Controlled Opposition?


Who’s awake, who’s ‘woke’ – and who’s working for the other side? An intriguing and sometimes exasperating feature of the Great Awakening (an enlightened reaction to the Great Reset) is the tendency for members of the movement to accuse peers of duplicity.  James Delingpole, for example, wrote on TCW last week of the dubious motives of the Together Foundation. Others to be charged with suspect allegiances include the nursing scholar John Campbell, cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and Twitter liberator Elon Musk.

Amidst a new lexicon of control and conspiracy, from ‘lockdown’ to ‘transhumanism’, a label frequently used by freedom fighters is ‘controlled opposition’. For a term of reputed origin in the Leninist Left, it is remarkable to what degree those who accuse others of being part of a Marxist cabal are liberally throwing it around at supposed fifth columnists.

It’s enough to make you wonder whether some of this is projection. And this is the conundrum at the heart of the accusation. For the terminally paranoid, everyone can be described as ‘controlled opposition’. Everyone that is other than themselves.

In a sophisticated smoke and mirrors scenario, should we not be more suspicious of those who seek to accuse others of being traitors? In Stalin’s purges in the 1930s, denouncing others became a national sport, with humiliating show trials followed by execution, until soon after the denouncers themselves went the same way.

There appear to be three modern usages of the term ‘controlled opposition’. First is the commonly understood notion of someone who performs as resistance to the authorities, but is really working as a plant, drawing in rebels and safely channelling or diverting their fervour.  A second meaning is a genuine opposition that is only prepared to go part of the way in challenging the powers-that-be. An example of this could be media outlets such as Toby Young’s Daily Sceptic, which refrains from controversial discussion on whether Covid-19 is a hoax. ‘Gatekeeping’ confines the debate to acceptable limits of topic and character.

A third version encompasses most if not all of the sceptical fraternity. In a sense we are all ‘controlled opposition’, because each of us is limited by state power. For example, a care worker refusing the vaccine during the ‘no jab no job’ mandate could argue against this unethical, unscientific requirement, but was dismissed regardless. Anyone taking the government or employers to court was likely to hit a brick wall, however just their cause, because of institutional prejudice in favour of the Covid-19 regime. Sceptics are not immune to the law (indeed, they are likely to be targeted). Say something reported as ‘hate’ and you could get a rat-tat-tat on your front door.

We are all on a journey, and inevitably people further along the quasi-spiritual path look back on laggards with impatience or dismay. The newly converted or more sober sceptics, meanwhile, think of the trailblazers as going too far. The London Calling podcast with Delingpole and Young epitomises this contrast. Team Tobes waits for evidence and cleaves to cock-up theory, while Team James believes that data are deliberately distorted and that truth comes from deep down the rabbit hole. So deep that James comes up covered in subterranean soot.

We should all show a little humility and, as Young has insisted with Delingpole, lend each other the same courtesy of arguing in good faith from a thoughtful position before assuming that someone is a paid shill simply because he disagrees with you. The Soviet regime cast anyone displaying insufficient enthusiasm for Kremlin policy as a ‘Trotskyist saboteur’, while Chairman Mao instigated witch hunts for ‘bourgeois revisionists’. In our 21st century equivalents, like the smear of ‘conspiracy theorist’, can we be sure that real agents of ‘controlled opposition’ have not been seeding this term to stir unrest in the ranks?

Consider Sunday Times controversialist Rod Liddle, who ridiculed ‘anti-vaxxers’, but is now realising that the government lied to the people. Cynics would suspect that he was simply following orders at the time, and is now trying to rescue his reputation. However, forgiveness for the erstwhile duped is important not least because our past firmly-held beliefs might come back to haunt us and make us ourselves potential objects of legitimate suspicion about our ‘conversion’.

Back in 2012 a journalist dismissed the conspiracy theory that Princess Diana ‘did not really die as a result of an unfortunate accident in a Parisian tunnel, but was bumped off by MI5, perhaps on the orders of the Royal Family, because she knew too much or was secretly pregnant with Dodi Fayed’s illegitimate Muslim love child’. The author continued: –

‘Well, it’s a nonsense and was obviously a nonsense from the start. Our Royal Family hasn’t been in the business of bumping off awkward members for at least four centuries. The intelligence services are so hamstrung by political correctness these days they’re not even allowed to do wet jobs on evil, vicious enemies of the state, let alone well-loved and beautiful English princesses.‘

The journalist responsible for this (naïve?) commentary was none other than James Delingpole, in his book Watermelons. He is first to admit that most of what he believed ten years ago was the result of a blinkered immersion in mainstream media culture. Yet he is unforgiving towards his ‘very good friend’, who could benefit from more encouragement (we write this piece from different perspectives: one of us more disposed to Team Tobes, the other to Team James).

Let’s not impose a purity test. Ad hominem slanders on rivals, whose unforced popularity appears most frequently to invite the accusation of being ‘controlled’, smacks more of tall poppy syndrome and professional jealousy than anything useful to organising the defence of ourselves, our families and our communities against government attacks on individual autonomy. Ideological purity, even for a Bolshevik, is not a necessity for organising a successful revolution (or counter-revolution).

Mattias Desmet, author of The Psychology of Totalitarianism, described the sudden conversion of the vast majority of people into a state of fear and loathing as a mass formation. He warned against critical thinkers building their own mass as a cult-like entity impermeable to reason. We should heed his words of wisdom.

Niall McCrae is a Registered Nurse and officer of the Workers of England Union. Richard Ings is an actor, musician, part-time revolutionary and one-time parliamentary candidate for the Brexit Party. He can be found on Twitter @richardcings or

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