Lionel Barber returns to Oxford. Old Socialist ruminates on his address.

From the editor of The Financial Times, Mr. Barber, the readership, viewership last saw him chowing down in the FT Cafeteria! He,this time, considers the vexing question of ‘Fake News’ , simply put, propaganda. Some of Mr. Barber’s readership are old enough to recall the ‘Managed News’ controversy of the Kennedy presidency.  The Financial Times which specializes in Capitalist Apologetics and its corollary a defense of a defunct Neo-Liberalism, opines on ‘Fake News’. Irony? Pankaj Mishra in his latest essay for the London Review of Books:

perfectly describes the persons and the mentality of the milieu at the Financial Times and the Spectator,while not including Mr. Barber, it is demonstrative of a climate of opinion at these publications which specialize in editorial comment and news about politics and policy. The latest ‘advocacy journalism’ at The Financial Times has been its unseemly, even obsequious celebration of Macron’s Jupertarian Politics, another name for ‘rule by decree’: call it the political desperation of the advocates of a Neo-Liberalism, that has reached its terminal state, except to its diehards like the zealot Macron, and his La République En Marche! Is the lesser of two evils about to confront the rage of that 37%, or even the La Pen coterie?

The ideas and commitments of the new prophets of decline do not emerge from any personal experience of it, let alone adversity of the kind suffered by many voters of Brexit and Trump. These men were ideologically formed during the reign of Reagan and Thatcher, and their influence and prestige have grown in step with the expansion of Anglo-America’s intellectual and cultural capital. Lilla, a self-declared ‘centrist liberal’, arrived at his present position by way of working-class Detroit, evangelical Christianity and an early flirtation with neoconservatism. The British writers belong to a traditional elite; shared privilege transcends ideological discrepancies between centrist liberalism and nativism, the Financial Times and the Spectator. Murray and Goodhart were educated at Eton; the fathers of both Luce and Goodhart were Conservative MPs; and all three went to Oxford. Inhabitants of a transatlantic ecosystem of corporate philanthropy, think-tanks and high-altitude conclaves, they can also be found backslapping in the review pages and on Twitter: Murray calls Goodhart’s writing ‘superb’ and Luce’s ‘beautiful’; Emmott thanks Murray for his ‘nice’ review in the Times.

Here Mr. Mishra describes the near incestuous milieu of Mr. Barber and his coterie of fellow travelers: a transatlantic ecosystem of corporate philanthropy, think-tanks and high-altitude conclaves. The only missing piece in Mr. Mishra’s essay is the newspaper, as the platform for political advocacy i.e. propagandizing. Mr. Mishra is reviewing books by the New Declinists, yet he describes with telling accuracy Mr. Barber’s milieu: the Oxford address being just one more venue for the exercise of the wisdom of an elite pundit, or better yet a Demi-Philosopher King.

Old Socialist




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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