Buy Cialis Delhi Mail Order Viagra Prescriptions Buy Western Lithium Stock Purchase Accutane Online No Prescription Cialis Levitra Vs

Why ditching John Pilger is bad for the left


1:14 pm - January 21st 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

New Statesman magazine is ditching John Pilger as one of its regular columnists, as Dave Osler points out. Keep in mind I’m not one of Pilger’s biggest fan following his race-baiting in calling Obama “a glossy Uncle Tom”.

Nevertheless, I think this is a bad idea for two reasons.

First, it’s a commercially bad idea. Pilger has a huge and very loyal fan base that sometimes borders on fanatical. Think of him as a left-wing version of Melanie Phillips (except he cares about human rights). New Statesman sales jumped whenever he was on the front cover, and right now it needs all the sales it can get.

Secondly, Pilger is a voice of conscience I think the left still needs. Don’t get me wrong: I think he’s idealistic to the point of unrealistic. But commentators on the far-left are important as a voice that keep the centre-left on their toes, even if they are completely sectarian to a fault, unrealistic about how society should change, frequently illiberal and authoritarian and have no political punch. The point is you still need that voice of anger.

They can’t build coalitions to save their political lives but I dislike the centre-left tradition in continually bashing their own. How many mainstream right-wingers openly criticise Mel even if they think she’s a nutjob? They don’t because it makes them look moderate. I wouldn’t deny far-lefties a voice on this platform because they deserve to be heard. Plus, Pilger has done some fantastic journalism in his time.

There are dangerous parallels to the US too. The far left were ditched by Democrats to the point they lost balance and started falling for Republican talking points. And yet Republicans conspicuously avoid criticising their own nutjobs like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the entire Fox Network. Only left-wing bloggers brought back some semblance of balance and anger to Democrat politics. We cannot afford to make the same mistake here.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Media ,Realpolitik

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


According to Medialens they’ve not ditched him…

“Yesterday, Media Guardian claimed that John Pilger had been “ushered out the door” by New Statesman editor Jason Cowley. We’ve been told this was an unsusbtantiated rumour and is completely false. “

Pilger may be a nutjob, but he’s our nutjob, you hear?!

But commentators on the far-left are important as a voice that keep the centre-left on their toes, even if they are completely sectarian to a fault, unrealistic about how society should change, frequently illiberal and authoritarian and have no political punch.

So their “importance” lies in what, exactly?

The point is you still need that voice of anger.

So – to make you look moderate?

It’s your house of course, and as far as I’m concerned the more we hear from these “important” voices the better…

3. Luis Enrique

coming up next, why ditching Coulter would be bad for the right?

4. Luis Enrique

sorry, that was a cheap and empty jibe

I’m not familiar with this Coulter – must look her up!

6. Green Socialist

Enjoy Coulter, she’s sooooooooo crazy man!
Pilger is one of the few reasons to read NS

I’ll stop buying it

7. Mike Killingworth

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a “far-lefite” comment on here, Sunny. Do I need to go to one of Jacqui Smith’s brainwashing camps?

cjcjc

I’m not familiar with this Coulter – must look her up!

Just Youtube her – when I first saw her I thought she was a radical comedienne – I was wrong, she really does believe that garbage.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever read a “far-lefite” comment on here, Sunny. Do I need to go to one of Jacqui Smith’s brainwashing camps?”

I’d count Unity as a fairly radical voice on here. The fact that I end up agreeing with him on quite a lot of things too is no coincidence.

Is LC not radical enough? 🙂

It’s symptomatic of a wider malaise at the NS itself. I used to be a subscriber, but cancelled my subscription when John Kampfner resigned. I agree that John Pilger’s journalism down the years has been excellent, almost as good as the investigative work undertaken by Paul Foot. However, he sullied his own record with the comment about Obama (as did Nader in the US on Election Night).

In my opinion, Pilger’s hysterical (and non-class) anti – Americanism long ago debarred him as a serious leftist commentator. More recently, his anti-Israeli comments (not just attacking what Israel is doing in Gaza and the West Bank, which would be correct, of course, but mispepresenting history, and calling into question Israel’s very right to exist) have verged on anti-semitism. This once respect-worthy journalist (and once a hero of mine) is now a disgrace and a parody. But he should not be censored or sacked for his views. We should support his right to be published and to be heard and read…even though he’s now a disgusting idiot. After all, Richrad Littlejohn still has a job.

