Tweet Checking: What Does "Elite" Owen Jones Mean When He Says "Elite"?

Despite the Christmas break, the tidal wave of vicious stupidity on Twitter continued.

The agents of appeasement and whataboutery were in full force this week as Iranians erupted into protest about economic deprivation and political oppression (“Iranians don’t have souls of their own! This is obviously a Zio-CIA plot to distract us from the BDS protest at Arizona State!”).

The empty words “elite” and “establishment” were yet again tossed around with gay abandon (I think they might both mean “I disagree with you and you have some ill-defined power so therefore you’re wrong and evil.”).

Old conspiracies about the powers of Freemasonry were unearthed, giving people who would otherwise be attacking Jews something different to hate this week.

I haven’t even started the column proper yet and I’m already gritting my teeth. Let’s dive in…

5. Partisangirl

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Who is Maram Susli aka Partisangirl? Well, she’s the “The Best English-speaking Friend Assad Could Ask For”, believes that “Ebola could be an American military bioweapon”, and holds that 9/11 was an inside job…Oh! and contributes to our old colleagues InfoWars as well.

Now Susli is clearly a big fan of Hezbollah, but as to having “never attacked the West”, you would have to ignore the 1992 Israeli embassy attack in Buenos Aires, the 1994 AMIA bombing (done it seems purely for the anti-Semitic lulz) the 1994 AC Flight 901 attack, the 1994 London Israeli Embassy attack, and the 2012 Burgas bus bombing.

We’ve not even got into Hezbollah’s dozens of attacks on the US military and diplomatic service (both within Lebanon and outside it), its drug trafficking and money laundering activities in the West, or the opinion in 2012 of Daniel Benjamin, the US State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator: "We assess that Hezbollah could attack in Europe or elsewhere at any time with little or no warning, […] Hezbollah maintains a presence in Europe and its recent activities demonstrate that it is not constrained by concerns about collateral damage or political fallout that could result from conducting operations there.”

As to Hezbollah saving “the world” from ISIS, that’s a little undermined by the fact that Hezbollah struck a deal with the Caliphate “that allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families to leave the Lebanese-Syrian border in air-conditioned buses towards IS-held areas near the Syrian-Iraqi border”. In effect, this meant that it allowed them to leave their area of interest.

4. Harry Leslie SmithC:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp\IMG_0842.jpg

Smith has already deleted what must have been a far more insidious tweet (no screenshots seem to be avaliable), but out of the remaining careless rambles of tweets this curious nonagenarian phenomenon has spewed out on the issue of the Iranian protests, this one strikes me as particularly…ughff. How exactly stopping the selling of weaponry to Saudi Arabia — a foul indefensible thing in itself no one can deny — will suddenly force the mullahs to lay down their arms against their own people is beyond me. If anything, the balance of power in the Middle East would swing in the Islamic Republic’s favour, inviting even more repression, not just in Iran, but across the region in areas of Iranian influence.

It’s obvious that Smith is saying this in bad faith. I think James Bloodworth sums up this attiude best: 'The people of Iran are an inconvenience. Let us instead talk about the things I wish to talk about.'

3. SkwawkboxC:\Users\Owner\AppData\Local\Temp\IMG_0849-1.jpg

Two for the price of one! I’ve written extensively on this subject elsewhere (here and here), coming to the conclusion that: firstly, Corbyn had virtually nothing to with the actual peace process as he’s not mentioned or indexed in any of the main (or minor) histories of the Troubles (including Gerry Adams’ autobiography); and secondly, when Corbyn does appear at the fringes of the conflict, he appears as less of a peacemaker and more of an IRA fanboy.

The contents of the Guardian article are also being misrepresented (the title of the article doesn’t help either). Besides not mentioning Corbyn by name, Adams as seen in the released files quoted in the piece had no real interest in political compromise or a peace settlement, but instead in using the two main British parties against each as a means to force a unilateral “withdrawal” from Northern Ireland: “Adams would clearly have an interest in nurturing any movement in Labour towards a policy of British withdrawal. […] These documents indicate a third strand to Adams’s efforts, involving a bid to break Conservative-Labour bipartisanship on Northern Ireland. Adams was encouraged by Labour’s ‘unity-by-consent’ policy on Northern Ireland. His strategy was to get the Labour party to stress far more forthrightly its desire for Irish unity, to encourage the IRA to believe in the possibilities of politics.” Yes, Adams wanted a “ceasefire”, but only after getting what he wanted: an Ireland unified by terrorism against the will of the people of NI. Instead, the IRA campaign ultimately failed and had to come to the table because its organs were infiltrated and weakened, and its resources exhausted.

