Spiked (magazine)

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Web address spiked-online.com
Commercial? No
Type of site Politics
Registration No
Owner Brendan O'Neill
Created by Mick Hume
Launched 2000

Spiked (also written as sp!ked) is a British Internet magazine focusing on politics, culture and society from a humanist and libertarian viewpoint.

Editors and contributors[edit]

Spiked is edited by Brendan O'Neill,[1] following Mick Hume's departure in January 2007, and features regular contributions from James Heartfield, Michael Fitzpatrick, Patrick West, Rob Lyons, Nathalie Rothschild, Tim Black, Duleep Allirajah, Tom Slater and Frank Furedi.


The magazine was founded in 2000 after the bankruptcy of its predecessor, Living Marxism (LM).

LM closed after losing a libel case brought against it by the broadcasting corporation ITN. The case centered around ITN coverage of Fikret Alić and other Bosnian Muslims standing behind a barbed-wire fence at the Trnopolje camp during the Yugoslav war. LM published an article titled "The Picture that Fooled the World"[2] which claimed that ITN's coverage was deceptive, the barbed-wire did not enclose the camp and the Muslims were in fact "refugees, many of whom went there seeking safety and could leave again if they wished." During the court case, evidence given by the camp doctor led LM to abandon its defence. ITN was awarded damages and costs, estimated to be around £1 million.[3] The magazine declared itself bankrupt, avoiding payment of the damages awarded.[4][5]


The magazine focuses on issues of freedom and state control, science and technology. It seeks to counter positions such as multiculturalism, environmentalism and what they see as a recent trend in Western foreign policy: humanitarian intervention.[6]

Spiked opposes all forms of censorship, by the state or otherwise. Its writers call for a repeal of libel,[7] hate speech[8] and incitement[9][10] laws. They have criticised laws targeted at paedophiles.[11] Spiked also regularly critique risk society; animal rights; political correctness; and environmentalism. As regards the latter, a particular Spiked target has been what they see as "exaggerated" and "hysterical" interpretations of the scientific consensus on global warming.[12]

Other notable positions of Spiked are their opposition to the post-9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and Western aid for or interference in developing nations in general.[13][14][15]

Spiked has been described by journalists such as Oliver Kamm and George Monbiot of pursuing a right-wing and pro-corporate agenda under a guise of being left-wing. Some have said that Spiked's stance has more in common with free-market libertarians than with the left.[16]

Frank Furedi, interviewed in Spiked, responded that the stance of LM and Spiked springs from the tradition of the "anti-Stalinist left". He argued that the reason why many in the left tradition have difficulties in identifying these ideas with the left is that they completely misunderstand the humanist political position of being progressive in terms of human progress, science, rationality and freedom, and yet be completely anti-state:

...much of the left in the twentieth century tended to be influenced by Stalinist and Social-Democratic traditions, which means they could not imagine that you could be left-wing and anti-state...so they were confused by us. But that was their fault, not ours. It was a product of their own abandonment of liberty in favour of ideas about state control.[17]

Furedi listed Marxist activists, politicians and writers who he said had influenced LM and Spiked, including Roman Rosdolsky, Henryk Grossman, György Lukács, Paul Mattick, Christian Rakovsky, and Leon Trotsky.

The journalist Nick Cohen described Spiked's positions as mere attention seeking:

if you strip revolutionary defeatism of its revolutionary content, you have what modern editors and producers want: contrarianism, the willingness to fill space and generate controversy by saying the opposite of what everyone else is saying just because everyone else is saying it – an affectation most people get over around puberty.[18]

Therapy Culture[edit]

A long-standing thread in the Spiked critique is what they identify as 'Therapy Culture' – a culture where the victim takes ascendancy and where rationality and logic is replaced by emotions and feelings.[19] For Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, the core issues here are about agency and political autonomy and he argues "we should stop surrendering our sovereignty to the 'therapeutic state'".

The medicalisation of personal problems may relieve the individual of moral responsibility, but at the cost of allowing the therapeutic state to control personal behaviour and psychic life.[20]

Environmentalism and global warming[edit]

Spiked has been consistently critical of environmentalism. It accuses environmentalism of misanthropy for supporting cuts in population and economic growth, particularly in response to climate change. James Heartfield, for instance, argues that the environmentalist concern with cutting back growth is linked to elitist prejudices:

The ecological outlook is an expression of middle-class rage at the masses ... Environmentalism, like all political discourses that take shortage as their starting point, will tend towards misanthropic solutions. Any movement that begins with the view that mankind must be curtailed to reduce the pressure on the environment will have to start thinking how it will select those who must make sacrifices.[21]

George Monbiot has accused Spiked of climate change denial: "there are articles on Spiked Online that say there is no [climate change] problem and that take the side of the anti-scientists, the climate change deniers."[22]

Spiked has not denied that human carbon emissions are contributing to climate change. Spiked criticises what it sees as the political interpretation of this fact put forward by the environmentalist movement. For example, in 2007 James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky argued that "the IPCC's fairly sober summary of climate science has been spun [by environmentalists] to tell a story of Fate, Doom and human folly."[12] Josie Appleton argued that: "Today's 'global warming story' — where morality equates to carbon calculating – owes more to the anxious zeitgeist than scientific findings."[23]

