Tuesday, March 03, 2015

John Pilger – hyperbolic fiction writer and fan of Putinesque fascism

For many years John Pilger has been the pinup polemicist of the far-left, he takes evidence and facts of actual situations, and uses them to justify his inevitable conclusion that some atrocities, suffering or disaster is the fault of Western governments and businesses.  Of course, like any decent polemicist he takes quite a bit of accuracy, points that are difficult to refute, and then uses it to hitch onto his predetermined line.

The enemy of humanity is capitalism and Western liberal democracy, and humanity’s friends are those who accept governance by socialists, nationalists, theocrats and other leaders who epitomise opposition to those enemies.  By contrast, he depicts Putin’s Russia as a proud sovereign state, ignoring blithely its suppression of dissent, and the vast corporatist gangster run corrupt economy it represents.   I can only guess it is because it reminds Pilger of his beloved USSR.

Now he has let out a vituperative narrative about the globalsituation that is long, but starts with treating the United States as morally equivalent to Nazi Germany, which should be enough to tell you what he is, a raving charlatan:

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.

It’s history for simpletons, and is almost laughably childish.  Yes, Auschwitz would not have happened as such as it was in Poland, but to claim that the Nazis would not have committed genocide in Germany before then is ludicrous.  To claim “almost a million” people would be alive today had Iraq not been invaded, is equally ludicrous.  Even the controversial Iraq Body Count website counts a total of one-third of that figure.  To claim even that presumes the Hussein demagogues would have not executed opponents, not invaded neighbours and not spawned proxy attacks in the Middle East.  Pilger, you see, treats the Hussein regime as having moral legitimacy and a right to exist.   It also ignores the inconvenient truth that most of the deaths were due to insurgents Pilger and his ilk supported.   

You can’t have it both ways, supporting terrorists resisting the invasion, and then blaming the other side for the people they massacre.

Furthermore, to blame ISIS on this is even more ludicrous.  ISIS was spawned in Syria, as resistance against the Assad regime (which Pilger implicitly supports, and which has always been aligned with the USSR/Russia historically), it spread to Iraq due to sectarian bigotry of the Iraqi government supported by Iran (another regime Pilger implicitly supports).  

I could go on, as pulling apart Pilger is like the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel, it’s too easy. However, given it’s too easy, I’d thought I’d summarise his turgid piece into a series of bullet points, you’ll get the picture rather quickly:
  • Muammar Gaddafi’s “murder” (because it wouldn’t be an act of self-defence to kill a proven tyrant) was justified due to a false claim he was going to massacre Libyans (although he spent his entire political career executing opponents);
  • Libya was attacked due to oil and Gaddafi’s “economic independence” (even though good relations had been formed until he started suppressing violently Arab Spring protests);
  • Gaddafi was going to save Africa with a new currency, pan-African bank and going to share Libya’s ample wealth with downtrodden African lands;
  •  Ultranationalist Serbia, which had already led genocidal pogroms in Bosnia and Croatia, had no intention to do the same in Kosovo.   NATO bombed Serbia because Yugoslavia had run a successful socialist economy (yes, seriously!)
  • The disintegration of Yugoslavia was not because nationalist politicians in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia wanted to break away from the ultranationalist-socialist Milosevic in Belgrade, but was an EU plot to expand neo-liberal capitalism
  • In 1999, NATO told Serbia that all of Yugoslavia (even the three states that already had seceded to flee its rule) had to be privatised and militarily occupied or it would be bombed (yep, he’s lost the plot now)
  • The communist dictatorship that took over Afghanistan in 1978 was a “popular revolution” that instituted “political freedom” and was a great model the US couldn’t stand to have succeed (although it was responsible with its Soviet allies, for the killing of over 400,000 opponents).
  • The West supported the mujaihideen to overthrow this government, which eventually spawned the Taliban (true)
  • The US carpet bombing of Cambodia caused the Khmer Rouge (not Maoist China’s financial and military support for the Khmer Rouge);
  • The US is fascist and has engaged in mass murder repeatedly, without any interest in curtailing casualties, just like the Nazis;
  • Americanism is “predatory” and the USA has embraced fascism, because it and the UK resisted Stalinism in Greece
  • The Maidan movement was a US backed fascist movement (not that the encumbent regime which was going to ban political dissent was)
  • “First deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda” (well he was in his youth and left it in 2004 and now belongs to a centre-right party).
  • Only Putin spoke up against fascism (of course Putin’s regime isn’t fascism to Pilger
  •  Crimea was always Russian, so it was ok to change international borders by military force in this case;
  • Crimea’s referendum, supervised only by pro-Putin organisations from various countries, was “legitimate”
  • Ukrainian government is engaging in ethnic cleansing in eastern Ukraine (i.e. Pilger swallows all of the Kremlin’s propaganda)
  • On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by (true)
  • Russia isn’t invading Ukraine (even though Putin admitted Russian forces were in Crimea before the “referendum” had been held), Russia is being vilified unnecessarily (oh how he misses the USSR and its support for liberation)
  • Ukraine is about economic colonialism (though it isn’t for Russia which doesn't engage in foreign policy for economic gain at ALL)
  • The West wants to dismember  Russia, “Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime” (not his suppression of dissent and creation of a truly fascist corporatist criminal gangster state)
  • We must wake up or it will be too late, the US fascists will lead us into a new holocaust (Marxist regimes don't murder en masse, or at least if they do, it is because the Americans made them do it, probably).
 That’s it.  The baddies are the West, out to make profits, against the good guys, like Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad, Muammar Gaddafi. 

