Prominent Left-wing commentariat, activist and author Owen Jones has become an increasingly divisive figure among the left, and socialists ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the Labour Party in September 2015.
Jones’ often hysterical, but sometimes valid criticisms of Corbyn has been met with a wide-range of opinion from the socialist left (and Corbyn) supporters in general — who have questioned — quite reasonably — the motivations, validity, and belief of Jones in the work that Jones does and the causes he claims to support.
The situation has lead to widespread confusion about who Jones is — this has not been helped by the fact that Jones increasingly uses ill-thought through and intellectually lazy arguments to shut down debates with those that challenge him (such as claiming that people are accusing him of being part of a right-wing conspiracy as a way out of answering justified questions about his involvement in certain political groups.)
It is within this context— this confusion— that I think it appropriate to examine just who Jones is, what he represents, and what his goals are likely to be. This is not intended to be some sort of guide on Owen Jones, but rather a much-needed look at what the available evidence is likely to indicate about Jones so that we can hope to gain some clarity within this confusion, and thus increase our understanding of this occasionally divisive, but none the less influential and important member of the educated, opinion forming, political class.
Studying Jones — trying to unravel who he really is — is in many ways like trying to crack some sort of enigma — a task which causes multiple headaches along the way.
The headaches however I believe are worth it — hopefully, from this, we can gain some clarity, and finally un-crack the enigma that is Owen Jones.
The Role Of Owen Jones In The Media
Jones is in some ways a difficult character to pin down — he seems to be in favour of much of what Corbyn supporters are in favour of too, yet for various reasons (which we will get into later) no longer supports him. In order to understand Jones and more importantly his purpose within the structure of the media, we have to look at who he is, and what he really represents.
Jones has one of the most important roles within the mainstream media: that of defining the limits of the debate on the left in the mainstream media: meaning this far and no further. Anything left-wing or socialist beyond what Jones supports has almost no voice within the mainstream media and is considered dangerously outside of the acceptable spectrum of debate.
Jones himself has mentioned this theory in his work — noting the importance of the Overton Window: the limits within which mainstream political debate is acceptable to discuss, and anything outside of those pre-determined limits is viewed as dangerous or crazy — presumably (from what I can gather) Jones considers himself to be at the very limits of this mainstream spectrum — this shows us that he views himself as being the limits of debate on the left, therefore illustrating that he is aware of his role in constraining the limits of the left within the mainstream media.
Quite different from the way in which other members of the left — those slightly further to the left of Jones are treated within the mainstream media. For instance, Ken Loach who in some respects is slightly further to the left than Jones and embodies more of the “dangerous” socialist traditions, such as consistently supporting Palestinian rights (and has stood by Corbyn, and his movement) — although sometimes given a mainstream platform — is often treated as if he is a crazy, dangerous, radical outsider, and described as a member of the “hard left” “Trot” “Marxist” or “revolutionary” as a way to discredit the impact of his work. We saw much of this kind of language banded about when Loach was promoting “I, Daniel Blake”. Loach was embraced by some of the establishment and praised in terms of his “fictional work”.
But the mainstream narrative was shaped in the establishment’s favour: questioning the reality of the film (which is born out by significant evidence at this point — including condemning reports from the UN.)
This is evidenced not only by the way that Jones is allowed to have a voice on mainstream platforms but also the fact that so many members of the media establishment — ironically the same establishment which Jones wrote about and criticized in his 2014 book called The Establishment — wrote sparklingly positive reviews about. The reviews of The Establishment illustrate how Jones is seen as the daring and challenging voice of the left, with a breathtaking insight into politics and the issues of the left.
Unsurprisingly the left-leaning papers heaped praise upon him.
Yet, some of the most sterling praise came from right-wing papers, such The Spectator’s well known Conservative writer Mathew Parris, and the Evening Standard.
This illustrates how Jones exists to limit the frame of debate on the left within the mainstream platform, is accepted by the mainstream, and yet appears to be fiercely challenging it. Jones’ critique and awareness of the so-called Overton Window is almost like a post-modern form of media critique from a left-leaning perspective.
Jones tells us what the Overton Window is and that he sits outside of it — yet the evidence demonstrates the opposite, he doesn’t sit outside of it, but rather at the limits of it, defining the left at the most extreme spectrum that is allowed within the mainstream media. In The Establishment Jones noted that he was hoping through his work to reshape the Overton Window and bring the mainstream spectrum back to the left — yet when it comes to stepping outside of the limits he has established it appears to be a rather different matter.
