It is incredibly destabilising when the news networks you know and trust turn on their audiences, betraying their integrity by threatening ofcom investigations and media hit pieces on anyone with the audacity to question the dominant narrative.

Attacks in lieu of answers
Illustration Rachael Bolton

The disenchantment the general public feels towards the news and media industry probably explains why James O’Brien, moral arbiter of the establishment, found his authority coming under threat by a ‘common sense mum’ named Cathy who was characterised as a deranged conspiracist during one of his recent radio shows for having the nerve of holding a different opinion than him over the botched poisoning attempt of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia.

Cathy told the radio presenter that she got most of her news from UKIP and YouTube, rather than your more traditional news sources.

“I believe this is all to derail Brexit,” she says, It’s to make us look isolated and vulnerable against Russia so that we stay in the EU. We should give Putin that sample. They’ve got every right to that sample to see what it is. I don’t believe the novichok came from them. I don’t see what Putin had to gain. Why would he do it before the World Cup? Why would he do that before the elections? It does not make any sense.”

(I often find myself exasperated with parties like UKIP and their loyalists, because their economic ideology is used only as a means to justify its racist ideology, rather than developing out of any desire to really fix the system.

Its logic is much like that of a below-average high-school student in a mathematics exam: their workings may all be correct, but their conclusions are completely wrong.

We are all, most of us, being systematically blocked from enjoying the prosperity this economy has created for the 1%. And the .1% of the 1%. Of course this comes as no surprise to women, black and brown people, the Indigenous, or the LGBITQA who have been systemically locked out of economies since the beginning of time. The white working class are simply the latest to join the club.

They might find, if only they could set aside their prejudices, that they have a much wider appeal in their economic conviction. They might find they share more in common with Corbyn than either of them think. Corbyn rightly believes economic and financial discrimination is systemic, whereas UKIP just likes to blame it on immigrants and brown people).

In any case, Cathy was, naturally, depicted as your standard conspiracy theorist for the audacious crime of demanding evidence before forming a conclusion.

This is the same man who puts those opposed to a war with Russia, or another Middle East intervention in the same basket as conspiracy theorists who believed the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, ‘who argue that fruit juice cartons have been impregnated with a special chemical designed to make children gay’. (His words, not mine).

Well, I have a message for Cathy: You’re not half wrong.

Russia had nothing to gain and everything to lose from the botched poisoning attempts, as Assad has nothing to gain and everything to lose by gassing his own citizens, just as the Syrian Army is on the brink of defeating the jihadists rebels that the US and its allies have been backing for more than six years. (His brutality, notwithstanding).

The allies couldn’t make the novichok argument stick in Britain so they moved it to Syria, where they still can’t make any chemical weapons claims stick. So now establishment loyalists are resorting to character assassination and libel as weapons in their propaganda war.

We’ve done that before. Three times. In Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. And lo-and-behold the intelligence turned out to be flawed and our own ‘righteous’ intervention resulted in the creation of ISIS and the splintering of other rebel factions (or ‘new markets’) that have made it notoriously difficult to distinguish truth from propaganda and conveniently easy for the US and its allies to do business, even at the height of several ongoing violent and escalating illegal foreign interventions masquerading as civil wars.

The authorities still haven’t even confirmed that an attack even occurred in Syria, we are still waiting for an independent investigation. Yet the State Department claims that as yet unconfirmed attacks warrant immediate intervention. Along with Tony-WMD-Blair.

You know the world really has lost its mind when Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is one of the only voices of reason amongst the mainstream. Meanwhile corporate Democrats, Blairites, neo-con Tories, Republicans and their media allies at the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC are crowing for war.

And we still don’t know what happened that day in Salisbury, who is responsible, or even what kind of poison was used, let alone whether it was a nerve agent or not, or where it came from.

Regardless, Russia is not why Britain voted to leave the EU. Nor is it the reason why Trump got elected. No amount of crowing over Russia will change the fact that something is very rotten in the state of Denmark. Otherwise, there would be no need for the Bernie Sanders, the Corbyns, (and yes, even the Trumps) of this world. People who are financially comfortable tend not to want to overthrow their governments or change the system. Which is probably why so few of the shrinking middle class and media elite can come to terms with what is happening all around them. They are too damn comfortable.

That even the most self-proclaimed progressive, leftist, or Blairite in sheep’s clothing are so easily and patronisingly dismissive of their ideological opponents, demonstrates how comfortable they are living in a climate of austerity that will never come to their door, the new economy has become so rewarding for enlightened, compassionate, open-minded liberals, it has blinded them to the true nature of the status-quo. So loathed are they to engage with reality that the only weapon in their arsenal is to accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being fringe-dwelling conspiracy theorists.

If their own financial security were under threat, they’d vote to leave too, in a heartbeat. But they aren’t disaffected because their prosperity is tied to continued inequality and austerity. Their failure to come to terms with reality, having done away with Occam’s Razor over Brexit, Trump, Russia, Syria and the changing political tides, shows they are now the ones clinging to conspiracy.

Claire Connelly

Claire Connelly

Claire Connelly is the editor-in-chief of Renegade Inc. An award-winning freelance journalist,speaker, and founder of subscription journalism experiment, Hello Humans. https://www.patreon.com/claireconnelly

Specialising in economics, technology and policy, Connelly is working on her first book due out in 2018.

With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Claire has written for leading publications including The Australian Financial Review, The Saturday Paper, ABC, SBS, Crikey, New Matilda, VICE & others. She is the co-host of The Week In Start-Ups Australia, and features regularly as a commentator on TV and radio shows including Radio National's Download This Show, ABC's The Drum, Ten's The Project, and more.
Claire Connelly

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