The once balanced and staunchly Liberal-decency-supporting Guardian has, over the last sixty years, been dragged onto the wrong side of history (and then held prisoner there) by a motley crew of pompous narcissists, climate change priests, aggressive feminists and other wishfully unthinking ideologues. Before the last rites are administered, all decent UK citizens should take the time to consider the broader consequences of this outcome in the context of an increasingly totalitarian Britain.
“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation”
(Character in Julian Barnes novel)
It is somewhat typical of the contemporary Guardian to use the pompous words of C P Scott “Facts are sacred” as the header to its comments page. The observation above (the witty aphorist invention of Julian Barnes) is far more factual than most allegations I’ve had presented to me as ‘facts’. (Hugely predictably, the New York Times rubbished both Barnes and the aphorism at the time).
C P Scott died a mercifully long time ago, and thus never lived to experience the twisted (in all senses of the word) serial lies depicted by Blair, Campbell and Mandelson as ‘facts’ to such minor audiences as the House of Commons, Congress, the BBC and endless public enquiries. But setting aside the current Age of Mendacity, even in Snow’s era, it was very difficult (and often impossible) to establish any fact well enough to dub it “sacred”.
Today it is nearly always impossible, but as the Grauniad now enters its final dotage years, the post Rusbridger régime has felt no need to dump the line. I suspect it would shrink from doing that, because sacred is one of the words beloved of high priests across the Liberaleft spectrum: others of a similar ilk include ‘settled’, ‘correct’ and ‘progressive’.
For me, Old G has played a series of roles in my media consumption since the 1960s – and very much in this order over time: essential reading, capricious but lively, sometimes unwise but well-meaning, irritatingly trendy, out of touch, predictable, off with the fairies, disturbingly cliquish, delusional, potentially dangerous – and finally, irrelevant.
No doubt stalwart Guardian statues like Michael White would argue in a superior manner that this merely represents my drift from callow socialist youth to shallow old age reactionary. He would be wrong so to think, but being robustly uncommercial by nature, Mr White cares not for sales, readership or indeed any data confirming (as a rare example of sacred fact) that millions of decent Brits have trodden the same path as me over time.
Today, the Grandiadad is reduced to begging for alms from the Napoleonic Old Guard still defending the last redoubt of Zero Doubt. Laughably, the gist of its appeal for funds is that objective journalism is some sort of magical brain nutriment that costs far more than the cover price.
Along the road to irrelevance, however, the Guardian has been (and still could be) very dangerous in nurturing the LibLeft’s inabiity to discern its own totalitarian thought patterns over the last twenty-five years. Being largely bourgeois in the UK, the self-styled progressives still nurture that unconscious superiority-belief the British have that a totalitarian approach “couldn’t happen here”.
There is not a shred of evidence to support that ridiculous Colonel Blimp kind of thinking; but there is an avalanche of evidence – the corrupted rule of law, GCHQ surveillance, massively increased police powers of search, arrest and detainment, ISP and other media empires colluding with the police and other security agencies and so forth – to show that our liberties are being curtailed at an alarming rate.
The difference between liberals and conservatives in the West today is simply defined. The Left always underestimates the human opportunist gene when it comes to cultural power: it suggests ideological pathways but often refuses to accept that these are bound to invade the citizen’s rights.
The current crop of hardline conservatives, by contrast, overestimate their own importance and needs: they opt for policies knowing perfectly these will crush the Little Man and destroy community….but they don’t care.
The media have, for well over a century now, played a major role in cementing the acceptance of Big State systemics that threaten the individual. And The Guardian has – along with the Sun and the Daily Mail – played a largely pernicious part in in that process within the press sector.
It’s not, after all, that most of the human race is evil beyond redemption: probably in excess of 65-85% of people (depending on the individual culture) want nothing much more than a partner, kids, life-balance, entertainment and holidays to fulfil them.
But a minority of alpha and controlling psychographics – plus a majority of those with pathological problems – not only desire material splendour and power: they have a natural gift for finding the fast lanes towards that end.
