Tag Archives: John Pilger

Trump & Clinton. Clinton & Trump

6 Aug

Clinton, Trump


I recently read a characterisation of the US presidential battle as a struggle between a neofascist catastrophe and a neoliberal disaster. This latter description of Hillary Clinton will not please those among us who believe, some ardently, that a US female president will be a triumph simply because of her sex.

It surely is worth noting here that there have been (and still are) female presidents and prime ministers in countries other than the US for some time, including our own Julia Gillard. The US is breaking its own glass ceiling, not the world’s. I don’t know that women have done much better than men at the task, and it is probably slightly delusional to expect or demand that we will: after all, female leaders have to work within the same long-established systems as do males, and no one person of either sex is going to smash those corrupt systems and make the world a better place.

This is not to say women shouldn’t be equally represented in politics: of course we must. However, I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t be better served fighting dysfunctional political orders, rather than pouring our considerable energies into the task of moulding women into the value systems of a hegemonic masculinity when once there, we can do little if our ambition is to keep our jobs.

On the question of entrenched and deadly systems of government, John Pilger argues in his Pilgeresque way that Hillary Clinton is a far more dangerous presidential prospect than is Donald Trump, partially on the grounds that Clinton is deeply embedded in a warmongering system whilst Trump is a maverick who condemns the Iraq invasion as a crime, and doesn’t want any trouble with Russia or China. Pilger continues:

Among Clinton’s biggest backers are the Israel lobby and the arms companies that fuel the violence in the Middle East. She and her husband have received a fortune from Wall Street. And yet, she is about to be ordained the women’s candidate, to see off the evil Trump, the official demon. Her supporters include distinguished feminists: the likes of Gloria Steinem in the US and Anne Summers in Australia.

Then there is the analysis of Trump as a self-saboteur, an outstanding example of someone who sets high goals while simultaneously working to undermine himself. Nobody in this narrative, not even Trump, envisaged his campaign coming this far, and the candidate’s increasingly successful alienation of significant supporters can be interpreted as the behaviour of a man who wanted the attention and publicity of the competition, but never really believed he could win it and is now in the process of finding a way out. Trump’s way, the author argues, is to behave so badly everyone rejects him, then complain that the electoral system is rigged and he is its victim. On the other hand, the author admits, Trump could simply be unhinged.

I’m grateful I don’t have to vote in the US election: it’s bad enough coping with our own. What I take from both situations is a sense that the old political order is in its death throes, a new one not yet born or perhaps not even yet conceived. What we have to work with are the dregs of democracy.

In the western world we’re desperately casting about for something better or at the very least, different. I can’t see Hillary Clinton as the answer, even though she has a vagina. She is solidly of the old order. Trump, like some of our maverick politicians, is different and difference is his appeal, even though he, like our mavericks, may be no better and could be worse.

I confess myself astounded at feminist support for Clinton. I have no desire to live under hegemonic matriarchy, anymore than I enjoy living under the constraints of hegemonic patriarchy. Neither improve the lot of women nor many men, other than those of the ruling class. I can only conclude we are living with the dregs of feminism as well as the dregs of democracy, and nobody seems to have any idea what might possibly come next.




The war you don’t see; Blair wows the msm, and the Malaysian solution becomes a reality

1 Aug

Whatever the criticisms of John Pilger, he has achieved the remarkable feat of keeping alive his indignation towards government and media manipulations and duplicities for decades. His recent documentary The War You Don’t See is no exception. I rather belatedly sat down to watch this yesterday.

Pilger takes the global media to task for its sycophantic coverage of the Iraq war, when journalists had to be embedded if they wanted to work for any of the mainstream press, and once embedded, were compromised as to what they could reveal and what they would have to conceal.

As with any account of events, current or historical, there is much truth to be found in the authors’ silences. What has been omitted and why is perhaps the first question a discerning reader needs to ask. In the case of Iraq, there are alternative sources such as Al Jazeera, independents and blogs and of course Wikileaks. Pilger has gone to these sources as well as interviewing big names such as Dan Rather  and a couple of very defensive and pedantic VIPs at ITV and the BBC.

“Well, it depends what you mean by the word links,” the ITV VIP argues, in a pathetically unsuccessful attempt at sophistry that serves only to confirm Pilger’s allegations of sycophantic bias. ‘Blair was very careful when he chose to use the word links,” the ITV Blair apologist continues, demonstrating in one sentence the entire Pilger thesis of conspiracy and collusion between government and mainstream media. (Of course, we know even more about this parasitic relationship since the recent Murdoch News of the World downfall. Say what you like, Pilger’s still on track.)

Under Pilger’s politely unrelenting pressure, these media bosses acknowledge their obsequience to their government in the matter of their reportage of the Iraq invasion, as well as WMD’s and chemical weapons allegedly held by Iraq and used, falsely, to justify the invasion.