Jones Is The Acceptable & Safe Face Of Socialism In The Media
This essentially means that Jones is the acceptable, clean and safe face of socialism in the media. This is why Jones is allowed to speak on Question Time, Daily Politics, and write for the Guardian. His voice and his brand of socialism is the acceptable one to the mainstream media — he doesn’t challenge to any great degree the status quo of political debate, nor does he seriously challenge the fundamentals which drive it.
Jones opposes capitalists brutality, but does he oppose capitalism altogether?
Owen Jones Is An Opinion Former — Who Does He Appeal To? And Who Listens To Him?
As we have established Jones plays an exceptionally important role in the media, that of setting the limitations of the debate on the left, this, in turn, means that his opinion can be used to manage, and influence the opinions of the public and in particular those who listen to him, buy his books and read his articles, etc. Jones of course mainly writes opinion pieces, stressing a heavy emphasis here on OPINION.
It is this opinion which then can be used to shape talking points within the mainstream media, and be repeated by those that absorb them in the general public — particularly as it pertains to the left.
So who’s listening to Jones and who is he influencing? YouGov gives us an interesting insight into who Jones appeals too, and therefore whose opinions he is most likely to help shape.
Based on YouGov’s extensive survey data we can see that Jones appeals mainly to “ABC1” which is generally defined as meaning middle class. People in professions such as middle management, law, etc, typically university educated. This is by far the group who Jones appeals to the most — his reach to this group fits in pretty much in line with the national average — the people who like him from this group are most likely to be the educated professional, somewhat influential Guardian reading types.
We can see that Jones has a pretty much average following with the “C2DE” group (working class). This group is defined as people who work in skilled manual occupations, the semi-skilled, and unemployed — typically without a degree level education.
We can see that Corbyn has an almost identical split in terms of class following — he has a wide appeal to a similar percentage of the middle-classes as Jones. But with some key differences, Corbyn has above average approval from the working class, and below average favorability with the middle classes.
For comparison this is the class split for people who like Theresa May — we can that she overwhelmingly has support from the middle classes.
And it is these middle-class voters who are increasingly becoming the key to winning elections. As this chart illustrates New Labour’s share of the middle-class vote ensured victory at the 1997 General Election — the working class support for New Labour was massive compared to just 13 years later.
The working class fled the Labour Party (however according to YouGov the working class has itself declined over the years). The fact that the working class fled from Labour — the traditional base — is the reason that Labour lost the last two general elections.
Corbyn is correct to say that this is the reason Labour keeps losing, the working class base has been abandoned, given up, gone to UKIP/the Tories, that’s why we need to bring them back to win.
This point was recognised following Labour’s defeat at the last general election, and before Corbyn was elected as the new leader.
We can also compare the age groups that Jones and Corbyn appeal to.
Both Jones and Corbyn have an above average appeal to young people — the 18-24 demographic for Corbyn being quite astounding when you consider that he is a politician in his mid-60’s! Both Jones and Corbyn have a surprising favorable margin with older people too.
This means that many of those who take an interest in Jones and listen to his views are also likely to be interested in Corbyn. Those views can then, in turn, shape views of Corbyn.
Corbyn’s appeal to both these groups is a real achievement — both the young and working class poor have all but abandoned politics over the last 30-40 years. This has been a point of great concern for many years now, as illustrated by this article from LSE.
Corbyn’s potential to reach both and activate them into participating in democracy and actively taking part is in many ways a breakthrough that was both unexpected, and much needed.
The ability of Corbyn to reach these groups — if maximised through mass popular action and support is enough to win the next general election.
Perhaps unintentionally — and perhaps with good intentions — Jones is potentially dissuading these groups from supporting Corbyn on the basis that Corbyn’s current strategy which utilises their enthusiasm and support, cannot actually win.
The political apathy of the working class, poor and young is particularly justified given the obvious reality that the lower down you are on the income scale (ie class scale) the less important you are too political parties both left and right. Those at the bottom of the income scale barely get anything they want from politics — those higher up — whose votes and opinions are considered more important do get a little bit more of what they want. The young of course are becoming increasingly poor — we are the poorest generation since World War 2 — a fact often overlooked by the mainstream media.
The importance of the middle-class vote cannot be underestimated and it has been relied upon by both parties for so long now — logically in the mind of strategists and commentators like Jones it is not possible for Labour to win without middle England.
The education system, for example, is basically tailored towards getting middle-class votes. The best state schools exist in middle-class areas, and are attended by middle-class children — those children will then go on to the best universities, and generally are more likely to enjoy better opportunities.
That is why both parties gravitate towards trying to win the votes of the middle classes — they need somebody to vote for them after all — and it is clear by now that both parties have given up on the working-class vote as they simply don’t need it to get into power — they have for the last 40 years had no interest in trying to reach the working class voters. However, of course, as we know by now it’s those the very top who get pretty much everything they want.
In some ways this explains the split that Jones is causing among the left at the moment, he appeals to these two groups and tries to please both.
Those in the middle classes who consider themselves to be socialists on the left — the Guardian reading types — the “educated” opinion-forming class — who absorb the opinions of the “educated” and “articulate” opinion forming left journalists such as Jones — and are concerned with the issues that Jones comments on, but are not necessarily feeling the brunt of the the capitalist system and the pain inflicted on them by the Tories.
And the second group — working class — who really is feeling the brunt of the pain inflicted on them by capitalism and the Tories. Jones also appeals to them, however, this group may be the ones more interested in a deeper more fundamental change in politics itself.
As they are the ones suffering at the hands of all this, they are the ones who don’t just want superficial change, they want real change to reverse the neo-liberal agenda. And can see that Corbyn really does mean what he says, and have simply had enough of being beaten down by power.
For us it is not just unpleasant and disgusting that the DWP is killing people — these are our friends, our families, and we have everyday experience of living through this hell.
The marrying of these two groups is a testament to the blurring of class lines in political allegiance, the general abandonment of the working class and young by politics and new commonalities that they have found over the years.
The middle-classes (traditionally Conservative voters) have also become increasingly affected by the Tories intensely aggressive neo-liberal agenda, meaning that the struggles of the working class have also become the struggles of the middle-class.
For instance, Junior Dr’s going on strike over pay — almost unthinkable that people in one of the most highly regarded professions in the world would have to go on strike for better working conditions and pay — and yet this is a commonality which unites two quite different groups, and therefore interest in commentators like Jones.
The middle classes are also been attracted to Labour — particularly younger people — because of Labour’s perceived progressive stance on social issues such as racism, sexism, and xenophobia.
From this I think we can safely say that Corbyn and Jones have quite a similar following, therefore this means that Jones is key in forming opinions on Corbyn — given that Jones has a level of middle-class followers, of the same age-range as Corbyn supporters I really do believe that Jones is instrumental in shaping the way that Corbyn is viewed by the middle-class left-leaning educated — those who in turn have been increasingly chased for votes when it comes to election time from Labour. Not to mention that as an early Corbyn supporter, Jones was likely instrumental in helping Corbyn to get elected the first time round (maybe not so much the second).
This is similar to (one) of the line that splits the criticism of Jones as well. The middle classes who identify with Jones believe that he is a knowledgeable, educated person who we should all listen to what he has to say and take his advice seriously. The working class, however, see him as yet another member of the elite telling us what to do — telling us that our beliefs are crazy and stupid.
This also reflects the split in the Labour party itself, the corporate neo-liberal left “Blairites” and the working class/socialists. With-in this spectrum Jones sits between the two groups — and acts a sort of spokesperson negating between the two. However, rather than uniting to them he is splitting them further along these established class and party lines.
This is a great shame, and perhaps the worst thing about Jones, if he was to help Labour supporters unite rather than divide, then this would almost certainly be our best path to victory at the next election.
Whether or not Jones realises it, his endless talk of Labour dying in the polls is neglecting the fact that if a Corbyn led Labour Party unites and plays its cards right it could activate those lost from politics — that Corbyn and Jones have started reaching out too — and with enough effort win the next general election. The numbers are there, the interest sparked — it is now a matter of how to use it, rather than waste it.
Owen Jones’ Background
Jones grew up in what would be classified as a middle-class household (by all standard measures) his mother worked as IT lecturer at Salford University, and his father was a local authority worker and trade union shop steward.
