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He’s So Liberal, You See

In today’s Guardian, George Monbiot is stressing a pressing need. Specifically,

The need for a disinterested class of intellectuals which acts as a counterweight to prevailing mores.

And without which, 

Racism, nationalism and war are only three of the many hazards to which society is exposed. 

For George, these superior intellects must be free of dirty commerce, even corporate donations for new buildings and scholarships, in order to denounce - and thereby correct - the public’s general preference for free markets and lower taxes. The state may spend more of our earnings and regulate more of our affairs than at any time in living memory, but it still isn’t big enough for George. And so someone must save the lower orders from “neoliberal economists,” “imperialist historians” and “war-mongering philosophers,” all of whom would otherwise warp our tiny, undeveloped minds. An arrangement of the kind Mr Monbiot envisions, presumably funded by the taxpayer and in which our self-anointed betters denounce “economic growth and the forces that drive it,” is a disinterested one, see, and thus pure of motive. Just like socialism. Plus, this enlightened “class of intellectuals” – which is to say, people very much like George – is all that will save us from racism, nationalism and even war. 

Like his ideological peers in the world of art, Mr Monbiot regards money from companies, given freely, as a distilled wickedness that corrupts all it touches; while money extracted from taxpayers, forcibly, is morally hygienic and apparently without limit. All very humble and egalitarian. Not at all like the fantasy of yet another would-be socialist overlord. George, after all, is known for his immense modesty, as when he expressed his contempt for those who dare to disagree with him, all of whom were waved aside as dullard conservatives struggling with racial phobias. “The other side,” he announced, is “on average more stupid than our own.” Guardian readers - known far and wide as The Great Thinkers Of Our Era™ - were told in no uncertain terms that “conservatism thrives on low intelligence” and “appeals to stupidity.” “Conservative ideology,” said George, “is the critical pathway from low intelligence to racism.” And all of this in contrast with liberals such as himself, who are apparently “self-deprecating” and “too liberal for their own good.” 

Readers who wish to sup more wisdom from Mr Monbiot’s milky teats can do so here, here and here



A very Progressive redefinition of the word 'disinterested.

This is just what the Western world needs. More left-wing intellectuals.



A very Progressive redefinition of the word ‘disinterested’.

Yes, it’s a strange article. Though I suppose it’s not at all strange for a Guardian article.

George is apparently willing to insinuate that corporate sponsorship by BAE, BP and Lloyd’s will – must - corrupt the scientific research of any beneficiaries, irrespective of the terms of any such arrangement, though he doesn’t offer any evidence that it actually has done or looks likely to, beyond some divergence from his own rather extreme and apocalyptic views. (Presumably, not agreeing with George is itself proof of corruption and wrongdoing.) We must therefore, nonetheless, have a publicly-funded “class of intellectuals” who think as George does on pretty much everything, and who, like George, vehemently oppose economic growth, which is evil, along with fossil fuels, functional transportation and a reliable power supply.

That, apparently, would be a disinterested position.


I love the idea that only state funded left-wing intellectuals can save us from 'racism, nationalism and war'.

Steve 2

I wonder if George has anybody in mind to serve as our disinterested philosopher-king?


Mr Monbiot’s milky teats

How do I delete that mental image?


The BBC doesn't accept any money from Shell or BAE. That must be why it's so impartial.


Would the taxes derived from the legitimate income of a weapons-dealer be forbidden from contributing to the venture or is that tainted money?


Bollocks.....AS THAT WOULD BE tainted money.....


Monbiot seems to imagine that scientists and academics should exist basically as an extension of his own rather alarmist leftwing activism. Perhaps he thinks that anything less than emphatic agreement with his own beliefs - for instance, that adverts for holidays are morally equivalent to hardcore pornography, and that air travel is morally equivalent to child molestation - is proof of being compromised by Those Evil Corporations™. He doesn’t seem to grasp that, whatever their funding, scholars and scientists often arrive at quite different views – different from each other, and worse, different from the views of Mr George Monbiot. But if a university accepts a no-strings donation for a new building or scholarships (the motive for which is most likely PR), for George this is itself a sign of moral corruption and the End Times looming. Though by the same kind of thinking, George, who howls about companies that lawfully minimise their tax liabilities, must also be corrupted and rendered unreliable by working for the Guardian, a company whose own extensive use of offshore tax havens is common knowledge.

sackcloth and ashes

'Racism, nationalism and war are only three of the many hazards to which society is exposed if that challenge should fail: if, that is, most scholars side with the soldiers or the sellers'.

So academia is full of militarists and corporate slaves, George. Seriously?

'Speaking at the Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge University, Walport maintained that scientific advisers had five main functions, and the first of these was "ensuring that scientific knowledge translates to economic growth"'.

Shock horror. Scientific developments should be used for the common good to make people more prosperous, and to counter poverty. Oh the horror, the horror ...

'Over the past few days I have asked the Shell professor of earth sciences at Oxford, the university itself and the umbrella body Universities UK to explain the ethical difference between taking tobacco money for cancer research and taking fossil fuel money for energy research. None of these great heads, despite my repeated attempts to engage them, were prepared even to attempt an answer'.

