Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, April 19, 2004
ONCE UPON A TIME, on the road to Moscow, a simple Baptist preacher saw the light.

Pastor Lane had been a child of the pharisees of established religion. Now, with divine guidance, he heard the Word of the true God.

And lo!, His name was Marx, His temple was the Kremlin and St Ivan Ulyanov was His prophet.

When Lord Marx spoke to the preacher he told him the name of the Evil One, and that name was Profit. Is there any of the world's problems, from ingrown toe-nails to third-world poverty, that is not the work of the Evil One?

If there is, our Pastor has yet to find it.

Mind you, the Pastor's intellectual searching appears to have lost its edge. These days he rarely moves beyond the pulpits of Auntie's In the national interest (at least he can still make a joke) and the Fairfax Age, where he now resides among the new pharisees. And you can't tell him anything new.

New Gods have deposed Lord Marx but their lightning bolts could hover for eons over the road to enlightenment without finding Pastor Lane out and about. It's the arthritis, you see. It's got into his brain.

Now that the Evil One has shown himself a darn sight better disposed to humanity than Lord Marx, the Pastor has found it necessary to preach up supplementary devils to keep the Evil One in the moral dungeon.

You've heard before about those little devils, private utilities. In fact you've heard about them dozens of times if you're a regular parishioner of the Pastor's.

In that case you've also heard more than once about that dirty rotten filthy evil disgusting thing called intellectual property. Believe me, if you listen to the Pastor on this subject you'll be shamelessly flagellating yourself in the pews.

How can something that Lord Marx says belongs to everyone be owned by evil capitalists in the service of Profit? Repent! Repent! Repent!

Take genetic manipulation of plants. According to the truth revealed to the Pastor, this handy little technology is reducing the genetic diversity of life on earth. And killing butterflies. Five minutes at the feet of the guru Google will give you a different picture, but don't do it or you're excommunicated.

Take Monsanto. It's smart new plants are a conspiracy to impoverish third-world farmers. The Evil One will force them to use Monsanto's products, and verily they will wither and die.

And Monsanto has complete control over all genetic manipulation of plants, according to the Pastor. Which shouldn't be done at all, but everyone should be equally free to do any of it without paying someone else for their work.

The Pastor says his guest, Dr Richard Jeffersen, is working to ensure that advances in genetic engineering are used for public beneft rather than private profit.

That's not what Dr Jeffersen says, but he knows better than to make a big issue of an unorthodox opinion when you're enjoying the charity of the church of Marx.

The Pastor's church, like the mediaeval church and the Islamist mosque, knows it has the right to filter all opinions of those who enter its doors.

I know it's a joke, but it's this week's sermon.