Jones studied at Oxford University to masters level, going on to work as a trade union lobbyist, and then to serve as a parliamentary researcher for the current shadow Chancellor John McDonnell (Jones’ current attacks on McDonnell and Corbyn may seem odd given the fact he used to work for him — we’ll get to that later.) Jones family is well known to have socialist links, and politics plays an important role in their lives. Jones has said that his father was a member of the communist party in the 30’s (actually not that rare at the time).
Oxford remains one of the most class driven elitist institutions in the country, in 2016 90% of its students came from middle-class and above backgrounds.
The students within institutions (like Oxford) who call themselves leftists or Labour tends to have the Jones style socialist ideas kind of built into their heads. Having met a few of these people, I’m sorry to say that they tend to be very elitists and frankly snobbish, I’m not saying that Jones is — however, the strand of young socialist bred in these institutions, the kind that then goes on to work for the Labour Party or left-leaning think tanks are usually the most out of touch with the general population you could ever meet.
They often have no ideas of their own, and no vision of their own, as is illustrated by the website (ironically titled) Labour Vision, which debates topics such as this:
Considering the appeal of Corbyn to young people — which is down to policy, not because he listens to 2nd wave grime music and gains some sort of great understanding young people from this — well, not my knowledge anyway — these are the kinds of topics, this strand of Labour Party insider/ “socialists” come up with, and they pose questions like this quite seriously.
This is just how lost and out of touch, they are with reality. Their current leader has connected to many young people already, yet they can’t accept that and instead are prepared to waste time asking questions about how to attract young people to politics. The answer is obvious: policy. The same way you attract anybody to politics.
This is the strand of “socialism” that gets bred within these elitist institutions.
Interestingly Corbyn also attended elitist institutions when he was young: a prep school and a grammar school, and his background is also very middle class. However, he never pursued higher education and left his local polytechnic at 18 with two E-grade A-Levels, before going on to pursue a life in political activism and parliament. This shows a key difference between Corbyn and many others the political class — a lack of obedience to unjustifiable authority (academia) — very different from Jones’ path.
Is Owen Jones A Socialist?
Jones claims to be a socialist and then gets angry when people accuse him of not being one. The simple fact is he is a socialist, but there are different kinds of socialism.
The basis of any socialism is generally accepted to be that the workers control the means of production. That is the starting point of socialism, and from this springs different forms.
Arguably the most “extreme” form of socialism is that of libertarian-socialism/anarcho-syndicalism — a system which at its core believes that workers should control/own the means of production, and should be united (rather than in competition) with other federated organisations through free workers association.
Within this system, all levels of society would be democratically controlled by the people of that society. The institutions within such a society would all be democratically controlled and held to the highest level of scrutiny — if those institutions could not hold themselves to this wide-spread democratic justification then they would be dismantled and re-built (if needed).
The effects of such a society would mean an end to all forms of corporate/state/supported capitalist tyranny — as well as other destructive forces of unjustifiable institutions and authority. The structure of class divides — based on such unjustified authority would cease to exist, as within this structure arbitrary class-based hierarchies would be dismantled.
The other core feature of any form of socialism is the redistribution of wealth (inherently present in the anarcho model, but also a common theme to any socialist system. )
This can take many forms — it is not just taxing the rich and giving to the poor and deserving (such as the welfare state) but also applied to wider social institutions such as healthcare, schools, etc.
The Owen Jones style of socialism if far less ambitious than the libertarian-socialist view, and fits more in line with the classic Labour Party left view — about as socialist as the Labour Party has ever been or is likely to ever be.
If you get past the rhetoric about “fairness” and “social justice” that Jones talks about, and look at the actual policies that he advocates, they really just represent a very modest left-wing program, based on some socialist ideas — but at the core of it remains the capitalist structure, and extends the power of the state.
Jones often speaks of “public ownership” of the rails, or the banks, but really this is just state ownership. Jones says that these publicly owned concerns would have members of the public sitting on the boards of the directors, or some sort of similar public representation, thus eradicating the charge that these would actually be state-owned concerns rather than publicly owned ones.
He bizarrely cites Germany as an example of what he envisions to be the correct system with which to model certain socialist ideas on. For example, having worker representation on the boards in companies. This policy was recently advocated by Theresa May, who then dropped it quietly a few months later — an indication that far from opposing capitalism as any true form of socialism would — Jones’ version is more about making capitalism less brutal.
