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Living Marxism

Living Marxism

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Living Marxism was a British magazine, originally launched in 1988 as the journal of the British Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). It was later rebranded as LM and folded in March 2000 following an adverse ruling in a libel lawsuit brought by the British news corporation, Independent Television News ITN.

Living Marxism's Aims

Living Marxism's introduction summarised their outlook as:


Views expounded with regularity in LM included 'Fear Culture
Culture of fear
Culture of fear is a term used by certain scholars, writers, journalists and politicians who believe that some in society incite fear in the general public to achieve political goals, for example......

', for example by questioning the then media coverage of AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 as a predominantly homosexual disease in the West. Their critique covered media coverage in Africa and the developing world in the context of Western intervention, under-development and poverty. They also debated environmentalist claims that limiting consumption
Consumption (economics)
Consumption is a common concept in economics, and gives rise to derived concepts such as consumer debt. Generally, consumption is defined in part by comparison to production. But the precise definition can vary because different schools of economists define production quite differently...

 was a progressive
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 view. The magazine also raised concerns about the Left's rejection of scientific thought and critique, especially of medicine, biotechnology and nuclear physics. LM writers also critiqued the media portrayal of the civil wars in Rwanda
Rwandan Civil War
The Rwandan Civil War was a conflict within the Central African nation of Rwanda between the government of President Juvénal Habyarimana and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front...

 and Bosnia
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

 by questioning the use of the term "genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

" to describe the conflicts.

ITN vs. LM

In the first issue where the journal was re-named LM, editor Mick Hume
Mick Hume
Mick Hume is a British journalist and former organiser of the defunct Revolutionary Communist Party. He was raised in Woking and educated at Manchester University where he read American Studies...

 published an article by German journalist Thomas Deichmann which claimed that British Independent Television News (ITN) had misrepresented the Bosnian war in its coverage in 1992. The publishers of LM, Informinc (LM) ltd., were sued for libel by ITV. The case initially caused international condemnation of ITN as one of LM's most trenchant critics George Monbiot
George Monbiot
George Joshua Richard Monbiot is an English writer, known for his environmental and political activism. He lives in Machynlleth, Wales, writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and is the author of a number of books, including Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain and Bring on the...

However, Monbiot continued:
The article "The picture that fooled the world" argued that ITN's footage, in which an emaciated Bosnian Muslim man stood behind a barbed wire fence, was designed to portray a Nazi-style extermination camp, while Deichmann claimed "It was not a prison, and certainly not a 'concentration camp', but a collection centre for refugees, many of whom went there seeking safety and could leave again if they wished." However, an examination of the substance of this case by a professor of cultural and political geography at Durham University argues that the key claims made by Deichmann and LM are "erroneous and flawed".

The libel case went against LM, and in March 2000 the magazine was forced to close. Reporters Penny Marshall
Penny Marshall (UK journalist)
Penny Marshall is a British journalist.She is a graduate of the London School of Economics where she was active as a student journalist. Marshall established herself as a television news foreign correspondent during the 1980s and 90s, when she was based in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union...

 and Ian Williams
Ian Williams
Ian Williams is an American rock guitarist. He became noted for his finger tapping guitar playing in bands such as Don Caballero, Storm & Stress and currently in Battles.-Biography:...

 were each awarded £150,000 over the LM story and the magazine was also ordered to pay £75,000 for libelling ITN in a February 1997 article.

The result produced very mixed reactions as Diana Johnstone comments:
In contrast, Professor Campbell of Durham University summarised his study of the case as follows:

"...as strange as existing British libel law is, it had an important and surprisingly beneficial effect in the case of ITN vs LM. The LM defendants and Thomas Deichmann were properly represented at the trial and were able to lay out all the details of their claim that the ITN reporters had "deliberately misrepresented" the situation at Trnopolje. Having charged 'deliberate misrepresentation', they needed to prove 'deliberate misrepresentation'. To this end, the LM defendants were able to cross-examine Penny Marshall and Ian Williams, as well as every member of the ITN crews who were at the camps, along with other witnesses. (That they didn't take up the opportunity to cross-examine the Bosnian doctor imprisoned at Trnopolje, who featured in the ITN stories and was called to testify on the conditions and others suffered, was perhaps the moment any remaining shred of credibility for LM's allegations evaporated). They were able to show the ITN reports to the court, including the rushes from which the final TV stories were edited, and conduct a forensic examination of the visuals they alleged were deceitful. And all of this took place in front of a jury of twelve citizens who they needed to convince about the truthfulness of their allegations.