Spiked criticises environmentalists for preferring to reduce economic growth in response to climate change, rather than to expand it by finding alternative sources of energy. Furedi argues that "innovation is necessary, not only to deal with climate change, but also to produce a great deal more inexpensive energy in order that more people can enjoy the fruits of modern society."[24] Spiked contributors have thus written in defence of hydroelectric[25] and nuclear power,[26] often dismissed by environmentalist campaigners.[citation needed]

Spiked gave favourable coverage to the film The Great Global Warming Swindle which argued against the scientific consensus that global warming is "very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas concentrations". The Great Global Warming Swindle was criticised by the scientific community for being grossly misleading.

Spiked Review of Books[edit]

SRB masthead.gif

The Spiked Review of Books is a monthly online literary criticism feature, based at Spiked. The launch in May 2007 coincided with controversy in the United States following the scaling back of newspaper book review sections.[27] The Spiked Review of Books features editorials by Brendan O'Neill and interviews, essays and reviews by a range of writers, many of whom are regular contributors to Spiked, such as Frank Furedi, Jennie Bristow and Josie Appleton. The cover illustrations are by Jan Bowman.


Spiked receives its funding via online advertising and organising online debates, surveys, seminars and conferences; with a variety of partners, corporations and organisations. It also receives donations from readers. In October 2009, Spiked appealed to readers for £20,000 to ensure its continuation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frequently asked questions". Spiked. Retrieved 14 April 2007. 
  2. ^ Deichman, Thomas. "'The Picture that Fooled the World'". Archived from the original on 10 November 1999. 
  3. ^ Hume, Mick (7 March 2005). "The day I faced being a £1m bankrupt". The Times (London). Retrieved 14 April 2007. [dead link]
  4. ^ Vulliamy, Ed (15 March 2000). "Poison in the well of history". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ Connolly, Kate (4 August 2002). "He was the face of Bosnia's civil war - what happened next?". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ O'Neill and Brendan. "What's worse than a Blairite? A Blair-basher". Spiked. Retrieved 10 May 2007. 
  7. ^ Guldberg, Helene (6 July 2006). "Don’t tinker with the libel laws – scrap them". Spiked. Retrieved 14 April 2007. 
  8. ^ Appleton, Josie (11 April 2006). "Sticks, stones and hate speech". Spiked. Retrieved 14 April 2007. 
  9. ^ O’Neill, Brendan (28 March 2006). "Free speech, with the edges taken off". Spiked. Retrieved 14 April 2007. 
  10. ^ O’Neill, Brendan (13 October 2004). "Can music incite murder?". Spiked. Retrieved 14 April 2007. 
  11. ^ http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/4557/
  12. ^ a b Woudhuysen and Kaplinsky. "After the IPCC: A man-made morality tale". Spiked. Retrieved 15 July 2006. 
  13. ^ Nadine Strossen, Faisal Devji, Jeffrey Rosen, Brendan O'Neill, Michael Baum and others. "Life, liberty and politics after 9/11". Spiked. Retrieved 15 July 2006. 
  14. ^ Hume, Mick. "The age of PR imperialism". Spiked. Retrieved 15 July 2006. 
  15. ^ Cunliffe, Philip. "Exposing ‘Empire in denial’". Spiked. Retrieved 15 July 2006. 
  16. ^ For example, in a LobbyWatch interview, George Monbiot claimed of Spiked's predecessor, LM Magazine, that: "...it was very far from a Marxism journal – it was just about as far from a Marxist journal as you could possibly get. And it seemed to me that the title was a direct and deliberate attempt to distract attention from the fact that this was a far right wing libertarian publication that was using the terms of the left to make it look as if the positions it was taking were new and unusual ones."Monbiot, George. "Interview with George Monbiot". LobbyWatch. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  17. ^ O'Neill, Brendan. "'Humanising politics – that is my only agenda'". Spiked. Retrieved 27 April 2007. 
  18. ^ Nick Cohen » Blog Archive » New Humanist Book Review
  19. ^ Furedi, Frank. "'History-as-Therapy'". Spiked. Retrieved 5 March 2008. 
  20. ^ Fitzpatrick, Michael. "'Get off the couch!'". Spiked. Retrieved 29 March 2008. 
  21. ^ Heartfield, James. "Seeing people as a plague on the planet". Spiked. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  22. ^ Monbiot, George. "Interview with George Monbiot". LobbyWatch. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  23. ^ Appleton. "A Measuring the political temperature". Spiked. Retrieved 25 May 2007. 
  24. ^ Furedi, Frank. "Energising the debate about climate change". Spiked. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  25. ^ Rothschild, Nathalie. "Dam these patronising Western campaigns". Spiked. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  26. ^ Lyons, Rob. "Let's challenge these myths of Chernobyl". Spiked. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  27. ^ The National Book Critics Circle's Campaign to Save Book Reviews, John Freeman, President, National Book Critics Circle.

External links[edit]