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Thread: John Pilger wins Sydney Peace Prize

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    Default John Pilger wins Sydney Peace Prize

    Breaking The Great Australian Silence

    Nov 06, 2009 By John Pilger

    John Pilger's ZSpace Page / ZSpace
    Thank you all for coming tonight, and my thanks to the City of Sydney and especially to the Sydney Peace Foundation for awarding me the Peace Prize. It's an honour I cherish, because it comes from where I come from.

    I am a seventh generation Australian. My great-great grandfather landed not far from here, on November 8th, 1821. He wore leg irons, each weighing four pounds. His name was Francis McCarty. He was an Irishman, convicted of the crime of insurrection and "uttering unlawful oaths". In October of the same year, an 18 year old girl called Mary Palmer stood in the dock at Middlesex Gaol and was sentenced to be transported to New South Wales for the term of her natural life. Her crime was stealing in order to live. Only the fact that she was pregnant saved her from the gallows. She was my great-great grandmother. She was sent from the ship to the Female Factory at Parramatta, a notorious prison where every third Monday, male convicts were brought for a "courting day" - a rather desperate measure of social engineering. Mary and Francis met that way and were married on October 21st, 1823.

    Growing up in Sydney, I knew nothing about this. My mother's eight siblings used the word "stock" a great deal. You either came from "good stock" or "bad stock". It was unmentionable that we came from bad stock - that we had what was called "the stain".

    One Christmas Day, with all of her family assembled, my mother broached the subject of our criminal origins, and one of my aunts almost swallowed her teeth. "Leave them dead and buried, Elsie!" she said. And we did - until many years later and my own research in Dublin and London led to a television film that revealed the full horror of our "bad stock". There was outrage. "Your son," my aunt Vera wrote to Elsie, "is no better than a damn communist". She promised never to speak to us again.

    The Australian silence has unique features.

    Growing up, I would make illicit trips to La Perouse and stand on the sandhills and look at people who were said to have died off. I would gape at the children of my age, who were said to be dirty, and feckless. At high school, I read a text book by the celebrated historian, Russel Ward, who wrote: "We are civilized today and they are not." "They", of course, were the Aboriginal people.

    My real Australian education began at the end of the 1960s when Charlie Perkins and his mother, Hetti, took me to the Aboriginal compound at Jay Creek in the Northern Territory. We had to smash down the gate to get in.

    The shock at what I saw is unforgettable. The poverty. The sickness. The despair. The quiet anger. I began to recognise and understand the Australian silence.

    Tonight, I would like to talk about this silence: about how it affects our national life, the way we see the world, and the way we are manipulated by great power which speaks through an invisible government of propaganda that subdues and limits our political imagination and ensures we are always at war - against our own first people and those seeking refuge, or in someone else's country.

    Last July, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said this, and I quote: "It's important for us all to remember here in Australia that Afghanistan has been a training ground for terrorists worldwide, a training ground also for terrorists in South-East-Asia, reminding us of the reasons that we are in the field of combat and reaffirming our resolve to remain committed to that cause."

    There is no truth in this statement. It is the equivalent of his predecessor John Howard's lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

    Shortly before Kevin Rudd made that statement, American planes bombed a wedding party in Afghanistan. At least sixty people were blown to bits, including the bride and groom and many children. That's the fifth wedding party attacked, in our name.

    The prime minister was standing outside a church on a Sunday morning when he made his statement. No reporter challenged him. No one said the war was a fraud: that it began as an American vendetta following 9/11, in which not a single Afghan was involved. No one put it to Kevin Rudd that our perceived enemy in Afghanistan were introverted tribesmen who had no quarrel with Australia and didn't give a damn about south-east Asia and just wanted the foreign soldiers out of their country. Above all, no one said: "Prime Minister, There is no war on terror. It's a hoax. But there is a war of terror waged by governments, including the Australian government, in our name." That wedding party, Prime Minister, was blown to bits by one the latest smart weapons, such as the Hellfire bomb that sucks the air out of the lungs. In our name.

    During the first world war, the British prime minister David Lloyd George confided to the editor of the Manchester Guardian: "If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know and they can't know."

    What has changed? Quite a lot actually. As people have become more aware, propaganda has become more sophisticated.

    One of the founders of modern propaganda was Edward Bernays, an American? who believed that people in free societies could be lied to and regimented without them realising. He invented a euphemism for propaganda -- "public relations", or PR. "What matters," he said, "is the illusion." Like Kevin Rudd's stage-managed press conferences outside his church, what matters is the illusion.? The symbols of Anzac are constantly manipulated in this way. Marches. Medals. Flags. The pain of a fallen soldier's family.? Serving in the military, says the prime minister, is Australia's highest calling. The squalor of war, the killing of civilians has no reference. What matters is the illusion.

    The aim is to ensure our silent complicity in a war of terror and in a massive increase in Australia's military arsenal. Long range cruise missiles are to be targeted at our neighbours. The Rudd government and the Pentagon have launched a competition to build military robots which, it is said, will do the "army's dirty work" in "urban combat zones". What urban combat zones? What dirty work?


    "I confess," wrote Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, over a century ago, "that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world."? We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Do the young people who wrap themselves in the flag at Gallipoli every April understand that only the lies have changed - that sanctifying blood sacrifice in colonial invasions is meant to prepare us for the next one?

    When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a 'training team', requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External affairs wrote this secret truth: "Although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam, our offer was in fact made following a request from the United States government."

    Two versions. One for us, one for them.

    Menzies spoke incessantly about "the downward thrust of Chinese communism". What has changed? Outside the church, Kevin Rudd said we were in Afghanistan to stop another downward thrust. Both were lies.

    During the Vietnam war, the Department of Foreign Affairs made a rare complaint to Washington. They complained that the British knew more about America's objectives than its committed Australian ally. An assistant secretary of state replied.? "We have to inform the British to keep them on side," he said. "You are with us, come what may."

    How many more wars are we to be suckered into before we break our silence?

    How many more distractions must we, as a people, endure before we begin the job of righting the wrongs in our own country?

    "It's time we sang from the world's rooftops," said Kevin Rudd in opposition, "[that] despite Iraq, America is an overwhelming force for good in the world [and] I look forward to working with the great American democracy, the arsenal of freedom...".

    Since the second world war, the arsenal of freedom has overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, and crushed some 30 liberation movements. Millions of people all over the world have been driven out of their homes and subjected to crippling embargos. Bombing is as American as apple pie.

    In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter asked this question: "Why is the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought of Stalinist Russia well known in the West while American criminal actions never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."

    In Australia, we are trained to respect this censorship by omission. An invasion is not an invasion if "we" do it. Terror is not terror if "we" do it. A crime is not a crime if "we" commit it. It didn't happen. Even while it was happening it didn't happen. It didn't matter. It was of no interest.

    In the arsenal of freedom we have two categories of victims. The innocent people killed in the Twin Towers were worthy victims. The innocent people killed by Nato bombers in Afghanistan are unworthy victims. Israelis are worthy. Palestinians are unworthy.? It gets complicated. Kurds who rose against Saddam Hussein were worthy. But Kurds who rise against the Turkish regime are unworthy. Turkey is a member of Nato. They're in the arsenal of freedom.

    The Rudd government justifies its proposals to spend billions on weapons by referring to what the Pentagon calls an "arc of instability" that stretches across the world. Our enemies are apparently everywhere -- from China to the Horn of Africa. In fact, an arc of instability does indeed stretch across the world and is maintained by the United States. The US Air Force calls this "full spectrum dominance". More than 800 American bases are ready for war.

    These bases protect a system that allows one per cent of humanity to control 40 per cent of wealth: a system that bails out just one bank with $180 billion - that's enough to eliminate malnutrition in the world, and provide education for every child, and water and sanitation for all, and to reverse the spread of malaria. On September 11th, 2001, the United Nations reported that on that day 36,615 children had died from poverty. But that was not news.

    Journalists and politicians like to say the world changed as a result of the September 11th attacks. In fact, for those countries under attack by the arsenal of freedom, nothing has changed. What has changed is not news.

    According to the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, a military coup has taken place in the United States, with the Pentagon now ascendant in every aspect of foreign policy.

    It doesn't matter who is president - George Bush or Barack Obama. Indeed, Obama has stepped up Bush's wars and started his own war in Pakistan. Like Bush, he is threatening Iran, a country Hillary Clinton said she was prepared to "annihilate". Iran's crime is its independence. Having thrown out America's favourite dictator, the Shah, Iran is the only resource-rich Muslim country beyond American control. It doesn't occupy anyone else's land and hasn't attacked any country -- unlike Israel, which is nuclear-armed and dominates and divides the Middle East on America's behalf.

    In Australia, we are not told this. It's taboo. Instead, we dutifully celebrate the illusion of Obama, the global celebrity, the marketing dream. Like Calvin Klein, brand Obama offers the thrill of a new image attractive to liberal sensibilities, if not to the Afghan children he bombs.

    This is modern propaganda in action, using a kind of reverse racism - the same way it deploys gender and class as seductive tools. In Barack Obama's case, what matters is not his race or his fine words, but the power he serves.

    In an essay for The Monthly entitled Faith in Politics, Kevin Rudd wrote this about refugees: "The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst... We should never forget that the reason we have a UN convention on the protection of refugees is in large part because of the horror of the Holocaust when the West (including Australia) turned its back on the Jewish people of occupied Europe who sought asylum."

    Compare that with Rudd's words the other day. "I make absolutely no apology whatsoever," he said, "for taking a hard line on illegal immigration to Australia ... a tough line on asylum seekers."

    Are we not fed up with this kind of hypocrisy? The use of the term "illegal immigrants" is both false and cowardly. The few people struggling to reach our shores are not illegal. International law is clear - they are legal. And yet Rudd, like Howard, sends the navy against them and runs what is effectively a concentration camp on Christmas Island. How shaming. Imagine a shipload of white people fleeing a catastrophe being treated like this.

    The people in those leaking boats demonstrate the kind of guts Australians are said to admire. But that's not enough for the Good Samaritan in Canberra, as he plays to the same bigotry which, as he wrote in his essay, "turned its back on the Jewish people of occupied Europe".

    Why isn't this spelt out? Why have weasel words like "border protection" become the currency of a media crusade against fellow human beings we are told to fear, mostly Muslim people? Why have journalists, whose job is to keep the record straight, become complicit in this campaign?

    After all, Australia has had some of the most outspoken and courageous newspapers in the world. Their editors were agents of people, not power. The Sydney Monitor under Edward Smith Hall exposed the dictatorial rule of Governor Darling and helped bring freedom of speech to the colony. Today, most of the Australian media speaks for power, not people.? Turn the pages of the major newspapers; look at the news on TV. Like border protection, we have mind protection. There's a consensus on what we read, see and hear: on how we should define our politics and view the rest of the world. Invisible boundaries keep out facts and opinion that are unacceptable.

    This is actually a brilliant system, requiring no instructions, no self-censorship. Journalists know not what to do. Of course, now and then the censorship is direct and crude.? SBS has banned its journalists from using the phrase "Palestinian land" to describe illegally occupied Palestine. They must describe these territories as "the subject of negotiation". That is the equivalent of somebody taking over your home at the point of a gun and the SBS newsreader describing it as "the subject of negotiation".

    In no other democratic country is public discussion of the brutal occupation of Palestine as limited as in Australia. Are we aware of the sheer scale of the crime against humanity in Gaza? Twenty-nine members of one family - babies, grannies - are gunned down, blown up, buried alive, their home bulldozed. Read the United Nations report, written by an eminent Jewish judge, Richard Goldstone.

    Those who speak for the arsenal of freedom are working hard to bury the UN report. For only one nation, Israel, has a "right to exist" in the Middle East: only one nation has a right to attack others. Only one nation has the impunity to run a racist apartheid regime with the approval of the western world, and with the prime minister and the deputy prime minister ofb Australia fawning over its leaders.

    In Australia, any diversion from this unspoken impunity attracts a campaign of craven personal abuse and intimidation usually associated with dictatorships. But we are not a dictatorship. We are a democracy.

    Are we? Or are we a murdochracy.

    Rupert Murdoch set the media war agenda shortly before the invasion of Iraq when he said, "There's going to be collateral damage. And if you really want to be brutal about it, better get it done now."

    More than a million people have been killed in Iraq as a result of that invasion - "an episode", according to one study, "more deadly than the Rwandan genocide". In our name. Are we aware of this in Australia?

    I once walked along Mutanabi Street in Baghdad. The atmosphere was wonderful. People sat in cafes, reading. Musicians played. Poets recited. Painters painted. This was the cultural heart of Mesopotania, the great civilisation to which we in the West owe a great deal, including the written word. The people I spoke to were both Sunni and Shia, but they called themselves Iraqis. They were cultured and proud.

    Today, they are fled or dead. Mutanabi Street has been blown to bits. In Baghdad, the great museums and libraries are looted. The universities are sacked. And people who once took coffee with each other, and married each other, have been turned into enemies. "Building democracy", said Howard and Bush and Blair.

    One of my favourite Harold Pinter plays is Party Time. It's set in an apartment in a city like Sydney. A party is in progress. People are drinking good wine and eating canap? They seem happy. They are chatting and? affirming and smiling. They are stylish and very self aware.

    But something is happening outside in the street, something terrible and oppressive and unjust, for which the people at the party share responsibility.

    There's a fleeting sense of discomfort, a silence, before the chatting and laughing resumes.

    How many of us live in that apartment?

    Let me put it another way. I know a very fine Israeli journalist called Amira Hass. She went to live in and report from Gaza.? I asked her why she did that. She explained how her mother, Hannah, was being marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen when she saw a group of German women looking at the prisoners, just looking, saying nothing, silent. Her mother never forgot what she called this despicable "looking from the side".

    I believe that if we apply justice and courage to human affairs, we begin to make sense of our world. Then, and only then, can we make progress.

    However, if we apply justice in Australia, it's tricky, isn't it? Because we are then obliged to break our greatest silence - to no longer "look from the side" in our own country.

    In the 1960s, when I first went to South Africa to report apartheid, I was welcomed by decent, liberal people whose complicit silence was the underpinning of that tyranny. They told me that Australians and white South Africans had much in common, and they were right. The good people of Johannesburg could live within a few kilometres of a community called Alexandra, which lacked the most basic services, the children stricken with disease. But they looked from the side and did nothing.

    In Australia, our indifference is different. We have become highly competent at divide and rule: at promoting those black Australians who tell us what we want to hear. At professional conferences their keynote speeches are applauded, especially when they blame their own people and provide the excuses we need. We create boards and commissions on which sit nice, decent liberal people like the prime minister's wife. And nothing changes.

    We certainly don't like comparisons with apartheid South Africa. That breaks the Australian silence.

    Near the end of apartheid, black South Africans were being jailed at the rate of 851 per 100,000 of population.? Today, black Australians are being jailed at a national rate that is more than five times higher. Western Australia jails Aboriginal men at eight times the apartheid figure.

    In 1983, Eddie Murray was killed in a police cell in Wee Waa in New South Wales by "a person or persons unknown". That's how the coroner described it.? Eddie was a rising rugby league star. But he was black and had to be cut down to size. Eddie's parents, Arthur and Leila Murray, launched one of the most tenacious and courageous campaigns for justice I've known anywhere. They stood up to authority. They showed grace and patience and knowledge. And they never gave in.

    When Leila died in 2003, I wrote a tribute for her funeral. I described her as an Australian hero. Arthur is still fighting for justice. He's in his sixties. He's a respected elder, a hero. A few months ago, the police in Narrabri offered Arthur a lift home and instead took him for a violent ride in their bullwagon. He ended up in hospital, bruised and battered. That is how Australian heroes are treated.

    In the same week the police did this - as they do to black Australians, almost every day - Kevin Rudd said that his government, and I quote, "doesn't have a clear idea of what's happening on the ground" in Aboriginal Australia.

    How much information does the prime minister need? How many ideas? How many reports? How many royal commissions? How many inquests?? How many funerals? Is he not aware that Australia appears on an international "shame list" for having failed to eradicate trachoma, a preventable disease of poverty that blinds Aboriginal children?

    In August this year, the United Nations once again distinguished Australia with the kind of shaming once associated with South Africa. We discriminate on the basis of race. That's it in a nutshell. This time the UN blew a whistle on the so-called "intervention", which began with the Howard government smearing Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory with allegations of sex slavery and paedophile rings in "unthinkable numbers", according to the minister for indigenous affairs.

    In May last year, official figures were released and barely reported.

    Out of 7433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, 39 had been referred to the authorities for suspected abuse. Of those, a maximum of four possible cases were identified. So much for the "unthinkable numbers". Of course, child abuse does exist, in black Australia and white Australia. The difference is that no soldiers invaded the North Shore; no white parents were swept aside; no white welfare has been "quarantined". What the doctors found they already knew: that Aboriginal children are at risk - from the effects of extreme poverty and the denial of resources in one of the world's richest countries.

    Billions of dollars have been spent - not on paving roads and building houses, but on a war of legal attrition waged against black communities. I interviewed an Aboriginal leader called Puggy Hunter. He carried a bulging brief case and he sat in the West Australian heat with his head in his hands.

    I said, "You're exhausted."

    He replied, "Look, I spend most of my life in meetings, fighting lawyers, pleading for our birthright. I'm just tired to death, mate." He died soon afterwards, in his forties.

    Kevin Rudd has made a formal apology to the First Australians. He spoke fine words. For many Aboriginal people, who value healing, the apology was very important. However, the Sydney Morning Herald published a remarkably honest editorial. It described the apology as "a piece of political wreckage" that "the Rudd government has moved quickly to clear away... in a way that responds to some of its supporters' emotional needs".

    Since the apology, Aboriginal poverty has got worse. The promised housing programme is a grim joke. No gap has even begun to be bridged. Instead, the federal government has threatened communities in the Northern Territory that if they don't hand over their precious freehold leases, they will be denied the basic services that we, in white Australia, take for granted.

    In the 1970s, Aboriginal communities were granted comprehensive land rights in the Northern Territory, and John Howard set about clawing back these rights with bribery and bullying. The Labour government is doing the same. You see, there are deals to be done. The Territory contains extraordinary mineral wealth, especially uranium. And Aboriginal land is wanted as a radioactive waste dump. This is very big business, and foreign companies want a piece of the action.

    It is a continuation of the darkest side of our colonial history: a land grab.

    Where are the influential voices raised against this? Where are the peak legal bodies? Where are those in the media who tell us endlessly how fair-minded we are? Silence.

    But let us not listen to their silence. Let us pay tribute to those Australians who are not silent, who don't look from the side - those like Barbara Shaw and Larissa Behrendt, and the Mutitjulu community leaders and their tenacious lawyer George Newhouse, and Chris Graham, the fearless editor of the National Indigenous Times. And Michael Mansell, Lyle Munro, Gary Foley, Vince Forrester and Pat Dodson, and Arthur Murray.

    And let us celebrate Australia's historian of courage and truth, Henry Reynolds, who stood against white supremacists posing as academics and journalists. And the young people who closed down Woomera detention camp, then stood up to the political thugs who took over Sydney during Apec two years ago. And good for Ian Thorpe, the great swimmer, whose voice raised against the intervention has yet to find an echo among the pampered sporting heroes in a country where the gap between white and black sporting facilities and opportunity has closed hardly at all.

    Silences can be broken, if we will it. In one of the greatest poems of the English language, Percy Shelley wrote this:

    Rise like lions after slumber

    In unvanquishable number

    Shake your chains to earth like dew

    Which in sleep has fallen on you

    Ye are many - they are few

    But we need to make haste. An historic shift is taking place. The major western democracies are moving towards a corporatism. Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope. The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies - socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor - and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war.

    This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonalds is to food.

    How do we change this? We start by looking beyond the stereotypes and clich?that are fed to us as news. Tom Paine warned long ago that if we were denied critical knowledge, we should storm what he called the Bastille of words. Tom Paine did not have the internet, but the internet on its own is not enough.

    We need an Australian glasnost, the Russian word from the Gorbachev era, which broadly means awakening, transparency, diversity, justice, disobedience. It was Edmund Burke who spoke of the press as a Fourth Estate. I propose a people's Fifth Estate that monitors, deconstructs and counters the official news. In every news room, in every media college, teachers of journalism and journalists themselves need to be challenged about the part they play in the bloodshed, inequity and silence that is so often presented as normal.

