What is Brendan O'Neill?

The secrets of the contrarian big giant head

Brendan O’Neill is becoming a meme. He is the big giant head floating free of context, the contrarian transformed into a monstrous forehead.

But what is Brendan O’Neill? What is the meaning of a man who can create an opinion piece almost instantaneously, and always find the opposite line to the general consensus on anything? What is Brendan O’Neill? 

The origin story of Brendan O’Neill begins with Living Marxism. He existed before the publication lost a legendary libel action, but he truly became his ‘Bane as a bad columnist’ self when LM went down in flames, after claiming that ITN had misrepresented the Balkan genocides in coverage broadcast in 1992.

The damages sunk LM but it remerged almost immediately as Spiked, and a network of associated organisations that have inculcated themselves into all parts of British civil society in the years that followed. 

With LM destroyed and reborn as Spiked, Brendan O’Neill became the new entity’s editor and decided that his ‘left-wing’ views would be indistinguishable from hard-right rhetoric.

He would contribute to The Spectator, a magazine where he shares the same pages as Taki, who writes racist screeds and wrote a column called, ‘In praise of the Wehrmacht’. He would appear on news to say contrarian things about any possible topic. He would lie about being on Twitter, lurking to get more and more enraged by jokes about his huge forehead. He would become the super-villain of the comment columns. 

Here are some things that Brendan O’Neill has claimed he thinks, for money and attention: 

1 Global warming shouldn’t be dealt with through reductions in carbon emissions, but instead, we should use some kind of unspecified technical solution 

2 Greta Thunberg is “a millenarian weirdo” with a “monotone voice” rather than a passionate teenager with autism 

3 Victims of sexual abuse, particularly those abused by Jimmy Saville, should “keep it to [themselves].” 

4 Racism in football is “class war” driven by the “elites” rather than actual racism. He argued that racist incidents that do get reported are “not racism at all, in the true meaning of the word” 

5 He opposed and continues to oppose same-sex marriage, which he considers a product of authoritarianism. 

You can see a more thorough accounting of his terrible opinions here, with quotes.

Brendan O’Neill is a cartoon, but he’s a dangerous cartoon. Broadcast media in the UK is built on the ‘both sides’ model of debate and Brendan O’Neill is willing to take the most offensive side at any time, so he appears frequently. He has a terrorist’s mindset -- by any means necessary -- and will take the most contrarian line in any conversation. Every piece of progressive progress radicalises him further and makes him more appealing to a media that is regressive, right-wing and supine. 

O’Neill describes himself as a libertarian Marxist. Here’s how he explained that label to fellow contrarian windbag Dave Rubin: 

“Partly I use that phrase because it confuses people,” he says. He cannot even define his worldview without an element of trolling. Because that is what Brendan O’Neill is, a troll with pretensions, a man high on the smell of his own farts. He wants to say he’s from the left while wanting to destroy the left, he wants to pretend he’s not a Tory while carrying water for the Tories at every turn. Brendan O’Neill is a weapon and he’s always pointed straight at what we value. He claims to be anti-authoritarian, but bastard politicians have never had a more useful lapdog. 

Further ‘reading’: 

Trashfuture’s episode on the history of Spiked: ‘How Trotsky got spiked’