite the Guardian’s high-mindedness it has tax dodging in its DNA. The original trust structure was set up by CP Scott to avoid inheritance taxes. That was wound up in 2008 to exploit a loophole enabling them to pay zero capital gains tax on £307 million in profits. But they haven’t stopped there.

    Sad to say, that this is yet another of those media behemoths who have been seduced by big money and political power. To think once that the early (Manchester) Guardian took a principled stand against the British war in South Africa 1899-1902. That was when the paper’s editor, C.P.Scott, took a principled stand against British involvement. The buildings at the Manchester Guardian were attacked by jingoistic mobs and even Scott’s home had to be defended. ” His enunciation was that ”Opinion is free, but facts are sacred.” That was then but this is now.

    Alas this is no more, for the reasons explained above. The Guardian today is home to a liberal-centrist mish-mash and has become unrecognisable as the crusading newspaper which at one-time was essential reading. ”Alas poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio.”

    • Susan Siens
      March 16, 2023 at 16:24

      And if you know anything about offshoring money, you know it’s intimately connected with money laundering, drug smuggling, organized crime, and the state security apparatus. Thank you for this informative comment.

  9. Gordon Hastie
    March 16, 2023 at 02:14

    These days I despise Monbiot. But it will be funny to see him continue to tie himself in knots trying to convince his readers he’s still on the left. His bad faith is as disgustingly obvious as the Guardian’s.

  10. Yatsugatake
    March 15, 2023 at 22:53

    From the mid-2000s, I used to eagerly read Monbiot’s columns, believing him to be an environmentalist, pro-left writer. But his writing became less and less appealing over about a decade. Then in the mid-2010s, a few years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, he came out as strongly pro-nuclear power as the only way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. His arguments were so utterly flawed in myriad ways, and a complete betrayal of an anti-nuclear environmental movement spanning many decades. But he still ploughed on with column after column of pro-nuclear rhetoric. I was absolutely sickened and realised that he was bought and paid-for by the oligarchs and their “think tanks”. I have never read his columns since, but sometimes see the headline when looking at the Guardian, which has become ever more grotesque in the last few years. Until a few years ago, the Guardian editors used to regularly open up Monbiot’s columns to comments, but this has become quite rare now, and only seems to happen when they know the mob will pile on in favour of his empire-defending arguments.

  11. Mike
    March 15, 2023 at 20:17

    When I read Monbiot’s article in the Guardian, I saw it as an object lesson in subjectivity. This guy no longer relies on facts or logic – it’s what the Guardian reader wants and needs, right? Perhaps they are the ones who should be concerned about a “grim trajectory” in what they are fed daily.
    As for George, he might as well be that Donald guy who only knows for certain that there are unknown unknowns and even that less than 100%.

    • Onlooker
      March 17, 2023 at 17:32

      It goes against the grain to say anything in support of that principal war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, but the fact is that his remark was very intelligent and perceptive.

  12. Rafi Simonton
    March 15, 2023 at 19:24


    That status quo reporting has devolved from solid investigative journalism to clumsy propaganda is a reflection of the terminally ill econ Empire. The neolib/neocon elite can’t argue their case on its merits; they haven’t succeeded anywhere ever. After 3+ decades, the evidence is obvious.

    Which only leaves tactics like gross ad hominems, argument by authority, and unsupported assertions. Add to that numerous distractions–if consumption and entertainment aren’t enough, there is always what my 94 year old mother calls “the bad guy of the month” as justification for yet more war.

    The subject here is in effect using a version of the horseshoe metaphor centrists are so fond of. That the extreme left and extreme right (“extreme” defined as anything not tepid middle) flow together because they’re the same. A better political metaphor would be the bar magnet–where the two ends are very different and no one is attracted to the middle.

    • Onlooker
      March 17, 2023 at 17:25

      Your mother obviously understands MICIMAC propaganda better than most people. Tell her that some of us call that the “Hitler of the month” routine.

  13. March 15, 2023 at 19:10

    There must be some analogy about eating its young or some such to describe the left now. Think Ukraine and Covid and you find alliances between extreme right and extreme left. It’s a zoo out there! I’m thinking how we-the-people of good heart, beyond anything related to the establishment, can collect ourselves to become a force.