Mowlam’s relationship to Corbyn has also been misrepresented.

2. Toby Young

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Does anybody remember Godfrey Bloom? He was the UKIP MEP who tried to redefine the word “slut” to cover up his own stupidity. (Out of office, he’s Jew-hunting these days.)

It’s retroactive re-defining that is a particular pet peeve of mine, because it shows that the writer or speaker not only has little-to-no control over what they themselves are communicating—an admission of severe inadequacy—but that they also dare assume that those around them are too stupid or ignorant to realise what they’re attempting to do.

Young is misrepresenting his own words; as Liane Wimhurst writes: “stains was common Oxford slang for working class students.” But it is in fact worse than that; in the same 1987 essay, he makes his opinion on “stains” quite clear: “It was as if all the meritocratic fantasies of every 1960s educationalist had come true and all Harold Wilson’s children had been let in at the gate … Small, vaguely deformed undergraduates would scuttle across the quad as if carrying mobile homes on their backs. Replete with acne and anoraks, they would peer up through thick pebble-glasses, pausing only to blow their noses.”

 I am perpetually perplexed as to why all these public school and Oxbridge graduates, granted the best education the class hierarchy can entitle (against the unwashed masses like me who wanted to go to go to Oxford with his triple A grading but was looked at like a piece of shit at a university convention by the representatives of Balliol College), turn out in the end to be such arrogant, irresponsible, and short-sighted dim-wits.

1. Owen Jones

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People have already given Jones a bashing for calling Lord Adonis part of a “media and political elite”, but I think it’s important to think about what exactly makes Adonis “elite”. Going to Oxford? Nope; both Jones and Adonis have done it. Having graduate degrees from Oxford? Nope; both of them again. Spending his professional life in academia, politics and the mainstream media? Nope; both of them again. If anything, to look at what conventionally means “elite”, and compare backgrounds, I think if

you weighed the son of an IT lecturer who as soon as he left uni got a nice job as a trade union lobbyist and a parliamentary aide (to the current Shadow Chancellor no less) before sliding into mass media and becoming the most influential left-wing writer in the country, against the son of a Greek immigrant and an English mother, who abandoned him when he was three and had to eventually live in a council children's home until the age of 11, whereupon he used his abilities to advance himself and be awarded a grant to get into a boarding school and get the best education, then I think the term would better fit the former.

In a Medium post, rather than attempt to make amends, he in fact doubles down on his criticism of Adonis, demanding that he renounce his peerage like Tony Benn did, and immediately go on a tour in a “new grassroots national campaign”, in what seems to amount to him begging people for forgiveness for ever having ever had any kind of ‘privilege’, bull-whipping himself on the altar of Leave. Unless he and the rest of the ‘Stop Brexit’ column, fall on their knees in front of Leavers, “then nothing will change, and a lifetime of angry political failure awaits.”

At this point, the words “elite” and “establishment” (Jones’ other favourite word) have been made pretty meaningless outside of an emotional term used to batter critics and discontents — much like “neoliberal” or even “terrorist”.

There’s also Jones’ demand for some kind of purity above all else that gets me, while he himself sits in an ivory media tower, followed by legions of fans, making nigh-on impossible and impractical demands of real political actors, while insisting that he knows the real reason many voted for Brexit was “hardship and insecurity”, instead of the fear, paranoia, and xenophobia that he himself originally had a small part in stoking.

More about the author

About the author

Harris Coverley writes the Tweet Checking column for Disclaimer and is constantly looking for readers to help him correct the worst of internet. No stupidity or falsehood is too great a challenge.

He lives in Manchester and holds an MA in Intellectual History from UCL. He also writes short fiction and poetry, the former of which only Disclaimer has had the good sense to publish.

Follow Harris on Twitter.

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