Either Pilger has lost the plot completely or he himself is thinking with his bank account, and wants a job with the Kremlin writing propaganda.  He already blamed the 7/7 bombings in London on Tony Blair, he passionately supports the collapsing Chavista regime in Venezuela.

What he shows is that the anti-Western, anti-capitalist narrative is barely one step removed from the apologists for communism in the Cold War.  Nothing the West does is right, and all of its enemies are “heroes”.  It is to blame for deaths ensuing from whatever policy it adopts, including deaths from the insurgents on the side he supports.  

In Pilger’s ideal world, Libya would still be run by the Gaddafi family, but he would have somehow made the rest of Africa wealthy (having spent over 30 years in power resisting his benevolent urges), Saddam Hussein would be keeping the peace in the Middle East, Israel would have been wiped off the map by the victorious Palestinians who would have allowed peaceful Jews to live in freedom and harmony with them.  Russia and Ukraine would be partners in a future of independent sovereignty with their people happily dancing under their flags fortunate to have benevolent billionaire leaders who resist the United States.  Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYR) and Montenegro would all get back together again to remake the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, and that nice Mr Assad would be allowed to barrel bomb Syria to victory or peace with ISIS.

and of course you'd all be living under the prosperous warm embrace of a socialist system like Venezuela, with no shortages and no need to even consider bourgeous luxuries like political pluralism...

dementia, surely...


Henry S said...

John Pilger is a great humanist, opposing policies leading to poverty, injustices and human suffering, which have been the case after American and Nato interventions in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
It is no exaggeration to claim that these states have been more or less destroyed. Pilger criticises cynics like then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who calmly asserted that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children and others who think that the aim of foreign policy is to promote their own financial interests.
It is easier to criticise than defend controversial issues. You have chosen the easy way to blame Pilger for being a socialist in favour of various corrupt regimes, which is not true, instead of defending policies that have led to the destruction of nations and the death of millions of people.
Read the article again and try to understand what Pilger really wanted to say.
Using out-dated propaganda tricks from the cold war is intellectually dishonest.

Libertyscott said...

Nonsense, he is a hypocritical willing idiot of despots. He says Putin is to blame for "nothing" but making Russia sovereign, forgetting the war it has waged in Ukraine, in Georgia, his ample support for barrel-bombing and chemical weapon using dictator Assad, his authoritarian suppression of dissent domestically. Pilger has supported Iranian backed Islamist suicide bombers in Iraq, who are responsible for 90% of the death toll there.

He has selective morality, is just a tired old Cold warrior bitter that his side lost, and still remaining willfully blind to those whose philosophy he sympathises with. Whoever attacks the West is given a free pass, and the West is evil - even akin to Nazis now.

It is possible to oppose the attacks of Afghanistan and Iraq on principled grounds, but he sympathises with the other side which is utterly despicable. Syria is a victim of the Assad regime, backed by Russia (and USSR before it) brutalising its people, and Saudi/Gulf backed Islamists taking it on, not the West. Afghanistan was extensively destroyed by the USSR, but Pilger ignores that.

I would have some time for him if he attacked all aggressors, attacked all authoritarian militarists and did not defend or support others. He doesn't. You've evaded entirely the points I have made. The USA is not morally equivalent to Nazi Germany, and Russia is not innocent. He is the one using outdated propaganda, and although he has done some useful work in the past, this shows he's reverted to a parody of a bitter old Marxist-Leninist.