Spiked-online update


Posted to www.marxmail.org on November 4, 2005


First, a little background. www.spiked-online.com is the website of a group of ex-Marxists in England who are also involved with a number of innocuous sounding think-tanks like "Institute for Ideas", etc. I should add that there is one member who still maintains Marxist pretensions, namely Jim Heartfield. You can find him posting occasionally on Doug Henwood's list but he is not the ubiquitous figure on Internet mailing lists he once was.


The reach of this group is quite remarkable. Despite their shady connections with outfits like the PR firm Hill and Knowlton, they still manage to con people like Norman Solomon into speaking at their confabs. Last year he participated in "Communicating the War on Terror" at Kings College. The main organizer for this was a character named Bill Durodie, who--like the rest of them--was in the Revolutionary Communist Party at one time. Another organizer was the Center for Defense Studies which is funded by the UK Ministry of Defense.


Even when these characters were nominally Marxist, they were distinguished by their hostility to environmentalism. Using a bowdlerized version of some sections of the Communist Manifesto, they had convinced themselves (and some unsuspecting souls) that advocating nuclear power and genetically modified food was practically the same thing as erecting barricades during the Paris Commune.


This tradition, stripped of Marxist pretensions, continues unabated in spiked-online. You can find articles on almost a daily basis filled with skepticism about global warming, arguing that GM food is good for you, etc. In today’s edition, there’s something on the Kyoto accords that states, “The rush to cut emissions was thoroughly irrational.” The author is Rob Lyons who is the IT director for spiked. He also is the webmaster for a pro-GM lobby group called “Sense about Science.”


The director of “Sense About Science” is one Tracey Brown, another spiked online regular. Before assuming the directorship of “Sense About Science,” she was a senior analyst for the PR firm Regester Larkin. Sourcewatch.org, who keeps an eye on their shenanigans, informs us:


“Their clients are nearly all pharmaceutical, oil, or biotechnology companies, including BioIndustry Association, Shell Chemicals, TOTAL, Bayer, Pfizer, Aventis CropScience, and gas company BG Group.


“It is probable that Brown fell under the influence of LM group godfather Frank Furedi while working as a Research Associate in the Sociology Dept. at the University of Kent, Canterbury, where Furedi is a professor. She went on to co-author 'Complaining Britain,' Society Vol.36 No.4 with Furedi.”


For 5000 pounds a day, Regester Larkin advises its clients how to fend off environmental assaults on Frankenfood.


There’s also an article in today's spiked-online titled “Science Goes Down the River” by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan which assures us New Yorkers:  “EPA maintains that PCBs, particularly in Hudson River fish, pose a cancer hazard - but there is no evidence that such a risk exists. The stark truth is that there is no benefit to public health in mandating that traces of PCBs be removed from the river. There are, however, big costs - all of which will be borne by consumers.”




Whelan is president of the American Council on Health and Science (http://www.acsh.org/), an outfit she founded after accepting a freelance writing assignment with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. It seems that they wanted a background paper on "the Delaney Clause" -- which Dr. Whelan had never heard of.


She “was soon to learn that the Delaney Clause was part of the 1958 Food Additive Amendment, and it banned any food additive that caused cancer in laboratory animals.” Apparently this capricious measure was so offensive to her that she went through a transformation akin to Paul’s on the road to Damascus. Henceforth she would devote herself to Better Living Through Chemistry.


On the Council on Health and Science home page, you can find links to articles on the National Review website and other sordid material.


Someday a scholar will write an authoritative history on the defection of large sections of the radical movement over the past 10 years into the enemy camp. There certainly will be a chapter on this peculiar subspecies of Marxism gone wrong.