    The public are not the problem. It's true some people don't give a damn - but millions do, as I know from the responses to my own films. What people want is to be engaged - a sense that things matter, that nothing is immutable, that unemployment among the young and poverty among the old are both uncivilised and wrong. What terrifies the agents of power is the awakening of people: of public consciousness.

    This is already happening in countries in Latin America where ordinary people have discovered a confidence in themselves they did not know existed. We should join them before our own freedom of speech is quietly withdrawn and real dissent is outlawed as the powers of the police are expanded.

    "The struggle of people against power, "wrote Milan Kundera, "is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

    In Australia, we have much to be proud of - if only we knew about it and celebrated it. Since Francis McCarty and Mary Palmer landed here, we've progressed only because people have spoken out, only because the suffragettes stood up, only because the miners of Broken Hill won the world's first 35-hour week, only because pensions and a basic wage and child endowment were pioneered in New South Wales.

    In my lifetime, we have become one of the most culturally diverse places on earth, and it has happened peacefully, by and large. That is a remarkable achievement - until we look for those whose Australian civilisation has seldom been acknowledged, whose genius for survival and generosity and forgiving have rarely been a source of pride. And yet, they remain, as Henry Reynolds wrote, the whispering in our hearts. For they are what is unique about us.

    I believe the key to our self respect - and our legacy to the next generation - is the inclusion and reparation of the First Australians. In other words, justice. There is no mystery about what has to be done. The first step is a treaty that guarantees universal land rights and a proper share of the resources of this country.

    Only then can we solve, together, issues of health, poverty, housing, education, employment. Only then can we feel a pride that comes not from flags and war. Only then can we become a truly independent nation able to speak out for sanity and justice in the world, and be heard.
    "I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.
    Karl Marx.

    "Well, he would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies, 1963, replied Ms Rice Davies when the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her.

  2. Default

    I was about to post this just now myself but did a quick search on 'Pilger' first because, Magda being so on-the-ball, I wondered if I might have missed it due to inattention of late. Good thing I did.

    Anyway, I commend it to all. A quick scan of the Aussie on-line MSM indicates that, apart from soto-voce murmerings of 'traitor', Pilger is as always being ignored - prophets unwelcome in their own land and all that eh? He has offended against a massive guilty and inverted Australian version of 'omerta' and must therefore be shunned or worse.

    He does repeat the odd bit from other recent writings but, taken as a whole it is yet another devastating indictment of the West in general and fawning obsequious, hypocritical, 'lying-through-their-teeth' Aussie political leaders in particular.

    The only issue on which I depart from Pilger is in his apparent belief that an awakened population can succeed in changing things fundamentally for the better. Maybe he just feels he has to offer the possibility of genuine change to remain accessible to the masses. Personally I don't see it.

    Seems to me that unless and until humanity can arrange its affairs in such a way that leadership, wealth and power become inversely correlated with psychopathy, rather than the near 100% positive correlation of history and the present then, with the pace of military/surveillance/control/propaganda technology being what it is, we remain on a fast track to Armageddon. Pretty depressing view I guess, but I do still manage to enjoy life.
    Peter Presland

    ".....there is something far worse than Nazism, and that is the hubris of the Anglo-American fraternities, whose routine is to incite indigenous monsters to war, and steer the pandemonium to further their imperial aims"
    Guido Preparata. Preface to 'Conjuring Hitler'
    "Never believe anything until it has been officially denied"
    Claud Cockburn

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Presland View Post

    The only issue on which I depart from Pilger is in his apparent belief that an awakened population can succeed in changing things fundamentally for the better. Maybe he just feels he has to offer the possibility of genuine change to remain accessible to the masses. Personally I don't see it.
    I couldn't agree more Peter. It is, imo, a repeated failing of those on the left to believe that all it will take is a political revolution or political awakening of the masses to cause rapid and permanent change to the way they are governed, whereas it will require a great deal more personal sacrifice and courage than that to change matters for the better.

    Seems to me that unless and until humanity can arrange its affairs in such a way that leadership, wealth and power become inversely correlated with psychopathy, rather than the near 100% positive correlation of history and the present then, with the pace of military/surveillance/control/propaganda technology being what it is, we remain on a fast track to Armageddon. Pretty depressing view I guess, but I do still manage to enjoy life.
    Psychologically speaking (and sorry to be a bloomin' bore et again) "power" is the shadow state of "love". Hence Jung's statement:

    Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.
    Until we are willing to swallow the foul rottenness tucked away in the sack of shit we each carry on our backs - which we daily project on the outside world - then life will go on and on as it has until now, and power will accrue wealth and stamp its dominance over others. And gloat on these achievements.

    In clear speak: we are each individually responsible for the way we are Collectively governed.
    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

  4. #4


    From 1992. John Pilger interviews Noam Chomsky.

    A historical curiosity?


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note: I've tried to describe the visual setting, without being over-elaborate; and, not feeling empowered to remove them, I've retained all the ers and ums, perhaps with misplaced zeal - do Chomskyan ums have a greater significance than those of ordinary mortals? Well, perhaps. Anyway, here's my transcription - RW -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - BBC2 broadcast 'in association with Central Independent Television' of an externally-made programme; details, e.g. even the names of participants, not given in the 'Radio Times'. Interview of Chomsky by John Pilger, left of camera, in white outfit, who pronounces 'Noam' rather like 'Norm'; Chomsky, over to the right, in specs, and orangish corduroy jacket and tieless shirt. Over Pilger's voicever we see titles: 'On Power and Ideology', 'Language & Responsibility', 'Rules & Representation'. And pages of two articles, one on Indo-China, the other a reference to articles by Dwight MacDonald in 'Politics', which Chomsky had read as a student, and, rereading after twenty years, appeared to him to have lost none of their power: to what extent were individual Germans and Japanese guilty or innocent? Other titles were: 'Manufacturing Consent - The Political Economy of the Mass Media' by Edward S Herman & Noam Chomsky; 'Necessary Illusions - Thought Control in Democratic Societies' [published 1989]; 'Chronicles of Dissent. Interviews with David Barsamian.' --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    PILGER'S VOICEOVER: It was Chomsky's attack on America's liberal establishment that drew the most fire. He accused both his fellow academics, and journalists, of being 'ideological managers' of a system that caused death and destruction around the world in the name of democracy. He argued that the media covered this up, that its message was Orwellian, giving people the illusion of unfettered information, when so often what was reported was the opposite of the truth. He described this in one of his most famous works as 'Manufacturing Consent'. His more recent books, such as 'Necessary Illusions' and 'Chronicles of Dissent', were published by small minority presses on either side of the Atlantic, and yet they were read all over the world. His latest book, 'Deterring Democracy', is the first to be published by a mainstream publisher in this country for nearly twenty years. Noam Chomsky has been almost impossible to pigeon-hole. He was against the manipulations of both sides in the Cold War, believing that the superpowers were actually united in suppressing the aspirations and freedom of small nations. He embraces no ideology, and supports no revolution. His critics charge he is wedded to a simplistic view of the world, based on imaginary conspiracies, and yet, as the essayist Brian Morton wrote recently, 'many Americans are no longer convinced that our Government has the right to destroy any country it wants to, and Chomsky deserves much of the credit.' [NB: Unclear whether the last bit is included in the quote.] The late Francis Hope said of him, 'Such men are dangerous; the lack of them, disastrous.' Noam Chomsky, there seems to be two of you. The scientist and rationalist on the one hand, and the prophet on the other, a man of great passion and anger. What above all has fuelled this?

