Dueling media in Britain brings banished topics to the front page
Last week, The Daily Mail’s expose of Ralph Militant’s political views provoked strong reactions from the Miliband family, the Labour Party, The Guardian and the BBC.
The Mail article included a few quotes by Ralph Miliband, showing Miliband to be a radical cosmopolitan Marxist. So what else is new?
Throughout his entire adult life Ralph had indeed been a radical cosmopolitan devoted to ‘progressive’ international working class politics and naturally opposed to any nationalism and local patriotism.
However The Daily Mail was soon to learn, at its cost, that elaborating on the non-patriotic nature intrinsic to cosmopolitanism is practically forbidden in 2013 ‘free’ Britain.
The Mail revealed that in 1940, when Ralph was 17-year-old he wrote in his diary:
“The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world…you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the Continent…To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation.”
Well, I’d guess that many 17 year old Marxists at that time could have expressed such views.
But Miliband remained a devoted Marxist into adulthood and indeed for his whole life and maintained this cosmopolitan ideology into old age right up to his death. This may be unusual but it is not a crime.
What is concerning is the nature of the debate around the Mail’s article.
Watching the BBC Newsnight discussion on the topic revealed that neither the BBC presenter (Emily Maitlis) nor infamous spinmeister Alastair Campbell, were even remotely familiar with British debating culture or had even the most minimal appreciation of pluralism, openness and freedom of thought.
The BBC’s Maitlis seemed to have not even bothered to read the article. Her suggestions in the debate revealed an embarrassing unfamiliarity with both the general topic and the content of the article. Maitlis also failed to moderate the discussion and to silence Campbell who constantly went off topic.
Instead of developing an argument, Campbell invested every last ounce of his rather limited intellectual resources in curtailing the discussion by imposing some vague notion of ‘correctness’ i.e. suggesting what we are entitled to say and who is entitled to say it.
Yesterday on Guardian CIF, Paul Dacre, The Daily Mail’s Editor in Chief, addressed the controversy for the first time.
Dacre wrote “The Mail was deeply concerned that in 2013, after all the failures of socialism in the twentieth century, the leader of the Labour party (Ed Miliband) was announcing its return, complete with land seizures and price fixing.”
Now, is this a legitimate concern or, is socialism, like Jewishness, beyond any criticism or scrutiny?
Of course this is a rhetorical question. Apparently in Britain 2013, any attempt to question the intellectual foundations, history and meaning behind Marxism and socialist thinking is reduced simply to ‘antisemitism’.
So, it looks like Marxism and cosmopolitanism, like Jewishness and Israeli racism, have been merged into one vague entity removed from our public discourse, let alone criticism.
This shouldn’t surprise us being that it is entirely consistent with the Orwellian prophecy.
After all, already in 1948, Orwell predicted where the British Left was headed and, since the late 1970’s, we can clearly detect an ongoing attempt by our progressive brothers, by means of political correctness and identity politics, to determine the boundaries of the discourse.
Surprisingly enough, it is actually the ‘conservative’, ‘patriotic and ‘reactionary’ Mail that is producing a much-needed and well-overdue criticism of British society and politics.
Obviously, Dacre knows his readers very well. He understands that the British working class read the Mail rather than The Guardian and this is for a reason.
“It is that the Mail constantly dares to stand up to the liberal-left consensus that dominates so many areas of British life and instead represents the views of the ordinary people who are our readers and who don’t have a voice in today’s political landscape and are too often ignored by today’s ruling elite.”
Writing to Guardian readers, Dacre points at the ‘metropolitan classes’ who “despise our readers with their dreams (mostly unfulfilled) of a decent education and health service they can trust, their belief in the family, patriotism, self-reliance, and their over-riding suspicion of the state and the People Who Know Best.”
Dacre offers a true and very sad image of isolated and detached British Left elitism.
“These people mock our readers’ scepticism over the European Union and a human rights court that seems to care more about the criminal than the victim….In other words, these people sneer at the decent working Britons – I’d argue they are the backbone of this country.”
If you’ve ever wondered why the Left, in the end, always finds itself in such a miserably aloof and irrelevant position, here is the answer:
Like its leaders, ‘progressive’ thought is, unfortunately, contaminated with deep supremacism.
After all, progressiveness is but a secular form of choseness – and choseness is something I am convinced both David and Ed Miliband know a great deal about.
If The Guardian and the BBC want to stay relevant they should read Paul Dacre’s criticism closely and think about every word he utters.
British society will benefit greatly if it finds the power to engage in a proper open and tolerant political debate devoid of any traces of correctness and gatekeeping.
Editing: Jim W. Dean
Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist, novelist, political activist and writer.
Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”