[Marxism] Spiked online takes umbrage at charges of corporate funding

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Feb 24 11:23:07 MST 2006

Over the years, there have been frequent allegations that rightwing 
millionaires or security agencies have funded Frank Furedi's sect, which 
has morphed from a sort of neo-Kautskyist belief in capitalist progress 
into full-bore libertarianism. In other words, they have retained the 
breathless "Better Living Through Chemistry" and "What's Good for General 
Motors is Good for the World" part of the deal but dispensed with any 
future hope for socialism.

In today's spiked-online, sect leader Brendan O'Neill tries to fend off 
these charges, which is something of a first for the sect, as far as I know:

"There have been a fair few articles and rumours over the past few years 
accusing spiked's editor Mick Hume and managing editor Helene Guldberg, as 
well as contributor Frank Furedi and Institute of Ideas director Claire Fox 
(with whom spiked shares an office), among others, of being involved in 
various conspiracies headed by everyone from the Serbian government to the 
drugs companies. Many of the arguments made by contributors first to Living 
Marxism and LM and later to spiked, all of which were edited by Hume, have 
been challenged, not substantially or politically, but by a kind of 
muck-raking search for the secret financer [sic] behind the arguments. 
Those who oppose what some of our writers have said about Western 
intervention, environmentalism and free speech have not taken up the 
arguments head-on but rather have said, 'Well look who's funding 
them....look who they have meetings with....what do you expect?' These 
attacks should be understood as part of the broader climate of 
conspiracy-mongering today, where robust political debate has given way to 
a kind of cowardly dinner-party whispering campaign about individuals' 
motives or personal interests and private lives."

To begin with, it has been years since anybody has attacked them for what 
they have written about Yugoslavia. Mostly, it is people like Diana 
Johnstone, Michael Parenti and Edward Herman who are the target of the 
Cruise Missile Left. In a way, it is unfortunate that there is so little in 
the way of anti-imperialism in spiked-online nowadays of any sort. Granted, 
they are anxious to put all that in the past, but there is no contradiction 
between being libertarian and being against the war in Iraq. Take a look at 
antiwar.com for one example.

The question of corporate ties to drug, petroleum and chemical companies is 
much more complex. I think it is wrong to look at spiked as simply a bunch 
of whores who write things whatever evil corporations pay them to write. 
That is much more the model of their frequent collaborators, the Hill and 
Knowlton PR firm. You'll recall that Hill and Knowlton developed the 
propaganda campaign for the first Gulf War, which included the false 
allegation that Iraqi troops were pulling Kuwaiti infants out of their 
cribs in a hospital nursery and throwing them on the cold floor. I imagine 
that if the Iraqi government had been able to put together a bigger bundle 
of cash for Hill and Knowlton, they might have written something that 
Michael Moore might have been proud of.

No, I don't think we are dealing with payoffs here. Instead, it is a matter 
of deep conviction that anything that gets in the way of Exxon, Pfizer and 
Monsanto is an obstacle to progress. When Monsanto came up with GM crops, I 
am sure that created as much excitement in their ranks as did Cuban victory 
over South African soldiers at the battle of Cuito Carnevale for people 
like us. Once you are absolutely convinced that capitalism = progress, why 
would you refuse to discover ways to finance your goals through 
contributions from the Exxons, Pfizers and Monsantos of the world? Frankly, 
if a search of tax records revealed that Furedi's various think-tanks were 
being funded by such outfits, my reaction would be similar to Claude 
Rains's (as Colonel Renault) in "Casablanca": "I'm shocked, shocked to find 
that gambling is going on in here!"



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