    CHOMSKY: Well, I think the passion and anger, which is certainly real, is fuelled simply by looking at the world. Ah my earliest childhood memories from the 1930s include er people coming to the door trying to sell rags to try to survive, scenes of police breaking up, violently breaking up, textile strikes in the city where I live, and on right up to the present, I mean the last years have been years of Pol Pot style massacres orchestrated by the United States in central America and Guatemala to a war against the church and other people trying to organise poor people. There's nowhere you can look and er if if unless your eyes are blinded and not be aroused to er er passion and anger
    PILGER: Is that why you said that er 'I always feel on the side of the loser'?

    CHOMSKY: Er well, it turns out that the people at the wrong end of the guns are usually the losers. And they're the people who if we're even minimally serious we ought to be trying to help er and at least I try, with whatever success, to be on the side of the people who are likely to be the potential losers. Now of course they don't lose everything, there are little gains here and there, and over the years over the centuries, many of these gains have amounted to quite a bit. But er the brutality and the violence and the suffering are enormous. And will remain so as long as disparities of power remain.

    PILGER: How much of this has come from your childhood? Because although you had a Jewish upbringing, you grew up in Philadelphia before the second world war, in a predominantly Irish and German neighbourhood, didn't you.

    CHOMSKY: We happened to be the only Jewish family in an Irish and German Catholic neighbourhood, which were quite pro-Nazi. In fact as late as the fall of Paris I remember celebrations, and my brother and I knew we had to take certain paths to the bus to survive, and that sort of thing

    PILGER: It was a pro-Nazi celebration in the neighbourhood?

    CHOMSKY: Oh yes. It was an area of German-American Bund. [See definition in Websters] But that's not so unusual, incidentally. In fact, the State Department, as late as 1937, in internal communications which have since been released, the State Department was describing Fascism as 'a natural response, an understandable response, of the better classes in Germany to the severe threat posed by the working classes and Bolsheviks' and so on. In fact Hitler was described as a moderate. The US was openly pro-Mussolini; Mussolini was 'that admirable Italian gentleman' as Franklin Roosevelt called him, and that went on right into the late 30s. So the fact that there were popular support for the Nazis was not anything terribly surprising

    PILGER: But your own er circle was both intensely Jewish and intensely political. Could you give me an..

    CHOMSKY: Well, my immediate background was more or less an immigrant ghetto, a Jewish ghetto transplanted from Eastern Europe - Hebrew School, Hebrew teaching, Hebrew culture and so on, er again, not unusual. And er the slightly broader family background did include something which was of enormous importance for me; it was in New York, not very far away, working-class most of those days, mostly unemployed, very vibrant working class culture which existed at the time. Many of the people had little or no formal education, but they were very cultivated and educated, including high culture, or involved in political movements, typically of the left, many of them had already passed through the standard Leninist-Marxist movements and were on the left of that, and it was just an exciting, lively, intellectual culture that I was drawn to very young, as soon as you know I was waking up more or less and er it had a tremendous impact

    PILGER: Of course, many of them though, went on to renounce their their socialism, their Marxism, even their Stalinism

    CHOMSKY: Stalinism went fast. I mean I was always anti-Stalinist; that happened very early, I'd say by the time I was ten years old, partly because of an interest in the Spanish Civil War in the late 30s. It was quite clear, even not knowing much, that something was wrong with the standard picture, er and I did, by the time I was twelve or thirteen I was haunting anarchist bookstores in New York and so on, picking up pamphlets, and talking to people who were happy to talk to some young feller who walked around, and could see that the Spanish Civil war was - in fact, it was like, as I have later learned, all civil wars are, it was tripartite. There are two parts that are fighting, and they enter history; they're fighting to see who picks up the share of power; then there's the general population, who they both wanna destroy. In the Spanish Civil War, there was a popular revolution, and the Stalin-backed Republic, and the Fascists, first combined, along with the Western democracies, to destroy the popular revolution, and after that was done, they fought to pick up the spoils. Which is not an unusual pattern. And, I though I can't claim to have understood it, I couldn't already see the picture, by the time the Stalin-Hitler pact came along, and the information about the purges, it was impossible to take any of this seriously. I was also anti-Leninist, because it struck me at the time that however horrifying the Stalinist crimes were, they clearly had their origins in Leninist authoritarianism er and I was also quite sceptical about Marxism, not so much the particular ideas, as the concept of any movement that is named after a person already arouses scepticism; it suggests at once that it's a form of organised religion or something like that. So for example, in physics, there's nothing like Einsteinism, and in any serious domain, you don't personalise collections of beliefs and that immediately set me off to later learn more about it

    PILGER: This almost sounds like wisdom in hindsight.

    CHOMSKY: It is

    PILGER: It's quite extraordinary at that period, in the 1940s, when you consider the circle that you were living in and moving in, for you perhaps not to have what was known as the Russian phase, I mean you didn't have


    PILGER: Your revolution was Spain

    CHOMSKY: And, I should, I don't wanna exaggerate, I was about ten years old at the time. The first article I wrote, first political article, in the school newspaper, and it was on the fall of Barcelona. And um I don't wanna pretend I knew what was going on, but I had some sense of it, and as I say, shortly after I had the luck, I think in retrospect, to er have become close to anarchist circles, which were quite lively at the time, and it was a very lively, vibrant, exciting period of er political culture and working-class culture.

    PILGER: You still describe yourself as an anarchist, and as a libertarian socialist. To many people these days, these are rather arcane expressions, almost from another age. What do they mean to you?

    CHOMSKY: What they mean is the search for - actually, it's an outgrowth of classical liberalism. It's classical liberalism adapted to the modern period. Er it's anarchism is not a fixed set of ideas; it's a tendency in human thought that is trying to identify kinds of authority and domination and to, if they can't justify themselves which they rarely can, to work to overcome them. Er that means overcoming state authority. It also means overcoming the autocracy of er capitalist enterprise, which is simply another form of er hierarchy and domination. It means overcoming sexist repression. Whatever you find. Sometimes authority can be justified. So, for example, you stop a three-year old kid from running across the street into traffic. That's authority, but I think you can give a justification for it. However, the burden of proof is always on those with the authority. They have to demonstrate that their authority and control is legitimate and that justification can very rarely be given

    PILGER: So what you're saying that any structure, any institution, no matter what, should be challenged?

