Rebel Ideas Matthew Syed, John Murray Publishers, London, 2020

In his latest offering, our Oxbridge educated author is very keen to trumpet and celebrate the concept of ‘cognitive diversity’ but manages to shoot himself in the foot in the very first chapter.

Masquerading under the title, “Rebel Ideas” it turns out that our champion of cognitive diversity is himself trapped in a ‘collective blindness’ that he is either unable or unwilling to break out of. I suggest perhaps ‘unwilling’ because our esteemed author is in fact a fully paid up member of Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire, a criminal enterprise if ever there was one. And I’m not just referring to the industrial-scale phone hacking that went on for decades in the backrooms of his sordid media empire. When the light is finally shone on this most malevolent of enterprises, it will transpire that Murdoch’s most heinous crime is that of persistent and calculated climate change denial. (Even two of his own children are so appalled at this criminal editorial policy that they are threatening to jump ship. Or have they already done so?) So, once you have sold your journalistic soul to the corporate devil, a process of self-censoring inevitably creeps in. Conscious or unconscious, if you want to keep those lucrative monthly pay checks coming in, you tend to avoid any really controversial conclusions that might just challenge the prevailing status quo. And it becomes patently clear from the very start, that our self-proclaimed free thinking author, despite the grand sounding title of his book, has absolutely no intention of breaking with that corporate status quo.

We have not even turned the first page of Chapter One when we learn about the ‘biggest terrorist attack in history’. No, not the endless US led neo-colonial wars in South East Asia that killed an estimated five million innocent peasant farmers and maimed a whole lot more. No, not the endless illegal invasions and coups of sovereign nations in the Middle East, South America and African by the US and its coalition of willing puppet governments; invasions that have been and still are responsible for endless death and despair in those regions. And no, not even the barbaric crimes of colonial genocide, slavery and colonial occupations that have blighted our planet and whose debilitating ripple effects continue to this very day. No sir. Not for our learned professor these gigantic terroristic crimes against humanity. Instead he is referring to the 2001 plane hijackings by Al Qaeda operatives. This bunch of dedicated Islamo-fascist, misogynist cut-throats, are unthinkingly elevated to all-time number one terrorists by our PPE Oxbridge academic in what continues to be a gigantic act of western collective blindness. What are we blind to? tHe glaringly obvious truth that if you continually bomb and invade other peoples countries, sooner or later they are going to bite back.


You might reasonably think that any journalist or academic seeking to promote the worthy cause of ‘cognitive diversity’ would pause for thought before pronouncing on what they think might be the ‘greatest terrorist attack in history’. Personally, I would avoid altogether such cheap journalist clichés and explore instead just why these tiny terror groups, of whatever persuasion, persistently emerge. And having taken the time to explore this murky world, one might just come to the conclusion that it is the global economic system that begets the terror; a system that consistently condemns billions to grinding poverty, stunted lives, and all too often, outright starvation. We might also conclude, after a little more investigation, that it is the current corporate world, of which the CIA is a crucial component, that upholds and perpetuates such an unjust and literally terroristic economic regime. Even to this bog standard, comprehensive school educated student, it is patently obvious that this is the real act of ongoing terror that needs to be collectively addressed. It is also patently obvious that it is the likes of Matthew Syed’s employer, Murdoch Newspapers, that are instrumental in propagating our ‘collective blindness’ to such corporate terrorism.


As for the likes of Al Qaeda, Islamic State and the Taleban; they are merely the deeply unpleasant fascistic froth bubbling away on top of the global sea of economic injustice. Of course, they are not the solution to any of the problems of economic and political injustice. I believe they have nothing at all positive to offer mankind. But I can understand why millions of people living in economic desperation might think otherwise. Or, to paraphrase Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair; ‘if I was a Palestinian refugee rotting away in a refugee camp, under foreign occupation and with no hope of advancement, I too would consider becoming a suicide bomber.’ Now that is a rebel idea. No wonder she was quickly muzzled.


And whilst we’re on the subject of ‘rebel ideas’ and ‘collective blindness’, Syed’s implied proposition in Chapter One that the CIA could become a true bastion of security for the good guys if only it adopted some ‘cognitive diversity, is beyond ridicule. Matthew, the CIA is a vital part of the United States of America PLC. Always has been and likely always will be. It is there to protect and expand US corporate interests. Or, to quote former President Calvin Coolidge, ‘The business of America is business’ That is as true today as it was a century ago. The corporate interests that that have long governed the United States have proved time and time again that they have absolutely no compunction in burning and pillaging to further those ends. The weapons of conquest may change but the end result is invariably the same: death and destruction for the conquered and profit maximisation for the military-industrial elite. Even the largely unforeseen advent of the global pandemic has not stood in the way of profit for this tiny elite of global billionaires. How much have these billionaires made during the year of Covid? A cool ten trillion dollars. Enough to totally revamp the world’s decrepit health systems. And while the bodies pile higher and millions lose their livelihoods, the profits just keep rolling in. That is the real nature of the system we live under, but too many academics and journalists have a collective blindness to the consequences. Only some really consistently rebellious ideas (and actions) will have any hope of puncturing that blindness. I’m not sure this latest offering, interesting as it is in places, can really be considered a serious contribution to those much needed rebellious ideas. Too stuck in cognitive conformity. Pity. A chance gone by.

JPK   27/12/2020 Copyright