Monday, 22 August 2022

George Monbiot hoist by his own petard

There are some crazy conspiracy theories associated with Bill Gates these days. First he wanted to kill everybody with vaccines, then he wanted to buy up all the world's farmland and now he wants everybody to stop eating meat or something. 
A Guardian article by the left-wing journalist George Monbiot has got a surprising amount of attention from the denizens of Clown World. In it, Monbiot argues that organic lamb and beef are the most environmentally destructive farm products. The article is full of holes and can be destroyed with facts and logic as this thread does, but the clowns went straight for the ad hominem argument instead.

Never one to miss out on a retweet, the attention-seeking slaphead James Melville joined in...

Live by the sword, die by the sword, you might say. No one is more guilty than George Monbiot of accusing his opponents of being mouthpieces for billionaires. No one in British journalism has done more to foster the cynical lie that people who espouse free market or libertarian views do so because they are hired guns of wealthy or corporate interests. 
It is true that Bill Gates gives a lot of money to the Guardian, but with the boot on the other foot, Monbiot spluttered with disgust at the suggestion that his opinions are influenced by whoever partially funds his employer.

We only have Monbiot's word for this, but I believe him. His anti-meat stance is well known and I have no reason to think he is not sincere.

He also insists that Gates has no say over the Guardian's editorial position. Again, we only have his word for this, but I will afford him the privilege he so often denies others and assume that he acts in good faith.

Finally, he expresses his frustration about billionaires becoming the subject of conspiracy theories. Not all billionaires, obviously - the Koch brothers are fair game to George and the "billionaire press" are the world's puppet-masters apparently - but the ones who happen to fund his newspaper.

Don't fall for these fables, says the man who describes a think tank that has published the work of twelve Nobel-prize winning economists as "a hoax" and who once gathered a mob to 55 Tufton Street - an address that has become infamous with geographically challenged conspiracy theories - who then vandalised the building.

Monbiot has since argued on Twitter than the Guardian does at least publish the names of its donors, unlike those ghastly free market think tanks, but this isn't true. In the last few years, it has started panhandling for contributions from its readers. You can become a Patron, with packages ranging from £1,200 to £5,000, and you are welcome to give more if you feel like it. Thanks to these donations, the Guardian was able to turn a profit for the first time in 20 years

The names of these Patrons are kept secret. Rightly so, I would argue. It's no one else's business if I want to give money to a struggling newspaper, just as it is no one else's business if you want to give to a charity like the IEA. 

It seems reasonable to assume that the people who become Guardian patrons do so because they broadly support the Guardian's worldview. The reverse explanation - that the Guardian changes its editorial line to match the views of its patrons - is fairly obviously absurd, and yet that is how Monbiot thinks it works in think tanks (not all think tanks, just the ones he doesn't like).

Nevertheless, the hilarious fact remains that Monbiot works for an organisation that is funded by anonymous donors and billionaires. He now finds himself the target of lunatic conspiracy theorists shouting "follow the money" and refusing to believe that anybody in his position can have an opinion of their own.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

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