The fact that Jones calls his beliefs socialist is correct in some ways, but from the broader perspective of what is generally accepted to be socialist, he is being very modest in his approach. At the core of pretty much any form of socialism is the concept of ridding the world of capitalist tyranny altogether and putting ownership into the hands of the people.
What Jones presents is quite different in this respect, it is more of a hybrid of socialism and capitalism. When you look at what Jones proposes it is really just a kinder more socially ‘responsible” version of capitalism.
Jones then — considering the scope of socialism — presents the very safe face of what is called socialism within the mainstream media. He is the acceptable, middle-class, educated and experienced voice of socialism for the mainstream media. Jones advocates some socialism, but largely leaves the capitalist system unchecked, preferring instead to make alterations to the capitalist system in order to make it slightly more like socialism.
The principles of socialism — that workers should control the means of production — thus eradicating capitalism is not only a popular idea among the population, it is clearly the best way to run any society, it is the most natural way that you can think off. The idea that you rent yourself to the capitalist class — who are making millions off of your work — and controlling the important decisions around your life, and society and the world at large — and then selling those same products that you’ve slaved over back to you, is inherently degrading, demeaning , miserable and un-natural.
The capitalist system contains within it so much misery, that it is vital to always repress alternatives to it. Efforts at every level of society are made to stop us from realising what is right in front of our noses. Not that socialism is some sort of radical idea of the loony left, but that socialism is just a normal way to think about how the world should be run.
If every level of society was democratically run — the responsibility shared by the people — then how different would it be?
For example, rather than having clueless ministers sitting in Whitehall commanding teachers what to teach, how to teach etc, and allowing them no scope to use their own creativity, experience and initiative —how different would it be if those teachers actually made the syllabus themselves? Taught the way that they felt it be best to teach? Decided on how best to spend the funds allocated to the school, by the community? The community itself also helping to hold to account the school for its job, and the education of its children. The children themselves could also play a role within this — when old enough to decide what they interested in and how they what they would like to learn. This is just one small example of how democratization in the broader sense could work.
This kind of democratisation through socialism represents the most obvious thing that the population is told it cannot ever have. That we should be in control of our own lives, communities, and decisions — not living under the rule of those who have no interest in doing anything other than maintaining a system of state-capitalist-corporate tyranny.
These are the kinds of creative ideas, and possibilities that I think any socialist should be making. They are not the kinds of ideas that Jones puts forward.
This is why the charge that Jones isn’t a real socialist, in my opinion, does hold weight. He speaks in some of the languages of socialism and presents some of the ideas of socialism, but concedes that ultimately the capitalist structure will remain no matter what. Jones may not be a “real” socialist in the broad sense, but certain it’s unfair to say he isn’t a socialist at all — he believes in some elements of socialism, but not an end to capitalist tyranny.
There is nothing wrong with this position, but I think the confusion around it really requires thought and understanding as opposed to assuming that Jones is a full blown socialist and then beating him for not being one. He isn’t really claiming to be — so don’t expect it.
Is He Genuinely Trying to Do the Right Thing?
I believe that Jones is being completely honest when he says he passionately believes in what he says and does — I do not doubt this, he does believe he is right and that he’s acting in the best interests of what he believes in. However, there is no reason to accept that this means he is right about what he says.
This is why he should embrace and accept criticisms of his work, and try his best to understand the anger that he is sparking, some of which I think is justified.
Jones Acts as a Middle-Man Between the Two Factions Of Labour Party
As I said earlier Jones essentially acts as a sort middle man between the two main factions of the Labour Party: that of the more left leaning socialists (Corbyn supporters/ people that want actual change) and the Neo-Liberal left New Labour style. This is reflected by the fact that he often doesn’t take clear positions on key policies that define the left.
For instance, Jones has kind of flip-flopped on the Trident Nuclear upgrades program. Corbyn is a strong opponent of nuclear weaponry — and so has opposed the Trident upgrades, this is the classic stance on the issue of the left-wing socialists, yet Jones who once appeared to oppose the upgrade...
…later changed his opinion — turning the issue into a discussion which must be heard.