    • JonnyJames
      March 16, 2023 at 11:12

      ? Extreme left? Please define your terms. I suggest going to political compass dot org and take the test. You will likely find that your assumptions about political labels are misguided, based on superficial criteria.

  14. David H
    March 15, 2023 at 18:04

    Monbiot should be ticked enough that search engines won’t find his old great articles on Bt corn (hard to believe, but in The Guardian, right?).

    Why doesn’t he go against the info distorters and info hiders? We were on a track to keep pushing the NATO envelope (east) come what may in terms of hell on earth and cost. And pushing Aegis Ashore in that direction too. Now look where we’re at. The west won’t negotiate, so the next step when Russia gets to the Dnieper is tactical nukes? Policies this mindless need control of the media. And need to threaten anyone opposing’em with deplatforming. They need Big Brother and Big Sister. Assange and Snowden saw it all.

    What Monbiot terms the far right — some of it, beyond Trump and Carlson, is simply the disillusioned libertarian right — address these issues, even if they do so out of a mixture of bad faith and incompetence.

    Sometimes incompetently I guess. If they said they wanted an end to Social Security based on economic theory but really it was because some stocks they owned would immediately benefit, that would be bad faith. Do they do that? I see some material at antiwar dot com representing what I think of as good faith. Not everyone has the time to go through Hudson, Naked Capitalism, or even Jack Rasmus. My particular thing is we need Stephen Rose’s old flow chart (updated…no buyers, so when it comes to economics everyone indeed’s on their own private Idaho plot).

    As far as the rest of the article goes…well, well, well worth reading. Couldn’t be sadder, but we need to know how allegiances can change in these times. Thank you muchly Jonathan Cook and CN.

  15. Jeff Harrison
    March 15, 2023 at 18:01

    I gave up on the Guardian in general and Monbiot in specific years ago.

    • Hem
      March 16, 2023 at 03:34

      how many billionaires chip in to keep that rag afloat? and monbiot’s always been an idiot.

  16. March 15, 2023 at 17:39

    George Monbiot unfortunately appears as much of a progressive as, … Hmmm, unfortunately, Bernie Sanders, notwithstanding their pubic performances. They are useful tokens loyal to the other side, but useful in diverting real progressives from accomplishing anything meaningful. Well, meaningful to the Deep State in its various international incarnations. Plenty of noise diverting meaningful action. Witness Sanders’ performances at Democratic National conventions, where he helps keep his own supporters out, in the name of party unity against greater evils. Evil is as evil does though.

    As in the case of Democrats posing as members of the ideological left, or as socialists, or as communists, considering the British newspaper, “the Guardian” as leftist, or progressive, or liberal, is an utter fallacy. It has not been leftist for a very long time, although like the United States Democratic Party or the British Labour Party, it once may have been. Indeed, today, the Guardian, like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, CNN, MSNBC and the BBC and myriads of other components of the corporate media are all mouthpieces for the Deep State in its joint US/UK/EU/Australian, etc., variants. Like the United States’ Democratic Party, like the corporate media and like traditionalist Republicans, like the current British Labour and Conservative Parties, those purported pillars of the Fourth Estate are useful tools of the Deep State (witness the abandonment of Julian Assange), helping funnel the hard earned money of United States and British taxpayers into the bottomless pockets of the military industrial complex, Big Pharma, Big Tech, and any other “bigs” willing to share their wealth through generous political donations and cushy, post retirement gigs for Deep State moles.

    Perhaps that’s why Mr. Monbiot, whom I once admired, as I did Mr. Sanders, is so comfortable in his cozy hole at the Guardian.

  17. Drew Hunkins
    March 15, 2023 at 17:04

    Monbiot’s a paranoid freak who can’t fathom the idea that on certain issues like war and peace and border security, red-brown alliances can take form. I have no patience for the Monbiot types. Monbiot slams Brand for having guests on because that’s where the ratings are. Perhaps. But I also know where a big steady paycheck also resides: as a full-time pundit for the Guardian who offers lukewarm support for Washington’s wars and falls for the vilification of every sovereign leader who essentially tells Wall St, the U.S. empire and international finance to jump in a lake.

    • Susan Siens
      March 16, 2023 at 16:27

      Good one, Drew! Isn’t it funny that these people raking in the big bucks don’t seem to want anyone else to make any money? Thinking here of that turd Wasserman-Schultz asking Matt Taibbi if he makes money from reporting!

