FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Seumas Milne and His Swivel-Eyed Detractors

Seumas Milne has never unleashed war on other countries, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children. He has never unleashed Cruise Missiles, ordered the bombing of towns and cities, subverted international law, or in any way created the conditions of crisis, chaos, and societal collapse out of which the bestial violence of al-Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL has emerged.

Instead, Seumas Milne has spent his career railing against those responsible for the aforementioned, helping the vast international readership and following he has amassed in the get to grips and understand a world of injustice, underpinned by the organised hypocrisy and double standards that increasingly passes for democracy in the West. In other words, rather than a member of the media echo chamber, whose ignoble purpose is to defend the indefensible, Milne has been a fierce critic of the government’s role in lurching from one foreign policy disaster to another over the past decade and more, taking a stand on the side of those who have suffered as a consequence.

In other words he is one of the last journalists in Britain entitled to call himself one, ranking with the great American journalists and writers whose work exposing the injustice that was the dark underbelly of that country’s Gilded Age earned them the nomenclature ‘muckraker’.

Upon graduating from Oxford, he began his career in journalism as a staff writer at The Economist, before joining the Guardian, where he has reported from the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, before becoming associate editor.

He has also written for London Review of Books and spent ten years on the executive committee of the National Union of Journalists.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, his towering journalistic achievement to date is his account of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike, The Enemy Within, originally published in 1990 and which has never been out of print since. It is a classic work, and the only account of this seminal labour struggle that takes a firm stand on the side of the men and women who fought not only to save their industry and communities, but who put up an epic resistance to the Thatcher juggernaut as it rolled over the lives and livelihoods of millions.

On a personal note, as recently as two years ago, while accompanying Seumas to a sold out event at the Edinburgh Book Festival to promote an updated edition of The Enemy Within, I witnessed ex-miners approach him with tears in their eyes to let him know how much the book meant and still means to them and their comrades, thanking him for telling their story.

How many journalists of the current generation could come close to producing work of such meaning? To ask the question is to answer it.

Now the reason it is important to establish these salient ‘facts’ about Seumas Milne and his career is that his recent appointment by Jeremy Corbyn as his press and strategy chief has unleashed such a chorus of condemnation and calumniation – by a constituency of right wing hacks, former Trotskyists turned right wing bloggers, and embittered failed Labour candidates, among others – you could be forgiven for thinking we are talking about Charles Manson rather than one of the most esteemed journalists this country has every produced.

Indeed, overnight, someone who has spent his entire career working at the very apex of his trade in the mainstream is “insane”, “an apologist for terrorism”, “terrorists”, and “murderous dictators”, a “Stalinist”.

The only thing Milne has not been accused of is 9/11, though surprise, surprise, he has been accused of apologising for it.

What we have seen take place is nothing less than a feral and unhinged scream from the swamp of reaction that resides in our culture, where every crank with a computer resides, consumed with bitterness and untreated angst, much of it in the form of self loathing over their own inadequacies and lack of talent – not to mention in some cases a jump from the extreme left to extreme right of the political spectrum, with all the psychological dysfunction such a metamorphosis describes.

So feral, so extreme has been this motley crew of first rate second rate men (and women) in their biblical denunciations of Seumas Milne, they make the McCarthy witchhunts seem like child’s play by comparison.

The words of Nietzsche come to mind: “Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.” Oscar Wilde, however, comes even closer to the truth: “Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.”

More articles by:

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
Matt Smith
Amazon Retaliation: Workers Striking Back
Kenneth Surin
What The President Said (About The Plague)
Patrick Cockburn
The Chaotic Government Response to COVID-19 Resembles the Failures of 1914
Marshall Auerback
The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Opened the Curtains on the World’s Next Economic Model
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
Trump Sends Gun Boats to Venezuela While the World Partners to Fight a Deadly Pandemic
Jeremy Lent
Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era. What’s Next?
Dean Baker
The Big Hit: COVID-19 and the Economy
Nino Pagliccia
A Simple Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela: End All “Sanctions”
Colin Todhunter
Locked Down and Locking in the New Global Order
Robert Fisk
Biden Says He ‘Doesn’t Have Enough Information’ on Iran to Have a Vew. How Odd, He Negotiated the Nuclear Deal
Wim Laven
GOP’s Achievement is Now on Display
Binoy Kampmark
Boastful Pay Cuts: the Coronavirus Incentive
Dave Lindorff
It’s Spring and I’ve Turned 71 in a Pandemic-Induced Recession
Steve Brown
FLASH! Trump Just Endorsed Bernie’s Medicare-For-All Health Plan
Marc Haggerty
Class and COVID-19: Those Who Can and Those Who Can’t
Manuel García, Jr.
A Reply to Jeffrey St. Clair’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day”
George Wuerthner
How Fuel Breaks Fuel Fires
Marshall Sahlins
Election 2020
April 06, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 and the Failures of Capitalism
W. T. Whitney
Donald Trump, Capitalism, and Letting Them Die
Cesar Chelala
Cuba’s Promising Approach to Cancer
David A. Schultz
Camus and Kübler-Ross in a Time of COVID-19 and Trump
Nomi Prins 
Wall Street Wins, Again: Bailouts in the Time of Coronavirus
Dean Baker
Getting to Medicare-for-All, Eventually
Dave Lindorff
Neither Pandemic Nor Economic Collapse is Going to Be a Short-Lived Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
Capitalism in America Has Dropped the Mask: Its Face is Cruel and Selfish
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 7 Pro-Contagion Reversals Increase the Coronavirus Toll
David Swanson
A Department of Actual Defense in a Time of Coronavirus
Ellen Brown
Was the Fed Just Nationalized?
Jeff Birkenstein
Postcards From Trump
Nick Licata
Authoritarian Leaders Rejected the Danger of a COVID-19 Pandemic Because It Challenged Their Image
Kathy Kelly
“He’s Got Eight Numbers, Just Like Everybody Else”
Graham Peebles
Change Love and the Need for Unity
Kim C. Domenico
Can We Transform Fear to Strength In A Time of Pandemic?
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Files Lawsuit to Stop Logging and Burning Project in Rocky Mountain Front Inventoried Roadless Area
Stephen Cooper
“The Soul Syndicate members dem, dem are all icons”: an Interview with Tony Chin
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail