As we noted back in April, Owen Jones, perhaps the best known leftist commentator in Britain, “still looks like a high-school kid” even though he’s 34. Maybe it’s because his brow hasn’t been furrowed by deep thoughts. Although he is considered highly influential, it’s impossible, we wrote, to grasp why “anyone, anywhere, could possibly be influenced by him.”
But there he is, this Oxford grad who is the son and grandson of Communists, constantly pontificating in the pages of the Guardian and all over British TV, endlessly reiterating his one-dimensional, ideologically lockstep message that “capitalism is a sham” and “socialism is our only hope.” He is constantly condemning Islamophobia, which he has called “a European pandemic” and “the most widespread…form of bigotry of our times,” but won’t breathe a word in criticism of Islam or in acknowledgment of the ongoing worldwide oppression of Christians Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, women, gays, and others in the name of Allah.
A gay man, Jones is eternally on the lookout for the slightest hint of right-wing homophobia, but simply refuses to talk about the fact that sharia law orders the execution of gays. Appearing on Sky News after the June 12, 2016, jihadist massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, he was mainly concerned with shutting down any mention by his host and fellow panelist of the atrocity’s Islamic roots, and when they refused to be silenced, he walked off in a now-famous huff.
Jones was also a devout fan of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro. And – oh, yes – he’s an ardent follower of Jeremy Corbyn, the anti-Semite who led the Labour Party to a historic defeat in the UK’s December 12 parliamentary elections. In the hours after the loss, Jones tweeted that voters had abandoned Labour because of its wishy-washy position. A few days later, in his post-election column, Jones presented a longer list of reasons for the loss, citing a series of misguided strategies and tactics. This supposedly influential voice of the left had utterly failed to recognize that the problem was a pure matter of ideology: the sometime reformist party of the working class had, quite simply, been taken over by radical elites who live in a north London bubble, who look down on the proles, and who love the idea of socialism even though they’ve never, of course, lived in a socialist country or seriously studied the subject.
And Jones is one of them. Which is the only reason any of these people read him and take him seriously: because he shares, and affirms, their own shallow, puerile worldview. “I don’t think anyone on the left should regret our enthusiasm for the transformative programme on offer,” Jones wrote in his column. “These are the right policies for the country and the planet, and a bad campaign hasn’t changed that.” While Labour, he asserted, needed to win back elderly voters, it must not give up “the progressive social values that are articles of faith to its young supporters.” Which is to say the hip, privileged, urban young, many of whom have never had a job, run a business, or paid income taxes, and who have embraced a certain set of political propositions not because they know anything about the actual lessons of modern history and economics but because adherence to those propositions is de rigueur in their social circle.