He states that the Left has failed to convince people to descale nuclear arms — perhaps this is because the arguments against nuclear arms have not been heard properly? In this sense a debate should be had — and the many good arguments against Trident should be heard, yet it seems that left-wing commentators such as Jones are unable to construct a coherent viable narrative against Trident.
The fact that we have a mainstream socialist commentator who doesn’t seem to be able to construct a strong convincing case against Trident — upgrading of nuclear weapons — at a time when destruction from the threat of a pointless and dangerous nuclear war has never been greater (The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently announced that the hands of the doomsday clock have been placed at two and a half minutes to midnight — the closest to midnight that they have been since the height of the Cold War in the 80’s.)
The fact that the upgrade will cost us billions in a deal which esssentally hands taxpayers money to arms manufacturers — basically giving them a blank cheque — just so that they can increase there already massive misery driven profits, at a time when we should be de-escalating our nuclear arms capability in line with our obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is pretty shocking. The fact that a prominent left wing commentator is unable to challenge this even more shocking.
I don’t think there are any mainstream commentators who have seriously opposed the Trident upgrade, whether on the left or right. Again this is a testament to the narrowness of the debate, and illustrates the ways in which Jones is used to limits the frame of debate on the left: if even the most left-wing socialist commentator in the mainstream media thinks that the Trident upgrade requires much debate — without being able to offer a strong argument against it, and seems to belive that the left has lost on the issue, then it follows that anybody who thinks it is a bad thing and the simple fact that we should oppose it just on principle and our legal obligations is considered too far-left and on the fringes of any debate on the issue. Infact they are considered to be wasting time, debating matters which have already been settled — according to Jones’ opinion that is.
Jones says that the left has failed to make the case against the upgrade, yet this survey shows that the majority of young people are not in favour of nuclear arms in general, and made great efforts towards getting thier voices heard by policy makers — all of which appear to have been ignored. Given the lifespan of the weaponry, why was this not even mentioned in the mainstream debates?
If the public were exposed to the real debate, including the actual dangers of nuclear arms, illustrated quite perfectly by the £13 Million Trident test missile which accidentally launched in the wrong direction and was subsequently covered up by Theresa May a few months ago — just as the Trident bill was being out through Parliament — as well as a whole host of other times we have come close to nuclear war due to the systems being accidentally activated (we are frankly lucky to still be here when you learn about them.) Then perhaps the public would change its mind, certainly it would be enough to convince a majority of young people who are already leaning in that direction.
If Jones presented the full spectrum of the arguments against Trident then perhaps opinion really would change in favour, of de-scaling nuclear arms. I don’t feel like the “debate” has ever been had, and there are certainly many good arguments we can use to mobilise against Trident. Many other countries have given up nuclear arms, we’re one of the last ones left to still have them, let alone upgrade.
Part 1 — Conclusion
We can see then that Jones is exceptionally important for framing issues within the media, and containing those of the left to within reasonably safe limits — his opinion is used to influence (in particular) the middle-class educated opinion-formers who vote for the Labour Party, or may vote for them. The same group that has become increasingly important in winning elections since over the neo-liberal period. But are not the key to winning elections in the future — this can and should come from mass popular support from the working class, and poor joined in unity with current Labour supporters.
The opinions that Jones expresses of the left and Corbyn — due to his mainstream reach also shape wider political mainstream narrative and debate. This means that his opinion of the core issues is often seen as some sort of benchmark by which the state of the left can be judged and decided upon from across all areas of the spectrum. In this way Jones’ opinions of Corbyn — if incorrect as I believe many of them to be, are actually more likely to be damaging to Corbyn than outright attacks from the right-wing establishment, the Murdoch press etc.
Jones acts a middle man between the two factions of the Labour Party and a spokesperson between the two in order to bring the two groups together — but increasingly this is becoming a separation due to his opinions. Jones (often) does not do a good job of presenting the core values of the left, in the sense that he often caves into arguments — such as Trident — without taking into account the full scope of the evidence. This represents a pattern of behavior by Jones of always trying to navigate this middle ground between the two main factions of the Labour Party/supporters — rather than fighting extensively for the views he claims to espouse.
In the next part we examine the relationship between Corbyn and Jones — and the reasons why Jones swapped his early support for Corbyn, the arguments he presented for this, the reasons that these arguments — many of which do not hold up under scrutiny — have come under fire, and Jones’ reaction to these criticisms of his work.