Environment

Monbiot vs Brand, Cont'd

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorNov 12, 2010 3:21 PM

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It's pretty one-sided, with George Monbiot continuing to land all the punches. But in going for the knockout, Monbiot swings and misses hugely. Here's why. At the end of his latest takedown of Stewart Brand, Monbiot selectively lists some of Brand's corporate clients, setting up what Monbiot thinks are the following two death blows:

When I first came across your work, I took it at face value. As I read more, I began to wonder if you are not, as you claim, pioneering a new form of environmentalism, but a new form of corporate consultancy. You seem to be seeking to shape the environmental debate to suit the businesses you work for. Our correspondence does nothing to dispel this impression. Can you disabuse me of my suspicions? You are more dangerous than the other corporate-sponsored adversaries of the green movement. You don't deny that climate change is happening. You don't get abusive, you remain polite and charming, you sound reasonable at all times. You are, as a result, a more effective operator than them: you have persuaded a lot of influential people that you are working for the good of the planet. I fear you are running the most insidious and subtle exercise in corporate propaganda I have yet encountered. As a result, no one, until now, has called you out on it. With this response, that changes.

Well, to my eyes, Monbiot is swinging wildly with the charge of Brand being little more than a corporate shill. It's too bad, too, because Monbiot was clearly winning on points with all the tight jabs that did hit their mark in his latest post. I say Monbiot misses with the corporate shill roundhouse because 1) he relies on Sourcewatch, which as we've already learned, is not a neutral source of information and 2) that particular SourceWatch page on the Global Business Network hasn't been updated in two years. (Look at the "history" at the top of the page). Additionally, if Brand is undermining his own credibility with his refusal to admit error (on this score Monbiot is right), then Monbiot undermines his own takedown of Brand with his speculation of motive via guilt-by-association. Yet another case where a pundit can't help himself from overreaching, even after he's scored most of the points. Moreover, Monbiot, with his guilt-by-association gambit, has forfeited the high ground and given Brand, should he choose to counter, an easy opening to turn the focus on the most fantastic (and least substantiated) charge against him. UPDATE:

In their continuing email exchange, Brand responds to Monbiot:

I'm amazed and intrigued by the fictional character you've attached my real name to"”the sinister corporate pawn.

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