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Commercial? No
Type of site Politics
Registration No
Owner Brendan O'Neill
Created by Mick Hume

Spiked (also written as sp!ked) is a British Internet magazine focusing on politics, culture and society. The magazine’s mission statement is that they wish to “make history” and to stand up for the principles of “liberty, enlightenment, experimentation and excellence”.[1]

The magazine describes itself as: independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms. spiked is endorsed by free-thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx, and hated by the narrow-minded such as Torquemada and Stalin. Or it would be, if they were lucky enough to be around to read it.[2]


Editors and contributors

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, and Frank Furedi.


The magazine was founded in 2000 after the bankruptcy of its predecessor, LM magazine, a magazine whose point of view has been described by The Guardian as "extreme corporate libertarianism" and by JG Ballard as ‘the most interesting and provocative magazine I have read for many years’..[3] LM, an acronym for Living Marxism, closed after losing a libel case brought against it by the broadcasting corporation ITN. The case centered on LM featuring an article by Thomas Deichmann called "The Picture that Fooled the World"[4] that alleged that the photographer who took the famous ITN picture of Bosnian Muslims behind a barbed-wire fence in a Bosnian Serb-run camp during the Yugoslav war gave the false impression that this was a Nazi-style concentration camp. Deichmann claimed that it was really the photographer who was in a fenced-in area and that it was a transit camp.

The corporation won and the ensuing award and costs, estimated to be around £1 million, bankrupted the magazine and its publishers.[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 interventionism.[6]

A prominent focus of the magazine is the defence of the freedom of speech. Spiked says that it opposes all forms of censorship imposed by the state or otherwise. Its writers call for a repeal of libel[7], hate speech[8] and incitement[9][10] laws. They have criticized laws targeted at pedophiles.[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 from The Independent and The Guardian such as George Monbiot and Johann Hari as 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 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]

Accusations of Entryism

George Monbiot and the Lobbywatch network of websites argue that Spiked ideas are simply a front for their corporate funding. Monbiot and Lobbywatch therefore have also accused the contributors of Spiked (and its predecessor, LM (Living Marxism) Magazine) of adopting a strategy of entryism into the media, communications and science networks.[19] For example, Monbiot posits what he calls the “LM Network” — and goes on to state that this 'network' is responsible for the formation of front groups, the infiltration of pressure groups, think tanks and governmental advisory committees to pursue what he sees as an agenda suiting a diverse range of corporate funders. Spiked has responded at length to these allegations and vehemently denied that they are paid to provide a corporate point of view:

"spiked has never “taken money from the fossil fuel industry”, and those organisations that do sponsor us do not dictate our editorial agenda. It is testament to the small-mindedness of today’s illiberal liberal commentators that they think anyone who criticises green authoritarianism must be in the pay of Big Oil.’" [20]

Monbiot is also on record expressing his hope that members of the “LM network” lose their jobs and are no longer accorded scientific credibility, given what he sees as an alleged lack of scientific credentials. In particular, he had hoped that his Lobbywatch article, “Invasion of the entryists”, would have had more of an impact than it did — prompting sackings and scientists and others to question their associations.[21]

Spiked dismiss the claims as conspiracy theory and liken such critics to McCarthyites. For example, Brendan O'Neill has stated:

"From their craven search for hidden agendas to their spider-web linking of various individuals to their censorious and McCarthyite demands: they might be treehuggers by day, but these individuals share all the worst traits of the most hardened conspiracy theorists." [22]

In other articles Spiked has compared these critics to the tiny group of neo-Nazis who have accused them of being a Jewish front organization — and have asserted that these critics have limited themselves to attacking Spiked’s associations (with certain companies and institutions) rather than tackling its ideas.[23]

Therapy Culture

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. [24] 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." [25]

Position on environmentalism and the global warming debate

Spiked has been consistently critical of environmentalism and of proposals for policies to mitigate climate change. Writers such as James Heartfield have asserted the existence of a profound anti-humanism in much green thinking, especially that surrounding climate change. Heartfield argues that an underlying hatred for humans and their actions underpins environmentalism:

"As the chattering classes’ preoccupation with climate change reaches fever pitch, the extremists feel more confident to draw conclusions that others baulk from. That is because the extremists are only drawing out the underlying philosophy of environmentalism to make it more explicit."[26]

Spiked gave favorable 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". Spiked writers have also argued that environmentalists misrepresent the scientific consensus. For example, Woudhuysen and Kaplinsky state.

"the IPCC's fairly sober summary of climate science has been spun to tell a story of Fate, Doom and human folly."[27]

and Josie Appleton argues that:

"Today’s ‘global warming story’ — where morality equates to carbon calculating — owes more to the anxious zeitgeist than scientific findings."[28]

Spiked Review of Books

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.[29] 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


  1. ^ a b "Frequently asked questions". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  2. ^ "About spiked". Spiked. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  3. ^ Goldsmith, Zac. "So much for 'Sense' About Science". Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  4. ^ Deichman, Thomas. "'The Picture that Fooled the World'". 
  5. ^ Hume, Mick (2005-03-07). "The day I faced being a £1m bankrupt". The Times. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  6. ^ O'Neill and Brendan. "What's worse than a Blairite? A Blair-basher". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  7. ^ Guldberg, Helene (2006-07-06). "Don’t tinker with the libel laws — scrap them". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  8. ^ Appleton, Josie (2006-04-11). "Sticks, stones and hate speech". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  9. ^ O’Neill, Brendan (2006-03-28). "Free speech, with the edges taken off". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  10. ^ O’Neill, Brendan (2004-10-13). "Can music incite murder?". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Woudhuysen and Kaplinsky. "After the IPCC: A man-made morality tale". Spiked. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  13. ^ Nadine Strossen, Faisal Devji, Jeffrey Rosen, Brendan O'Neill, Michael Baum and others. "Life, liberty and politics after 9/11". Spiked. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  14. ^ Hume, Mick. "The age of PR imperialism". Spiked. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  15. ^ Cunliffe, Philip. "Exposing ‘Empire in denial’". Spiked. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  16. ^ For example, in a LobbyWatch interview, George Monbiot stated of Spiked's predecessor, LM Magazine, that: 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 2007-04-27. 
  17. ^ O'Neill, Brendan. "'Humanising politics — that is my only agenda'". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  18. ^ Nick Cohen » Blog Archive » New Humanist Book Review
  19. ^ Invasion of the Entryists The Guardian 9 December 2003
  20. ^ O'Neill, Brendan. "'The Independent, Big Oil and me'". Spiked Online. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  21. ^ Monbiot, George. "Interview with George Monbiot". LobbyWatch. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  22. ^ O'Neill, Brendan. "'Humanising politics — that is my only agenda'". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  23. ^ O'Neill, Brendan. "Gossip dressed up as investigative journalism". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-04-30. 
  24. ^ Furedi, Frank. "'History-as-Therapy'". Spiked. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  25. ^ Fitzpatrick, Michael. "'Get off the couch!'". Spiked. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  26. ^ Heartfield, James. "Seeing people as a plague on the planet". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  27. ^ Woudhuysen and Kaplinsky. "After the IPCC: A man-made morality tale". Spiked. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  28. ^ Appleton. "A Measuring the political temperature". Spiked. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  29. ^ The National Book Critics Circle's Campaign to Save Book Reviews, John Freeman, President, National Book Critics Circle.

External links



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