      • Drew Hunkins
        March 16, 2023 at 18:48

        Exactly, precisely!

  18. Paula
    March 15, 2023 at 17:01

    I think someone needs to check the economic and military power of the USA. After all, we are the war mongers and the only country that used a nuclear bomb.

  19. Ieuan Einion
    March 15, 2023 at 16:55

    I’m always impressed by what you have to say Jonathan but on this occasion – you have excelled yourself.

    As with the recent crisis at the BBC, the liberal media’s pretence to impartiality/balance has been near fatally exposed. Monbiot sits comfortably on the leftish end of a neoliberal media continuum.

    I’m a small-scale peasant and you haven’t even touched on some of my beefs with Monbiot. His generalised attacks on meat eaters and wood burners for example, which are utterly un-dialectical, largely unscientific and completely based on subjective prejudice, which criticisms I think one might apply to his politics in general.

    Thanks again.

  20. rosemerry
    March 15, 2023 at 16:50

    I remember the old days when the Guradian (sic!) was leftist in the accepted way-for workers, peace, unions… Even Monbiot used to be OK! Now I never trust any article from this degraded journal, especially after they turned on Assange after using his material, also making money from the biography by David Leigh and the execrable Luke Harding.

    • ks
      March 15, 2023 at 22:05

      I used to read the Grauniad – still a crossword joke – in the 70’s, when it was always on the side of unions. Now there’s nothing left but the crosswords.

    • Sharon
      March 16, 2023 at 10:45

      “they turned on Assange after using his material”

      I am going to use this on social media to describe those utter betrayers (no, not the Dems, the MSM)

  21. March 15, 2023 at 16:47

    The concept of absolute freedom of speech, which is what can lower the artificial divisions created by the Power Structure by revealing to how much people have in common rather than focusing on where they disagree, is anathema to that structure and those it employs to construct the desired narrative. I heartily disagree with Greenwald on some things, but I will (as the saying goes) defend to the death his right to say them because what I also see is that his own personal bias is largely what causes that disagreement. And mine, too. We come from different cultural perspectives; I’d be shocked if we agreed on everything.

    Russell Brand, in the space of less than 2 years, has added 2 million people to his audience; and anyone who reviews his comments sections can see they’re from all sorts of places and will interpret what he offers in whatever way best suits THEIR cognitive biases. I suspect that’s why it’s so essential to people like Monbiot to try to undermine the integrity of those like Russell, Brand, and Taibbi by pulling the “right-wing talking points” trigger. In a way, it’s almost sad how desperate the democracy managers become as more and more people, especially young people, break free of the blindness and ignorance deliberately imposed on them and look for the truth. Add to that the exposure of the US Democrat Party for the smarmy hypocrites they’ve become, and you get shamefully adolescent scenes like the ones the day Taibbi and Shellenberger testified in Congress.

    I hope we have time left in which to deal with the situation, and realize the republic the writers of the Constitution intended us to have instead of this giant corporation of the Elite, the Plutocrats, and the Greedy created instead.

  22. Daryl Poe
    March 15, 2023 at 16:02

    I’ve been SO done with The Guardian since they began to censor my opinions in 2015. The fact that The Guardian would support World Economic Forum ghoul Klaus Schwab on ANYTHING is all you need to know about them and, for that matter, Monbiot.

  23. Susan Siens
    March 15, 2023 at 15:55

    No one with two brain cells to rub together takes the Guardian seriously. It is a completely captured newspaper doing the work of its masters, and all it can seem to come up with are smears against women and actual leftists. There are so many people who have ended their subscriptions but what does it matter to the Guardian? They have wealthy American backing, the same people who have captured most media.

    Monbiot comes across as extremely jealous of Russell Brand. Which he should be.

  24. March 15, 2023 at 15:20

    Monbiot is a shallow, milktoast whore for the power. End of file.

  25. JonnyJames
    March 15, 2023 at 15:17

    The Guardian is a laughingstock nowadays. I check it every morning for laughs. It is basically a tabloid now, celebrity gossip, free publicity for Donald Trump almost every day, today included. They have a special Ukraine/Russia war propaganda section that is great for laughs. Once in a while they might have a story that qualifies as serious journalism, but that’s being generous.