    CHOMSKY: Any institution of authority and domination. Institutions of co-operation, voluntary association federation and so on, they don't have that burden of proof. And in fact I wouldn't want - I believe that if you read the classical liberal texts, 18th century, seriously, and apply them to the current age, this is what you discover. Adam Smith. Pick up and read the first paragraph which talks about how wonderful the division of labour is. But very few people get to maybe page 500 or wherever it is, when he says the end result of division of labour is gonna be to turn human beings into something as stupid and ignorant as any person can be, and therefore, in any civil society, the government or someone will have to intervene to prevent the horrendous effects of the invisible hand.

    PILGER: As a as a libertarian socialist, though, what do you make of the received wisdom | today, that socialism is dead? It's had it?

    CHOMSKY: Well, Let's take the various parts of the world. What was called 'socialism' in eastern Europe was killed by late 1917 or early 1918. Every socialist tendency that had developed in the pre-Bolshevik period was immediately extirpated, including Soviets, workers factory councils, any popular organization was wiped out. So since then there hasn't been a trace of socialism in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet system. In the west there have been, you know there's kind of a slow, there's a move towards a kind of a social democratic, state capitalism of some kind or other, in various places. The basic ideas of socialism are in the future. Socialism is based, traditional socialism is simply based on, the application of enlightenment ideals to an industrial society, and it means that er workers will control production, communities will control communities, and so on, that's socialism, if it means anything.

    PILGER: OK. So your brand of libertarian socialism. Has that existed anywhere?

    CHOMSKY: Well, you know, it's a bit like asking if democracy has existed anywhere. Bits and pieces of it, yes. I mean, if you look around the world, there are bits and pieces of democracy. In the United States there are elements of democracy - very limited elements - but real ones, so it's an improvement over the 17th century, let's say. The the American Revolution was equally flawed in many ways. In fact, if a third world country today were to promulgate the US Constitution, we would regard it as a reversion to Nazism. That constitution identifies a group of people as three-fifths human, for example. But nevertheless, in the context of the time, it was a tremendous advance. Er and the struggle for freedom is unending. Er You cross one bridge, you find other barriers. So there are bits and pieces of democracy, there are bits and pieces of popular control, there are new forms of authority and domination that we didn't notice before.

    PILGER: Could we move on to what, it seems, had the greatest impact on your life, and that was the Vietnam War, or as you've described it, the American War Against Asia. Can you give me something of the impact that that had on your life?

    CHOMSKY: Actually, it had virtually no impact in my thinking. But it did have an impact on my actions. There just came a point where it seemed impossible to look in the mirror and continue with a very pleasant life that I was leading! I mean I had a fine professional life, I love my work, career, family, and there were plenty of things to protest about, I had individually discussed and protested, but the Vietnam War by the early 1960s was becoming a real monstrosity

    PILGER: You made a conscious decision then?

    CHOMSKY: Very conscious and difficult decision. Because I knew I was giving up a lot. You can't put your foot in without starting to swim. You begin and it's obvious that it's gonna go on, and there'll be more demands and so on. I should say that at the time that I got started I thought it was totally hopeless. The early talks that I was giving in places, in say 1964, were to audiences of four people in some church where one was the organiser, and one was the local minister, and er one was a drunk who wandered off the streets, and the fourth was somebody who wanned to kill you. And in fact as late as er 1966 in Boston, which is a liberal city, we could not have public meetings against the war without them being physically attacked. Er er the first major public talk I gave, on the Boston Common, which is you know the standard place for giving ?out ?[indecipherable] talks, this was late 1965, the three or four of us who were speaking had to be protected by hundreds of police.

    PILGER: And yet you later wrote that you had 'quite a profound distaste for activism.' So you were a reluctant activist

    CHOMSKY: I hate there's nothing I hate more than giving general public talks. I mean

    PILGER: It was during this time, the Vietnam War, that you developed, what you're most acclaimed for, and probably what you're most attacked for, and that is your skill at debunking the language of the state, the Newspeak of the state, the lies of the state. What was, can you give me some idea of what the subtlety was of the propaganda then, because we..

    CHOMSKY: First of all, I don't think the propaganda was subtle. I think it was extremely crude, and transparently false. Er but very effective. Take the general framework. Er it's just thirty years ago to 1962. John Kennedy sent the American airforce to bomb South Vietnam. Now it was not a secret. So in October 1962 the New York Times had a front page story in which they said thirty percent of the missions against South Vietnam have American pilots flying them. Well, you know, there was no pretence at that time that we were attacked, that anyone was involved except us and the South Vietnamese, and we were attacking the South Vietnamese. Thirty years have gone by it has never been described in the mainstream as an attack against South Vietnam. It has always been defence of South Vietnam. And then people debate whether the defence of South Vietnam was wise or unwise for us. But you know the very phrase 'attack against south Vietnam' is inexpressible. I mean it's as if the Russian tyranny hadn't fallen apart, the Brezhnev system had been maintained, and imagine that thirty years after the invasion of Afghanistan no-one had ever referred to an attack against Afghanistan, everyone had referred to it as a defence of Afghanistan against terrorists supported from the outside. Well that's what we're living in. We wouldn't call that subtle propaganda, if we saw it in Russia. We would regard it as purest totalitarianism, but that's what we're living in

    PILGER: How powerful are these terms of the state? I mean, we've used these terms, here and in the United States, 'extremist' and 'moderate'.

    CHOMSKY: Yeh

    PILGER: They crop up on the news regularly. And in the same way that people can be tagged, so nations can be tagged, so movements can be tagged.

    CHOMSKY: Sure. Well, here we have to be a little more differentiated. I mean in educated circles what if we were honest we'd call the Commissar class they're taken very seriously. So for example take the Vietnam case. No-one in the Commissar Class, no journalist, no intellectual, no writer, can simply express the truth that the United States attacked South Vietnam. That's inexpressible. In fact I've been looking at the American press and scholarly literature carefully for thirty years now to see if anybody can say it. If you say it, they don't understand what you're talking about. Take say 'moderate'. That has a very definite meaning

    PILGER: Moderate?

    CHOMSKY: Yeh. So for example, in the mid-1930s, Hitler was a 'moderate'. He was described as a 'moderate'.

    PILGER: Who described him as that?