The footage of the suffering of Iraqi people is horrific. Up to 90% of those injured and killed in this war are civilians. This is of course a reflection of the increasing sophistication of weaponry: in the first World War there were comparatively few civilian casualties. “Collateral damage” in wars has increased exponentially with the aggressor’s ability to bomb the living shit out of anything that moves.

As I wrote here this documentary was banned from screening at some events in the US and Pilger’s invitation to speak was revoked. Having watched it, I can see why it is perceived in some quarters as a threat, as it clearly explains the role of media as the servant of government  in the propaganda of war.

Alleged war criminal Tony Blair has been in Australia this past week, and has been predictably courted by over-awed mainstream journalists. Blair, a convert to Catholicism, is promoting a faith-based attitude to global affairs and has harsh words for secularists like Julia Gillard, who he seems to feel are missing the point.

Personally, I’m unable to take Blair out of the context of his slavoring admiration for  George Bush, and his lack of judgement on the Iraq invasion. There was plenty of evidence available at the time to cause any serious-minded political leader to pause and re-consider his position.

Blair, like John Howard, did not do this, and took us to war in spite of a great deal of opposition from their respective electorates. The consequences of this were and continue to be death, death, and more death with a very large dose of suffering thrown in.

Aren't I having fun?

The first fifty asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia were intercepted yesterday. They will be taken to Christmas Island, and held for 72 hours for preliminary health and identity checks before being flown out.

As another example of how government propaganda works through information that is either omitted or collectively and consistently ignored, nobody wants to address the small matter of our laws. In domestic law, asylum seekers are permitted to arrive in Australia in any manner whatsoever, with or without papers, and to request protection while their refugee status is ascertained.

I would sincerely like to know why there is no move to rescind this law, seeing as we have no intention now or in the future of upholding it. Like the human appendix, it would seem to be a useless evolutionary remnant, and we should get rid of it in case it turns septic and poisons the whole system.

Apart from that, it is psychologically unhealthy for an individual or a country to exist in a state of cognitive dissonance. No good can come from it, and we ought to be lining up our laws with our actions if we don’t want consequences.

I would also like to know why asylum seekers who arrive by plane are not sent to Malaysia. Why do we have this two tier system in Australia, and why are we creating a two tier system in Malaysia? How to explain this peculiar attachment to promoting inequality amongst the world’s most vulnerable and desperate people?

Of course, I am asking the wrong questions, that is, the ones nobody wants to hear, but there’s nothing to be done except to keep on asking them.

Everybody knows that none of this has anything at all to do with asylum seekers and refugees per se. It is solely to do with “stopping the boats” in the desperate hope of shoring up the increasingly tenuous possibility that the Gillard government will survive the next election. Asylum seekers arriving by boat are collateral damage in this domestic battle. Strangely, many of them are already collateral damage as a consequence of the wars we’re involved in, in their home countries.

I guess there are just some human beings who can be damaged collaterally over and over again by the same people, and nobody thinks it matters.


Pilger’s “The War You Don’t See” censored in the US

14 Jun
John Pilger NS head shot

Image via Wikipedia

(Thanks to PW for telling me about this.)

John Pilger‘s 2010 documentary The War You Don’t See has been banned from a planned screening at the US Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe.

The film is an investigation into the media’s role in war; the ethics of “embedded” journalism, and the rise of the electronic battlefield. Pilger investigates the media’s role in promoting government propaganda such as the weapons of mass destructions claims used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The Lannan Foundation is a private family foundation dedicated to financially supporting projects that encourage freedom of inquiry, imagination and expression. Pilger was due to attend the screening of his doco in Santa Fe, and then to speak on US foreign policy, censorship and free speech. He was notified that his film screening and his appearance had been cancelled only 48 hours before the event, and has been given no explanation by the foundation as to why this decision was taken.

Speculation round the blogosphere is that the doco is far too close to the bone, embarrassing the US and other governments. However the Lannan Foundation has not been squeamish in supporting dissenting voices in the past, and they are renowned for their support of liberal causes.

Those who would repress and censor debate always fail to realize that in the West this is impossible. We have the Internet and we have bloggers. Any attempts to silence only make everybody more noisy. I understand half of Pilger’s doco has appeared on YouTube since the Santa Fe ban.

This action has tarnished the Lannan Foundation, and made something of a mockery of their claims to support freedom of inquiry. One can only speculate on the kind of pressure and the sources of that pressure, that have caused this extremely wealthy private organisation to take this action.

It’s only outcome will probably be to arouse much wider interest in the film, and further  aggravate anyone who cares about free speech, like bloggers, who will chatter on about it just like this.

All power to the blog!

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