Tuesday, December 18, 2007

John Pilger on One Party Britain

Britain is now a centralised single-ideology state, as secure in the grip of a superpower as any former eastern bloc country. The Whitehall executive has prerogative powers as effective as politburo decrees. Unlike Venezuela, critical issues such as the EU constitution or treaty are denied a referendum, regardless of Blair's "solemn pledge". Thanks largely to a parliament in which a majority of the members cannot bring themselves to denounce the crime in Iraq or even vote for an inquiry, New Labour has added to the statutes a record 3,000 criminal offences…
In 1977, at the height of the cold war, I interviewed the Charter 77 dissidents in Czechoslovakia. They warned that complacency and silence could destroy liberty and democracy as effectively as tanks. "We're actually better off than you in the west," said a writer, measuring his irony. "Unlike you, we have no illusions."

You can read more of John Pilger's brilliant Guardian article on One Party Britain here.


David Lindsay said...

Thank God when John Pilger could be Peter Hitchens, or vice versa.

Neil Clark said...

Absolutely. On the main issues of the day, John and Peter are now singing from the same anti-war, anti-globalist, pro-national independence hymn sheet.

Anonymous said...

"couldn't bring themselves to"? Is it utterly beyond this man's perception that people could have legitimately supported the Iraq war? He can believe them to be wrong, or even wicked for doing so, but at least do them the favour of accepting what they say when they say it. I have no doubt that many MPs voted 'yes' out of political expediency. But not all. Not all by a long shot. Does he not accept at all that, as much as he may disagree with them or even think them utter nonsense, there are legitimate arguments to be made in support of the Iraq war?

Anonymous said...

It's a great piece by John Pilger.

As someone who grew up in Hungary under an official one-party state I agree with his conclusion: then we knew that the media was propogating the dominant ideology's propaganda, so we took it with a pinch of salt; the danger here is that many people are unaware that they're being lied to (we saw this in the lies about the Serbs and 'genocide' in Kosovo, the lies about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, which did not exist, and also the lies about Iran developing nuclear weapons).

The great irony is that, even tohugh we saw it as propaganda, so much of what we were told in Hungary thirty years ago about the west's hostile intentions was actually true. We saw this in the Balkans and in Iraq.

We certainly have a dictatorship in Hungary today: the dictatorship of capital and it is a more undemocratic force than Kadar's goulash communism was, which did deliver plenty of welfare to ordinary Hungarian people, especially the poorest in society.

Zsuzsanna (Neil's wife)

Neil Clark said...

Luke: sorry, but there are no legitimate arguments to be made in favour of the Iraq war. None whatsoever.
It was a blatantly illegal act of aggression against a sovereign state. Launching attacks on sovereign states was held to be the 'supreme international crime' at Nuremburg.

Anonymous said...

Rather than rely on 50 year old court decisions (which, frankly, invented their rationales and rulings out of thin air) why not address the issues directly? What about the Iraq war makes it such a sui generis case? Why is it, above all other conflicts, so completely cut-and-dried? I am not pro-war; not at all, but I am increasingly frustrated by the anti-war side.

The sovereignty of nation is derived from what? From the will and consent of the people, I'd argue. Hussein utterly terrorised his own people, as such I don't believe his regime represented authentically the sovereignty of the people.

Also, I've noted you complain about the map-redrawing that followed WW2 before, particularly (and justly) in regards to the Balkans. Iraq's instability was in part because of the west's incompetence in doing this. It is not what can be desribed in any way as a 'natural' state.

You also describe the Iraq war as 'illegal'. Why? Presumably because of the lack of a Security Council resolution. Well, that point is arguable (I don't believe the pro-war arguments myself, but accept that they are perhaps legitimate). But I've also seen you criticise the UN for illegittimate actions towards Slobo and Kosovo. So which is it? Is the UN right wrong about Slobo and wrong about Iraq? And did the occupation not then become legal when, after 2003, it was authorised by the UN?

Again, I would not self-describe as pro-Iraq-war. But to say that there are 'no legitimate arguments' in its favour is to do a disservice to any genuinely intellectual anti-war position.

Charlie Marks said...

Well said, Zsuzsanna.

Further proof of our one party state - the election of David Cleggeron as leader of the Illiberal Undemocrats.

Phil said...

I think it was Chomsky who said there is one totalitarianism left after the passing of fascism and Stalinism, and that is the dictatorship of neoliberal capital. And yet no one in mainstream politics dare speak its name, except for a few isolated figures on the Labour left. Does neoliberalism really have a clear grip on the hearts and minds of "ordinary" politicians, or do they acceded because it's expedient to do so?