    CHOMSKY: The American government! Er he was both in the internal government documents, even publicly. He was described as a moderate standing between the extremists of the right and left, and therefore we had to support him. Mussolini was a moderate. Saddam Hussein was a moderate! In the mid-19 to late-1980s in the news you know he was described as a moderate contributing stability. General Suharto of Indonesia is described in the press regularly - in 1965, when he came into power, slaughtering maybe 700,000 people, the New York Times, and other journals, described him as 'the leader of the Indonesian moderates'. Today, the London 'Economist' says describes him as at heart benign. This is a mass murderer, on the style of Saddam Hussein

    PILGER: And yet you're often described as an extremist

    CHOMSKY: Sure. I am an extremist. Because a 'moderate' is anyone who supports western power, and an extremist is anyone who objects to them

    PILGER: Now you've had some quite spectacular rows | Arthur Schlesinger accused you of betraying the intellectual tradition | Er

    CHOMSKY: I agree with him

    PILGER: You agree with him?

    CHOMSKY: The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power and if I didn't betray it I'd be ashamed of myself

    PILGER: Of course around this time you'd accused Schlesinger and others of being what you called 'a secular priesthood'

    CHOMSKY: Well, let's take Schlesinger. This was.. sorry..

    PILGER: I was going to say a 'secular priesthood' because you were identifying a whole class. You were saying the liberal intelligentsia of America are in bed with the US government in some of its more vicious policies around, as they applied around the world. Quite an accusation

    CHOMSKY: I should say.. Well, yeh. I tried to document it. In fact I've written thousands of pages of documentation when I think they show the point. Actually, the term 'secular priesthood' I borrowed er from Isaiah Berlin, who applied it to the Russian Commissar class. And I think it's correct, they're a secular priesthood, and we have one too, namely the educated sector, typically

    PILGER: Can I just interrupt there a second. Do you use the term 'Commissar', 'Secular priesthood borrowed from the Russian experience', and 'Stalinist' when you describe the Western system

    CHOMSKY: Yeh

    PILGER: Do you do that to infuriate them?

    CHOMSKY: No, I do it to be accurate. Er I think that the term Commissar is a useful one. There is the dominance in virtually any country you look at, the respected and respectable intellectuals are those who serve external power. We may honour the Soviet dissidents, but internally they were not honoured, they were reviled. Er the people who were honoured were the Commissars. And this appears all the way back in history. Let's take the Bible. The people who were honoured in the Bible were the false prophets. It was the ones we call the prophets who were jailed and driven into the desert and so on. Er that's typical and entirely understandable. We should have the honesty to look at ourselves by the standards we quite easily apply to others. So if say a British intellectual writes apologetics, vulgar apologetics, for US government atrocities, that's no different than if an American intellectual were involved in apologetics for Stalin. And it happens all the time.

    PILGER: Your books are almost never reviewed in the US mainstream press, and they almost never ask for you to write for them. Do you think that in establishment circles they've now succeeded in making you a kind of non-person?

    CHOMSKY: Well, take say the city where I live, Boston, which is as I say a very liberal city. Er the main newspaper in Boston is the Boston Globe, which is probably the most liberal newspaper in the United States, it caters to the Cambridge intellectuals, that sort of thing. I have many friends at the Globe, up to the editorial level, close personal friends. They not only can't review my books, they can't list them in a listing of books by local authors.

    PILGER: Have you ever protested this?

    CHOMSKY: No. I think it's quite amusing. In fact the er book review editor of the Boston Globe was interviewed once by Publisher's Weekly about this and er she said that not only would none of my books ever be reviewed, but she said no book by Southend Press, the local collective

    PILGER: Yeh

    CHOMSKY: No book of theirs would ever be reviewed as long as they were publishing anything of mine

    PILGER: She obviously takes er takes personally being called a Commissar!

    CHOMSKY: Well, I think it's an amusing example of the fear of the er er doctrinal managers that there might be even the slightest departure from orthodoxy. There's a real totalitarian mentality. Even a slight departure from orthodoxy is extremely threatening.

    PILGER: What does it mean to you to be called a dissident in the United States? 'cause we talk when we think of dissidents, we think of the Soviet dissidents

    CHOMSKY: Well, you know, I mean it's not a, it's not mechanical, but it's a safe guess that anyone who's called a dissident in their own society is probably an honest person. There are things an honest person ought to be objecting to. Most people won't do it. They support them, or they join in carrying them out. There'll always be a scattering of people who try to point them out, and tell others, help other people object to them, and naturally they're going to be reviled, what else.

    PILGER: So the American establishment is your principal target. You often refer to the 'dark side of America'. But at the same time, you acknowledge that America is probably the freest society in history. Isn't there a fundamental contradiction there?

    CHOMSKY: No. No. I mean life is a complicated thing. United States is, in fact, I think, the freest society in the world. The level of protection for freedom of speech in the United States I think has no parallel elsewhere. Er this is not a gift, it's not because it was written in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were aware of this. James Madison once pointed out that a 'parchment barrier', something you write on paper, will never protect freedom. Freedom will be protected by struggle.

    PILGER: Let's talk about today. What do you mean when you say that the media 'Manufactures Consent' in a in a manifestly free society?

    CHOMSKY: Mm once again I borrowed the phrase, actually it was a joint book with Edward Herman. We borrowed the phrase from one of, from the leading, the dean of American journalism, and one of the leading progressive intellectuals, Walter Lippmann. Er he wrote back in the 1920s that manufacture of consent is a central part of what he called the 'art of democracy'. And he had a theory behind it, in what are called progressive democratic essays, and he put it very lucidly, and he expresses the general assumption. The theory is that er it's a theory that goes back to the founding fathers, and in fact back to British liberalism in the 17th century. Er the theory is that the general public are what he called the 'ignorant and meddlesome outsiders'. They are a 'bewildered herd' and he said 'we', meaning what he called the responsible men, the small group who have to | do things, make decisions, run things, 'we' have to protect ourselves from the trampling and rage of the bewildered herd. We have to make sure that those 'ignorant and meddlesome outsiders' stay outside. And he developed the conception of democracy, which is the one we have, er the public are, function, they are to be spectators, not participants. Now, since it's a democracy, they are permitted occasionally to lend their weight to one or another member of the responsible classes, and that's called an election. And then they're supposed to go home and attend to their own affairs, because what, how things are run is none of their business. Now, he also understood that you cannot do it by force. The country is too free, it's no longer possible to do it by force, so therefore you have to manufacture consent, control opinions.

    PILGER: As I understand it, I mean, what you're saying is that while literal censorship doesn't exist, in the United States and I presume other democracies, that thought control, brainwashing, is a flourishing industry

    CHOMSKY: I think the two facts are correlated. I mean, as the state, the capacity of the state to control by force, as that declines, other means have to be picked up to compensate for it, and as I, and er indoctrination is the obvious means. And, as I say, this is entirely self-conscious. [sic; not, for example, 'unconscious']

    PILGER: It can't be compared, for example, with anything that went on in the Communist world? You're not suggesting that?

    CHOMSKY: Not at all. In fact there are radical differences. And the differences are quite complex again. Life is never simple.