They've probably got better things to do with their time than engage with a certifiable hypocrite like yourself, Moonbat.


sackcloth and ashes,

So academia is full of militarists and corporate slaves, George. Seriously?

There’s also the implicit, rather hilarious, assumption that a state-funded “class of intellectuals” would somehow be immune to bias, folly and general self-interest. When almost every vile and discredited idea in history has found plenty of support among precisely such groups, often first and sometimes exclusively. A detail with which his own article begins, but is somehow forgotten in the very next paragraph.

Steve 2

"Don't side with the sellers!

PS - Buy my books"


My question: Do I get to have my own personal disinterested intellectual to counterweigh my prevailing mores, or do I have to share a disinterested intellectual with others?


Lads and lasses

It is hard work filling a column for the Grauniad on a regular basis, particularly when you have to get with the message.

Cut the guy some slack.



How do I delete that mental image?

When you’re drifting off to sleep and thinking of those milky teats just picture this face hovering above them.



I've always wanted to ask. Is it Mon-buy-ot, or Mon-bee-oh, or something else altogether?




When you’re drifting off to sleep and thinking of those milky teats just picture this face hovering above them.

It's not helping, David.


No refunds. Credit note only.

Kevin B

Or perhaps these were the milky teats?

Incidently, on matters antipodean, Jo Nova remarks in this post about Australia's benificent scheme to send $7bn to help starving EU politicians:

Is there a better argument to show why big government is a big-fail than just saying, E.U.? It takes real skill to start with 20 successful economies and combine them into one large bankrupt entity — and all this in only a decade-and-a-half.

I presume Georgie's mob will do the job quicker.

Kevin B

Whoops. Link fail. I was of course attempting to link this Tim Blair post.


They never really manage to articulate that politics is not about truth but power, and so will always favor the latter at the cost of the former.

Charlie Suet

The odd thing about Monbiot(other than the fact that he only managed a second in Zoology but still thinks he's clever) is that he's not always this unhinged. Whereas Shameless Milne is always a fruit-loop, old George sometimes has bouts of lucidity. Very strange.


Maybe these smart people coud be formed into a special unit, with a name like, maybe, the Inner Party...


It’s also worth noting that Monbiot defines the free market as nothing more than “corporations and the very rich” - which are apparently evil by default - as if ordinary consumers like thee and me played no role in what becomes popular, lucrative and necessary. Like, for instance, the endless products derived from fossil fuels.

the wolf

Oh, Georgie, you're too late. The Simpsons did an episode on this in 1999. In the end, it all, predictably, crashed to the ground. But keep trying.

Let's make litter out of these literati!


Yes, George is an odd one. He spends the first three paragraphs telling us of the ways in which public intellectuals, many of whom were supported by the state, have championed bad ideas and extremist political views. And then, in the very next paragraph, he tells us that what we need is a “class of intellectuals” supported by the state to promote extremist political views of which he, George Monbiot, happens to approve.

Dan Ford Stingley

You'd think little Georgie would be still be celebrating that the government adopted his idea for a spare room tax :


I dunno some folk are never happy.


Monbiot is a fat and slow-moving fish in a very crowded barrel. Really, David, this is hardly sporting.



Really, David, this is hardly sporting.

Maybe not, but if you peel away the veneer of moral loftiness, what you find underneath is bold, to say the least:

“Some scientists (who may know stuff I don’t) dare to disagree with me so – obviously - they must be in the pockets of Those Evil Corporations. Because affordable energy is just like tobacco. I can’t prove they’re all corrupt, but they just are, okay? What other explanation could there be for anyone disagreeing with me, George Monbiot? We therefore need an intellectual class of pure and enlightened people bankrolled by the state – people who don’t like business at all, because it’s evil, and who think the sky is falling because of capitalism, which is also evil, obviously. People who think just like me in fact. Because I’m totally impartial and not at all biased or extremist. I only believe that air travel, which I indulge in quite a lot while promoting my own books, is exactly like child molestation. And so only people like me should be allowed to do it. If we don’t do as I say, everyone – everyone except me and people just like me - will turn into warmongering racists with a taste for human flesh.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course.


Looking at the pollution left everywhere in communist countries*, a marxist ecologist should be as likely as a flat-earther who works in satellite engineering.

*Unsurprisingly, because marxism is a form of economic pollution.


a marxist ecologist should be as likely as a flat-earther who works in satellite engineering.

Curiously enough, around the time that Marx was making his name, the big debate (amongst Socialists) was between the Utopians and Scientific Socialists. The former favoured building miniature Socialist communes and idealised a supposedly pure pre-industrial society. In contrast the Scientific Socialists rejected the former as reactionaries and looked forward to a technological future, which would deliver plenty and egalitarianism albeit via the inevitable revolution. Let's not forget, for Marx, Capitalism was an advance on Feudalism.

No true Marxist can support the Green Party except through cynical entryism.

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