They failed. The jury found unanimously against LM and awarded the maximum possible damages. So it was not ITN that bankrupted LM. It was LM's lies about the ITN reports that bankrupted themselves, morally and financially. Despite their failure, those who lied about the ITN reports have had no trouble obtaining regular access to the mainstream media in Britain, where they continue to make their case as though the 2000 court verdict simply didn't exist. Their freedom of speech has thus not been permanently infringed.

Looking back Hume commented in The Times:
Writers such as Hume continue to campaign for the repeal of the UK's libel laws arguing that they are archaic, unfair and stifle freedom of speech.

George Monbiot and the 'LM Network'

It has been stated by environmentalists such as George Monbiot
George Monbiot
George Joshua Richard Monbiot is an English writer, known for his environmental and political activism. He lives in Machynlleth, Wales, writes a weekly column for The Guardian, and is the author of a number of books, including Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain and Bring on the...

 and Peter Melchett
Peter Mond, 4th Baron Melchett
Peter Robert Henry Mond, 4th Baron Melchett , son of the British Steel Corporation Chairman Sir Julian Mond and Sonia Melchett , was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where he read Law...

 that the group of writers associated with LM constitute a 'LM Network' pursuing an ideologically motivated 'anti-environmentalist' agenda under the guise of promoting Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

. Writers who used to write for Living Marxism reject this as a 'McCarthyite' conspiracy theory.

See also

  • Spiked Online
    Spiked (magazine)
    Spiked is a British Internet magazine focusing on politics, culture and society from a humanist and libertarian viewpoint.- Editors and contributors :...

  • Graham Barnfield
    Graham Barnfield
    Graham Barnfield is a British academic and pundit associated with the hard left Revolutionary Communist Party .In 1993 he began writing on cultural politics in the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt...

  • Frank Furedi
    Frank Furedi
    Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent, United Kingdom. He is well known for his work on sociology of fear, therapy culture, paranoid parenting and sociology of knowledge....

  • Claire Fox
    Claire Fox
    Claire Fox , also known as Claire Foster, is a British writer. She is the director and founder of the British think tank, the Institute of Ideas, and a prominent former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party....

  • James Heartfield
    James Heartfield
    James Heartfield is a British journalist who writes and lectures on economic regeneration. Heartfield is director of the think-tank Audacity.org, and a former member and theoretician of the Revolutionary Communist Party....

  • Fiona Fox
    Fiona Fox (UK press officer)
    Fiona Fox is a British writer. She is the director of the Science Media Centre and a former leading member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.-Early Professional career:Fox started her career at Thames Polytechnic as an assistant PR officer...

  • Science Media Centre
    Science Media Centre
    The Science Media Centre is an organisation which formed following to the United Kingdom House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology's third report on "Science and Society" in 2000....

  • Sense About Science
    Sense About Science
    Sense About Science is a British charity that promotes the public understanding of science. Sense About Science was conceived in 2002 by Lord Taverne, Bridget Ogilvie and others to promote respect for scientific evidence and good science. Sense About Science was established as a charitable trust in...

  • Social Issues Research Centre
    Social Issues Research Centre
    The Social Issues Research Centre is a non-profit think tank and PR front group, working on social and lifestyle issues. It is based in Oxford, but is not part of, and has no relationship to, Oxford University.-Organization and focus:...

  • WORLDwrite
    WORLDwrite is an education charity formed in 1991, and based in Hackney, London.- What they do :WORLDwrite are registered with the Charity Commission as follows:...

Further reading


Press articles

Libel action