    Monbiot is a typical right-wing, superficial, arrogant hypocrite who has destroyed his own credibility many times, he should have been fired years ago.
    The Guardian is anti-labor, authoritarian, pro-war and right wing. Might as well just read the Daily Mail or the Times.

    I recall Craig Murray suggesting the Guardian was a mouthpiece for MI6, it sure seems so. But for satire, parody and sarcastic jokes, the Guardian is the place to go.

    • Valerie
      March 15, 2023 at 17:29

      “Once in a while they might have a story that qualifies as serious journalism, but that’s being generous.”

      You’re right Jonny. They have drastically changed. They are up there with the british bullshit corporation. However, they have good articles on the environment.

      • JonnyJames
        March 16, 2023 at 11:31

        British Bullshit Corporation, lol. That’s what I call it as well. We have to use accurate language (and have an irreverent sense of humor)

    • Gordon Hastie
      March 16, 2023 at 02:21

      Imagine having articles on the environment sponsored by the Gates Foundation…doesn’t seem to be a problem for the remaining “moderates” who read the Guardian, where there are delights such as regular puff pieces for Joe Biden and Sir Keir Starmer.

      • Valerie
        March 16, 2023 at 15:06

        I haven’t read any articles on the environment which are supported by the Gates’ Foundation. Those supported by the Gates’ are relating to Global Development.
        The articles i referred to have nothing to do with the Gates’.

  26. Whitebeard
    March 15, 2023 at 14:54

    “But I want to focus this time on the more general causes of a widening rift on the left”

    My $0.02 worth (non inflation adjusted) ….

    In the 1960’s, ‘the left’ put a serious dent into the growing plans of corporate power, and even stopped an American war. Thus, one can be rather certain that serious efforts were put into making sure that this never happens again. With the amount of money that billionaires and bankers have at their disposal, it is no surprise that they can buy both columnists to sow division, and outlets to publish them.

    There are a lot of such ‘fake-left’ columnists and more than a few ‘fake-left’ outlets that regularly publish and promote them. It is of course a public service to ‘out’ them as such, so thank you Mr. Cook and CN.

    Another front in this effort to make sure the 60’s never happen again has been the push of Identity Politics. The old watchword on the Left used to be “Solidarity”. Now the left is divided with what I term ‘the politics of hate’, with each subgroup focused on fundraising by attacking all others. This of course is easily manipulated by oligarchs to be able to generate hate campaigns on demand. Especially with the modern mob mentality of social media and its bots.

    Given that ‘the left’ was always the major threat to corporate power, is it really a surprise to find lots of money ‘sowing divisions?’

    • Terry49
      March 16, 2023 at 09:22

      Mr. Whitebeard

      You opine that:

      “In the 1960’s, ‘the left’ put a serious dent into the growing plans of corporate power, and even stopped an American war.”

      If you are referring to the American War on Vietnam, then it needs to be pointed out that while anti-war activists were quite vigorous in their denunciation of that horrible conflict, the people who had a far greater influence of bringing that war to an end were the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who comprised the GI movement which protested against U.S. militarism. David Cortright informs the reader about this in his classic book Soldiers in Revolt while the searing documentary Sir! No Sir! sheds much light upon an issue which so few Americans are even aware had taken place over fifty years ago.

      • Susan Siens
        March 16, 2023 at 16:32

        Sir! No Sir! is superb, especially if you can get the DVD with all the extras. I recommended it to someone I knew who was teaching an afterschool history class.

      • Observer
        March 17, 2023 at 17:03

        > ” anti-war activists were quite vigorous in their denunciation of that horrible conflict,”
        “the GI movement which protested against U.S. militarism”

        While these people were useful, in both cases, it was those who actively RESISTED the war machine “by any means necessary” who made the crucial difference.

        The obvious counter-example is the war on Iraq. Millions and millions of people took to the streets, but this did not stop the US and British governments (and their vassals) going ahead with their invasion.

  27. Antiwar7
    March 15, 2023 at 13:39

    George Monbiot: worse than useless. Then again, the whole Guardian newspaper has been captured by the Western security services since right after the Snowden leaks, so no surprise.

    Previously, the Guardian published a range of views, including those critical of the US empire. No more.

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