    PILGER: Let's talk a little about the Gulf War. Because that was very much a media war. How does that fit into your description of, You've described three types of bloodbaths. I think benign bloodbath, er constructive bloodbath, and nefarious bloodbath.

    CHOMSKY: That was a constructive bloodbath

    PILGER: That was a constructive bloodbath?

    CHOMSKY: Yeh. It was done for a power purpose. For achieving, it was like Suharto's massacres in Indonesia, which er elicited enormous euphoria in the west. And similarly the bloodbath in Iraq elicited not only euphoria but a tremendous amount of jingoism. It was very striking in England to see the revival of the kind of old jingoist currents. Here we were finally, to quote Lloyd George, we were bombing the niggers again, the way we were supposed to do. And there was a lot of pleasure about that. The Gulf War was particularly pleasurable to elite groups because there was a guarantee that they weren't gonna shoot back. It wasn't a war. A war is something where two sides shoot at each other. This was just a slaughter. Er and it achieved power ends. Now, it was interesting to look at the public attitude toward it. Er the place to look is just prior to the actual fighting, like prior to January 15th when the bombing began. There was a period from August till January where a decision had to be made as to how to respond to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. And the right decision is to reverse it. But the question is how? Now, in a democratic society, if such a thing existed, there would, when the executive decides to use force, that's a strong move. Er it has to give a justification. It has to show that force, quick use of force, is the proper means, and there should be discussion about that. Reasons should be presented, a debate should be presented, and so on. What's striking about this case is that no reason was ever presented. Now the public, up until the bombing started, by about two to one, was in favour of a negotiated settlement, which would include Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in the context of discussion of regional issues. The people who said that, took that position, did not know that Iraq had offered that, and that high US officials had announced that Iraq had offered it, and the US had rejected it. There had never been any discussion of it in the media. Each person who took that position thought I must be the only person who thinks this.

    PILGER: Mm. The last time I saw you speak, in south London, you | defended, very vigorously, the right of a man to have his say, a heckler, and he happened to be a man of neo-Fascist views. Does that right of free expression in your view extend to everybody?

    CHOMSKY: I mean if we don't believe in free expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

    PILGER: Let me take another example. Er recently Moslem extremists, in the last few years Moslem extremists in this country were actually allowed to er call for the death of Salman Rushdie. Would you support their right to speak in that way?

    CHOMSKY: To speak, yes, but I think the Bentham standard is the one that should be observed. If, if suppose two people walk into a store, suppose you and I walk into a store and you have a gun, and er I tell you shoot, shoot the store-owner. Well, that's speech, but it's not protected, because that's speech which is part of a violent act.

    PILGER: But shouldn't that be, as in the case of a racist being allowed to speak, shouldn't that be simply and indeed it is in this country, illegal? I mean it's incitement to murder

    CHOMSKY: You have to ask whether it's incitement to imminent violent action. Now, you know, there's no precise litmus test that tells you where to draw the line. But freedom of speech is an important enough value so that you need an extraordinary argument to over come it, and I think, there are such cases, I gave one, for example somebody who says 'shoot' when someone else has a gun, OK that's crossing the line, but I don't think there are many cases that cross the line. And in fact er it was kind of interesting to watch the British reaction to the Rushdie case. Er for example it went to the courts, and er er the courts ruled I don't remember the exact wording that the er that the Islamic Community brought it to the court saying that Rushdie should be regarded as subject to the equivalent of seditious libel, then the courts ruled that if he had criticised the Queen and the Anglican Church, if he had mocked them, then he would be subjected to penalty, but it was only Islam

    PILGER: Yes, it was selective. But that still doesn't detract from the fact that the the principal person burning Rushdie's books and organizing that and calling for his er his death was was inciting to murder

    CHOMSKY: Yeh, that's close

    PILGER: You wouldn't defend his right to do that, would you?

    CHOMSKY: I agree, that's, we're getting near the border, I mean if we got to the point where somebody said 'shoot', and there's Rushdie standing over there, that's not protected. Somebody making a speech saying I think I ought to be killed, I don't think they oughta be stopped from making that speech. Now, you know, exactly how you make these decisions is a subtle matter. But it seems to me protection of the right of freedom of speech is extremely important.

    PILGER: Your enemies have a certain value to you? Do you judge perhaps the success of what you're doing by the er by the intensity of attacks on you?

    CHOMSKY: Well, I mean, I would sort of weigh it in the balance. For example, if I started to be praised by establishment sectors I would ask seriously whether I'm not doing something wrong, why are they praising it? However, again, it's not a litmus test. Er there's a personal cost of course..

    PILGER: There's something else, isn't there, because I read that while your colleagues and friends from the 60s, many of them, perhaps most of them, had burned out, you'd kept going, and that inside you felt often an enormous frustration and anger. On the surface you're a very gentle person..

    CHOMSKY: I don't think you should underestimate the compensations. The country is a very different country than it was thirty years ago. It is a much more civilised country - outside of educated circles, it's a much more civilised country. Now that's not because of me. But it's because of thousands of people doing local organising and actions of various kinds and I can play a role in what they do. Many of those people need someone, groups need someone, to come in and give a talk or do some research or be in a demonstration or something. And there's tremendous compensation for doing that.

    PILGER: Well, assuming history hasn't ended, where is the next popular movement coming from?

    CHOMSKY: Oh, I think there are there are many of them. Take say environmental issues. Er they're not, they can't play games with that any more. We're reaching the point where the question of human survival may be at stake. But there's a core question which has not been addressed, and that's the question of power in the state economic [?indecipherable; sounded like 'cump'] nexus. It's basically the question of corporate power. We have to revive the understanding of the 18th and 19th century that autocratic control of the economic system is intolerable. There's a major attack on democracy going on in the worlds, an absolutely major attack. Er decisions about human life are being raised to a level so high that even parliaments are not influencing them. So, there's a kind of a de facto world government being established, which involves the IMF and the World Bank and the Gatt and the G7, you know the G7 meetings and so on, executive agreements, which are being designed to be insulated from any form of popular pressure. Er they do serve interests. They reflect something real. They reflect the internationalisation of er the economy. They reflect transnational, they reflect the interests of transnational corporations, international banks, and so on. People talk about the end of history, but what they're seeing is a tremendous attack on democracy and that has to be understood and struggled against. That's a big problem.

    PILGER: Noam Chomsky, thank you. [Credits roll horizontally, across the bottom of the screen, as the two, now-darkened, figures sit and talk a bit. 'Chimes of Freedom' plays; not Bob Dylan's version]
    "It means this War was never political at all, the politics was all theatre, all just to keep the people distracted...."
    "Proverbs for Paranoids 4: You hide, They seek."
    "They are in Love. Fuck the War."

    Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

    "Ccollanan Pachacamac ricuy auccacunac yahuarniy hichascancuta."
    The last words of the last Inka, Tupac Amaru, led to the gallows by men of god & dogs of war

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