Ultimately, tribal species need leaders. The triple problem with Homo sapiens is first, once given unaccountable power, Man wants more of it; second, there is never any shortage of yes-men ready to feed off that power; and third, if left relatively alone from its worst excesses, those more easily fulfilled ordinary citizens we saw two paragraphs ago are more than happy to go along with it – and in some cases, to buy into the idea that unlimited power won’t necessarily end in disaster.
The Guardian became history through a failure of self-examination that blinded it to the lessons of history:
Dictators, bureaucrats and passive acceptance are always present, to a greater or lesser degree, in dysfunctional States.
What turns unheeding dysfunction into totalitarianism is concrete-set ideology, and a supine media-set ready to both obey and nurture it. Ideology can be political, economic, fiscal, demographic, religious, racially based – or mixtures of more than one element.
But what it always does is posit something higher than individuals, families, communities or society in general.
That something is belief in the absolute truth and rectitude of the ideology. The belief system must not be challenged, tested or doubted in any way. Because facts are sacred, aren’t they?
And that demand for total obedience wipes out, over time, creativity, ethics, a sense of personal responsibility and – eventually – civilisation itself. Only a small number of resisters remain: and in time, they are variously hidden away in mental institutions, correction camps and other forms of prison.
Total belief doesn’t merely typify totalitarian States: to think that is to get events in the wrong order. Rigid belief in one ideology fathers them, because it accepts that The Great End justifies the criminal means. The criminal nature of totalitarian régimes, however, is created by enthusiastic amateurs and well-meaning activists, not criminals.
The criminal means whereby, for example, Thomas Mair was ludicrously branded “a terrorist” so the sham of his trial could be held in camera. And the Guardian headline at the end of it was “vicious race terrorist Mair gets life for brutal murder of Jo Cox”.
The criminal means whereby Peter Mandelson told Alan Rusbridger in 2009 that I was “a far right neoNazi” with a fascist agenda for revealing Gordon Brown’s mental and eyesight problems, following which the then Guardian editor issued a ban on my blogs in the ‘Facts are Sacred’ section of his newspaper.
I’m not writing this so much in a spirit of Schadenfreude, as from a desire to show just how far down the insouciant road to perdition the Guardian has journeyed. Like a lumbering old cart pulled by poor Hercules from Steptoe & Son, The Guardian travels on, unaware that both its owners died forty years ago. Nobody is holding the reins, and Hercules himself hasn’t asked, in all that time, whether the track does actually lead to Oil Drum Lane or not. Sadly, it leads to the knacker’s yard.
But that is, of course, very bad for pluralism. The Guardian has failed not because it made facts sacred, but because it made facts scared to reveal themselves: in fact, it actively censored any and all awkward truths over many decades after the 1960s.
The real responsibility that ought to be shouldered by Polly Toynbee, Michael White, Alan Rusbridger and all the other unconcsciously cyclopian totalitarians at the paper is their blind, rigid unwillingness to act as the balanced information source for a decency alliance against the current neoliberal hegemony. For that too is a totalitarian corporate State well down the road to formation.
In the end, the Guardian fell under the spell of sanctimonious hypocrites who, to hide that basic nature, did what dictators always do in such circumstances: put up a sign saying Facts are Sacred….or the People’s Republic of Democratic somewhere or other, or Thinking Critically leads to Settled Science or (insert own favourite brand of humbug here).
They will never, ever learn that most of their assumptions are based not on facts that are correct – or indeed sacred – but on ideological assertions that over time become socially acceptable mores.
Today, with the circulation dwindling, a clique of dubiously motivated extremists in control of the Labour Party and the nastiest Government since King John in Downing Street, the Guardianistas are still at it. The works of Milan Kundera – a Czech novelist philosopher whose Unbearable Lightness of Being has proved, 35 years on, just how prescient it was – is being ‘reassessed’ in Old G’s literary columns as being “of limited relevance” because of the “disturbing and outmoded sexual politics displayed by the author”.
I shiver when I read such baseless drivel. And I fear for the freedoms of all Britons left with no uniting voice against the Boris Johnsons, Jeremy Hunts, Michael Fallons and Amber Rudds of the wannabe New World Order. The Guardian that lost the plot is now digging its own plot in the graveyard. But it is the rest of us left behind after its demise who will be the real losers.