Thursday, November 29, 2007

Serial Globalisers of the Left

I once met Brendan O’Neill, editor of the online magazine 'Spiked', at a book launch in London and found him to be affable. I like much of his writing on the Balkans. But I have scarcely read an article- by anyone- that I disagree with more than Brendan’s new piece for the Spectator- in which he extols, from a Marxist perspective, the ’benefits of global capitalism’ and lambasts those who rail against it. Here‘s an extract:


What today’s anti-capitalists loathe most is the ‘consumer society’, with its incessant advertising and wicked temptation to buy, buy, buy. On Buy Nothing Day, at the end of November, anti-capitalist protesters on Oxford Street and elsewhere advised shoppers to ‘detox from consumerism’ because ‘everything we buy has an impact on our planet’. Meanwhile, serious psychologists (as well as the seriously psychotic) claim that consumerism makes us ill — it gives us ‘affluenza’, apparently. Geddit?


Well, I’m sorry Brendan, but I believe that today’s brand of consumerism does make us ill, as I think one of the 'serious psychologists' you had in mind, Oliver James, proved beyond doubt in his book ‘Affluenza.’

Brendan seems very happy with a money and wealth-obsessed, turbo-capitalist globalised world, one in which there is a Starbucks or Macdonalds on every corner and in which local and national cultures are replaced by globalised ones. He's happy to see the total eradication of centuries old local culture and believes this is somehow a 'left-wing' cause. Brendan also fails to see that its modern turbo-capitalism which is perpetually driving us to go to war, be it in the Balkans or in the Middle East- wars which he- to his credit-opposes.

As I wrote recently, the real divide in the world today is not so much between traditional socialists and conservatives, but between those who support the neoliberal globalist agenda of privatisation, tax cuts for the rich and running the economy for the benefit of global capital, and those who believe that maintaining economic sovereignty, and safeguarding the interests of ordinary working people should come first. Needless to say, those in the first camp don't care a jot for preserving local or national culture; those in the second camp most definitely do.

Sadly, we now know which side of the divide Brendan is on.

6 comments:

Ian said...

Affluenza proves nothing beyond doubt.

It is polemic, not serious science.

It relies for a large part on anecdotal evidence and discounts alternative explanations for what scientific data it does contain far too easily.

Neil Clark said...

Ian, Britain and America 'lead' the world in mental health problems, anti-social behaviour and in what Erich Fromm called acts of self-destruction- ie vandalism, arson, self-harm etc. Do you seriously believe that this has nothing to do with the fact that Britain and America operate a particularly rapacious form of capitalism? Just compare the figures for mental health problems, anti-social behaviour, violent crime with countries that have different economic systems- such as continental Europe in which, under the Rhineland mixed economy model (which is much threatened by aggressive Anglo-Saxon capitalism),the economy serves the people and not the other way round. Anglo-Saxon capitalism destroys society and any sense of community-Britain and America have two of the most fragmented and dysfunctional societies in the world and it really is no coincidence.

Ian said...

Notwithstanding the important proviso that modern Western society is actually less violent than other forms of society at any time in the recorded past (hear Steven Pinker on this subject here)...

...I agree that there is a correlation between 'turbo-capitalism' and poor individual mental health, and the research of James and others suggests that there may be a link. But to say that Oliver James 'proves beyond doubt' said link is a major overstatement in my view.

Affluenza basically ignores the possibility of any alternative explanation for the correlation.

David Lindsay said...

Well, of course. Capitalism leads to Marxism, or else to Jacobinism, anarchism or Fascism. Such is the reaction of the despairing millions to the effects of capitalism on their lives.

That's why we need social democracy, in order to conserve everything that conservatives exist to conserve, both against capitalism itself and against the reactions against it.

That's why, in fact within social democracy, we need the employers like Taki's father (and, one trusts, Taki himself) recently cited most favourably in a High Life column as keeping wage disparity to a minimum in order to prevent the rise of Communism.

And that's why, behind both of these and more, we need Catholic Social Teaching, the most (indeed, to the best of my knowledge, the only) comprehensive conservative critique of capitalism.

olching said...

A bit harsh on Brendan O'Neill methinks. I agree that a lot of his liberal economic thought is nonsense, but he does make some excellent points in other areas. He's always first to spot social power relationships (i.e. 'class warfare') and makes an excellent contrarian. Shame he can't ditch the economic libertarian stuff.

Anglonoel said...

You may be interested in this from Paul Kingsnorth's blog (http:?/www.
paulkingsnorth.net/blog.html). I would say it's satire but it is hard to tell...

Wednesday, November 14
A Guest Blogger
Regular readers will know that I've long had a beef with the rabidly anti-environmentalist editorial team over at Spiked magazine.

But I thought it was about time we tried to build bridges. So today this blog features its very first guest blogger - Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked, who writes here in a personal capacity.


Hi, I'm Brendan O'Neill - and you are a wanker.

That's a fact - an empirical one. Whether you like it or not.

Let me explain. Not that I need to explain myself to you people. But let me do it anyway because, God knows, you need to be enlightened.

Not that there is a God. And here's why.

One fine day, a long, long time ago, a fish crawled out of a swamp. Not long after that, the fish became a monkey.

Do I need to tell you what happened next?

That's right - the monkey became you. And me. And that's when it all really kicked off. Between us we did great things. Wrote the plays of Shakespeare. Built loads of cool machines. Started tonnes of fuck off big wars. Chopped down loads of crappy forests full of cunty animals and replaced them with roads and shit hot things like that. You and me - we're the fucking greatest. There's nothing we can't do. And believe me, my friends - we haven't even started yet.

But you don't believe me, do you? And that's the whole problem.

Because you people are scared. You look at the grand sweep of human progress, and instead of saying 'Bring it on!', you say 'Eeew! it's big and scary! I'm going back under the blanket with my cup of fucking cocoa!'

Poofters. The lot of you.

Progress, you see, is under threat. It's under threat from you. We've got tonnes of stuff that could make the world even cooler. We could genetically modify ourselves, for instance. I could make myself three mouths, so I could express three times as many groovily controversial opinions at once. You could get yourself a spine (ha!) We could grow tonnes more food to feed poor people so they could get rich like me, which everyone knows is better. We could kill all the fucking flies and shit that sting us. We could build flying cars and warp drives, so we could go off to other planets like Captain Picard. All of this is possible.

Or it would be - if you'd all just die.

Because you lot hate progress, don't you? You hate progress and you hate freedom. Like big, fat, crippled, spastic Luddite elephants, there's nothing you won't do to impede it. 'Climate change!' you whine. 'Oooh, trees and animals!' you squeal. 'Overfishing!' Overfishing? What's that? Never heard of it. Twats.

The reality is, these are all just excuses. Your real agenda is clear for all to see. You hate progress, and machines and freedom and modernity. Most of all, you hate people. You want to kill them all, don't you? Say it. Go on: say it. It's what you're thinking. You're all like that schoolkid who just shot up all his mates in Finland. His mum was an 'environmentalist.' Did you know that? Or did the eco-liberal media keep it from you? Perhaps they didn't tell you that Hitler was a vegetarian either. It's pretty obvious what that means, isn't it? Hmm?

You may not like hearing it, my friends - but it's an empirical fact.