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Monday, November 06, 2006


A bad guy

The Guardian is not a paper of the left. It a soft-liberal, pro-capitalist, reasonably intelligent and humane paper. But it is not a paper of the left.

The Guardian has been holding its nose when writing about the election in progress in Nicaragua. In the political imagination of the editorial staff Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinistas and the front-runner in the presidential race, reeks. In a nominative slip that exposes the rank vision of the Latin American world, The Guardian writes:

“Analysts have said Mr Noriega stands less chance of winning a runoff as various opponents are likely to unite behind a single candidate.”

There is no ‘Mr Noriega’ in the Nicaraguan Presidential race. It was Mr Ortega who was meant to be the subject of this sentence. But Mr Noriega, erstwhile dictator of Panama, is a ‘bad guy’. Notwithstanding the support he received from a George H.W. Bush headed CIA, as a drug-smuggling, anti-Communist friend of America, in popular memory he is the strongman, the jefe removed from power in operation ‘Just Cause’. He is a ‘bad guy’.

And so is Daniel Ortega, it seems. How easily The Guardian buys into this line. For The Guardian, the Contras are an ambiguous organisation, their history in doubt and open for debate, being only “accused of waging of a brutal campaign of intimidation” [emphasis added]. And while the US-supported candidate is quoted, there is not a word from the likely winner.

The Guardian is a ‘decent’ paper. Despite the racialised slur of ‘al-Guardian’ that the ‘decents’ sometimes toss that way of the newspaper, much of the editorial line is perfectly in-line with that of the ‘decents’. Sure, there have been disagreements over quite how many wars of occupation can be supported at any one time and the competency of those planning and executing these wars. But the political line is one that supports the interests of capital, so long as it comes with a polished veneer of liberalism. Of course, this veneer can be dazzling, leading to a confusion over just what liberalism. Being decent, these days, seems to involve supporting war and occupation, the demonisation of a vulnerable minority group and the use of torture.

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