Interesting comments Sunny. Basically, the NS should keep Pilger (if they are not already doing so) but use a better editor.

Btw, can someone please figure out a way so that at the next anti-war rally we can have speakers other than tony benn, tariq ali, lindsay german and john pilger? I mean surely some reasonably high profile people exist don’t they?

Maybe Richard Dawkins? I think that would be much more effective media weapon than the people we have now as well as sending a message that the pro-palestinian movement is more than the swp and mcb.

I think that the example of the right is exactly what’s needed to show the importance of keeping one’s distance from some of the angry radicals. The mainstream (American) right refused to do so, as you point out – and the result, after a while, was that the right was consumed by those radicals, dominated by them, and ultimately destroyed by them (unfortunately, taking the country with them). How well did the “no enemies to the right” rule – which some on the left seem so keen to emulate – ultimately serve conservatives?

I recognize that John Pilger has accomplished far more in his career than a comedian like Coulter, but the only work of his I’ve read lately – on Obama – is, frankly, unhinged in tone and uninformed in content.

Shariq, read Kate Belgrave’s post “Anti anti war” from a couple of days ago. There was good discussion around this subject there. But I do agree with you.

On the subject of Pilger I tend to agree with Jim Denham. I think he has done some great journalism in the past and I remember reading his book “Heroes” and being profoundly affected by it, but in the last few years his writing has become increasingly shrill and one-dimensional (mind you that doesn’t seem to have done Nick Cohen’s career any harm). His “uncle Tom” jibe was disgraceful and his simplistic “Bush = Hitler” and “Blair’s bombs” rhetoric has not done him any favours. So I’m agnostic as to whether he is ditched by the NS – maybe, as Shariq suggests, he just needs a better editor to rein in his excesses but he certainly doesn’t have any “right” to be published and heard, so in that respect I disagree with Jim.

Think of him as a left-wing version of Melanie Phillips (except he cares about human rights).

Can you please provide examples where she doesn’t care about Human Rights please?

New Statesman sales jumped whenever he was on the front cover, and right now it needs all the sales it can get.

Perhaps you’d like to reveal where you got that information from? Aren’t sales figures for individual issues generally confidential or is this the type of journalism the mainstream papers employ when they report on other sections of the media?

As many NS readers severely disliked Pilger’s articles as adored them. This decision was neither commercially good or bad but if the editorial staff want to change the nature of the NS over the next year or so then reducing the number of columnists and bringing in some contemporary writers who are not quite as predictable for the average reader isn’t a bad idea.

Four months on and the author (Sunny Hundai) still hasn’t backed up the assertion that “Melanie Phillips doesn’t care about Human Rights, as requested in Lilliput’s comment @16.
What a surprise, somehow I suspected you might be better at name calling that backing it up.

Sunny Hundai (or someone else),

From your lack of response to my previous comment @ 18 it would appear that you prefer to make false accusations rather than substantiate them with evidence.

The thing I like about Melanie Phillips is that she has progressed through Liberal groupthink and says it as she sees it. What with her website to refer to you should be able to provide some direct quotations from her many articles.

I am fast coming to the opinion that Liberal Conspiracies is a polite talking shop for people to debate how two legs are so much better than four legs.
So, come on, prove this opinion wrong.

Sunny Hundai + anyone else for that matter,

Your lack of response to my question in comment 16 (repeated in comments 18 + 19) is causing me much amusement.

In requesting you substantiate your assertion the hurdle was set as low as it could go. So, please answer.

I’m not sure how you can write new articles and carry on with such lofty debates about political corruption + sloppyness if you won’t even bother to resolve your previous inacuracies.

I though Liberal Conspiracies was supposed to be something more than a gossip board.

Q: When is a troll not a troll?
A: When he/she is only some one asking awkward questions – such as in comment 16.

Sunny Hundal,

For the last week I’ve been asking you to back up your assertion as requested in Lilliput”s comment 16 in January.

How come you are having such difficulty in proving your assertion that Melanie Phillips doesn’t care about human rights – unless, as I suspect you already know, it was groundless?

It does seem a bit rich that, in the meantime, you merily contribute to conversations about how MPs have been misleading the public in their expenses / allowances – yet you haven’t cleared up your own willful inaccuracy.

Regards


Reactions: Twitter, blogs




Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.