Flawed greater good vs. deliberate evil

Julia Steinberger
9 min readJul 24, 2020

If I were into clickbait, I’d call this a story about cancel culture vs. a culture of cancellation, but I’m not. Also, to be honest, I am writing this while insomniac, stressed and exhausted. I am going to make sweeping oversimplifications (“left” and “right” being the most egregious, perhaps). I hope you find some nuggets of wisdom here to inform your thinking nonetheless.

This is a barely structured collection of notes about people and institutions, about good and evil, about the messy processes of progress and harm reduction, and about navigating our way through.

Eve Tempted by the Serpent, by William Blake.

A flawed greater good

The Guardian newspaper & media institution is in financial trouble, and is asking its readers and supporters to support it in ever greater numbers (spoiler alert: I have). This, by itself, is not newsworthy given our time of decline in journalism, and the context of economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

What has impressed me, though, is sheer the amount of pushback from the left. Starting from its days as the “Manchester Guardian”, the Guardian has a long history as the main newspaper of the UK left (even though it endorsed the Liberal Democrats in 2010, hoping for proportional representation to follow — this was of course betrayed by the Liberal Democrats supporting a Tory austerity government, and the decline of the UK to its present state. This betrayal continues to this day, in the form of Nick Clegg supporting Facebook’s uncritical mass diffusion of climate denial. But I digress.). For many, the Guardian’s main sin was a lack of wholehearted support for Corbyn, and they reacted with scorn at even being asked for support.

I am not saying that all of these reactions are unfounded: in particular, the experience of Nafeez Ahmed, who was fired in 2014 after publishing a story on the Israeli ambitions to exploit gas in Gaza, makes a strong case for a flawed institution: one where the political prejudices of influential editors sometimes trump the independence of journalists to cover their beat.

But the Guardian is still the media organization most likely to support investigative journalism that the left needs to succeed in its campaigns, to expose corruption, profiteering, and the intertwined geopolitical…

Julia Steinberger

Immigrant, Swiss-American-UK ecological economist at the University of Lausanne. Research focus on living well within planetary limits. Opinions my own.